5 Minutes with Jasper | Melbourne Children Photographer

Earlier this year I set myself a goal to learn a new skill - filming. I started with stop motion pictures and then went onto filming as I became more confident. Like with any new skill, you will need to practice to be better at it.

A few weeks ago whilst I was playing with my son, I decided to take that opportunity to film him in his environment. I watched him immersed himself in the joy of childhood. It was certainly lovely. He asked me to play with him and so I did whilst holding a camera with my other hand.

5 minutes was all it took for me to capture him in his happy place. Here is our documentary photo & video. You'll see that I like to use a lot of shallow depth of field (blurry background, out of focus too). No, I did not forget my contact lenses, It was purposely done to convey a certain mood.

My settings were mainly ISO 1250 at aperture f.1.4 on my Sigma 35mm. I edited & prepared the images in Adobe Lightroom. If you love photography then you will love Lightroom! Okay, maybe a very big statement to make but it is such an amazing tool. 95% of my editing is done in Lightroom. The other 5% is in Adobe Photoshop. For this session, I didn't edit the images as much except for tone and colour. I wanted them to look playful, clean and natural. This is how i normally edit my clients pictures.

Want to know how to achieve the look? You can do it too!

What you will need:

  • 1 DSLR camera of any kind (if it takes videos, that's great too!)
  • 1 lens that has an aperture of f.1.8/f.14/f.12 (A lens that is 35mm or 50mm is best so you can get close to your subject)
  • 1 subject (i.e. child or willing participant such as a friend)

Setting your shot:

  • Pick a time of day when natural light is best at your home. For me, this is normally early morning just after sunrise when the light is not too intense or just before sunset in front of my house. It does help if you know where the sun rise and sets in your house.
  • If you're shooting at high noon, choose a shaded area & position your subject so he/she is not squinting. Some shadows is fine as long as your subject's face is not pitch black unless you're going for the silhouette look but that's another tutorial for next time.
  • Keep your subject occupied with an activity that he/she adores.
  • Set your camera to AV mode (Canon)/ A mode (Nikon). This semi auto mode called Aperture Priority (AV/A) determines whether all the photograph is in focus or part of.  You can have a sharp foreground and background (a large aperture number), or you can blur the background (a small number). Since you're experimenting with shallow depth of field (a small number), you want to keep your aperture between f1.2 - 2.8. You can still achieve a shallow depth of field on a kit lens like 18-55mm f.3.5-f5.6 by being relatively close to the subject however if you have extra $100 stashed somewhere, best to invest on a 50mm f1.8. The blurry background is spectacular.

What happens at the shoot:

  • First, you watch him/her patiently. How is he/she playing? Is there a story line? Is the pirate attacking the shark? Is Princess Elsa freezing her town again?
  • Next, you want to anticipate the next scene and be ready for it pretty quickly. You can also ask your subject questions if you're not sure, hopefully they respond. For example I knew my son was going to use the shark to bite off the leaf of my lovely plant. I asked him "What is the shark going to do now?" Just be ready with your camera.
  • Shoot away..different compositions, worm view (from the bottom), birds eye view (over the head), both sides, eye level and so forth.
  • Mix up a bit. If you chose f1.4 in the beginning, go ahead and crank it up to f2.8, f3.5 then f5.6.
  • This is optional but if you want and your camera has the option to do this, switch your camera to filming mode. Just make sure you capture 2-5 seconds of film each time otherwise it will be too lengthy for a video. You can stitch the images/film on iMovie.
  • Have fun! Enjoy your beautiful creations!
  • Share your images/film with me on a blog, email or Facebook.