Children’s Portraits 1

Simple lighting–One main light, a 580EX inside a Lumiquest softbox on the right, about a foot away on the right gave me f5.6 @ ISO 200. Canon 5D Mark 2 with a 50 mm lens
I added a 2nd Canon Speedlight, a 430 EX with a red gel to jazz things up. It was set to give 1 to 1 1/2 stops less light than the main light, the 580EX in the Lumiquest softbox.s

Setting up a makeshift studio doesn’t require a lot of space but it does require some improvisation.

I was in the basement of the First Congregational Church recently to photograph some children who attended Puppet Palooza–a week long puppet making workshop by Creative Kids Have Fun.

Young children are not the easiest of subjects.

That’s why there are photographers who specialize in just children.

Just like any kind of portraiture work, you have to engage your subject, spend some time with them.


Adding a 3rd speedlight behind and aimed at my subject’s head, made my subject stand out. The red gel over the 430EX Speedlight gave the background a red glow.

Here is what I used to make head and shoulder portraits of these children.

I moved the hairlight, the Canon 550EX speedlight which had a snoot from the right side to the left side occasionally just so I could get some variation. I have one complaint about this older speedlight. It has a very annoying power-saving feature which sets the flash to off to conserve power and there is no way to disable it.



  • Canon 5 D Mark 2 body with a 50 mm f 1.4 lens
  • 1 Cybersync radio trasmitter, 3 receivers
  • 1 Canon 550EX Speedlight fitted with snoot on a light stand
  • 1 Canon 580 EX Speedlight in Lumiquest diffuser on light stand
  • 1 Canon 430 EX Speedlight with colored gel on its own stand


I chose a stairwell to set up my makeshift studio because I didn’t want to interrupt the workshop that was in progress.

Since I was only doing head and shoulder portraits, I didn’t need a whole lot of room .

Keep in mind, I was using my 5D Mark 2 a full frame DSLR.

The stairs worked well.

I could get the children to sit on different steps if they were different heights without having to move my lights up and down.

Having the children come to me one-at-a-time also allowed me to work without rushing.

As I was done with one, I asked them to send the next person up so there was no line.

Next: Behind-the-scene pictures

Peter Phun Photography

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