3.02.2017

I finally had time to do a better edit on this interview with Dave Jarrott. I like it now.


Dave Jarrott Interview Solo from Kirk Tuck on Vimeo.

Location Portrait Shooting in 201X. Leverage what's there.

©2015 Kirk Tuck. All rights reserved.

©2015 Kirk Tuck. All rights reserved.

Recently,  I was asked by an Austin-based tech firm to make a series of portraits of a collection of their people. We're consistently moving away from using manufactured backgrounds for nearly all of our "out of the studio" locations and so my first task was to go to the client's location and scout for good, existing, environmental backgrounds. I was looking for clean spaces that would look good and contemporary. I wanted to find spaces where the backgrounds could be far enough away to achieve limited depth of field; even with smaller format cameras.

The building the company occupies is one of the prime, downtown office towers and the office plan calls for floor to ceiling windows on three quarters of the perimeter. So you have a windows on one side of a continuing hallway and offices on the other. The effect is one of open and airy space. Even the conference room, in which I ended up shooting the top portrait, faces out onto a western part of downtown through an exterior wall that is also a huge window. 

When I shot these images I was still working with the Panasonic GH4 cameras. I used the little 42.5mm lens and my amazing Olympus 60mm f1.5 Pen lens for all of the photographs done for this project and I have to say that I was happy with both the tonality of the lenses and the whole system's ability to render a nicely out of focus background rendition; not too much but not too little...

I used a 50 inch white. 1.25 stop diffuser between the subject and the windows. I did this to drop the level of light on the subject so I could control the overall color and quality of light that fell directly on him. In each image I added to the light on the subject with a bit of flash, bounced into a 60 inch umbrella, to control his contrast and exposure. I felt that by using just natural light there would be a bit too much contrast in the images and I'd rather get the parameters right while shooting than having to labor over stuff in post production. 

The flash also neutralized the greenish-blue cast caused by the tinted office windows. You can see the color cast in the background areas but not on the subject. 

I tried my best to use a light touch on the flash but to still exercise the control needed to get what I wanted aesthetically from each shot. While the photos look casual they were both executed using a tripod to help me hold the exact composition I wanted through the whole series of exposures. 

We've been using styles similar to this for most of our portrait clients over the last three years and have been getting good feedback and repeat engagements. It's a nice style and one that also "cuts" well into video projects. Certainly much better than an executive in front of a blue paper background with a spot circle in the middle of it....

Styles and aesthetics change. We change with them. That doesn't mean there isn't a place for the traditional studio but; oh wait; maybe this is an argument against the traditional studio....