Strobist: Proposal for a portable studio job

Joined
Jan 26, 2005
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San Jose, CA
I was asked to submit a proposal for a juicy little bit of work... portraits of the 50 folks who staff my local gym. They are the admins, aerobics instructors, lifeguards, trainers, etc., that make the place run.

I decided to include some concept photos in the proposal. I wanted to demonstrate that I could use a static setup, which minimzes the time required for each picture, but personalize each image through the use of props and Photoshop.

I drafted a sweet young lady from the front counter to use as my model, and appropriated a pen with a plastic flower on it for her prop. I had her sit on a tall stool, and positioned her for short lighting. Then I used my little digicam (Canon a710is) for a sample shot. Sunlight through a glass door served as a surrogate for the off-camera flash I'll use as the main light for my location "studio" when I actually do the job. This was the setup...

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... and this was the base composition.

View attachment 97043

Here are the variations.

View attachment 97044

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View attachment 97046

I'll have fun using a multi-flash portable studio for this job, if I land it.
 
Joined
Nov 7, 2005
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650
Location
Thailand
Frank, a static setup is certainly easier and faster, but it is just that...static. I'm not a fan of cut and paste backgrounds either, they almost always look cheesy.

What I would suggest is environmental portraits. Shoot them where they work with slight variations for each person. For example, if you have five people that work in the weight room, shoot each there, but in different locations. You can use the same simple lighting setup for each one. An umbrella/softbox/brolly in VERY close for main with a reflector fill. And maybe one or two SB's to light the background in situations that call for it...if not, just balance with the ambient. That's the beauty of the small, portable setup for location work...you just grab the light stands and move on to the next location, place the main 2-3 feet from your subject and fire away.

Don't be intimidated, keep it simple and don't overrthink it. And definitely don't over light it...like I said, one main light in close w/reflector fill and maybe a background light and you'll be golden!

I think not only will this be a great learning experience for you, but the client will get much better photographs as well.

Just my 2¢...
 
J

JakeB.

Guest
I agree with Rays suggestions... they will make for a nice set of portraits.
 
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Hey, someone put out an APB on the OP, ASAP, o.k.?! :wink:
 
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Joined
Jan 26, 2005
Messages
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Location
San Jose, CA
They have two projects for me... the staff photos, and a series of candids of the members for posters. They're trying to figure out which one to fund first.
 
Joined
Dec 29, 2005
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Bournemouth, UK
good suggestions ray, if there were 5 working in the weights room then could try a small group portrait of all of them in that room as well

I tend to agree with the drop in backgrounds plus it's extra work to PS everything (well it would be for me)

Sil
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2005
Messages
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Location
San Jose, CA
Ray, Jake, and Sil, thanks for taking the time to comment and offer suggestions. I've been shooting staff photos for the trainers at this particular facility for quite a while, and take pride in finding creative seettings and poses. Here's a few samples.

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View attachment 97048

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The problem is, these take time, and management has a tight budget for the project. You see, I'm not the only one that'll be on the clock; the subjects will be, too. There's no budget for a grip, either. Imho, a studio approach (fixed lighting arrangement) is the only viable solution.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Location
Thailand
These are much better.

Frank, I really don't want to appear like I'm picking on you man...I'm honestly trying to help. With a a basic one umbrella and reflector set-up, I just can't see how/why it would take that much more time and/or money to produce better images. Unless its a stadium sized gym, if you figure 3-5 minutes per person, you're out of there in under four hours...five tops. In your proposal, it'll probably take 2-3 minutes per person, so like I said...not that much difference.
 

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