Archives For children

achim lippoth photo lighting on guess the lighting

ted sabarese lighting diagram of achim lippoth guess the lighting

copyright, Achim Lippoth.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say Achim is the world’s preeminent children’s photographer. He’s consistently finds a way to visually capture the honesty of childhood without ever surrendering to the saccharine style so often associated with the genre. He shoots kids the way they’re dying to be treated: with respect and adult-like.

This image, from Promised Land for Kids Wear Magazine (which Achim also happens to publish), is one of the raddest (and probably most expensive) editorial stories for children’s clothing ever made. Now don’t think this was all shot in-camera. It wasn’t. It’s a Mad Max inspired collaboration between Achim and German post production house The Scope, with loads of CGI combined with incredible styling and propping. Shot in a massive studio. Composited with great expense. Oh, and with the assistance of 3 lights.

It kicks ass, right? I couldn’t image any photographer not wishing they’d shot this themselves.

Camera: Medium format, digital, with 50mm lens. Set on a tripod 11 feet back. Shot at 1/125, f11, ISO 50.

Lighting: This was shot in a studio, but Achim wanted to imitate desert sunlight as closely as possible. The key light is a gridded, silver beauty dish at f11 1/2 (+1/2 stop) 8 feet to camera right and 3 feet above the kid’s head level. A magnum reflector at f18 (+2 stops) is 6 feet to camera right of the boy, about head level and 4 feet behind him. This mimics the hard, late day sun and creates the strong highlights and long shadow on the ground. The fill light is a large octabank at f5.6 (-2 stops) 8 feet to camera left and even with the boy.

Comments: While the stylist was putting finishing touches and dirtying up the wardrobe, Achim playfully asked the 10-year-old boy if he’d ever heard of the movie Mad Max. “Yep,” he answered. “The trilogy kinda made Mel Gibson’s career, right? Mad Max 2 blew, but Beyond Thunderdome was more complex and visionary than even the original. Possibly one of the best films of ’85. Without Mad Max, there may not have been a Lethal Weapon worth seeing. In my opinion, anyway. Hey, Achim, can I please get a ginger ale? My mom doesn’t let me drink soda at home.”

tony d'orio's photo lighting of baby for Huggies ad on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of tony d'orio on guess the lighting blog

copyright, Tony D’Orio.

This ad for Huggies wipes portrays the young, otherwise cute baby as a serious, demanding, won’t-take-no-for-an-answer CEO of his parents’ lives. I think this matches a pose Lee Iacocca made for Forbes Magazine back in the 80s and was created with 3 lights.

Camera: Hasselblad H1 with Phase One P45+ back and 80mm lens, set on a tripod 5 feet back. Shot at 1/125, f11, ISO 100.

Lighting: The key light is a small softbox at f11 boomed directly overhead of the baby and aimed straight down. This creates the contrast and the dark eyes (very unique for baby photography). A white beauty dish at f4 1/2 (-2 1/2 stops) is boomed above the camera and serves as a slight fill. A standard reflector at f16 (+1 stop) is sitting low on the ground behind the boy and aimed upward at the backdrop. This creates the glowing gradient.

Comments: Tony had four, 3-month-olds on set, but this boy instantly became the star. Though he couldn’t yet speak, his body language talked at great lengths about his disappointment with the prosecution’s handling of the Enron scandal, the differences between a 10 and 18-year-old scotch and how derivatives weren’t the devil they were made out to be by the liberal media.

Saverio Truglia's photo lighting of taped baby on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of taped baby on guess the lighting blog

copyright, Saverio Truglia.

This charming image begs the question, “is it natural light or not?” Though it may seem this shot was lit with sunlight through the window and some tv glow on the recliner, Saverio used 10 strobes to create the effect.

Camera: Canon 1Ds Mark II with 35mm lens, set on a tripod 20 feet back from the baby. Shot at 1/125, f8, ISO 100.

Lighting: The key light is a magnum reflector at f8 set, gelled with 1/2 CT orange, outside the window and aimed in through the blinds. This lights the baby and creates the square of light that immediately draws the eye. A standard reflector at f4 1/2 (-1.5 stops), gelled this with 1/2 CT orange, is positioned against the rear wall to camera right, pointing down at the book case. Another standard reflector at f4 1/2 (-1.5 stops), also gelled with 1/2 CT orange, is low out of frame to camera right and aimed at the recliner. A standard reflector at f8 1/2 (+.5 stops), gelled with 1/2 CT orange, is high out of frame to camera left, aimed down at the recliner. A standard reflector at f4 1/2 (-1.5 stops), gelled with 1/2 CT blue, is placed low to camera left and angled up at the recliner to create a glow from the television. A standard reflector at f4 (-2 stops) is bounced into the white side of a v-flat behind the camera to the left, and another to the right. The 3 lamp heads are powered with AC slaves.

