Detail shots are just as important to the story as faces.
As photographers, we know a portrait session is usually to show the family or child’s faces. After all, that’s what a portrait is! But I think that a lot of the story or who that person is at the time isn’t in their face. It’s in tiny baby fingers, or the way glitter is stuck to toes, or the butterfly we found while out taking pictures. It can also be little things about that person or what they’re wearing. Eyelashes, crowns, hair curls.
So I want to take a photo of just that thing to show it without distraction. I include these shots in every fairy session and a few family or baby sessions, and I put them in the albums. I either set some time specifically to take these details and use my Sigma 50mm macro 2.8 to do it, or I use whatever lens I have on the camera at the time to shoot bits of action as they happen. When I shoot, I use these details for mainly three things in a client session. To show things that aren’t easily seen in a full body shot, to help tell a story, and to highlight a child’s body parts to show how little they are.
Each of these images is not cropped, this is how I shot it in-camera, how my clients saw it, and how it was in their final album if they got one.
To show things not easily seen:
These detail photos are for showing things that your eye misses in a larger image. In these examples, you can see exactly what I wanted to show. All of those things were lost in a larger image of the full body.
The intricate butterfly crown I created for this particular shoot. You can see the designs I drew and embossed on the paper butterflies.
Baby’s curled toddler toes covered in glitter and just barely touching the grass tips.
The woodland protector’s dirty fingertips. I especially loved this bit because I actually didn’t plan it, but she took her role seriously and was digging in the dirt.
The hand holding the nest, but she’s every so gently petting one of the eggs. I liked the tender feeling.
The hanging feathers covered in glitter (I swear I spent so much time on those, but they’re not as clear in the pullbacks).
The golden butterfly crown I made from die cut paper.
Her glitter covered arms and the stars on that paper skirt. The whole skirt is made of tissue paper and I placed each of those stars with tweezers.
The girls fingers softly touching the pink rose petals. We all know what that feels like and it ads a bit of dimension to a photo.
The girl holding the snowflake for her ice fairy session.
The amazing makeup job and eyelashes on this ice fairy.
The little dagger tucked into the belt there. His mom painted that herself.
The Glinda wand I made (my house was covered in blue glitter for weeks).
The biggest acorn she found on her photo shoot.
Her perfect natural princess curls that go with the pearls in the dress.
The baby fingers holding the rhinestone crown.
|This little bird’s unique eye color.|
To help tell a story:
The second reason I shoot detail photos is to help tell the story where I don’t need the whole full scene to tell it. You can see below what stories I needed to tell.
Pouring tea (it was lemonade) at the tea party shoot, with the little cookies waiting on the saucer with the antique tea cup.
Little bare feet walking the path at the garden. You can see her gently putting her toes down first.
|Small fingers catching moths (see the white moth there?)|
The acorn and the kiss (and dirty hands) at this Peter Pan shoot.
Sisters playing pattycake together.
Little fingers gently cradle the leaf and tiny caterpillar.
The keys to the secret garden. I painted those keys myself.
Mermaid magic. I love that you can see the shell she’s playing with.
Putting on pointe shoes in a pink tutu.
Flying little feet and skirt full of sunlight.
The fabric in the sun and wind. You can almost hear the whistle in your ears, adding a bit more sensory dimension to this photo.
Little toes climbing a tree in ballet slippers. Childhood in one image.
Yes that’s a real butterfly! These hairsteaks are really calm and don’t mind being picked up as long as you don’t touch their wings.
Unicorn magic in a glass jar with the stopper.
Sisters with tea lights in a glitter covered mason jar.
Holding hands, big sister and little sister. I love the story this tells about their relationship together.
To highlight baby fingers and toes:
These images only tell part of a story or a more transitional movement to one part of the story to another.
|The gentle fingers on the parasol.|
Baby fingers holding up the skirt. This is a very classic movement piece as well. It not only looks as if she’s turning in the frame, but because of that, it can be used in an album layout to move the viewer to another image in the page spread.
Little fingers and a little bird.
Little fingers are gentle with little flower petals.
I didn’t start out shooting details. I got this idea from another photographer pal of mine. If you really want to see who is the absolute best at this, take a look at Shalonda Chaddock’s work: www.chubbycheekphotography.com
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