Tuesday, July 14, 2009

InStep Quartet Photo Shoot - Part 1

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to shoot publicity photos for some friends and gained valuable experience and knowledge. This is a new chapter in my photography adventure which I jump into, whole heartedly with both feet. But it takes a bit of practice...

Let me first say that I shoot live musicians whenever and wherever I have the opportunity. And I play jazz myself, so I have some experience at the challenge of getting good angles. But a scheduled photo shoot requires a more deliberate approach. This post will document my thought process and lessons learned.

To prepare, I spent the time required to thoroughly watch the Zack Arias DVD, One Light Workshop. Keeping the instructional simple by using only one flash unit for all examples, Zack clearly demonstrates how to master the light in any setting using manual control over shutter speed, aperture, ISO and flash power. If you are confused at all about flash photography, I highly recommend this 4 hour DVD set. Check out a short trailer from the video and a review by photo blogger David Cross on Zack's web site for much more detail: http://www.onelightworkshop.com/page5/page5.html

Next, understanding how the client will use the pictures and what type of setting they desire will help determine the equipment you will need. The clients chose the defunct Alameda Navy base as a backdrop with all it's industrial and decaying atmosphere. I thought it best to shoot in the shade wherever possible to minimize stark shadows and squinting and decided on a simple Nikon SB 900 speed flash, a reflective umbrella, a light stand and a pair of pocket wizards for remote control might help even out the light and be easy to deal with. A larger flash and a larger light box would have provided a better light source for a 4 person shoot but since I do not own this equipment and need to rent it, I considered the following in my choice:

- we had a short 2.5 hours, beginning to end for the shoot, including location scouting, discussion, and picture review
- I do not have an assistant and so wanted to keep the rig as portable as possible
- I wanted to keep the price down
- I am considering buying these items and wanted to test their limits in the field

The InStep Quartet is a professional, high quality and multi-genre San Francisco bay area based string quartet. Read more about them on their web site.

Next - Part 2: Renting and Testing the Flash Rig

Part 2 - Part 3

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