Spontaneous Portraits 2016

The run and gun style of Lightenupandshoot has been my license to shoot a plethora of interesting people on the fly and my training ground for the way I shoot today. Subjects for Lightenupandshoot are often people that I've met on the street which limits the amount of time I have to get "the shot."  This has heavily shaped the way work today during portrait sessions.  Subsequently I have a tendency to work fast which is a great skill to have in certain situations.  Often times I feel I should slow down and work through details to nail down the shot.  I thought it would be interesting to show several portraits I did during 2016 and break down what actually happened and how I came up with the final result.

 

Jeff Lorch

LA Actor/Director : Jeff Lorch

I met Jeff on the set of a recent sci fi movie directed by Sean Penberthy.  I was hired to shoot production stills which gave me an opportunity to shoot portraits of each actor while on set.  Shooting on a movie set is an entirely different blogazine post which I may cover in a future post.  Time is not always a luxury when on a set, you may be standing around all day waiting to get 5 minutes and then the assistant director screams out "you've got two minutes!" While shooting on this movie set I did get a few minutes with each actor and crew over the course of a few days.  

I stayed in touch with Jeff because he's also a photographer; we had a couple conversations about gear and shooting while on set. Jeff actually shoots film which is rare these days and he asked me if I would shoot a couple of portraits/headshots that he could use for his acting portfolio.  

We decided on a run and gun style shoot in Venice Beach, California because of the endless funky backdrops, textures and parking isn't an issue in Venice Beach.  We shot a variety of images and had a few wardrobe changes; but the image posted stood out as my favorite from running around the back alleys and streets of Venice.  

Simple set up:  beauty dish camera right and shot right into the sunset.  I also used a long lens which brought the background forward (if that makes sense).  Sunset drowns out a lot color making for a mostly monochromatic situation.  For this shot I imagined Jeff on a movie poster looking like a bad ass; I thought this is the sort of image that might land him more movie roles...not your typical glam headshot.  I hate those glam LA headshots.

 

Animator : Seth Strong

 

Seth is a good friend in LA that works in animation; he's also an artist and digs coming along on shoots. Seth has a great eye and vision for what works (he's always willing to lend his artistic input on anything related to art/photography).  We were walking down Melrose with my new Profoto D1's looking for subjects when I decided to fire off a few shots of Seth to get in the groove.

There wasn't a particular vision for this image.  I knew I wanted a specular/hard light.  I generally start with what I like to refer to as the silly string technique, which I cover extensively in my LUAS workshops.  But put simply:  I position the subject in between two lights and direct the subject to move in and out of the light to dial in exposure. 

Notes: Camera right is a beauty dish and camera left aiming upward is Profoto Zoom 2 reflector. In post I doubled the image and made one of the images red.  I then used the hard light blend mode in Photoshop and finally off centered the red image.  Simple light set up turned funky with a bit of creativity in Photoshop.

 

 

 

Sound Engineer/Musician : Lindsey Compton 

 

I ran across Lindsey on Instagram and thought she had a bad ass LA vibe and sent her a message that I was interested in shooting her.  She liked my port and agreed to a shoot.  I always make time for personal work and had the idea of using a projector for my main light source. I knew I needed assistance with this shot so I emailed Seth who took one look at her Instagram feed and agreed to make time out of his busy schedule.  Lindsey invited us over to her rooftop to do the shoot and she was a lot of fun to work with; artists typically make great subjects because they "get it" and probably have practiced posing in the mirror at some point in their career. 

Notes: Lindsey climbed up on a ledge and Seth illuminated her with a cloud image I had cued up in Lightroom.  I bought a powerful projector from B&H (specifically for this sort of thing).  Simple idea and a lot of fun. Also, Lindsey is one of the most rad chicks I've met; so put yourself out there and ask!

