Getting Back Into The Studio

It has been a long while since I’ve been in the studio, and it felt great to assemble a quick project with a creative team. From a sheer concept standpoint, we weren’t exactly pushing crazy artistic boundaries, but I often equate my studio time to that of a comedian going to the club to work out new material. That’s ultimately how I feel about approaching these shoots; I’m here to work out.

In the past, I have gone into shoots with an extensive shot list of lighting concepts to experiment with. This shoot, I had nothing. I really wanted to just feed off what my subjects were looking for, what kind of wardrobe they had, and the energy level they brought. I wanted to work on being more of a psychologist than a lighting technician, particularly when I knew I was going to be photographing a woman who had very limited experience in front of the camera. I knew that if I frame-checked my camera every time I took a shot or tweaked my lights after every frame, I would lose that connection.

As my female model, Ghizlaine, was in the makeup chair, I photographed my male subject, Jacob to help him build his book. It didn’t take me long to decide to switch from the moody, negative-fill concept I originally had, to go with a more versatile high-key look halfway through.

I simplified from 3 lights to 2 and worked in white v-flats nice and close to wrap light around my subject. Lighting the backdrop was the most important light for me, as it really achieves the high-key look. (below, you can see the raw difference between a frame without the background light and one with the background light.)

The white V-flats acted as my fill, flooding my subject with a nice wrapping effect. The key-light wasn’t as important to me as it normally is because the bounce of the v-flat was doing a lot of the heavy lifting, but my weapon of choice was a large Octabox to fill in some shadows and provide a catchlight.

Having assistance on hand for this shoot was not essential, but greatly appreciated not only for the setup and breakdown, but the company as well. A huge thank you to my colleague, Michel, for helping me out on such short notice. Having someone with a great personality and a willingness to help out, makes life as the photographer so much easier and uplifts the energy on set.

Normally, I opt not to tether for a full shoot, as I find the process to slow the creativity down a bit, but in this setting I stuck with it so that we always had a reference point to see how our shots were looking, as well as to give my first-time model some added confidence in the whole team and how she looked.

While I really enjoyed getting back into the studio and creating, what I really emphasized this time around was how to walk someone through the collaborative process. I spent a lot of time working on my call-sheet, model release, and image license so that everyone involved received a truly professional experience, from conception to deliverables. These documents are vital to informing and protecting both parties of the pre-production, production, and post-production process and I take a lot of pride walking my team through that. Had the images not turned out as I hoped, I would have still taken a lot of joy out of knowing that my overall script is far better than it was before.

Thank you all for tuning in and keep creating!

Michael Der

Talent: @jacobbasheer

Talent: @ghizlaine_bennani

MUA: @elava.mua

Assitance: @michellimphoto

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