For most kids, deciding what to wear for Halloween is an exciting time to make a yearly memory. This is no different for my own daughter. However, this year, she received her costume from a neighbor as a hand-me-down. The joy on her face was priceless! Now that she had her costume, it was my job as her father and photographer to make her look epic.
The outfit reminded me of an Adorama TV feature that Gave Hoey did years ago that also included the character of Red Riding Hood:
As I wanted to use this video as inspiration, but not copy, I choose not to simply review this photo rather than the entire video. This allowed me to make it my own style and look. In keeping with the season of yummy treats, I thought I would write this article in the style of a recipe. Enjoy!
Being a portrait photographer I had all the items I needed for this shoot. Which include:
Body: Canon 5D Mark III
Lens: Canon 85L 1.4IS
Speedlight: Canon 600ex-rt
Trigger: Canon ST-E3-RT
Modifier: Westcott 26″ Rapid box with beauty dish
Stand: Cheetah C10
Filter: Tiffin 6 Stop ND filter
Additional: Sand bags for support
Most importantly: One super cute and excited 7 year old ready to live a fantasy as Little Red Riding Hood.
Living in the city, a nearby forest was hard come by. What I did have though was a city park with a line of trees rich in autumn. The shoot began 30 minutes before civil twilight which helped give a soft glow to the trees in the background. The ambient light was a bit bright when I opened up the lens completely so I used a 6 stop Neutral Density (ND) to compensate.
I realize settings are dependent on the conditions and therefore will not apply to all circumstances, but you can use them as a guide. After all, you don’t want to over-cook your treat!
Speed: 1/80th of a second (Image Stabilizer on)
Flash: Powered at 1/32 power about 4 to 6 feet away
Tip: As long as your ambient exposure is 1 to 3 stops underexposed and you compensate with flash power, you should be able to get the desired look. It’s really that simple!
Honestly, I don’t watch a bunch of cooking shows, but I do know a great portrait has good composition. As you can see from one image above, soccer goal posts would have ruined the look. Thus, I placed my daughter in a line of trees that would give the viewer a sense that Little Red was in the woods off to grandmother’s house. My daughter, who loves posing and play acting took over and began to have fun. For a little extra flare my wife through some leaves into the shot.
I took the RAW images which were mostly complete into LightRoom. I added a pinch of dehaze, a bit of an S in curves and then some highlighting and shadowing to taste. The result Is one very happy and very excited little girl, “Daddy I look magical, I love them thank you!”
I hope this inspires you to go out and have fun. As photographers, we have the opportunity to make a child’s dreams and fantasies come true.
About the author: Christopher Buschelman is a 35-year-old fine art and portrait photographer based in Papillion, Nebraska. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Buschelman’s work on his website, Instagram, portrait Instagram, and Facebook.