This time around, I traveled off-site to capture a series of environmental portraits for SCW Interiors inside their showroom, so I knew I would have to get creative with my compositions and lighting in a small shooting space.
I love it when I have a chance to work directly with the client on a photoshoot for their business because I have a chance to help them build their brand in real time. It's important to keep all aspects of a company's brand in mind when producing images for their marketing materials and website, so my ability to shoot tethered lets us brainstorm, shoot, review and finalize the results as a team right on location.
Upon arrival, we discussed a few different looks and setups that we could work through within their design studio and started shooting. It was important to include elements of their profession in each of the images we captured so it was great to stage each shot with elements that applied to the scene. For instance, if they were going to review architecture layouts in a photo we had to be sure to only include tools that they would actually use when doing so. This might sound obvious but it's the attention to detail that can distinguish a believable environmental portrait from a bad one.
Being able to shoot tethered with TetherTools and review compositions in real time on my laptop goes a long way in helping the client get an idea of what the final images will look like. Since we were working with an interior designer, I knew that the client would be able to provide a lot of input into the composition and staging of each of our portraits. It was great to show them the first few frames of each setup on a screen larger than my camera back so she could see the photos in a context closer to their final presentation, and we would start tweaking things as a group until we landed on a great final image.
Having a client that is able to add to these discussions always makes for a great shoot and I have to say, the RAW files that come straight out of the Canon 5DS are unbelievable. I never once hesitated to share the untouched images with the client as they came out of the camera because I knew that focus would be nailed and the color rendition produced by this camera is nearly unprecedented.
Halfway through the shoot, our client mentioned that she used to be a chef so if we had time it would be great to put together a photo in their studio's model kitchen.
Upon seeing the space, I realized that the frame would have multiple light sources and a number of reflective surfaces so we had to place our light carefully. I set up my Profoto B1 Air 500 in a small Profoto Octa 3 on my camera left, and worked out a pose that distinguished our subject within the busy background of the stainless steel elements of the kitchen. The Profoto B1 Air 500s are so great to work with on location because their power and portability means we can create ample light in almost any setting.
When we got to shooting I decided to open up the aperture to F3.5 in an effort to separate our subject from the busy background and bumped up my ISO to bleed in some of the ambient natural light that was spilling into the scene from surrounding windows and doors. The wider aperture helps to create a more shallow depth of field and bumping up the ISO lets me utilize the available light as fill light. Bringing the ambient into an environmental portrait can help make the final photo look more natural and you would be surprised how far a single key light can go when you properly utilize other sources of light available in the frame.
Aside from keeping tabs on the technical aspects of a portrait, we as photographers must always focus a majority of our attention towards our subjects, making sure that they are comfortable in front of the camera and in a pose that not only makes them feel confident, but also looks great on camera. This was our final scene for the day and it's important to concentrate on keeping the subject engaged, especially when they have been in front of the camera for an hour. I like to do this by keeping the energy high and coaching my subjects towards the images they want.
It was great to combine the past and future elements of my clients career into one photo, and letting her review the results as we worked meant she already loved the images before we were out the door.
Canon 24-70 F2.8L II USM
Profoto B1 Air 500
Profoto 3.0 RFi Octa