“Herne’s Daughter 1” by Samantha Hook

This is my daughter, a flame haired wildling. As she is growing up I am so proud of the fierce, independent and imaginative young lady she is becoming and I wanted to create an image that celebrated this.

I also think children can seem like faerie creatures; lost in their own worlds that we’re only allowed glimpses into, so I really hoped to capture this sense of otherworldliness and the feeling that there is a whole other universe of imagination behind those eyes.

The only problem was that I have this perfect little red-haired, blue eyed, freckle nosed model who hates being photographed! I managed to persuade/bribe her to come into the studio and I got about five clicks of the shutter before she’d had enough, but that really focused my mind on getting it right first time. Never a bad thing, I guess!

I am lucky enough to have fabulous window light so I worked with this and one reflector to keep things really simple. I’ve started to use a tripod for my studio portraits and I think this really paid off here, I’m not sure I would have got that look of defiance if she couldn’t see Mummy’s face to direct it at!

In the edit I decided to add some painterly canvas texture here to distance the viewer a little and make this seem a touch artificial, almost like she is playing a part in a play rather than trying to depict her as an actual mythical creature. This also allowed me a lot of control over the colours in the background so I could mirror and compliment the colour in her hair and eyes. I also wanted the finished image to look a little old and worn.

Whilst I think I managed to more-or-less achieve what I was setting out to here, that’s not why I like this image. To me there is something very special in that gaze, but then, as her Mum, I may just be a little biased.

What do you think are the TWO most impactful features that make your image a good photograph? Don’t be shy!

The first is those eyes. I wanted a tight crop to really show off the intensity of her gaze and I think it’s worked a treat. Also, I love the slight ambiguity in her expression, you’re not quite sure what she’s thinking which I love. Second, I guess would be the colours, I wanted to keep a fairly simple palette, based in nature, that let her hair and eyes really stand out.

If you would be able to make this photo once again, what would be the ONE thing you would like to do better or different?

If I were to make this photo again I would probably try working on location in a dark wood, rather than the studio, to really set the scene in nature and make her pop from the background more. This would involve a bigger bribe I suspect! I might also try a wider aperture or shifting the head-dress about as it bothers me that some of the flowers are as much in focus as her eyes. I know, that’s two things… I’m cheating!

Samantha Hook shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


Samantha Hook, Newark on Trent, UK


Equipment and Settings

Canon 5D Mark IV
ISO 200, f1/8 1/320 sec.
Large window light to model’s left / large circular silver reflector to camera left at 45 degrees to model.

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Comments (2):

  1. Nigel Walker

    February 17, 2021 at 11:38

    Great picture and the focus on the eyes works well. The headress makes her look quite supernatural, which I guess is part of the story you wanted to tell. She may or may not love you for this in the future :-=)

  2. Rosalie Heller

    March 14, 2021 at 02:46

    My grandson would always say “I am done” after a few frames…and walk away. Love this portrait of your adorable daughter.


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