Preschool photography with clamshell lighting (behind the scenes)

I posted on my Facebook page about 6 weeks ago that I couldn’t wait to get releases back from the parents at a recent preschool gig because I was dying to show you the results of my first foray into clamshell lighting for little’uns. Well they’ve come back and so now I have something to show you! First, the pull-backs of my set-up:

Although I’d prefer to actually be using two lights, this is my set-up at the moment. This is a one light clamshell set-up. Note that the speedlite above isn’t necessarily the settings I used. I can’t remember at which point in the setting up that I took that photo.

Note: I changed my set-up slightly for each child because this was my first time experimenting with this lighting. So the pull-back above isn’t necessarily the exact position of the light in the images below. The concept is this…you point the one light down enough to light the face but also bounce off the reflectors to evenly light your subject.


  • f/7.1
  • ISO 200
  • SS 100
  • WB auto

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  • jena

    How cute are these little ones……makes u smile

  • Daniela

    What lovely photos! I’m sure the parent were really happy to have something a little different then the ‘old fashoined’ headshots. I was looking at your set up and I’m loving the Interfit floor stand. I can see how this would work really work for on location shoots. I’ve had a Google around but can’t find one like yours. Any ideas where I can purchase one :) Thanks Elizabeth

  • Dorothy

    Elizabeth: Is the camera to the left – facing the grey background paper? Thanks.

  • I love this set up. Use something similar all the time for both people and pet portraits in the studio. I got my low light stand on Ebay for those who are asking. Did you edit out the triflector triple catchlights. I always leave them in because it makes the eyes really sparkle but I know some purists dislike them.

  • They look pretty good! I need to star playing more with studio lights and backdrop. Especially with winter coming here, no one is going to want outside photos. Thanks for this pullback… I’d love to see more of what you do with inside shoots! You are definitely one of my main inspirations.

  • Kim

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Nat

    Very nice! Thank you for sharing. I’ve recently bought a softbox and can’t wait to try out new set ups!

  • Kristina

    wow! Love the results!

  • Asma

    Oh my … love the pics the girls are so classy specially :))

    setup still too big for me .. hehe

  • katka

    those are just wow, especially the blond girl towards the end…

  • Sarah Jane

    Love these; definitely the best school portraits I’ve seen!

  • Shannon

    Love these. I really appreciate that each one is different. I live in Texas and the schools in my region use Lifetouch. In the past I would order from the packet and all of my kids had the exact same unnatural pose. The same as every other kid in the school district. I didn’t like that at all.

  • moi

    Fabulous images! Love love love them ♥

  • Oh my goodness gracious, that dress and sweater on that little girl with the pigtail buns is killing me. CAN IT GET ANY CUTER?!! Precious.

  • WOW! Elizabeth, you are brilliant, I really enjoyed your post and found the information really useful and inspiring! Thankyou!