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A Lighting Gear Checklist for Photographing Kids

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In this chapter from 100% Kid: A Professional Photographer's Guide to Capturing Kids in a Whole New Light, Allison Tyler Jones give you a rundown on how to use and how not to use your flash. She also talks about the studio lights that photographers use the most and how to set up your camera and trigger those lights.
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  • Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
  • —Albert Einstein

You always shoot in natural light, you know how it works, where to look for the good light, and how to get the results you want. Isn’t photographing kids hard enough without having to mess with even more gear? Learning to use flash can feel like trying to learn photography all over again. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and quit before you discover the benefits that having complete control of your lighting gives you.

In this chapter, you’ll get the rundown on how to use and how not to use your flash. You’ll also explore the studio lights that photographers use the most and learn how to set up your camera and trigger those lights.

Light Is Your Medium

Let’s compare the art of photography to the art of painting. A painter’s medium is paint; the brush is a tool the painter uses to apply the medium. For a photographer, the camera and lenses are the tools, but light is the medium for expression. The word photography is derived from two Greek words that literally mean to write (graphy) with light (photo).

The type of light you choose to write with is a selection process, much like the painter choosing which paint to use. Your lighting “palette” might include the natural-light source of the sun, or a flash, such as a studio strobe or speedlight. It’s as simple, and as complicated, as that.

Natural light is the gold standard of light. But nature is fickle and doesn’t always cooperate when you need it to. Rain may threaten, and toddlers are usually in full meltdown during the “golden hour” of light just before sunset. Learning to use flash gives you the tools and the confidence to light any kid, anytime, anywhere.

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