 

 

Southbay Attorney : Justin 

 

Justin is a friend and he rang me up because he needed portraits to promote his law practice.  We had a couple of conversations about the look and feel he wanted to portray and I shared a Pinterest board of ideas to nail down a direction prior to shooting.  Similar to the session I had with Jeff Lorch we both agreed on a run and gun shoot where we bounced around from location to location looking for interesting backdrops to shoot against.  Since Justin lives in Hermosa Beach, that would be our location.  While driving around a neighborhood in Hermosa I noticed a house that had an interesting color and textured wall that reminded me of a classic painted backdrop.  I pulled the SUV over, set up my typical two light set up and fired off maybe 10 shots before nailing this image.  He's a young attorney in Southern California and I thought a non traditional hard light would look cool, but not be too flashy.  I also wanted him to come across as a nice guy (which wasn't hard because he really is a good guy).

Notes:  Profoto D1 lights  - 24" softbox camera left and a Profoto Zoom 2 reflector camera right (also lighting up the wall behind to balance the composition)

 

 

Music Producer/Musician : Tim Be Told   One of Tim's people texted me because they needed PR shots of Tim to promote a solo album he had just recorded.  I didn't have much info to go on artistically so I showed up to the recording studio/location with all my light mods/toys.  I also brought an assistant because I didn't know what I was getting myself into or how much time I would have.  When I showed up there were three wardrobe people and a manager; it was a fantastic old warehouse and tons of cool backdrops so I wasn't worried about pulling off a good shot. Tim had drawn up some images for artistic direction and we shot a variety of looks.  Towards the end of the session I had the green light to shoot a few images with my own artistic license.  I can't remember how many lights I used for this particular shot, maybe three.  But there was definitely a couple of gels used to add a bit of color.  Total time at the location was maybe two hours, an hour to set up and an hour to shoot.  Tim was really appreciative of my artistic direction and easy to work with.       To end this blogazine:  I'm comfortable with the run and gun approach.  There's something thrilling about not knowing what you're going to pull off; it doesn't always work, but living in LA it's hard to go wrong because of the endless killer backdrops, great weather and magical ambient light.  It really is a shooters paradise.  Sometimes there's a specific look that the client needs and other times you have complete artistic freedom.  I have the chops to be spontaneous, but it can be risky if you're on a paid shoot and need to pull off something amazing.  On the flip side I keep myself inspired by cruising the work of other artists at the magazine rack or grabbing inspiration from TV/Cinema.  Like most artists I feel my work could be better; I probably should slow down, but at the end of the day I don't over think it too much because nothing would get done if freaked myself out all the time.  I'm a spontaneous shooter by design and have the ability to visualize the final outcome.  Confidence is key; you get that by shooting your ass off. 

Music Producer/Musician : Tim Be Told

 

One of Tim's people texted me because they needed PR shots of Tim to promote a solo album he had just recorded.  I didn't have much info to go on artistically so I showed up to the recording studio/location with all my light mods/toys.  I also brought an assistant because I didn't know what I was getting myself into or how much time I would have.  When I showed up there were three wardrobe people and a manager; it was a fantastic old warehouse and tons of cool backdrops so I wasn't worried about pulling off a good shot. Tim had drawn up some images for artistic direction and we shot a variety of looks.  Towards the end of the session I had the green light to shoot a few images with my own artistic license.  I can't remember how many lights I used for this particular shot, maybe three.  But there was definitely a couple of gels used to add a bit of color.  Total time at the location was maybe two hours, an hour to set up and an hour to shoot.  Tim was really appreciative of my artistic direction and easy to work with.  

 

 

To end this blogazine:  I'm comfortable with the run and gun approach.  There's something thrilling about not knowing what you're going to pull off; it doesn't always work, but living in LA it's hard to go wrong because of the endless killer backdrops, great weather and magical ambient light.  It really is a shooters paradise.  Sometimes there's a specific look that the client needs and other times you have complete artistic freedom.  I have the chops to be spontaneous, but it can be risky if you're on a paid shoot and need to pull off something amazing.  On the flip side I keep myself inspired by cruising the work of other artists at the magazine rack or grabbing inspiration from TV/Cinema.  Like most artists I feel my work could be better; I probably should slow down, but at the end of the day I don't over think it too much because nothing would get done if freaked myself out all the time.  I'm a spontaneous shooter by design and have the ability to visualize the final outcome.  Confidence is key; you get that by shooting your ass off.