Shoot: Light & Fresh Black & White Portrait


Find Your Niche and Build Your Family Photography Business


Lesson Info

Shoot: Light & Fresh Black & White Portrait

We're gonna be working with Rayna first. Rayna is a five year old violinist and she has brought her violin. She's just like the sweetest little peanut in the world, she's a very happy child, like, she smiles a lot. So, it's gonna be my challenge to kinda get her to calm down a little bit. Now, I don't mind if a child smiles in his portrait, and sometimes, that's literally all you're gonna get, because they are so happy and this may be the case here, we're in an environment where she's being watched, she likes to be the center of attention, she loves her violin, so, she's gonna be really happy and in her element. Does that make sense? So, sometimes, I use to my advantage... A lot of children when they get into a new situation like the camera room, the lights, and a stranger coming in the room, they get very shy and withdrawn, and it takes them a while to warm up. Those are golden, I love those, because I can really focus on not getting the smile, maybe get a smile at the end, but for th...

e most part, it's super easy when they're still kind of in that get to know you phase where they're a little hesitant. It's much easier to get those soulful expressions. With a super happy child, awesome that she smiles, but this can be a little bit more challenging. Then after that we're gonna bring back the Jenkins siblings, which are Rex and Riley, and we're gonna photograph them in a similar environment as siblings, we're gonna put them on my industrial clothing rack, which who would have thought that could be a prop? It can be. And photograph them with a little more soulful expression as well. Then at the end of the segment, we're gonna flip gears and we're gonna start talking about real kids, which is the total opposite, much younger type of thing, we have two gorgeous children who have dressed themselves to the nines, let me tell you, very fun way to end the segment, and then of course at the next segment we'll talk about marketing a business more, okay? So let's get started here. I'll be needing Rayna at this point. Her mom has talked to me a little bit about what she loves, specifically she does not like green vegetables, and specifically she will focus very hard when she plays her violin, okay? So I'm gonna probably ask her to play her violin. Come on in sweetie! Hi Peanut! Miss Rayna is coming over, she's very excited about her violin. Now... Oh look at your red shoes! I love them! Can you say hi to everybody? Hi. How are you? Come on over here. How are you miss Rayna? You remember me right? Yeah. We had a little conversation before, it's okay, right? You're gonna be my big helper today? Yeah. I want to talk about your pretty dress for a minute. Is that okay? Yeah. Okay. So her mom brought in a beautiful white silk dress with this gorgeous like lush pink tie, it looked like a bridesmaid, like a flower girl dress. And I loved it. Like this is so pretty. However, this is a black and white portrait. I'm shooting it on a dark background. She has darker hair and this beautiful little olive skin. A white dress is gonna completely overpower her. You will not see her face, you will see that white dress. And so I foregoed it. Is that a right word? Forego, is that a right word? Do you think forego is the right word? I don't know yeah. We'll just agree to not know, huh? It's okay if you don't know everything, right? Yeah. Yeah, it's okay. So I picked her blue dress, which is velvet, and the buttons kinda worry me a little bit, because they're very bright, they're gonna flare on camera, but I can burn those down later in post should I need to. But she has cute texture, the velvet, the crushed velvet kinda will give that, whenever you're doing something in black and white, you want texture, okay? And this velvet has a wonderful way of playing light. Sometimes if dark velvet can be too much and it soaks in light, but this one being blue and having some shimmer to it, it's gonna look really pretty in black and white. So remember this is a black and white portrait. So even though I have her in red and blue with her violin, try to look at her and go, okay visualize her in black and white. It's gonna look a lot different. Casey has agreed when we shoot, he'll convert a couple to black and white, just briefly, obviously it's not the same conversion or processing that I would do. When I do my soulful portraits I do a lot of dodging and burning. I am accenting highlights, deepening shadows all over the place so it looks illustrated, like it has that painted feel to it. So what you see in camera, straight out of camera is going to be very different than the final image of what you saw with Brooklyn there with the collar around her. So just keep that in mind as we shoot. It does end up looking a lot different once we work with post, okay? So I hear that you can play 10 songs? (gasps) Oh, I can't wait to hear that! And I want to introduce you to a friend of mine. I have a little animal living in my camera. Yeah, do you want to see him? Yeah. Okay, let's do... We're gonna