Jodi Buckles + The Story Behind

When we photograph our kids, we all have that vision of what a perfect image would be. Everyone’s list may be different but we have no doubt that Jodi Buckles checked off the majority of boxes on those lists with the image we share today. Carefree…check. Beautiful light…check. Details captured…check. Movement…check. The essence of a child…check. We believe it’s the perfect keepsake meant to be admired and above all, make you smile.

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Where was this photo taken?
This photo was taken at a local park in Sonoma County, California.

How did the location add or hinder to your image?
I love this location and use it often because of its variety of backdrops, open fields, oak trees, mountains, vineyards and absolutely, beautiful low light close to sunset. The backlight in this specific spot was so strong and gorgeous and I was able to put my subject right in front of that strong backlight to give that golden glow around her.

DSLR, iphone, instant or film?
Canon 5D Mark IV with a Canon 35 mm 1.4 USM II lens.

What were your camera settings for this image?
f1.8, 1/5000, and ISO 500.

Can you tell us “The Story Behind” this shot?
I have known this sweet family for years and have worked with them quite a few times and adore this little ones spunk and sassy style. I really feel that this shot captures who she is and her Mama already replied how much she adores this capture. I had gotten through most of my workflow during the family session and typically try to end with a portrait or two of each child. I asked her some silly questions to make her smile and then told her to find the butterfly in my camera and got this. It just speaks to me and her free spirit really shines through in this portrait.

What speaks to you about this image? What specifically made you press the shutter?
I love that her body language is carefree and happy, her sweet head tilt and her hands on her hips, she is very much relaxed and expressing herself. I also love that strong backlight. The sun was directly behind her. This portraits really accentuates her beautiful crystal eyes, darling freckles and red hair.

What was your composition technique with this shot?
I typically like my close up portrait work to center on the subject’s eyes and faces and like to tilt my camera down on them to make the eyes the focal point. I tend to pull my aperture quite low so my depth of field is centered on the face. I took a series of these images but this one just really grabbed that sparkle in her eyes and I like the composition and lighting.

Did you have any lighting challenges/How did you light the image?
This image was all natural strong backlight, the sun was close to setting and was literally right behind her. I used her to shield the strong sunlight and get that natural backlight glow around her. I love the way it turned out!

Did you use any special techniques – freelensing, prism, etc?
Not this time.

Was this photo happenstance or did you visualize it prior? If so, how did you envision the image and set up for it?
I wouldn’t say I visualized this image beforehand but I do tend to grab close up portraiture of each child at a family session. Parents always seem to be drawn to these close ups that really show the child’s eyes and faces and capture their essence.

Did you use a preset to edit this image, your own selective edits or a combination of both?
I edited this image with VSCO Kodak Gold and also did quite a few hand edits in ACR and PS. I brushed some clarity and exposure in ACR, warmed the image up a bit, popped her eyes and freckles with the dodge tool and lowered the highlights to show more of that orange sun around her. I also pulled the oranges down in the HSL panel a tad to make her complexion more natural, not too orange.

Do you have any addition information you would like to share with our readers?
Don’t be afraid to get really close to your subjects and interact with them! This image really relied on me being silly with her, asking her questions, getting her comfortable so her true colors shined through in the image. You are in charge of your sessions, so don’t be afraid to be hands on and interactive.

Continue to be inspired by Cali’s own Jodi Buckles at the following places: