Several years back, I was approached by a non-for-profit organization to shoot some staff photos. Recently, with all the staff turnover they have had, they inquired if I would be interested again in shooting more portraits. I agreed and I wanted to do a blog post for this shoot to share how I went about the shoot. Often times with things like this, you are tucked away in a meeting room of space that is not utilized often and you need to make do with what you have.
In this case I had the fortune of knowing the layout, having done it previously, so there was no need for a site visit. I knew where I was going to place my lights, backdrop and camera on tripod to shoot. Below is diagram of how I had the setup for the key light and fill light for the shoot.
Once setup, the key light was metered at f/8 and I set the fill to 1 stop less at f/5.6 to help with the filling in of the shadows. For the most part the shoot went smooth. This time I brought and extra Profoto battery in case the shoot went longer than 4 hours as people were coming and going and this was done during work hours for the vast majority of those getting there pictures taken. One thing that I did differently in preparing for this shoot was prepare and travel differently. As you can imagine, there is a fair amount of gear required for a shoot like this. I wanted to downsize so this time I had the following bags for gear:
Four bags for this particular shoot that carried everything I needed. A list of what I currently take on these shoots is shown here. It is a fluid list so things are constantly being added or subtracted based on needs. Once you pack this gear a couple of times you really get a sense of how to do it efficiently and each successive pack gets easier. So let’s get into the actual setup. As you can see above in the setup illustration, this is two light portrait shoot. The key light is on full power and was metered at f/8 with the Sekonic light meter. For the fill light I will usually have this one stop less metered at f/5.6. This may vary depending on what the client wants and what type of media they are using the images for. Once the ratio is set for the lighting, I will put and X on the floor with gaffers tape which is where I tell the subjects to stand. I will make small adjustments in there stance and really try to to get them to relax.
Another new addition to my workflow was the addition of shooting tethered. I have not done this on a remote shoot before so I needed to work out some logistics. What I came up with and really love is this stand for my laptop that is tethered. The tripod to the left is the VEO 2 204AB. Super lightweight so it adds nothing to load and it will fold up to 14 inches with the ball head on. I attached a QR plate to the Tether Tools aero table, clamped it into the ball head and I am all set to shoot tethered once I hook the cable from the camera to the laptop. This works great for me to check critical focus on my Macbook. Below is picture I snapped with my iPhone with the stand on the VEO 204AB tripod once it is setup. I am 6’2″ and this is about 54 inches which allows me to comfortably work with no problem. As you can see it provides a good amount of working room on top.
I use Adobe Lightroom Classic for the tethered capture. I have the entire Adobe suite of apps, but you can just get a Lightoom & Photoshop subscription if you only use those two applications in your photography. The actual setup takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get set and then it is just a matter of having the subjects come in for their portraits. I don’t have to worry about different outfits much as they all wear the same polo or fleece pullover which makes the white balance pretty simple once set. The shoot in its entirety lasted about 6 hours. I hope that helps answer some questions and maybe gives some ideas on how I work a shoot of this style. If this has helped some, please pass this post along.
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