Posts tagged as:

Profoto D1


I am often hired by companies to take photos for their image banks, and many times they more or less request a style that is seen often in stock photos. Clean setups in a bright room, one or two persons having some sort of meeting and a relatively simple background. Photos that are easy to use on the web, in financial reports and newsletters, but with their own people, not generic models.

Using ordinary people to act as models can be tricky, but it can also be very simple. In this case, where they would be having an informal meeting around an iPad, I just told them to play meeting. And that is something most people can to, and even find amusing. As soon as they start having their fake meeting, I start shooting, giving them as little directions as I can. Sooner or later it looks almost natural.

Lighting this kind of photo is mostly done by adding light in a fashion that makes the image bright and clean. I try to imagine how the light would be if they where in an office with very large windows.

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Last year I did an assignment for a Swedish company that runs a lot of clinics, and one of the places I visited to photograph image photos for their new web site and annual report was, of course, quite small.

In a small room, lighting the background separately can be a problem with so short distance from the models and everything else. Even with a tele. But we had some luck as the door to the doctor’s office were the type with a large panel of frosted glass in the middle, a perfect diffusion screen.

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During 2012 I have been shooting a lot of photos like this for my clients, the best way to describe the style would be as stock photo-ish. But with an important variation, my clients wants to feature their own staff and preferably shoot them in their own environment. Which can be tricky sometimes.

With so much (often really good) stock photos in use everywhere, that style has become some sort of standard for many. And that is easy to understand, the style is bright, clean and simple to use. You can put in almost any layout, in a magazine or on a web site, and it will fit just right in.

So creating photos in this style, but using people from my client’s organisations and working in their offices has been the brief for many assignments. The photo above comes from a hospital and by pure luck, it was recently renovated. It had large windows, and white walls, so my contribution to the light was mostly to make it brighter.

Two lights aimed at the walls…

Two Profoto D1 bare bulb adds some light to a small room. BTS

Very often, I find myself in small rooms, trying to do a portrait with limitations in height, width and length. And maybe more things.

Most of the times, I try to squeeze in a light modifier that I think might work, probably a softbox as they are easier to control, and limit stray light/reflections with black fabric. But if there is some kind of situation I need to take a picture of, for example a meeting between a doctor and a patient, taking place at a desk standing near both a window and a wall, that will be harder.

The easiest way, sometimes, is just to add a little light from angles that feels natural in such an environment, and let the room take care of the rest. And that would be from almost straight above, as that is how rooms like that are lit.

Test shot and more here…

Test shot, portrait of a comedian, with Profoto ring flash and a beautydish

Swedish comedian Lasse Nilsen is a guy I have been working with a couple of times now. And it is always a pleasure. He has studied mime in Paris, and works full-time as a standup comedy entertainer, both for companies and in clubs.

He needed new portraits, both the usual headshots, but also portraits with an idea that I can’t write more about right now. Will show you as soon as I am allowed to.

Having taken portraits of someone before teaches you a bit about how they are in front of the camera, but maybe more interestingly, how their face (and skin) reacts to light. That sets the limits for what kind of light setup you can use.

For this session, I used a gridded beauty dish as my main light with a ring flash as fill. Maybe not the combination I would use for company portraits, but when you have the time to adapt it to new ideas, it is very rewarding.

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