Children’s Portraiture/Headshot – Jax [Tutorial]

I recently did a shoot for a good friend of mine of her 2yr old son.

They do say “never work with children or animals” but in this case, I’ve actually had adults whom are harder to work with than this munchkin!

Equipment Used:

Lighting Setup:


I setup a white backdrop and rolled the excess cloth on the floor in front. Having the backdrop roughly 5ft away from the wall, and setting one Meike MK-910 flash with YongNuo RF-603N setup behind the white backdrop, with the flash head zoomed out to 24mm and set to 1/32Power. I had the other flash in front to the left at 45 * angle set to 1/8 Power bouncing into the Westcott 2021 60″ Umbrella.

The flash behind the studio backdrop helps to obtain the high key pure white background. The flash in the umbrella was to create a soft key light to fill in the face.

The trouble is with this lighting setup is if the backlight is set too high, it can cause flaring or loss of contrast as it’s essentially a light source aiming toward your camera lens. So I intentionally set the power really low, knowing I would have to clean up the background in Lightroom.


If you have the space, moving your subject further away from the backdrop will help this and will enable you to raise the backlight for less post-production, however it does all depend on the space you have to work with and may require a larger studio backdrop.

However with regards to my shoot, I do feel in hindsight I had a little more room to increase that flash power by 1stop to 1/16 at least.

Camera Settings

  • ISO100
  • Aperture f/2.8
  • Shutter 1/160
  • Focal Length 200mm

I kept the ISO at ISO100 for the cleanest file and aperture at f/2.8 to allow in maximum light and shallow DOF. I kept the shutter at 1/160 as I was using the YongNuo RF-603N and they’re not compatible with High Speed Sync (HSS). In addition, as one of the flashes were setup behind the studio backdrop, I was unsure if Nikon CLS would pick up the signal very well.

Focal Length was at the maximum 200mm to better compliment facial features.

The Shoot

The shoot itself was a funny experience. You can never predict what it will be like working with kids, and you have to prepare extra time for when they’re not co-operative. However with Jax the shoot was extremely smooth with all things considered.

You have to be silly with kids to get them to laugh, and thankfully my friend Laura was all but willing to do what she had to do to make her son laugh! We got some fantastic shots overall, with a variety of expressions!


20160521Jax_7_DSC_5276-Edit 20160521Jax_13_DSC_5309-Edit 20160521Jax_15_DSC_5317-Edit


The above shots were done with a mixture of cheap and expensive equipment, however the expensive equipment could easily be traded out for cheaper alternatives and still obtain great results.

I did have to edit the photos in Lightroom to clean-up the background and help the colour toning, and this tutorial will follow in another post.

However, from the shooting perspective, it was a relatively simple setup which yields great professional results!


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