have to work really hard to see him though. You think you can work hard? Yeah. Well if you can play 10 songs, then you're really good at practicing and working hard, aren't you? Yeah. Did you guys see she's losing her front tooth? Isn't that cute, show how wiggly it is. Is it super wiggly? Yeah. Is it super wiggly? Yeah. Did you lose these two first, on the bottom? Yeah. Yeah. And did the Tooth Fairy come? Yeah. She did! How much money did she give you? One. A dollar! That's awesome! You can buy a cool toy with a dollar, huh? Yeah. That's awesome! Okay, what a charming child. Let's go ahead and get you up on the stool. Look, you get to be on that big stool, and Miss Julia's gonna take some pictures of you, sound good? Yes. Do you think you can play your violin sitting up on that big stool like that? Yeah. I think you can too. Okay, come on over. And what I also want you to notice is that I got down on her level. Like, she's, you know, when you're short, it helps when people kinda get down low. Okay, let's go take your violin and put it on the ground so I can help you get up on the stool. 'Cause the stool is super wiggly, okay? So I'm gonna help you kinda get up on top of it. Raaar! Look how tall you are, my goodness! That's awesome! Okay, now the other question I want to ask her is Miss, do you... Mama? Where's Mama? Did she go? Can she play without the padding on is it...? Do you think you can play without the padding on your violin? Ahh... Maybe a little hard? Yeah. Okay, then let's just play with it. We'll go ahead and do it with it. Okay, so first I just want you to hold your violin. We're just gonna hold it on our lap for a minute, 'cause Miss Julia... You know what I need to do? My camera needs to get warmed up. You know how when you like go out to play, and your muscles are kinda sore, and you're just not very, moving very fast, and it takes a little bit to warm up? That's what Miss Julia needs to do with her camera first. We're gonna warm it up and do a little quick light test. Is that okay? So you know what that means? You don't have to do anything. You just have to sit there and hang out. Okay. Sound good? Yeah. Might be kinda boring, but that's okay. Yeah. It's okay to be bored, right? Yeah. Okay, good. All right. Let's test out the camera a little bit, and test out my lighting. I might move that light slightly closer to her, 'cause she is little shorty girl, which I love. Let's just kinda see what that looks like real quick. (shutter clicks) Yeah, little bright. Let's go ahead and dial it back a little bit more. And you know what, also I have a feeling that... (shutter clicks) I'm wondering if those lights up there are affecting. Yeah, and you know what, I think the lights are affecting a little bit, the house lights. If we can. And I'm gonna go ahead and pull her off the background just a little bit more. Okay, you ready to go on a ride? Yeah. Hang on. Make sure I'm not scratching the floor. What am I doing? Getting her away from the background so the background falls off more, so the light falls off, so we get darker. Okay, was that fun? Yeah. A little ride. You know the spins, wheee! Okay, let's go ahead and bring that forward if we can a little bit. So what I'm doing is I'm just, that white wall, I'm trying to make it darker. So by doing that, by pulling her off the background all of a sudden... (shutter clicks) Oop, camera's a little trigger happy. See how all of a sudden, oop, that's really dark. (laughs) That's me getting too camera happy, huh? (shutter clicks) Perfect. Beautiful. It's allowing my background to get a little bit darker. The more I pull her off the wall, the more fall-off there's gonna be. I wonder where that light is coming from, why we're getting... That should be falling black. It might be that one up there, that's okay. We have house lights, clearly because... Oh you guys are awesome, let's see what that does. (shutter clicks) I must be on high continuous, yes I am. Let's do continuous low, there we go. (shutter clicks) There we are. We're still a little bit bright. Let me go to F10. (shutter clicks) There we go, we're getting a little bit darker. Oh, that's what happened, there we go, that's better. We had that shot up. Okay, so it's getting a little bit better. Now normally I would... We wanted to show different backgrounds, that's kinda why we went away from the seamless. I would normally shoot this on my seamless, okay. 