Neighborhood boys provide ‘tough’ portrait shoot


Brothers stop by studio for impromptu portrait session

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Late last week, I was talking with two young brothers in my neighborhood and mentioned that I could take pictures of them one day. They were ready right then, and my home studio was available. So I sent them home to get permission from their mother.

Once they returned, we headed into the studio to set up. I have a solid-white background on one end of the office space, but I wanted something to help these kids’ personalities show.These are some of my favorite boys from the neighborhood. They don’t have cell phones, so they are constantly outside playing in their front yard, and running up and down the street. Often, they’ll be rolling around their yard wrestling and fighting — laughing the entire time. It reminds me of when I was a kid and my older brother and I weren’t allowed inside the house during daylight hours.

So we propped some old, rusty corrugated tin against that wall, which I thought would help set the scene I was wanting. And then I told them them I wanted them to look tough.

It worked, mostly. They both had to get through the predicable giggles. But they finally pulled themselves together and — in spite of heckling and picking at each other — we captured what I think shows off their toughness. And their brotherly love.

The raw images were great, but I accentuated the posing by using a grungy look to heighten the drama of the images. Be sure and flip through the slideshow to see all the finished images.

And the lightning setup couldn’t have been simpler. I just set up a single Nikon SB-900 strobe on a light stand extended to within 18 inches of the white ceiling. The stand was placed about 7 feet away from the tin wall and slightly to the left of where the boys would pose. I tilted the flash head a few degrees from straight up, and bounced light off the white ceiling to produce a nice, soft light that left the boys’ right sides shadowed. A Nikon SB-910 was placed on another light stand to the right of the boys, and then dialed way back just to ensure some detail showed in the shadows.

The flashes were powered by PocketWizard triggers.

The boys posed about 2 feet in front of the wall, which allowed the light not only to hit them but light up the tin behind them.

If you’d like photos of your children, please email me or fill out the contact form below and we’ll discuss the project. A little studio time will yield memorable photos.

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About Andy Crawford

Andy Crawford has been a photographer and writer for more than 20 years, with thousands of images and articles published in magazines and newspapers around the country. He now focuses on Louisiana photography, landscapes, HDR photography, urban prints and other fine art photography. He also is a portrait photographer.