A few weeks back, I got the call from a political consulting firm to do a shoot for a U.S. Senate candidate that is running for one of the Florida seats. They wanted a quick head shot of the candidate. And by “quick,” they meant 45 minutes total! They said that they needed shots on white, grey, white with a flag in the background, grey with a flag in the background and a causal shot.
So, I had to do some serious advance planning about this shoot. Since we were only going to have 45 minute window, I knew that we would have to pre light the set. I had a crew of three assistants working with me that day. We arrived at the location an hour early (7AM…ouch). I had provided everyone lighting diagrams beforehand so that everyone was on the same page before they arrived. We shot all of the looks on a white cyc wall. We positioned the lights and the candidate far enough away from the back of the cyc wall so that we could turn the wall grey. For lighting, the key was to have a nice traditional portrait but I wanted to give it a little edge. We used a large octa box to camera left tabled at a 45 degree angle. We positioned another light with a grid and a diffuser on it so that it would be aimed at his eyes to give nice bright eyes with nice iris color. We positioned two rim lights to help him pop off the back ground with nice highlights. We lit the flag with at 20degree grid spot. We light the background with two lights to give it a nice even white, and then turned them off to go grey. We also needed a little bit of fill light, so we added a reflector.
Since everything was planned out and diagramed, we were able to get the shots in the time allotted.
Moral of the story: plan your shoots beforehand, especially if you know you will have a limited time window. Showing up early is always a good idea, as well.
He bought his first camera at the age of 4. Since then, he has owned film cameras, digital SLRs and medium and large format cameras. Nick is currently freelancing as a commercial and editorial photographer in the Nashville, Tn.