Some quick background first. My wife and I have 2 kids, one 2.5 years old and the other 4 weeks. We were a little tired and stressed with just the first and now things have changed significantly again. There's no marital issues or anything like that, I like to think we have a great little family, but we are definitely feeling like we need some "us" time lately. My wife had an awesome idea about a year ago - she made me a book of 20 date night ideas, randomized in envelopes. A few had a $5-20 bill in with it to cover the evening if needed. We'd block off a free night every other week that couldn't be moved and open one of the envelopes and have fun. We both really looked forward to these and it was great for our marriage. Ideas included home-made ice cream with an old black and white movie, DIY Chopped competition, indoor minigolf course, board game and wine by the fire, and marshmallow / PVC blow gun war, among others. It was awesome up until they ran out. Now that we have kid #2, we're finding it even more important to carve out some time for each other so we're bringing it back. Except this time it wasn't a gift to me, so we're splitting the ideas 50/50.
ANYWAY, one of my ideas was to do a fun portrait session with just the two of us. I got the idea from this Tony Northrup video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hgj39jkGhiE. I ran it by my wife and she was surprisingly on board for it; she is usually not one for modelling anything. I'm lucky if I get any candids of her solo. She doesn't mind the camera, especially if the shot is of a group or of her and the kids, etc. But she's quickly self conscious and not confident in herself or her features. I really wish she would work on these traits because I personally find her beautiful, and I would selfishly love to have some good portraits of her (not to mention work on my skills as an amateur photographer). This session will be centered around fun - a quick trip to home depot for setup stuff, and a quick trip to goodwill for cheap/fun outfit ideas. Budget needs to be on-the-cheap, about $50 give or take, all-in. So considering all of this, I am humbly asking for help in 3 areas:
1) gear / technique. I have never done a "studio" shoot before. I have a Canon 70D with 10-18, 17-55 f/2.8, 50 f/1.8 II (non-STM), and 70-200 f/2.8 (mk1). I have an old Speedlite 420EX flash I got as a hand-me-down, but other than fooling around with it, I really have no clue how to use it best. I have a tripod and a gorilla pod, but no way to attach the flash to either if I can run it in slave mode (don't even know if it can do that, only used it on the hot shoe before). I guess I have an old 20D I could mount on a tripod, then mount the flash on that camera, assuming it works as a slave from my camera somehow. So what settings should I start with or aim for? Positioning? Maybe I'm asking for too much, but any tips would be appreciated. Or, maybe the tip is to skip the flash in favor of some kind of cheap ring-light or something.
2) setup. I'm getting some stuff at home depot to set up a makeshift "studio" in my house somewhere. We have a pretty long basement so I'm thinking that's where we'll go, but there's really no good backdrop anywhere, so I might need to get a cheap sheet of something for that (faux brick, or corrugated plastic like in the video). I've also been thinking about picking up one of those cheap aluminum can shop lights; I have a 100W equivalent LED I can put in there for some good light output, and if needed I could drape a white sheet in front of it somehow to diffuse it a bit. Any suggestions on cheap stuff to use for both the "set" and the lighting would be appreciated. Remember I'm trying to keep it super cheap, and the budget also includes props like whatever costume stuff we get at the thrift store too. Also, I really only have a few hours for this after the kids go to bed. I can easily make some structures out of 2x4's I have in the garage to clamp a light to or something, but it can't take all day to make / tear down either. I also currently have this cheap color changing LED flood light if you think it would be worth anything: https://www.amazon.com ...oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00
3) posing / portraiture. Yikes. I usually shy away from people photography so I have absolutely NO clue here, other than to make her feel comfortable and natural, and priority 1 is staying within her comfort zone.
I know my camera like the back of my hand, but pretty much nothing about flash photography and portraits. I'd really like this to go well in the hopes she may do it again with me, and so I come away with a few keepers from the night. Many thanks in advance to whomever would like to help me out!