Location portrait challenges

July 20, 2013

I rarely have the luxury of working in a spacious studio.  When I teach classes I have all the room and toys a photographer could want.  Typically though, I am going to my clients to work inside their house or yard.  When we arrive we scout it out for the best location, one that will allow me to place the lights where I want them.  Sometimes its obvious and works well, other times you just have to roll with what you have.

Saturday we went to our friends Kevin and Mary Cooks to photograph their beautiful daughter Shelby.  Their home is awesome with a really nice foyer, that’s where Marlene and Mary thought would be the best place to work.  After looking around, I agreed.  Here is a look at how we set up, as you can see we didn’t have a lot of extra room.  (we’ve certainly worked in much smaller places)

A look from the dining room into the foyer

Here is my view from the camera at my “shooting alley.”  Interfit 30′x40″ softbox and 60″ Westcott umbrella for fill light.

My view from the camera, you can see my Manfrotto tripod on the right edge

One final view from Shelby’s perspective.  She did great even though I was directing her from the next room.  I always use a tripod every time I can.

OK, so it looks challenging, and it was a little.  But all things considered, I am really happy with the session!  Here’s an example of what we were able to produce set up just like this.

I love working with people who enjoy being photographed. Shelby was a blast!

Cropped so you can see the light stand lower left corner, and pillar on the right edge

These will all be fine photographs for her and her family.  But her very favorite outfit was saved for last, her ballet or “Princess” outfit.  For this, I really wanted to do something special.  The challenge was that we were edge to edge on what space we had available.  I thought it was worth taking a look from the top of the stairs, just in case it could be used.  Wow, there it was, a beautiful overlook straight down to the backdrop.  All I had to do was figure out how to light it so it looked as good as the perspective did.  Marlene could tell I was working on something, but she didn’t know what it was.  She told Mary, “I don’t know what he’s up to but this is what he loves to do, find something and make it work, he likes the challenge.”  I was determined that I would do this last series for me, so I would have a shot or two that I like.  Here is what we ended up with:

My favorite image of the day

I totally changed the lighting, I moved the fill light upstairs and bounced it off the ceiling, that worked out perfect.  (it was probably 15+ feet from Shelby!)  So glad I had a 500 Ws Elinchrom light to work with, I had power to spare.  No speedlight or available light tricks would work here.  Plus, I was able to work at the native 200 ISO setting on my Fuji X Pro 1 camera, so if they want a wall portrait, I can print it as large as they want!  By making this drastic of a lighting change I did have to remeasure my light.  Easy enough with my Gossen Starlite 2.  I could measure her from my “upstairs” position with the spotmeter function to get close.  Then, I went back down to my subjects position and placed the softbox where I wanted it.  Here are the last shots I did keeping the overhead fill light position.  I simply moved my main to the right side and ended up with this classic pose.  Beautiful young lady and a beautiful portrait.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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