Sometimes, a spontaneous capture can provide a photographer with the inspiration they need to set up the perfect shoot. For fine art and children photographer Iwona Podlasinska, a quick shot of her son playing with a wooden plane in a poppy field near her parents’ home did exactly that.
“It was all I wanted in my photos – childhood dreams, freedom, a little bit of nostalgia,” she said. “I love taking photos of young children because they are unpredictable. You can’t expect them to pose for you, exactly how you want. They can’t fake emotions.”
Often, she said, the people who attend her workshops are interested in seeing how she created some of her classic images – including this intimate moment between Iwona, her son, and a simple wooden toy back in 2015. So, with the help of a new, young model, Iwona recreated this magical capture during a photography workshop she hosted in May 2018.
“Originally, I didn’t ask my son to pose for me, I just captured a genuine moment,” Iwona said. “In the workshop, I gave the boy the plane. He actually liked it and started pretending the plane was flying over the rapeseed flowers.”
To achieve the soft, golden light she was looking for, Iwona said she waited until the sun was dipping below the horizon before giving her new model the toy. According to Iwona, the light that falls just after sunset provides the perfect opportunity to capture a beautifully backlit image while still retaining sufficient detail in the sky and foreground.
Camera & Settings
Sony Alpha a7 II
24 MP full frame sensor, 5-axis in body stabilization
The photo was shot with a Sony A7II and an 85mm f/1.4 Sony GM lens – perfect for capturing a crisp portrait with a creamy, blurred background. Iwona used an exposure of 1/250, with an aperture of f/2 and an ISO of 160.
“In both photos, I wanted to see more sky than I was able to put in a single shot,” Iwona admitted. “Sky, in this case, represents his dreams and makes the viewer understand the story.”
To achieve this, Iwona said she combined two horizontal shots – one of the boy playing with the airplane, and an image she’d shot of some beautiful clouds several days earlier. After using a simple mask to cover the edges and put the two images together in Lightroom, she said she decided to add a swirl of blur to add a touch of whimsy to the corners, which was done using radial blur with the middle of the photo masked out.
In the end, Iwona’s photo perfectly embodies the innocence and freedom of childhood – exactly what she’d hoped to recreate when she revisited her 2015 shot. It captures a moment, which is something Iwona said she tries to do every time she picks up her camera.
“My job, whenever I shoot, is all about making those kids enjoy the moment,” she said. “You can show them how they can play, and then observe, waiting for a good time to take a photo. Every good photo is a treasure, because it’s difficult to get it the same way twice – you have to be a little lucky.”
Jessi Gowan is an award-winning writer and photographer who specializes in rural landscapes and fine art abstracts, with a focus on form and composition. Her photography has been included in a variety of publications, as well as in exhibitions in Canada and the United States.