'Cause I want that smooth look. And we also have to be concerned about the fact that we've got a dark floor with a white wall, so we're getting that line. See the line between it? I'm also shooting at F11. So everything from here to there is gonna be in focus. So something to consider when you're shooting on a background versus a seamless cove. It doesn't matter what F-stop you're shooting at on a seamless cove, because it's still seamless, it's gonna be seamless whether it's in focus or out of focus. Whereas with a brick wall like that, we're seeing every single little texture in the brick wall, because I'm shooting at F11, and getting almost everything in focus. That make sense? So, but I wanted you to see a little bit of variety in background. It's not going quite as black or as dark as I wanted, but that's okay. Let's go ahead and lower this and see what that does. If I can just lower it and let the fall-off be a little bit more. Perfect. So, that's good. So what I'm doing is by getting the light closer to her, that fall-off is gonna occur way faster. You see what I'm saying? But because the light is closer, I'm gonna have to close down a little bit on my F-stop, this might not even be enough, to see if I can (shutter clicks) get my light a little bit, yeah, see how it turned dark just a little bit more? And by increasing my F-stop a little bit, I'm... Now I might like, let's try F14 and see what happens. (shutter clicks) She's such a good little model. You're such a good sport. There we go, so now we don't have as many hot spots, okay? So when we convert that to black and white, the dress is gonna go kind of a mid-tone, and the skin is, the light of the skin is going to become the brightest part of the image, does that make sense? This is key when you're shooting black and white. You have to make sure the brightest thing in the image is what your eye is going to go to. And you always look for shadow, okay? Shadow makes a good black and white. If you don't have shadows, might as well not even shoot black and white, okay? So that's why I'm using just a single overhead source, 'cause she's just got the cutest little face on the planet. Yes you do! Okay, so now we're gonna start taking some pictures. Sound good? I love your tooth, it is about to fall out isn't it? Okay. So now, Miss Rayna, do you know how to add? Do you know like what two plus two is? Um... You don't know what two plus two is? What do you think? Hmm? Not sure? Not sure. Hmm, something's wrong with my camera, it's not firing. Miss Julia's camera has decided to not take pictures. (shutter clicks) There we go. Okay. I have a... (shutter clicks) Have you guys ever had your lens get loose on your thing? My lens just in the last few days has gotten... I think I have to send it in, and get loose, sometimes it doesn't want to trigger. So that's why. Okay, so, two plus two? (shutter clicks) What do you think? (shutter clicks) Um.... Two plus two. Four? Four, good job! (laughs) Okay, so your mommy tells me... See it's really hard for them to not look. (laughs) Can you not look at your, do you think you could not look there? It's hard to, huh? Yeah, normally Miss Julia wouldn't have a big old monitor of you on the screen, huh? Yeah, she wouldn't. So do you have a doggie? What's your doggie's name? (shutter clicks) Pepper. Pepper? (shutter clicks) And what is Pepper? Pepper is (shutter clicks) a Boston Terrier, and she came in (shutter clicks) and I do like her. (shutter clicks) You do like her? Now, I hear that she sleeps with you. Yeah. (shutter clicks) She does? Does she snore? Yeah. She does snore? Look at how smiley she is, she's so cute. You're so easy to get to smile, aha! (laughs) Okay. I want you to look, you ready? You gotta look really hard for something. (shutter clicks) There's an animal in here, did you see him? Remember I told you that secret before? I can't. You can't see him? Okay, you gotta watch really close. Really close. Oh, he's talking to me. (shutter clicks) He's saying, "Rayna"... My camera's acting all funny. My camera won't shoot. (laughs) Oh, no worries, there we go. He's acting all funny. I don't think he wants (shutter clicks) me to take a picture. But if you look really close he might tell you a story. You ready? Miss Julia's camera is not behaving, (shutter clicks) there we go. You see him? (shutter clicks) You see him? (shutter clicks) No. You don't? Yeah. You do? I think he might be... He's telling me something. He's whispering to me. Did you know that, do you know what he's whispering? He's whispering things to me. Yeah, he is. He's whispering. (shutter clicks) He's saying... "I think that Miss Rayna, shhh, "I think that she should..." My camera's really giving me problems. I don't know what's wrong, why it's not shooting. That's okay. We'll try here. (shutter clicks) That he thinks that you... He thinks... So weird, I wonder if it's my lens. Can we switch to the 105? See if that makes a difference. It might be my lens. It's just not responding. It might be the connection or... Yeah, it's still not responding, huh? Yeah it's finding focus (shutter clicks) All right then. Okay, he thinks that (shutter clicks) you should eat some broccoli. (shutter clicks) Do you like broccoli? what? Do you like broccoli? No. (shutter clicks) Ew. (shutter clicks) Who likes broccoli? It's nasty stuff, isn't it? Ha ha, what does it taste like? It tastes like... Oh dang! It tastes like beans. It tastes like, oh dang my camera! (laughs) Thank you, he'll help me with my camera in a minute. I'm getting frustrated because my camera's not responding. I'm not sure if it's because I'm tethered or if it's the lens or what's happening. I'm seeing moments and I can't get 'em, 'cause you know how that, oh, so frustrating. But she's obviously giving me really cute expressions, look at that tooth. Oh my Guinness! Do you see how it's kind of behaving badly. Try again. Try again? Okay. Okay, so Miss