by Wil Cohen on Dec. 5, 2019
A Boy’s Life was a self assignment that I gave to myself in order to try some new approaches. I was partly influenced by the movie “Boyhood” in which they chronicled a boy growing up using the actual cast over the course of several years. My thought was to show my son with the things he cared about at that time. He was into baseball, his bicycle, and playing with our family dog. Rather than showing it in a purely documentary style I also wanted to show them in a way that would read to the commercial world as well. I pictured these hanging up at Gap Kids for instance.
This was another way where I tried to approach things differently as well. I like to do dramatic & cinematic lighting but wanted to try and mix it up a little. My goal was to still have the cinematic approach but with more of a lighter feeling. I had done some natural lighting shots for a magazine around that time and wanted to combine those two worlds. Additionally, I wanted to be very mobile since I would be photographing my son and dog by myself. The small Fuji X100T made my gear footprint very small. Since it has a leaf shutter lens and built in ND filter it further reduced what gear was needed while not impacting the image quality. The TCL adapter turned the X100 into a 50mm for the tighter portraits when needed. Since I wanted the project to be authentic I limited myself to shooting around our yard and where he rode his bike down the street.
I really wanted to keep things simple and minimal here too. I used Lightroom for global coloring etc. and used Photoshop in a couple of spots. I am not a fan of retouching images of children very much. I aim to get it correctly in camera in my photography. Often, I retouch in PS for a set of images and make duplicates in LR and play with the color grading.
Although this was a self assignment I am often asked about these series of images. It forced me to think and work differently and I learned some valuable lessons. Such as, pushing myself out of my comfort zone, simple concepts work, and authenticity shows shows in our images. As you can see from my gear list very little was needed to get the job done. I started incorporating this kit while on other shoots as a way to quickly get a different mood. Now go experiment on a self assignment project!
Manfrotto Nano Lightstand
Westcott Collapsible 43” umbrella
(Flash was off camera and manual so don’t have the setting)
I am a portrait, commercial, and editorial photographer based in Los Angeles with my wife, two sons, and bull terrier. I fell in love with photography when shooting family vacations with my plastic film camera at age 5. I was blown away with dramatic lighting when I saw Bladerunner with my dad. When not behind the camera I spend my time writing & recording songs and coaching my kid’s soccer & basketball teams.