School Prom Photography

I was really pleased to get a phone call from one of my old Army Cadet Force friends (Laura) a few months ago. Her daughter Libby who I also know from the Army Cadets has just about to finish her school exams and had her prom coming up and would like some photos. I’ve had some great weekends with both my friend and her daughter while away, sometimes literally doubled  up from the pain of laughing so much and so I jumped at the chance to catch up with them.

It was a really great experience to photograph Libby, I’ve known Libby for a few years now and watched her grow from a little barrel of fun to the beautiful young lady you see in the photographs. You volunteer time to work with these kids and when you see them grow and turn into switched on young adults it really makes it all worthwhile. It was also great to catch up with Libby’s brother Stuart who I’ve also known for a few years from Army Cadets and husband Dave.

Arriving at the house I found there wasn’t a lot of options to work with, the obvious choice of the back garden had a large tent setup for the after party but there was a little bit of room to the side but other obstacles meant I couldn’t use as large a focal length as I would have liked, so was forced to control depth of field with a large aperture and some clever angles. Fortunately the weather was incredible and that really helped although the sun was a little strong at times and we were forced to wait for cloud cover to knock the contrast down a bit at times.

One area that worked really was the passage to the rear gate, this had a high wooden fence and was reasonably wide. I placed Libby with the sun high behind here which created a nice ‘halo’ affect in her hair and then using an off-camera flash fired through a 42″ shoot through umbrella shot two stops above ambient to create the soft directional light you see in the images below.

I then moved to the garden where Dave has a fantastic shed, a proper ‘man cave’ which I used to create an uncluttered background. Shooting Libby there I also realised that the grooves of the wood would make great leading lines to draw the eye to Libby if I could get the right angle. It’s a shame the window breaks that line, but sometimes you just can’t have everything, at least the model was perfect!

It was round about this time that Libby’s friend Shannon arrived and I took a few pictures of them together.

Laura had a great idea about shooting from above which we managed to shoot both girls individually using a step-ladder. Finally Mike arrived with his convertible BMW to whisk them away to the prom. I’m always a little stuck when it comes to cars as I feel the traditional poses in front of cars don’t do it for me. I was inspired however by the ribbons Mike attached to the car which complimented Libby’s dress perfectly so I went with the an image of Libby and Shannon on the bonnet separately with the ribbon in the background. As the car was parked on the street the background was quite cluttered and so I used a long lens, around 120-150mm at F4 to throw the background out of focus.

Finally it was time for the girls to get in the car and with the light reflecting off the two dresses this created incredible light inside the car, particularly as Shannon’s dress was a very bright pink which warmed up the reflected light significantly. I knew using a digital red filter post production when converting to Monochrome this would make Libby and Shannon’s faces lighter and really stand out against the frame of car. I was really quite pleased with the way those images worked, I may have to bring a reflector specifically for that purpose in future!

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