Rayna, (shutter clicks) I would like you to do something for me, can you do that? I want you to play the violin. Can you do that? Yeah, okay. What's your favorite song? Twinkle Twinkle Little Oh, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star? But you know what I want you to do? Can you look at my little critter? Did I tell you his name? I didn't tell you his name yet? No. Oh, how rude of me! I'd like to introduce you to someone. Harold, meet Rayna. Did you hear that? He said hi. Yeah. Did you hear him? He did, he did said hi, huh? I didn't hear him. You didn't hear him, huh? Well he wants you to look at him when you play the violin. Can you do that? You think you can? Yeah, go for it, let's hear Twinkle Twinkle. (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) (shutter clicks) Okay, so... Perfect, what's your other favorite song? (Rayna speaks indistinctly) Which one is it? (Rayna speaks indistinctly) Metsutabe Hot Dog? Miss Mississippi Hot Dog? I don't know what that one is? Will you show that one to me? But can you play as quiet as you can, shhh. (simple violin music) Too loud! Too loud! Shhh. (soft violin music) (Julia sighs) (shutter clicks) (shutter clicks) Very good! Okay, you know what I want you to do. Can you play up to the sky? There we go! Can you play up to the sky just like that? (Julia gasps) Good job! But Harold wants to see you! (shutter clicks) There we go, how perfect! Beautiful, okay. So what I'm getting her to do is just lift her chin. She has smaller eyes, and to get them to brighten up a little bit by getting her to open and look up is very... Yeah, see, very good, very helpful! Can you put your violin in your lap? What a helpful person you are. Oh my goodness. Okay, so let's pretend to make some faces shall we? We're gonna move on a little bit, and then we're gonna call it a day, sound good, 'cause you're being such a good helper. I appreciate it. Okay, so we're going to have our thinking face. 'Cause you're learning about feelings at school all right? Yeah. Yeah. About good feelings and kind of not so good feelings, huh? Okay, so let's do our thinking face. How would you think? (shutter clicks) How would you think about my friend Harold in the camera here? (shutter clicks) How would you show a frustrated face? Frustrated face! (shutter clicks) How would you show happy face? Oh my goodness! How would you show sad face? Sad face. (shutter clicks) How would you show surprised face? (shutter clicks) (Julia laughs) Oh my gosh, she's so stinking cute! Okay. We're gonna close our eyes. Close your eyes. I want you to breathe in through your nose. (Julia inhales) Gently, good girl, and when I count to three, all you're gonna do is look at Harold and not make another face, okay? One, two, three. (shutter clicks) Close your eyes. Real gentle, and you're just gonna gently open. One, two, three. Open. (shutter clicks) Beautiful, love it. Okay, so... Some warming up. Very happy child. Hard to get into that softer expression. I think you did pretty amazing. Yeah, you did really good. Your momma's gonna be super happy. Yes she is, huh? You're gonna lose that tooth fast. You think it's wiggly enough to come out tonight? Yeah. Yeah? You think so? Cause you yank it out. You tie it to a door? And go yank! Yank! Yank it out! Oh yeah, or maybe you should tie it to your violin and then just play it'll pop out, right? Yeah. Yeah, that would work. Okay, let me hand my camera back to Casey, and then we will let you hop down. Sound good? You were such a big helper, thank you. I appreciate it, high five. Good job, okay. Hang onto that violin, you got it? What a talented little girl. Can we give her a little round of applause? (audience applauds) She did so good. I'm so proud of you. Okay, you can go find your mom over there. Awesome! Okay, so before we get into the siblings, I want to see if there's any questions. I'm just using a single light source. We're going for the eyes and that soft, sweet expression, you can see how the buttons are very bright. Those are gonna require toning down in post, like that's literally where your eye goes to. Hey, Case, can you turn the image upside down for me? There we go, perfect. It's trying, yeah just flip it upside down if it'll let you. Will it let you? If you look at it and kinda squint your eyes, kinda like look through your lashes, you can look at it and go, oh those buttons! (laughs) It's the first thing you see is that highest point of contrast in the image, and that's something you need to really be aware of and learn when it comes to shooting black and white, is that the highest point of contrast is where your eye is gonna go to in an image first, so as you shoot more and more, you'll learn to help your clients pick what to wear by asking yourself, okay what's gonna be the highest point of contrast? Since I knew I was shooting this on a dark background, I had a dark, not dark skin, but just mid-tone skin and dark hair, putting her in a white dress would have been the kiss of death. Like, that's all you would have seen is that white hot dress, okay? Now, if I was shooting her on high key it's a different story. So always make sure you stay in key.

