Spotlight Lighting Effect

Dad & Boys

Today’s feature is from .

Michael says:

“This family hired us to do a shoot on what ended up being a very cold December day. We had access to an industrial complex in our area, but were limited in terms of the variety of backgrounds and locations within the warehouse.

Our clients were tons of fun – these two boys were full of energy, they literally ran around in a full circle for almost 15 minutes straight. The day before the shoot the older boy had an accident at the park and ended up with quite the black eye, but it really added to the rough-and-tumble look of the photos.”

Michael’s Photography Tip:

In this shoot we were limited to a small space inside an industrial complex, due to bad weather. I decided to use dramatic and edgy lighting to add character to the location and give it a theatrical effect.

This family was very high energy and so traditional wasn’t really an option. I complimented their characters with dramatic lighting, which allowed me to take a situation in where I was limited and create really fun photos out of it.

To pull off the lighting, I used two lights in total – an off-camera flash (Nikon SB 910) (affiliate link) with a snoot on the flash to create a spotlight effect, and a light for backlighting to create drama in some of the images.

I also underexposed the ambient light to finish off the effect. I used my long lens (Nikon 70-200) so I could compress the background, which allowed me to get more options out of the location.

Instead of posing the shots, I set up the lighting and staged them instead, and let the family play and be themselves while I documented the whole thing.

Boy 5 Years Old
Boy 7 Years Old
Mom with Boys
Family Photo
Mom & Son

Michael used a Nikon D800 (affiliate link) and Nikon D3S (affiliate link) with a Nikon 70-200 lens to capture these images.

Michael Tigchelaar is a Toronto, Ontario, Canada Lifestyle / Documentary photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Lighting.


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