Last Sunday, right after shooting the family portrait we hiked all our gear over to the other side of the park where the AIDS Memorial Quilt was on display during AIDS Walk Atlanta. The headquarters of The Quilt is here in town – and actually down the street from my office. Once Leah and I were hired for the shoot – I looked up every photo I could find ever taken of the quilt.
But this Google search should give you an idea what’s out there – because this is generally it: Click
Most photos people shoot are strictly of the quilt – and if they do get people in the shot, you see a lot of the back of their head and no faces. So we initially set out with two goals – focus on people looking at The Quilt and then also get their faces in the shots.
The panels are 12×12 and I was having trouble fighting the sun across that distance. Looking back I should’ve pulled out more flashes and just over powered the sun – but I didn’t. What I ended up using at the time were four lights. The sun at people’s back (mostly) – one flash to their right, one on the left and then my arm snaking out towards the middle of the quilt for more fill light. In the shot above you can see all lights working together – the sun at their back casting the strong shadow, the light off the woman’s left cheek, the light from my left flash causing the shadow from the pamphlet in the man’s right hand, – and then the fill light right in front of them.
When it worked it looked great. When it didn’t work, it looked like a bad shot from a point and shoot camera.
Since this was a park exhibition of The Quilt – all of the panels were flat on the ground – which made it a real challenge to try and get a variation of shots. I mean, you can only do so many angles of people looking down at The Quilt. I brought it up a little and got some shots like you see above, but I didn’t think about the best shot until long after we left the park. Maybe I can get it next time.
It also looks like we’re going to be the archival photographer for The Quilt so I should be able to work on this a little bit more.