Bluebell season is nearly here again....their delicate scent and stunning carpet of colour is soon to adorn our local woodlands here in Kent.
Every year I shoot the most beautiful bluebell sessions for children and families, deep in the secret places of the wood. April and May are certainly busy months for outside family sessions for photographers in the UK, which come to a climax with the emergence of the woodland bluebells.
This post is both for photographers and keen amateurs who wish to capture super bluebell portraits. I hope these tips and hints I have learned myself over the years help you to create something magical!
When shooting in bluebells, there are several factors which can greatly affect the quality of your portraits.
Firstly, you will need to consider the time of your session. Ideally, shooting either early in the morning, for the softest dawn light, or in the golden hour....(the hours before sunset) will create the softest hues and light in your portraits, whilst the sun is low in the sky. Try to avoid the hours around midday, which will bleach colours and create harsh shadows. If you can't avoid those times, then seek shade and place your subjects in shady areas.
SEEK THE SHADE
When the bluebells bloom in the woodlands at the end of April, a rush of green leaves are starting to unfurl in the canopy above the woodland floor but the coverage is patchy, which areas of dappled shade and open sunshine. This can lead to unevenly lit images and problems with exposure metering. As a photographer, seek the shade if possible and place your subject within the shade, asking them to look out to an area of bright sunshine. This will create a flattering soft light to fall upon their face, with beautiful catchlights in the eyes. Alternatively, shoot on an overcast day, which will create even and very flattering lighting.
IT'S A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE
Shoot a variety of perspectives for your client. Up high and you will be able to see a carpet of bluebells, but - don't forget to get down low, too! Take a plastic bag to place under you (and possibly your client / family too) and lay down, belly on the floor to capture images of your subject through the bluebells. This will create a beautiful hazy blur to frame your client.
In post production you are going to be working with strong highlights (if shot on a sunny day) and will need to balance the woodland shadows too. I do this by bringing down highlights in LR and lifting the blacks too. You will also need to remove any colour casts on your subject's faces from the bright purple and lime green of the new spring foliage. The green in particular will leave skin tones with an acid yellow / sap green shade. I often create a new layer with a higher level of magenta to brush over the top to counter-act this effect.
PROTECTING OUR BEAUTIFUL BLUEBELLS
If you are in bluebell woodland, stay to paths and avoid stepping on the blooms or foliage. If you get down low, it is easy to obscure paths from your images. To avoid children picking the blooms, you can also give the children artificial bluebell blooms to hold for photography which can be sourced easily from eBay or Etsy.
WHAT TO WEAR
Your clients or family, need to plan ahead what they will be wearing. It is often very helpful for them to decide upon one central colour and then build up their wardrobe around this colour. They can lay their outfits out on the bed to see how they work together ahead of time.
Creams, tans and browns ~ for a traditional, natural look....
Mint, light blue, pink, purple ~ for colour ways which sit right next to the purple haze of the bluebells on the colour wheel. These colours will work in harmony with the bluebell hue, creating a dreamy palette.
PLANNING FAMILY OUTFITS
It is important not necessarily to MATCH, but for each family member to include a small part of the main colour in their outfit. So, if the main colour is light blue, mum might wear a light blue shirt or scarf with neutral outfit, dad may wear jeans and a light blue jumper, the little girl might wear a white dress with light blue cardigan.
Comfort is important. You may be asked to sit or pose in the woods. Very often the wood can be a little chilly if there is a slight wind, then alternatively suddenly warm with a burst of sunshine. It is good to layer your outfits to accommodate these temperature changes.
Footwear. You may need your clients / family to walk to the exact location. Consider fairly robust footwear! Consider asking your clients / family to bring young children in slings not pushchairs to the location for the same reason.
Here are lots of ideas from recent sessions for what your client / family may wish to wear.
2019 BLUEBELL SESSIONS
I cannot wait to meet with all my families for the 2019 Bluebell Sessions! I have just six available spots for my most magical of seasonal sessions for your family on May 5th 2019, so please do not delay.
Click here to learn more https://rebeccamayphotography.bigcartel.com/product/bluebell-mini-sessions-2019
I hope to hear from you!