Whenever I start a new photo shoot there’s one universal truth that I try to remember — every shoot evolves. I often begin with one core concept and aim to develop the shoot into something even better!
For this shoot I knew I wanted to have my stunning subject interacting with a mirror… at times engaging with her own reflection, and at other times glancing back toward camera. I wanted the scene to be surreal and mysterious. For that reason I selected a bit darker makeup, slick hair, and dramatic lighting.
When I started the shoot, I didn’t know the exact lighting for my scene. Instead simply knew the type of mood I wanted to create. I tried a variety of modifiers and gels, until I found lighting that fit a story I could tell.
My subject, Carol, would look like she was walking out of a club late at night. She stops in the neon lights catches her reflection. Perhaps it has even started to rain. This story helps me to craft the lighting, posing and expressions of my subject.
For lighting I used 3 Profoto strobes, the first light had a tight 5 degree grid on the face to create a narrow beam of light. Next, to the left of the frame I used a zoom reflector and barn doors with a blue/teal gel. Finally, to the right of the frame I used a wider 20 degree grid and a magenta gel as a hair/rim light.
Depending on my subject’s pose she would catch different combinations of light. I grabbed my longer Canon 70-200mm lens to compress the scene so that she and her reflection were in similar proportions.
Because expression, pose, angles and position of light were critical, I shot a LOT of images and angles. I used my 128GB Lexar Professional memory cards because they are fast and reliable. I tend to shoot a ton, work very quickly and capture very large files. I need fast read-write speeds to keep up with my pace, and I need reliability. Sometimes I’ll even use both a CF and SD card so I have an automatic backup.
After looking at a few of my shots with the wet hair, I decided to simulate a night rain. We took a spray bottle and wet down the mirror and my subject, and tousled the hair a bit more. I felt that this small detail could add just one more layer of storytelling for the viewer to explore.
The results? Dramatic, colorful, moody images that are both storytelling and beautiful.
Also a very special thanks to Lexar for being a part of this shoot.
- Canon 5D Mark IV
- Canon 70-200 2.8
- Profoto D1 Air 500 Watt
- Profoto D2 1000Ws AirTTL Monolight
- Profoto Zoom Reflector
- Profoto 5 degree grid
- Profoto 20 degree grid
- Profoto Barn Doors
- Rosco Gels
- Lexar 128GB Professional 1066x CompactFlash Memory Card (UDMA 7)
- Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader (UDMA 7)
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