Monday, April 20, 2009

Guy's In Ties. The Executive Portrait

As a corporate shooter specializing in annual report photography, the CEO portrait as well as senior executive portraits are common subject matter we need to deal with.

In my mind, the CEO portrait could be the most important photo you'll take for the annual report. If the CEO hates his or her photo, the chances of you shooting the following years annual are slim. When it comes to the CEO portrait, don't take any unnecessary chances with their portrait. Your not going to win any awards with their portrait so play it safe.

I try to get as many preliminary arrangements taken care of before I arrive on location. Those arrangements may include: making sure all light fixture have functioning light bulbs in them, having a ladder available for me or my assistant should we need one of lights or what ever. I like knowing what my subject looks like, are they tall, over weight, do they have hair on their head or not. I also like to receive some personal information about my subject, does my subject have family, children, where does he or she like to vacation? All of these preliminary arrangements and personal information makes for a more successful portrait shoot in my mind.In most cases,

Typically, I arrive on location at least 90 minutes prior to the actual time the executive will be photographed. This give me enough time to scout all the possible locations for the photo as well as designing the lighting for the portrait. I'm given anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes to photography the CEO. All my lighting is set well in advance of the executive showing up for their portrait. The director of communications or the IR representative is more concerned about not taking up the CEO's time than with the final image.

My number one goal is to put the CEO at ease! I want to project a sense of confidence in my abilities and to show my concern about making my subject look great. I am often asked what the CEO should wear for their portrait, what color shirt or suite. I want my subject to wear what ever makes them look their very best. Extra ties or a shirt are always a nice option as well.

I try to schedule their portrait as early in the day as possible. Scheduling an early portrait session insures less wrinkles in their clothing and helps prevent the 5 o'clock shadow in the case of men. When it comes to posing the CEO, I usually show them exactly how and where I would like them to stand. The CEO portrait denotes a different message than others that might be photographed for the annual. The CEO should look like he or she is confident, smart, in control and powerful.

Lighting of course in important, the image at the top of this post shows the use of light to contain the viewer eye as well as direct them to the two subjects in the photo. I was asked to incorporate the company seal in the photo which meant have a high prospective in order to do so.

For the lighting, I used a large softbox camera left for the key light as well as a fill card on camera right to open the shadow side of the faces. For the background light I used a bare head with a full CTO gel and a set of panels in order to shape the light in the "V" shape.

The angle was so high I actually needed to put my tripod in the drop ceiling and reverse the center column. This allowed me the opportunity to get my camera as high as possible, looking like I was sighting through a periscope on a sub.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Workshop Results

Really glad to have made it home after our week in California. We held two wonderful Small Strobes, Big Results workshops, one in San Francisco and the other in Orange County. I arrived back in Denver just as the snow was piling up, we're having a blizzard for sure!

I wanted to go over some of the images we shot during our workshops. The first on the list is of the image I posted a few days ago while in SF.

First I would like to thank Tim for modeling for us during the day, I think we got some nice images for his portfolio. We were photographing in Pier building 40, a maintenance building along the harbor near the AT&T Giants Stadium. The large building doors provided wonderful directional light in the location of this photo as you can see. The large door is at camera left and the image below is just doing what my camera meter asked me to do.

By centering my meter on my camera, it provided me with what I would consider is a normal exposure. The next step for me was to change my white balance from daylight to tungsten, and than under-expose the image. How much do I under-expose it, maybe 2 or so stops. There is no set rule as to how much, it's your shot, you decide. By doing so, I not only create mood, I am also creating my fill light.

With my WB shifted to tungsten, all daylight turns to blue and any strobe or flash used must be gelled to match this WB. To complete this shot, I used 3 VALS (voice activated light stands) to hold my lights. Each of the SB-800's were fitted with full cut CTO (Color Temperature Orange) gels in order to balance with the tungsten WB set on the camera. I also place cinefoil around each of the strobe heads to snoot the light, allowing me to direct the flash where I wanted them.

