Photographing Children of World War 2

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: August 13, 2018

Category: Photography

If you’ve been following this blog for while or have maybe connected with me on social media, you’ll likely know that I’m working on a 1940’s / World War 2 Project.

Well, this project continues to grow with plans being worked on for my first exhibition in addition to filming a 30 minute documentary pilot but I’ll let you know more about that in a future post.

For now though I wanted to share some results and a look Behind the Scenes at a recent photo shoot for this project where I had the pleasure of photographing some folks that were children during the time World War 2 broke out…

Glyn Dewis World War 2

This photo shoot all came about from when I was contacted a few weeks ago by a gentleman asking if I could possibly allow him to use one of the pictures from the project as a cover image for a book he was compiling about children during World War 2, namely folks who attended his church. The idea for the book came from Anthony Vane (picture above).

Thee book sounded like a wonderful idea capturing the stories of childhood so sure enough I sent over the picture he asked to use as the cover…

Glyn Dewis World War 2

Having spoken about the book I suggested it would be wonderful to photograph each of the people whose stories are featured in the book so that’s what we did. Time was arranged once I returned from holiday to drive over to meet everyone at the church and photograph each of them, with some bringing along photographs of themselves from when they were children and some bringing along items they had kept from that period in time.

My wife Anne and I had also visited a few antique shops to purchase some items that could be used in the pictures because I wanted to create portraits that showed the person in their advanced years but with something a child would have had during the 40’s so that there would be a connection … does that make sense?

1940 Antiques

Behind the Scenes

Below you can see a few Behind the Scenes pictures that show the complete set up which you’ll notice was extremely simple.

The canvas background I’m using is from Gravity Backdrops and you can see that to put it behind the subject I’ve simply slid the roll onto a boom. I do this quite a bit because it’s quick and easy to set up and also takes up very little space compared to maybe using 2 light stands and a cross beam…

1940 Northwood BTS

Kit List
  • Sony A7RII
  • Sony E-Mount Zeiss Sonnar 55mm Lens FE F1.8 ZA
  • Elinchrom ELC 1000 Pro HD
  • Westcott XXL Rapid Box Octa
  • Gravity Backdrops Canvas Background
  • Avenger A2030DKIT C-Stand Kit 30 with Detachable Base

Glyn Dewis 1940s

Camera Settings

Some folks love to know camera settings so I’ll include them here with the understanding that they will always vary depending on the location you’re photographing in…

  • Aperture: f/8.0
  • Shutter Speed: 1/125 sec
  • ISO: 100

As for the power of the flash I have no idea other than saying it was metered to the above settings.

In Closing…

Before I sign off there’s a couple things in my head I wanted to mention and couldn’t think where else to add them in…

  • You’ll notice I’m using a tripod. This I ALWAYS do to ensure pin sharp images but also I find it helps me to settle into the photo shoot by slowing me down a touch. It also means that in a series of images there will be uniformity to them due to being taken from the same distance, angle and height. In this case because the people I was photographing were a little nervous I used the articulating screen on the back of my camera to compose and ensure the focal point instead of tucking in behind. This meant I was able to maintain eye contact and carry on talking to them without them suddenly feeling more nervous when I moved to take a picture…does that make sense?
  • I’m looking to run a YouTube LIVE in the near future going through the retouching on one of these images concentrating mainly on how I do my Black and White conversions. Obviously there a absolutely loads of ways to do black and whites but I choose to use a simple Gradient Map in Photoshop. I do however do ALL of the colour grading leading up to then because it’s what you do before the Black and White conversion I feel gives it the look you’re after.
  • Do you know anyone that served during World War 2 or was a child during World War 2 that I could maybe look at photographing for this project?

Right, that’s all for this post so as always if you have any questions / comments then feel free to make use of the comments section below.

Catch you later

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  1. Anthony

    Excellent post mate, love how this project is growing and taking on even more meaning. Well done that man!

    • Glyn

      Thank you mate. Looking forward to moving on with it 🙂

  2. Craig Sperring

    Absolutely Superb.
    An amazing insight on the whole thought process.

    Images like these IMHO are priceless, as their stories and experiences should be passed down for posterity.
    10/10 Great work again Glyn!

    • Glyn

      Thanks Craig 😉

  3. barry townsend

    Hi Glyn Love your work, i have been doing the same as you with my mother in law she’s 96 years old, have got a reasonable photo of her but not up to your standard.
    Keep up the good work ,
    PS. bought Rosa tutorial Brilliant

    • Glyn

      Photos of these folks needs to be done…good on you for photographing your mother in law Barry.
      Thanks for the kind words re ROSA 😉


  4. Vernon Nash

    Great idea using the boom arm for the background. The photographs work really well in black and white. Nice one Glyn!


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