Class Description

Now that you're consistently booking family photo shoots, it's time to create a business that stands out from your competition. Well-known newborn and family photographer Julia Kelleher will show you how to create a personalized "niche" for your photography that also offers its own product line.

In this class, Julia will show you how to:

  • Develop a solid, definable and recognizable brand
  • Attract your ideal client's to your business
  • Develop products that your clients will buy

By the end of this class, you'll be working on creating your own niche while growing and expanding your photography business to include new clients and larger sales.


Courtney Ranck-Copher

I own I think all of Julia's classes. This is probably my favorite. I will say that it's because its exactly the type of photography I have been wanting to focus on. So the information was extremely valuable to me. But I do love all of Julia's classes and you can learn so much from her as a mentor regardless of the type of portraits you shoot. Thanks Julia for a wonderful class I have watched it multiple times!


As always, Julia never disappoints! It has been so awesome to watch her work with such incredible intention, from concept to session to sales. Her energy and strategy are so motivational and very, very creative! This class rocks from start to finish, and is a perfect addition to my Creative Live business arsenal! Five stars all the way!!!!!

Amy Vaughn

My favorite part was seeing how Julia's business evolved over time and transformed into what it is today. Good tips for finding inspiration to develop a niche and practical marketing advice. I'm glad I took this alongside Tamara's business class - the two photographers had very different approaches to their business and shooting family photography in many ways, but it really illustrators how there's no one way to do everything. I learned so much from both of them.