My Dad at 70

When I was back in the UK recently we celebrated my Dad’s 70th birthday. I wanted to take a photo of him to remember the day.

He is devoted to his large garden and always has a project on the go: new flower bed, seating area etc. One project that lasted several years was the construction of a small folly. It was built entirely by him and is supposed to look like a medieval ruin! So I thought I’d snap him in front of it and added the sledgehammer in, as I suspect it played a part in breaking up some of those large stones.

The lighting was relatively simple with a snooted flash on a stand just out of frame left, directed at his face. A second flash was at ground level to light the folly. Both were gelled orange in an attempt to recreate the setting sun.

The three photos here show a bit of the progression of the 10 minute shoot…firstly I had him hold the sledgehammer over his shoulder.


 I like this first shot but realised that you can’t see that he’s holding a sledgehammer. So I had him place the sledgehammer on the ground and rest his hands on it.


This made him look less ‘heroic’ but more thoughtful. I’m not sure how well this works as he looks a little hunched.

So I asked him to look into the distance which made for a better pose for this final shot. 


The flash on the ground, which was supposed to light the folly, didn’t fire for this last shot and I think the photo in fact looks better as Dad stands out more.

We were manically packing up our car getting ready to leave that morning so I was pleased to be able to do this quick shoot with Dad. One of many happy memories of a great summer in the UK.



- Nikon D800 on a tripod with Nikon 16-35mm f4 lens at 35mm

- Aperture Priority with -1EV

- f10, 1/125s, ISO100

- Snooted SB700 on a stand fired with Pocket Wizard. Flash power was dropped down by -1 to -2 EV

- SB900 on gorilla pod fired with Pocket Wizard