While my work life can seem disjointed the common thread lately is that it's all about portraits. All of which are embargoed until the clients use them.

One of the frustrating things about making photographs on commissions for clients (as opposed to making them for myself and trying to license the usage rights afterwards to clients) is that in most cases we are required to keep them out of circulation at least until our commissioning clients have used them for the initial rights license we've negotiated. In the industry they call this an embargo. But what it means to me is that I've done a zillion photographic portrait sessions recently that I'd love to show off except the fact that they haven't wended their way through all of the processes and found their way to client websites, magazine ads or posters---just yet. 

This means talking a lot about portraits when showing them would be more fun and enlightening. But there's not a lot I can do about it. Today I shot a portrait that worked out really well. I was commissioned by a magazine in Chicago to make a portrait of an executive from the big computer maker/cloud services provider here in central Texas. The image will be used on the front cover of the magazine sometime in the first quarter of 2015. We started talking about the assignment about ten days ago but I didn't hear back on the shooting date until yesterday morning. I got a brief e-mail from the art director who was hoping we could do something the very next day. Today. I put some post processing aside and said, "yes."

The portrait needed to be an environmental one so I headed out to the corporate campus, scouted a location and waited to meet my subject. I lit the entire shoot with one light. It was an inexpensive Yongnuo electronic flash firing into a 72 inch white umbrella. The rest of the lighting was supplied via the back lit graphics that covered every square inch of the walls at our location, augmented by pillar of corrected fluorescent lights in the center of the room. I was a bit miffed because in using the outer AF sensors of the Nikon D7100 with a 24-85mm zoom lens the camera hunted like Hemmingway. It was all over the place. I was embarrassed for the camera because I can think of three or four m4:3rd cameras that would have handled the situation with ease. 

We were in an out of the location in less than an hour and I pause to remember one of our first shoots in that location about 15 years ago using enormous Profoto strobe packs, soft boxes and medium format film cameras. Every set up was time intensive and I'm going to bet we got seven or eight good set ups in a day back then. We did four set ups in an hour today; from the unzipping of the camera case to the tossing of the bags back into the car and driving away. So different. And such a clear contrast when you've worked in the same particular location over such a span of years. 

After I got back to the studio I edited (meaning "delete unusable or crappy shots") the take, did some post processing (color correction and contrast correction) and then output a gallery of images to put up on Smugmug.com for the magazine art director. But this weekend has barely begun.

As soon as I put the gallery up I got busy unpacking and repacking. We're booked again tomorrow on a full day shoot at an elementary school to photograph kid models, an iPhone product, and app. My favorite assistant was already booked on another adventure so I'm working with someone new. We'll head over to the location right after my early morning swim practice and shoot with the same collections of Nikon cameras (I'm almost temporarily over them... and already flirting with doing the next shoot with m4:3 cameras again) and lenses. The ones that have all been auto focus fine tuned and exposure tuned. Hope it sticks.

I'm packing three of the 72 inch umbrellas with which I hope to create walls of light where needed or to supplement big banks of windows, where possible. I'll take along an assortment of other lights like some LED panels and batteries for some smaller interiors. Probably a couple of bigger strobes in case we need to push some light from the outside through some windows or onto the playgrounds. 

On Sunday I'll be editing and then globally post processing the edited images for initial delivery to the advertising agency that's handling this job. And I hope to be very efficient in my computer work because I need to repack for an assignment early Monday morning. We'll be going into the offices of a large, national real estate company in order to make a series of group photographs of their various executive teams. Same cameras but for this job a selection of four or five 400 watt second monolights and various modifiers (a mix of umbrellas and soft boxes). I hope to have the shooting and furniture moving part of that job done by 10:30 am so I can meet up with an creative director from a different agency to go and call on a new manufacturing client. We've gotten approval on a day long project photographing their key people in environmental set ups, as well as some lifestyle-y images of their employee's craft work, but I always like to meet the new clients first when I can and do a thorough scouting of the facility we'll be shooting in. I can't always arrange it but when I can it makes great sense and informs the gear selection and packing that I'll need to do. 

Midweek is post production, delivery and billing along with a collection of random head shots and portraits and then Saturday and Sunday in Charlotte, NC. (Hate those over night turn arounds) to make one or two portraits before getting back into the studio Sunday night to recharge batteries and repack for a shoot with 12 to 15 people in Johnson City, Texas first thing Monday morning. And it continues like this right up until the week before Christmas. But it's fun. When you are shooting portraits all the time you fall into a nice rhythm and if you want to challenge yourself it's as easy as changing to different camera or lighting gear or trying something you've never done before. If it works then you are an artist. If it doesn't work we'll hope that you are smart enough to back yourself up with some normal safety shots. But the portrait process builds in its own sense of continuity and fluidity that makes the work fun.

And this is a long, rambling one sided conversation that I guess is my way of saying, "Wow. We're busy and it's sidetracking me from doing the blogging as regularly as I'd like. Sorry. And it's also keeping me from doing the much needed marketing for the novel. To which I'd like to circle back. But hey, there are only so many hours and with dog walking and swimming being the alpha priorities, well, something else has to give. 

Speaking of the novel....
If you've finished reading the novel and you enjoyed it please consider leaving a review for me at Amazon.com. Every review is wonderful marketing. Except the bad reviews. But if you read it and didn't like it you are probably way too busy---what with the holidays and all--- to trouble yourself with writing a review. Just saying.   

These were all taken one afternoon with the D7000 and the funky, cool Nikon 25-50mm f4 manual focus lens from a previous century. I love the look.


Anonymous said...

I am glad your busy. This means your earning money to pay for this blog and busy professionally provides real world stuff for the blog

A win all around

Michael R

Wolfgang Lonien said...

Wrote a review on amazon.de, but it's not public yet. Maybe because I included a link to the "review" on my own site...