Friday, May 01, 2009

Portraits, Portraits, Portraits

Employee portraits can be a photographers bread and butter. I was recently was asked by a regular client of mine to produce new portraits of their senior staff. My client wanted several portraits of each employee, some casual and some more formal.

I scouted my clients location a couple of days before the actual shoot. We came up with 5 separate locations for the portraits. These 5 locations where close to each other which made is easy to simply walk our subject from set to set. These locations allowed for different looks and feels to each image. Having several settings to photograph these employees in allows my client to combine several photos of their employees without having the same settings.

On the day of the shoot, I arrived about 90 minutes before the first scheduled employee was to be photographed. I took this time to light 5 separate locations where the portraits where to be taken. In the photo below you can see several lit sets for the portraits, actually I was able to squeak out 4 shots here and another just down the hall.

Another wonderful thing my client did was spring for a make-up artist. Each subject had a few minutes in the chair for some make up and general touch up. It's not often I have clients allow for the additional expense for make up, I could get use to this. We had a terrific gal named Alisha. She did a fantastic job and I look forward to working with her again.

Through the course of the day we shot over 15 employees, I also had several important photos of the CEO to do as well. Not only did I photograph him in the same setting as all the other employees, I shot him in the boardroom as well as in his personal office.

The lighting set up photo above should show you that all of the portraits where lit using the bounce technique. By bouncing your lights off of surfaces such as walls and flats or panels, you can create some mighty fine light. I used a total of 5 SB-800's and one SB-24 on a pocket wizard. At each set, I taped a note to the flash with all the camera and flash setting I needed to use for the given shot I was taking. There was only one portrait that required a background or second light, all the rest of the portraits where made using one light.

I have another 12 or so employees to photography later next week. While on a break between portraits, we scouted for additional location on the 12th floor for next weeks portraits. We shot some video of the shoot and I'll be posting that as well as the CEO portrait at a later date. Have a great weekend. DT


Jon said...

Very nice David! I've been reading your blog for a while and thought I would say thanks! Photogs like yourself are a big help to new guys like me.

Terry Moore said...

Thanks for posting the pix. Interesting post. I'm looking forward to the video. I really like the bokeh; what lens/camera combo did you use?

Mark Dunlap Photography said...

Hey David,

Noting the interior lights in the background of most of the shots you have posted here, did you gel your flashes to match those lights? It almost looks as if you're combining flash with window light. Or is it entirely flash?

Unknown said...

Superb series of shots David! I really love the "airy" environment you often create for your corporate portrait work. With most people knocking down ambient a stop or two then hitting the subject with a flash I'm really interested in your style - letting the b/g burn in a little more yet still controlling the subject exposure. Awesome, thanks.

kind regards

Chris Meier said...

As always, brilliant work here David. Thanks for sharing, you serve as an inspiration to many.

Rich said...

So, this morning, I had my first-ever, big-time corporate shoot. It was a group of five financial types and they had a very specific location they wanted to shoot in their hi-rise(with, of course, giant reflective windows around the entire room). It was a last-minute call so I didn't get in to see the place beforehand and I only had 15 minutes to set-up. I set up, shot for ten minutes and was gone.

I read these last two posts as a pep-talk/read before heading out and made sure I was super confident in my demeanor - and I killed it! I'm going through the selects right now and I coulnd't be happier with the lighting.

I broke a couple of my flashes last week and they're at CPS, so I had to go with white lightnings - but I soft-boxed and filled by bouncing off a wall like you suggested and it just worked.

Thank you so much for inspiring my confidence and for giving me the mental tools to make it happen! Best part? They paid me extra because they were so happy it only took ten minutes out of their day.

- rich

Frances said...

Just came across your blog today and am so excited. I'll be spending some time here reading (and learning).

Thank you so much. I hope to see a workshop somewhat near my home -- because I would love to attend.

Thanks again!

George said...

David, This will sound like an amateur question but what F-Stop, shutterspeed, and ASA did you use for these photos? I like the mobility of your system, but I was always more comfortable using Speedos in a situation like this, so I am sure I have enough power to get F16-F22. So you know where I am coming from, my career started in the studio where F45 was good, but F64 or F90 was even better.

John said...

Nice work David!

Its cool that you can share your assignments on your blog.

The lighting on your subjects looks great and I'm thrilled that you did the bulk of these with one bounced speedlight. This is a technique I'm going to have to play with more.

Thanks for sharing!

Juan Silva said...


I really enjoy your blog and the way that you share your experiences with us.

Do you have any plan to get back to Indianapolis or Nashville for another Workshop? I'll be the first on the line for that!