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Hardest photo shoot ever

Cool baby portrait

Posted by Jeena

Today I had the most difficult photo shoot of my amateur photographer career. I was shooting a 10 month old baby.

We've been to a professional photographer before with him and they were quite good at doing it fast and with attention to detail. They have prepared clothes and backgrounds and they are always two people, one photographer and another person helping especially with getting the babies attention through the shoot.

Anyway, once my brother saw the pictures - which were the baby in traditional Korean clothes - he asked me to do a photo shoot with traditional Silesian clothes, which in this case is a coal miner gala parade uniform. Our dad was a coal miner before we moved to Germany too.

Obviously I can't buy a coal miner gala parade uniform for babies here in Korea, so I had to make it myself. I bought some paper and some golden tape (not sure what to call it) and I DIY the hat myself. It looked surprisingly good but the feathers didn't look good so I ordered real red feathers - which are worn by the musician coal miners. Our baby really likes music so I thought it's quite appropriate.

The problem is that we have a cat and that cat just couldn't help itself and always attacked the hat with the feathers and destroy the feathers. I had to fix it three times because I left it unlocked and forgot about the cat. Then I ordered a black jumpsuit for the baby and cut out some golden buttons and attached them with glue to the suit.

And so today I decided that it's the day where we should try to do the photo shoot. He slept his morning nap and I fed him and he is always in a good mood when he wakes up. I prepared the light - I have a continuous light with a soft box for videos which I reused - and the background.

First try in the high chair

Once he woke up we tried the hat on, I made it such a long time ago that it did not fit on his head anymore because his head grew significantly since then. So I had to cut the hat in the back to fit it on the head. I realized that he also scratched himself in the face again, so he already had one scratch between eye and nose, but either he himself or the cat scratched him two times on his forehead. I was able to put the head on so it wouldn't be visible.

But that's where the problems started. He hated the hat and always tried to take it off. If I held his arms to not to take the hat off he would start to cry. While putting on the suit he fought me a lot, in fact so much that out of the 6 golden buttons I put on, only 2 were left. So he would take the hat off and throw it away. After a while I was able to distract him from the hat and take the first photos.

Baby with coal miner hat on gray chair

They were not great, the background was messy and I put him into his food seat which looked terrible too, even though I cleaned it as good as possible before we started shooting. Anyway after one or two minutes he took off the hat again and broke the paper-stick which held the feathers. So we took a pause.

Green chair

I tried to fix the stick so it would be upright but it didn't really work. He was playing in his playground and came down and wasn't so annoyed with me and my photographing anymore since we took off the hat. I tried to change the background and I got another chair which was simpler but hat a stark contrast in color.

I also got his pacifier, I thought it will calm him down a bit and it did, he even smiled on this new chair with the pacifier in his mouth. But actually I was hoping that he would lose the pacifier and still be in good mood on this chair, which is kind of high and I was afraid he might fall down from it if I'm not fast enough to catch him.

I tried to convince him to give me the pacifier but he didn't want to. Once he lost it and it fell on the floor which made him cry immediately. At least he forgot about the hat and didn't take it off while playing with the pacifier. But this photo would be weird with a pacifier. Also the paper stick which was holding the feathers bent and looked awful.

So the pacifier, the green chair and the bent stick, none of the pictures were usable, even though they were technically the best with good sharpness in the eyes, etc.

Baby with coal miner hat on green chair

We took another pause, so he would not be so agitated and I could change some things. He played with the cat.

Projector screen as a background

I remembered that I had a projector screen which could work as a white background, so I got it and hung it over the TV all the way on the floor. Because he would be on the floor, and my light is not that strong, I couldn't use the c-stand for it because it would be to far away. So I put it on the floor, held by a chair in front of him.

I also decided to get one of the LED lights I had to have some cool background colors.

I found the model and because he was playing with the cat, suddenly his black suit was full of white cat hair. God damn it. I removed as much as I could, and put the hat back on, which I was able to fix with a tooth pick in the meanwhile. But again we had the problem of him taking the hat off and being annoyed by it.

But suddenly he found the LED light and started playing with it which I thought I could work with. So it was on red and after a couple of pictures with red light from the bottom I really didn't like it. So I tried to take the light and change it to just white. He really likes playing with lights so he was furious when I tried to take it away. In the end I had to change it while he was playing with it.

Baby with coal miner hat on floor with red light in face

Then him playing with the light I had quite a lot of time to take photos, finally. I wanted to have them sharp and children move a lot so I upped the shutter speed to around 1/600 of a second and the aperture to 5.6 - which in hindsight was a terrible mistake, because the camera needed to compensate with a high ISO because the light was not strong enough.

Baby with coal miner hat on the floor smiling

Break for food

He was getting cranky again and I realized that he probably is hungry again. So I made some milk which he eagerly drank. Once done with the bottle he seemed a bit sleepy so I thought I would carry him around a bit and he would fall asleep and we could have another try after he wakes up again.

But because he drank so fast, his little stomach sometimes can't hold it down there, so also this time he threw up some of the milk on me and on his black suit making it full with white milk stains and unsuitable for any more photo shoots this day, because it needed to be washed and dried first.

In the end - even though I took 270 pictures - I didn't really got this nice shot which I had in my mind and I had to give up to get it and try to work with the pictures I have. I wanted to make it nice so I can print it big and gift it to my parents, especially my dad, so they can hang it in their living room with the other family images.

So that was it from the photo shoot. Here also one picture of me how exhausted and sweaty I was after the hardest photo shoot ever :D

Sweat on my t-shirt

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