Big Rubber Balls, Bright Blue Walls & Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots!

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A few weeks ago, Manuela Oprea, photo editor at BloombergMarkets, offered me a job that proved to be one of the more interesting business magazine gigs I’ve done in a long time…to shoot a cover story on Barry Silbert, the Founder and CEO of SecondMarket and some of the people that make up the largest secondary market exchange dedicated to creating liquidity for illiquid assets. Silbert came up with the idea for SecondMarket when he was an investment banker struggling to sell off pieces of the bankrupt Enron…he figured, “Wouldn’t it make sense if there was an organized marketplace, like eBay, where illiquid assets could be bought and sold?”. To me it all sounded ridiculously dry and boring. So much so that when I went up to scout the place I really wasn’t expecting any of the craziness that would follow…..

First off, the offices were painted in super-bright primary colors…

…people sat on big inflated rubber balls…

…they wrote all over the walls…

…and played ping pong and air hockey to relax and had toys and games everywhere! Including this inspiring throwback to my youth…the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots!

This ain’t your father’s stock exchange! And we were gonna have some fun!

We decided to use the bright colored walls of the reception area for the cover shot of Barry. Here’s what things looked like before we set up the lights…

And here’s what 6 lights and 5 Profoto packs will do to reality…

Next we went to work on that lime-green wall…

Which resulted in the opening spread for the story…

With Barry’s part of the shoot done, we moved on to the Green Lantern T-shirt wearin’ Chief Strategy Officer, Jeremy Smith, paired with the Uber-Traditional, buttoned-down Managing Director, Kevin O’Connor, over a nice round of Robot Boxing!

And the last shot of the day would be of Adam Oliveri, their Managing Director of Private Company Markets…

But we weren’t done yet. A few days later, Manuela called and said that the story would now include a sidebar on the venture capitalist who got SecondMarket off the ground…Lawrence Lenihan, the CEO and Managing Director of FirstMark Capital. While I was looking around for places to shoot him, I kinda barged in on lunch…..

…but it resulted in this rather tasty portrait…

But I really wanted to come away with a second shot, and the reception area had a nice feel to it…

…so after a bit of furniture moving, we did this…

And finally, to bring this endless story to a close, here’s 7 seconds of cell-phone video Manuela caught of me shooting Barry for the cover…

5 thoughts on “Big Rubber Balls, Bright Blue Walls & Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots!

  1. Enjoying your photos, But I would like for you to discuss the lighting setups on your shoots if you can. The first shot by the colored wall you said you used 6 lights and from me looking at it I can only seeing 3. But then I saw the video and it does look like you are using 3. Ring flash fill, Beauty dish as key and strip bank for the wall. I am little confused. Thanks

    Here’s the breakdown:

    20″ Profoto Beauty Dish – Main
    4′ Chimera Super Pro Striplight on floor, set right – Wall Light
    Profoto Ringlight w/reflector – Fill Light
    Umbrella behind Orange Column – Overall Soft Wall Light Behind Subject
    7″ Grid Reflector (50 degree grid) behind Orange Column – Hot Spot Behind Subject
    7″ Grid Reflector (20 degree grid) on floor – Aimed At Subjects Pants For Detail

  2. Since I remember the actual ads for these I guess that makes me…potentially…collectable. Only tried them once

  3. Brad I love the sharpness to this set. Really punchy. I particularly like the blue cast over the sets for the portraits of Lawrence. Is that done using gels or WB adjusment with a warmer gel used on his face or in post?

    Yeah…it’s a very cool white balance (3600K) and a half CTO over the main light (a gridded 20″ Profoto beauty dish) BT

  4. Thanks for the description on the lighting for Laurence. So that’s a two light portrait right? Gelled BD high overhead to the right and a ring for fill? Do I see a third gridded light coming up from the floor to light his arm? There are a couple of shadows that don’t seem to come from either the main or the ring.

    BTW thanks a million for showing off your work like this. It’s huge.

    Both of the portraits of Lawrence are shot in a similar way. They both have an Octalite on the far right. In the first shot (in his office), the Octa is open-faced…that is, the diffusion screen is not on, so it’s kinda like a big, silver reflector. In front of the Octa is a 22″ Mola Demi with a grid and the final light is a ringlight. There is a half CTO on the Demi, the rest of the lights are clean and the grey balance was set at about 3400K (on the 5D mkII). The second shot (in the chair) the Octa is again on the far right, but this time the diffusion screen is on. There is a 20″ Profoto Beauty Dish (no grid, no diffusion) high and to the right and once again, a ringlight is used for fill. There was a 1/4 CTO on the Dish and the balance was set at 4200K (Hasselblad H1/Leaf Aptus 75)…..BT

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