An Open Letter to Jim:
Last week, you came to the Phoenix PUG and spoke with us about success. The business stuff was great, but I took something away from that night which was far more important and I wanted to show you the results. You spoke of why photographers fade. Photographers get stuck in the same routine, and stop trying new things. Interesting that we as creatives would be satisfied with standing still and resting on the creative laurels of our past. “Push yourselves into new territory”, you said (I donʼt know if you said that, but it is a good paraphrase). Well, I am a documentary photographer and when I shoot weddings and engagement photos, I typically shoot things that are unposed and fluid, but I took your talk to heart and decided to do something a little different with an engagement session. And here are the results.
Now, getting into a theater on a Friday night to take photos is a chore in and of itself, so we had to move fast and travel light, so this is a two light set up. It is as simple as can be, but the results were fantastic.
For those who are interested in the technicals: the lighting is one on camera flash and one off camera flash, both in manual modes. The off camera flash in some cases acts as a simple hair-light and in more extreme cases acts as the movie projector light (which also doubles as a hair-light). Of course the back light is always the more powerful of the two lights. But the real trick to this shot is that the on camera flash is 25 feet high by 60 feet wide. “That is one big on camera flash”, you say. Not really, I am simply bouncing my on camera flash off the movie screen (a very reflective surface) which is obviously behind me. With a light source that big, the light canʼt help but be soft and beautiful. Look at the contours of the womanʼs face and hair. When I finally opened the images in Lightroom, I flipped at how beautiful they were. I had some pre-visualization, but I was still floored with how fantastic the light really was.
Getting into designing a shot and making something up with my clients was fun. They said they liked movies and I ran with it. Total set up time was about 10 minutes and we shot for about 30 minutes in the theater. I didnʼt want it to feel like a complicated commercial shoot for the client, so we still kept it loose and free and didnʼt over work or over design the shot. Now, I shoot editorial portraits and commercial work as well, so I am used to doing this kind of thing, but I rarely do anything extremely staged or “produced” when dealing with my wedding clients. But every time I do, I find that it is extremely rewarding . So, I took your advice and pushed myself a bit more and came up with something fresh and fun. Thanks for the reminder and the pep talk.
By the way, we talked about Lightroom a bit when you came into town. FYI, not one of these photos has been opened in photoshop. From start to finish, everything was done in Lightroom: grain effects, logo, color effects, burning and dodging and even a little retouching. All done casually while watching the latest episode of 24 on Hulu. Not a bad way to spend an evening.
The client loves them, and so do I. It was invigorating to do something for me and for a client at the same time. We sometimes donʼt get to do that.
Well, I look forward to seeing you and the rest of the Pictage team at WPPI. Keep up the good work and thanks again for visiting us at the Phoenix PUG.
Written by Jared Platt