Very often my clients want photos taken in their office, but to make it look a little better, often with a stock photo as some kind of visual reference. Trying to imitate something very polished, sunny and designed, in an ordinary office has its challenges. Especially when the sky outside is covered with dark clouds.
That is exactly what happened to me lately, when shooting portraits for a client. We had just shot the ordinary portraits against a medium grey background in one of their rooms, when they asked if I could take a couple more. If I could use their office as background, they would be delighted.
Behind the scenes (or the camera)
We chose just one location for five different people, mostly because we didn’t have the time to move the lighting equipment around a lot that day. Their office is very new, with relatively high ceiling and white walls. A good environment in many ways.
Except for the light.
The small image to the right is my first test shot (1/200s and f/5.6). Only the main light (a Profoto D1 250 Air in a 5-foot softbox Octa camera left) is switched on.
Too dark in every way, especially the background which I would like to have brighter than the subject in the foreground. I had to open the aperture to f/2.8 and use 1/60s as my shutter speed to balance the light from the windows in the background, the overhead lights and the light from my D1.
The main light from my Profoto D1 camera left, together with a large reflector camera right gave the model a good exposure. The lights above just added a little, not much and nothing that interfered with the colors.
To get that bright background, just using the light coming in from the windows was not enough. I placed a bare bulb Profoto D1 behind the column to the right in the photo, pointed to the right at a white wall.
The open aperture and the slow shutter speed with a little help from the light in the background made it look like the sun was shining in through the windows.
Which is was not, at all.
I only had two lights with me that day, but if I had a third, I would have placed it on the same line as the background light, but camera left. That would have made the background more evenly lit. But, I think this worked fine.
The distance between the camera and the model, and the model and the background, gave the photo a nice blur in the background. I could have use a 70-200/2.8 and placed myself even further away, but I think this worked with my old 85mm/1.4.
Trying to make photos like this in a smaller office is of course a lot harder, to get the light to look almost real, I think it needs distance. Or a lot more equipment, or a very closer cropping. This photo looks, in my opinion, good both as a landscape crop with a little more details, or a portrait crop with just a blurred background.
I used a Nikon D700 for this, a did all the adjustments in Adobe Lightroom (mainly colors, contrast and a little brightening of the background around the windows).
If you think I have missed anything, or just want to say hi, please leave a comment. It is always very appreciated.