Exercise 2.4 – Same background, different model

This is a case of a project coming to me, rather going and looking for it (which probably explains why I have done this exercise before 2.3). One of my local Rotary Clubs runs an annual Young Musician competition and was let down at short notice by the photographer who should have produced formal portraits for the event programme. Time and venue were already set (not ideal) and I was able to be available.

The venue was a small boardroom, with furniture pushed out of the way and pictures removed from the walls to give a plain background. Lighting was two speedlight flashguns (remote controlled but in manual mode) with shoot-through brollies. This is new kit, and the first time I had used it ‘for real’, and had the advantage of being light enough to carry to the venue. The lighting set-up was simple: main light high and left, similar light on the background with spill light giving some fill, and a white reflector held just out of frame, low and to the right.

Here are the contact sheets for the session. Images are unedited RAW files; the first four were my experiments with flash settings.

It is interesting that all six subjects started (without direction) with a formal ‘face to camera’ standing pose. This would appear to be some sort of social expectation for a formal portrait, although it is possible that they had all seen copies of similar programmes for previous years. As it was likely that the programme author/editor wanted a standard approach to all six contestants, I directed them all to a less formal standing pose (body angled, head facing camera) and a seated pose.

After a basic edit I selected a subset of images, including a group shot, for cropping and basic post-processing (colour balance, exposure and contrast with local adjustments). These are the images provided to the ‘client’. I have not yet seen the printed programme, so I do not know which have been selected.

Finally, I selected three images for presentation in this exercise. I picked the seated images for continuity and because it simplifies the background by eliminating the carpet.  The three subjects (two instrumentalists and a vocalist) were a subjective selection.

I am pleased with the results of the session. In a piece of monolithic dual avicide, I satisfied both the “client’s” brief and this exercise. In the process, I got some useful practice in lighting with off-camera strobes and in directing models.

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