©2015 Kirk Tuck.
There's a pervasive mythology that's often fueled by social network savvy shooters in our industry which says that all shoots for major magazines (like Private Clubs Magazine) which involve high profile CEO's (The Westin) in swanky locations (The Hyatt Hill Country Resort) require a legion of assistants and assorted functionaries in order to achieve any sort of success. I think it's nonsense. The complexity vastly inflated. And, given how easy it is and was to do the technical parts of photography the big crew just screams: overkill.
When I got the assignment to do this project (image above) I also got a budget within which to do it. The idea was straightforward, go down the day before the shoot, find a cool location and figure out how to light it. I could spend the entire budget on non-essential staff or I could make a profit.
The lighting for this image consists of one black scrim that takes the ambient light off the subject and one big (4 foot by six foot) soft box to put better light back on him. That's it. The hardest part of the shoot was figuring out the triangle of the focal length I wanted to use (180mm), the image size of the subject in the frame (camera to subject distance) and the size and out-of-focus characteristic of the piano in the background (subject-to-piano distance). Most of that was trial and error.
The other myth that every photographer loves to feed (because they think it makes their efforts sound more heroic) is the idea that all CEO's are so busy and so curated by their entourage that lowly photographers only have access to them for tiny slices of time. Five minutes at the most. Again, mostly B.S. The smart CEO's know the value of public relations and friendly media exposure and are willing to put in the time to optimize the results. If that means giving the photographer time to do a couple variations or change course now and then they are generally compliant.
I can't remember exactly how much time I had to do this shot but it seemed to be a leisurely experience for me. Twenty minutes or so. The original client liked the shot and used it well. And the CEO's parent company liked the shot too and bought additional usage rights (after the initial magazine embargo).
In the days before over the top web marketing we didn't realize that we'd need to have our own entourage to propagate the image of being successful. We thought our photographs would be enough.
To recap: Major CEO on location. One photographer. One CEO. One CEO's assistant. No photographer assistant. No digital tech. No location scout. No hair and make up. No piano wrangler. No craft service (excluding the hotel F&B). No producer. No second assistant. No Polaroid timer. No publicist. No green screen. No retoucher. No studio manager. Lord, how did we manage?