One of the more ‘interesting’ recent assignments I had* was a series of corporate portraits – by series, I mean 150, with full makeup and retouching. We had 150 to do over the course of three days – which isn’t a particularly punishing schedule, but when you have to work around the subjects’ schedules, then time tends to contract into mad rushes interspersed by soporific periods of inactivity while waiting. Made worse was the fact that there was no formal scheduling – the subjects were consultants. The real challenge wasn’t so much the shooting as getting all of the subjects to turn up at all: between egos, vanity, laziness and general contempt of management in some cases, my poor client – the management – had fun trying to cajole, threaten and bribe them into showing up. In the end, I think we got about 110 of the total, with about 15-20 being on leave or at other locations, and the rest simply refusing to cooperate. It’s amazing how such educated people can sometimes be so incredibly difficult…
*It seems that one’s career never turns out as expected despite the best intentions – although I’m still doing a good amount of architecture and watch photography, food is almost nonexistent, and I seem to be doing more and more location commercial/ stock/ portrait-type stuff. It seems that not that many people in this country can use remote speedlights well or produce studio-quality light on location…or at least that’s what the clients are saying. Personally, I just treat everything like a really large watch: where do I want my highlights and shadows, and how much diffusion do I need?
From a lighting point of view, we used a simple two-light setup; primary light to the right at 45 deg to the subject, with a rear kicker to fill background shadows and provide some back-of-head definition 45 deg behind – so subject and two lights formed a straight line. Both flashes were umbrella’ed, with the rear operating 2 stops lower than the front.
I had originally intended to use a fixed prime – the 85/1.8 G – but the huge variation in heights and body sizes made this impossible if we were to keep the amount of frame occupied by the subject consistent. In the end, I landed up using my 24-120/4, which proved to be both versatile and optically excellent around the 85mm mark (give or take 10mm either way). I acquired the lens a few months back for an architectural job, but it’s turning out to be a lot more versatile than expected. Finally, shooting wasn’t the hardest part by any means: after the vast ensuing retouching, I had to take a several-day hiatus from photoshop…MT
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