Monthly Archives

January 2010

Samantha R.

Samantha is in her freshman year of college and she’s studying opera – she’s going to be an opera singer (maybe I should do the whole positive reinforcement thing and say that she is an opera singer.)

I was referred to her father by a friend who’s a vendor at one of the local farmer’s markets that we frequent – it’s always a high compliment whenever someone actually refers us to their friends… especially since up to that point, I hadn’t ever done any headshots. Not real ones anyway. So I had some of that nervous excitement since this was a ‘first’ – and I didn’t want to screw things up. These are for submitting applications to various opera workshops – serious stuff – and generally conservative headshots are required – so no crazy light with lens flares!

Of course – these photos don’t show everything. They don’t show the part where I forgot some of my gear – some seemingly very important items. Once I got into the house and put my stuff down, I realized that I had forgotten to bring my shoot-through umbrellas – they soften the light and make it… better. Sure I laugh now – but at the time I was FREAKING OUT in my head. I can’t shoot her with bare flashes! They’d have to be like 5 inches away from her face and even then who knows!

Of course you can’t let the clients see that. Ha! I did go back out to my car and checked to make sure – and then freaked out some more while I stood there in the cold.

Oh well… I’ll just have to… make this work… and then I walked back inside.

Now – we have a portable backdrop and setup for portraits – but I opted to try to do this without pulling out all the gear. The room in the photo below basically had the only white walls, and this small spot where Samantha’s sitting was IT. Yeah – it’s a narrow strip of real estate but fortunately these were just headshots so it didn’t matter.

Note: At this point I was still freaking out in my head and just really hoping that this would work.

Since I didn’t have my light diffusers – and I wasn’t going to put the flashes right up to her face – I brought out two flashes and aimed them at the wall and ceiling. You can’t tell from this photo, but on the wall to the left (our left) is a window letting in light. I didn’t want any of that so I just upped the shutter speed and closed down all ambient light – all the light you see in these photos is from my flashes only.

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Look at the above photo – doesn’t exactly scream ’perfect setup for professional headshots’. I have one light there aimed at the wall and then one on the right side angled up at the ceiling.

At least I’ve learned not to use a wide-angle lens for portraits (ha… I probably did that far too long…hey, I know better now!) – so I threw my 200mm on and stepped back about 10 feet. Yeah. A couple of things really worked out – the white wall, the proximity to the corner (better bounce) and the fact that this room opens across the entrance and into another room – so I could’ve stepped 20 feet back and had room to spare.

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After the first few shots – I knew this was going to work and that’s when we really started.

Paralee & Aaron

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In case you don’t live here in Atlanta and you haven’t heard – it’s really cold right now. With the daily highs around 30 degrees, we’re freezing (hey, it’s the South, we like it a little warmer alright?) But of course that doesn’t stop me from shooting outside! (Although after this weekend, I definitely have to wear my parka next time.) Still. This past weekend was a great way to start off the new year. Three photo shoots and all of them different. A model portfolio shoot, a headshot session, and then this couples session with Paralee and Aaron.

We met up at Piedmont Park at around 4pm – the temperature dropped down to the low 20’s at that point and there was a slight wind to help make things even colder. Awesome.

The best part of this past weekend was definitely the clear sky, and the brilliant sun. Even though it was freezing cold, it wasn’t rainy and it wasn’t overcast – we had too much weather like that last year (even though it did get us out of our 4 year drought.) Still. With the setting sun and clear skies – we were losing light fast, and I wanted these photos to have a different look than your normal outdoor portrait session in Piedmont Park (it’s a popular location.)

Aside from all of the other considerations (composition, wardrobe, energy) – it’s all about light and how you control it. Sometimes you want the orange cast from a setting sun, and sometimes it’s just too orange. So you make adjustments if you know how. Add light, take away light, redirect light – and do it in a manner that the energy of the moment isn’t lost and your people can move around a bit. Because this isn’t a model shoot where you can take 6 minutes to set up a single shot. You’ve got one. So set up your lights, find a setting and make sure their faces are lit. Then Shoot.

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Once you’ve got the cool shots with whatever additional lighting you want, everyone can really relax and start to move around more within the natural ambient light and then it’s just up to you the photographer as far as direction, composition and camera settings. Each photo shoot is different and making adjustments on the fly is the fun part. It’s a constant tweaking of settings and turning dials, along with paying attention to what’s going on, composing the shot and re-directing action. ‘wait, do that again, hold, put your hand there, look over my shoulder, now right into my lens, smile, don’t smile, jump, walk at 3/4th speed, laugh…‘ yeah, shooting with us is a bit run and gun because we always want to keep the energy up, and hopefully it translates into the photos – even when they’re in a still pose.

Here’s to a great 2010.

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NYE

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Just a short quick post before the year really starts. Things get busy fast and it’s easy to get behind on the blogging. We had a great New Year’s Eve with friends and we’re really excited about 2010. It’s going to be awesome, and as wild as 2009 was – (getting married, graduating college (finally?), moving (again), and really taking photography seriously) – 2010 is set to be insanely great.

So make your list of goals/wants/intentions for 2010 and stick it someplace you’ll see it everyday so they’re always there in front of you. Remember, your brain doesn’t know the difference between reality and make-believe, so why not choose to make your brain believe a better reality of your choosing. It works, trust me. You are a mind with a body – not the other way around – and they work in that order.

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Lets. Go. All. Out.


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