Saverio also shot a plate without strobes at a longer exposure so he could composite the lamp’s glow on the ceiling in post.

Comments: The prop stylist brought along a boat-load of different tapes before settling on the hardware store brand duct tape. It was the perfect complimentary color, had a pleasing, medium sheen, held well to the wall and didn’t take off a great deal of the boy’s skin upon removal. win, win, win, win.

Child services was not contacted.

julie blackmon's photo lighting of girl near stairs on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of julie blackmon on guess the lighting blog

copyright, Julie Blackmon.

Although Julie oftentimes uses digital collage and montage techniques in her imagery, I’m guessing this shot, entitled PC, was created entirely in-camera using 4 lights.

Camera: Hasselblad 503cw with 50mm lens and Kodak Portra NC 400 ASA film, set on a tripod 8 feet back from girl. Shot at 1/60, f11, ISO 400.

Lighting: The key light on the little cherub is a grid reflector with 30 degree grid at f11, positioned 4 feet to camera right. A white umbrella at f2.8 (-4 stops) placed 8 feet to camera right serves as a light fill for the room. A standard reflector at f16 (+1 stop) is behind the wall to camera left, aimed upward at the woman on the stairs. Another standard reflector at f11 is set behind the wall to camera right, aimed toward the staircase. The glowing computer screen was added in post.

Comments: A zealous Mac fan and tough negotiator, Julie’s 3 year-old daughter (she uses family members in most of her photos) initially refused to pose for this shot out of principle. Julie offered up later bedtimes, broccoli-free dinners and an extra hour of TV to no avail. When Julie finally agreed to trade the toy rocking-horse for a Classic American Shetland Pony, her daughter threw on her pretty white dress, hopped in front of the lens, smiled and said, “okay, mommy, let’s make some art.”

loretta lux's photo lighting of drummer on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of drummer on guess the lighting blog

copyright, Loretta Lux

Part of her haunting and surreal Works IV, The Drummer (although overall very flat) was made with 6 lights. Sometimes you need a lot of light to make it appear that you don’t.

Camera: Nikon D2X with 50mm lens, set on tripod 8 feet from child. Shot at 1/60, f8, ISO 100.

Lighting: Since Loretta’s goal is to create an uber-flat image, no key lighting exists. All of the lights are used to flatten the child’s skin tones, while leaving a hint of shadow (under his chin). 2 white umbrellas at f5.6 1/2 are six feet to both camera right and left, and 4 feet above the boy’s head. 2 normal reflectors on a light tree at f4 1/2 are bounced into the white side of a v-flat behind camera, just to the right. Another 2, with the exact setup, are just to the left. This helps to fill most of the shadow.

Comments: For lunch, the caterer served fish sticks, chicken strips, carrot strips, apple strips and ketchup. The boy had been beating like a maniac on the drum, but stopped abruptly, here, when Loretta told him her real name is

jill greenberg's photo lighting of crying baby on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of jill greenberg on guess the lighting blog

copyright, Jill Greenberg

Jill’s “end times” series of crying babies is certainly polarizing. You either want to call child services or get down on your knees and bow to her genius. This particular sobbing infant had 8 lights strobing all around her.

Camera: Mamiya RZ with 140mm macro lens and Phase One P25 digital back on tripod 6 feet away. Shot at 1/125, f8, ISO 100.

Lighting: There is not exactly any key lighting, but lots of layering, instead. A white beauty dish at f8 is three feet in front of and above the camera. A ring flash at f5.6 is is three feet in front of and below the camera. Two white umbrellas, both at f5.6 are to the left and right of camera. A small soft box without a baffle at f16.5 is boomed overhead of the baby. Two heads with normal reflectors and grids at f16.5 are behind and above the model from both the left and right sides, creating the hair and shoulder highlights. Another head with normal reflector and grid at f11.5 is positioned behind the baby and aimed at the background to create the glow. The lighting gives the basis for this cool effect, but Jill also uses lots of brushwork in Photoshop to accentuate the highlights and shadows and to give some extra smoothing.

Comments: Everyone on set sucked on lollipops while the girl sat in front of the camera. It was so unfair, she cried and reportedly gave Jill the finger.