I also want to show you another series of images that might demonstrate that there is not set rule about any of this image making. When your behind the camera, your camera, it's your shot! You decide how much of to add or take away, it's just like cooking, Bam!

In the photo below you can see the progression of shutter speeds in order to control the amount of ambient light. I used one SB-800 shot through a Light Break in order to provide some texture to the wall that Tim was resting against. The aperture remained the same throughout these exposures as "the aperture controls the flash exposure" and the shutter speed controls the ambient "fill light" Which is right exposure? your choice! What kind of mood do you want?
After San Francisco, Erik and I headed to Orange County, CA. Wednesday night I had a speaking engagement at a local college and on Thursday we held the 11th Small Strobes, Big Results workshop since beginning them.

Our model in Orange County was Jennyfer, a very nice young lady looking to increase her portfolio of images. In this photo I was demonstrating the use of proper bounce technique for the key light.

I used a total of 3 SB-800's for this photo, one strobe bounced off a white wall to camera right, another for the hair or hat light and another on the other side of the glass block wall behind our model.

For this photo, I used an 80mm-200 f/2.8 lens for this shot. You can see that the DOF is shallow, must have shot this one wide open, say f/2.8. As I mentioned above, my key light is bounced of a white wall at camera right. The hair or hat light is gelled with a CTO gel to provide some warmth and color contrast with the gelled strobe behind the glass blocks. The strobe on the other side of the glass blocks has a full cut of CTB (Color Temperature Blue) gel over the lens of the strobe.

For the above photo I switched my color balance to tungsten and than gelled the key light with a full CTO. Remember, when a CTO gel is placed over a strobe head, the resulting light will be balanced with a tungsten white balance setting on your camera. You can see a blue cast to the windows in the lower left corner of the frame due to the daylight coming through those windows. The green cast in the ceiling is due to the florescent light fixtures overhead.

I want to thank all of those that attended the workshops, I truly enjoyed meeting each of you and I hope that you'll stay in contact. These workshops are not only fun for all the participants, I really have a blast doing them. If you are interested in hosting a SSBR workshop in your city, please let me know.

I want to also mention that I have 1 space available for the up coming "Denver" Small Strobes, Big Results workshop on April 25th if your interested. Other workshop locations and dates are listed on the side banner on the right.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

San Francisco SSBR Results

Erik and I had a wonderful time at the San Francisco Small Strobes, Big Results workshop yesterday! The workshop was a sell out and it was great pleasure to meet all of the participants in person after exchanging many emails and comments on my blog. I would like to extend a very special thanks to our model Tim for spending the day with us.

The above photo was lit using 3 Nikon SB-800's all being held by workshop participants. Each of the strobes where fitted with black wrap foil fashioned into snoots and fired with Pocket Wizards. On a shot like this I would normally communicate with my strobes via CLS, however, during our workshops we have Canon, Nikon and other cameras being used so PW's are used so all can shoot.

I set my white balance on the camera to tungsten and made a base exposure which was about 2 stops under what the camera indicated. This base "under exposure" is my fill light, and the strobes are than added to complete the photo and direct the viewers eyes through the photo.

I'll have more photos and set ups to share from the SF workshop when I return home in Denver. In the meantime, we are headed to Orange County, CA for our second workshop of the week. Hope you enjoyed the above image. DT

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Small Strobes, Big Results Buffalo, NY

Registration is now open for a up coming Small Strobes, Big Results workshop in Buffalo, NY. The workshop will be held on Sunday June 28th. Our workshop will be hosted by Alyssa and Rich Mattingly, and they are working to obtain some very special locations for us to photograph at.

These workshops are fun! I really enjoy putting these together and helping photographers shave years off the learning curve when it comes to lighting. These workshops fill up quickly, we only have space for 12 participants. To get a good feel for what a SSBR workshop is like, check out the video at the upper right corner of the blog.