Bees Knees Day Nursery is based on the Annadale Embankment area of South Belfast. The introduction to the nursery came from an introduction to a web design company at another job in Belfast several months ago. I love word of mouth business. 9 times out of 10 in these cases the business is guaranteed because both myself and the potential client have been properly introduced and their needs are usually identified before i meet with them. The fact that i have been introduced via a mutual party means a certain element of trust is created before the job starts.
Katrina (from the web design company) emailed me a very short brief for the Bees Knees Day Nursery. For the new Bees Knees Day Nursery website they wanted a selection of images from each of the main rooms in the nursery.
Because of the inevitable curiosity of the children at the nursery i would be limited to the equipment i could use in the rooms. I would not be able to leave any gear on the floors or on shelves incase little hands would and find the equipment.
The rooms of the Bees Knees Day Nursery were small enough that i could get most of what i needed with the Nikon 24-70 F2.8 lens. I had to get a set of both wide and long images focusing on happy kids. As at the moment i only have one body and since i didnt want to risk bringing bags and kit in to the rooms with the kids i kept just one lens on. I have the D3s set up in such a way that i can quickly switch between FX and DX crops. This meant i was able to flick in to DX mode quickly for a tighter crop on the image. Yes the resolution would be reduced on the image but as these photos would be used on a website the file reduction in file size would not matter.
Keeping it simple would extend to the lighting as well. I decided to use just two speedlights, the SB-900 and SB-910. Even without umbrellas or other attachments the children were really curious as to what they were. I placed the lights quickly and tried to attract their attention back to their toys by playing along with them for a short time. Once the novelty of the lights vanished they quickly started looking at the camera. I had to leave the camera on a shelf for a little longer to continue playing with them. Again once the novelty wore off i was able to start working.
I kept the flash lights on 1/4 power to ensure enough light to properly illuminate the room as well as to ensure fast recycle times. Whilst i wasn’t shooting in continuous mode i wanted to make sure when i lined up a shot again that i wouldn’t have to wait for the flashes to recycle. 1 or 2 seconds recycle times means some times a photo can be lost if the strobes dont fire.
Whilst the young toddlers spent time looking at me when i entered the room the younger children, from 12 to 18 months wouldn’t take their eyes off me. I would have to take a slower approach with the younger folk. Half of them were wary and the other half were nervous. I had to spend time with each of the children to help them relax. If i brought the camera up too soon i would make them cry so i had to wait until they were all relaxed again.
We also spent a short time outside. Thankfully the weather was amazing for play outdoors. Not so much for taking photos due to bright direct sunlight. As there were so many children running around i could not set up static lights, i could not risk them running in to the stands. So i opted (unusually for me) for on camera flash. I still had to keep a careful eye on highlights though. The sun light was so bright that i was shooting images underexposed so i would have a bit more room to edit during the post processing stages.
Working at places like the Bees Knees Day Nursery makes me really appreciate the fact that i have an amazing job. Children are often the hardest to win adoration or attention from so when you see those little smiles or a pair of eyes peeking around the corner of a wendy house you know the shoot is going to go ok.