Easy As 1, 2, 3…


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When people ask me what it’s like to do what I do, more often than not they think the life of a photographer is some kind of a Holy Grail job and how great it must be to rub elbows and frolic among the people I get to (briefly) hang with. I try my best to convince them that it ain’t all Roses & Butterflies, but most have a hard time believing me. Which brings us to todays little waste of time. This isn’t gonna be glamourous. There will be no talk of Rock Stars or Celebrities or Fabulous locations. The following is a pretty honest representation of what an average shoot for your typical business magazine is like. It’s all about photographing real people in real situations in very little time and still coming away with interesting images. To the best of our knowledge, no one was harmed in the making of this post…

Scott Valenzano sent us to Park Avenue to shoot a cover for Financial Planning with the Altfest’s…Lewis & Karen, who run Altfest Personal Wealth Management…as our subjects du jour. And as is often the case, we had to alter the reality of the location just a touch to get things to look good. Here’s a little rundown…

The Altfest offices aren’t that large, but within minutes of my arrival I knew where we were gonna shoot the cover shot…


I figured that if we backlit the frosted glass wall and used just the right wide angle lens, that grid pattern would make for a nice, graphic background. But that big wall of glass took a lotta light before it blew out nicely!


You can see that we used four heads just to cover the frosted glass, and another big umbrella to fill in the background on the far right side. With all that light bouncing around, all we need up front was the Mini-Octa bank positioned high and to the right and we were good to go…



With the cover in the bag, we very quickly moved to shot number two…on the other side of that glass wall…


The classic sofa was a perfect posing bench for the couple and it would be relatively simple to relight the scene using the lighting from the first shot. The four background lights were now placed on the other side of the glass and the Mini-Octa would again be our main light, but we added a ringlight for fill…



Finally, we decided to move in a totally different direction and pulled out the Canon to do an almost-available light portrait in Lewis’s office…


With large windows on two sides streaming in all that light you might think we wouldn’t have to add anything, but the bright backlight was just too much to overcome without looking like a blown-out fashion shoot. My DIY Ghetto-Flo Lights would be just the right thing for the task…


With one light each aimed at Lewis and Karen and another two positioned off to the far left to act as a kicker that mimicked the window light, we were able to bring the ambient light down just enough to get the subjects to pop and also white-balance the ambient light down to a nice, cool blue cast…


Three shots in about an hour…like I said…easy as 1, 2, 3…!


6 thoughts on “Easy As 1, 2, 3…

  1. Great info. I love the idea of using a ring light (which I want to get) for just enough fill, which allows you to put the key light more off-axis. Then you can easily adjust the fill ration from camera/ringlight. Yes?

  2. i’ve been in a million of those places, shooting, but bring only 1/4 or less of the gear you haul. No elinchromes for me, I’m afraid. Which is why my work doesn’t look as awesome as this. Well, of course that’s only part of it — you got the chops, and you’ve got an inventive yet truly professional approach. Thanks for blogging, brosef.

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