9.16.2021

Thursday Morning and I'm less than halfway through the 50 portraits we need to complete this month. But it's a lot more fun that I imagined it would be.

This is not from this month's commercial project. 
This is a portrait shot long ago, in the days of 
Hasselblads, film and big lights. 

It is a bold project but we may have to change gears midway through. The client and I envisioned doing 50 individual portraits at 50 different time slots through the month of September. But here we are a two weeks into the project and we still haven't been able to motivate everyone to sign up for a slot. We're only a couple miles from their H.Q. so it's not an insurmountable distance to travel. I think my client's people (all smart, capable and nice people) are working remotely and it's a different dynamic because the individual associates are more in control of their own schedules. I get it. I like scheduling flexibility too. 

Even though the current set up is comfortable for me (I get to leave everything set up in the studio and just walk in for scheduled appointments; no constant set-up and tear down) it's not very efficient. The client and I have talked and we'll likely abandon this experiment and go back to setting a specific day and having everyone come to the office in scheduled slots to get the remainder of the foot draggers taken care of. And that's okay too. One day of set up and tear down isn't insurmountable. 

As it stands right now I'm enjoying the unhurried pace and the ability to work on my own turf for a change. I ended up selecting the Panasonic S5 as the camera for this project based on how well its eye detection AF works and I've been very happy with the raw files from the camera. 

I'm working with three LED lights and a big, white reflector as a fill so the studio stays nice and cool and there's no annoying flash to work through. I'm shooting at ISOs like 800 which is a piece of cake for the sensor in this camera. The resulting photographs are clean and well detailed.

Today I have one person booked in the afternoon and I'm spending my morning retouching and enhancing the selections from earlier sessions. The back end of the project; the private galleries on Smugmug, works very well. The galleries are nice, clean and controllable. Clients like them very much.  I'll likely deliver the images back to them via a download folder at Smugmug as well. 

The current lens of choice is the Panasonic 70-200mm f4.0 S-Pro. It's a logical choice since I tend to prefer the longer focal lengths for corporate headshots. I've looked at the exif data and it seems my preference is between 105mm and 135mm. The lens has a tripod mount so it's very stable and easy to handle. 

I've chosen to have people stand for their portraits and it seems to work better for their clothing because there are fewer wrinkles and "bunchings".  So far most of the people have been near my height but I have an apple crate standing by in case I encounter an especially tall person. I don't mind standing on a wooden box if it helps me do my job. If it's good enough for Tom Cruise.....

On extended projects like this I bill by the person/session and send in an invoice for the sessions at the end of every week. It keeps the payment stream flowing and seems to work for both client and photographer. 

Work is over-rated though so I'm thinking about taking the month of October off. I'm still planning to make a pilgrimage to Roswell, NM and the surrounding sites, and I may add a few other two or three day trips through the month. Gotta give that SL2 and the big, fat zoom a workout...

I'd Vlog my trips but I just tried to watch Thomas Heaton's hundred mile hike through some island and it was just painful. I applaud him for making the journey but half an hour at a time watching video of someone walk and occasionally talk to the camera is just....boring. I'm starting to think that videos like this are actually created as instruments of punishment for petty crimes in some countries. 

Convicted of shoplifting? Sit in this chair and watch an hour long video of a man trudging around in a banal landscape with a backpack and occasionally talking about how painful the adventure is. Yes. No. That's not the future of content. 

Finally, my latest gear purchase should arrive some time today. It's the Godox AD200 Pro and I have a use for it this coming Monday. An exterior portrait downtown. We'll have a test jaunt and see if it betters the performance of the sturdy and reliable AD200 (non-Pro). Fun with lights.

Time to toss on a face mask and answer the door. 


 

14 comments:

Richard said...

It’s really hard to see why your plan didn’t work. Maybe the portraits were low priority for the sitters compared with their other engagements. .I wonder if you could have given each person a slot originally but let them change it if it was inconvenient? Probably there’s something I’ve missed.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

I don't have their contact information until they've contacted me to make an appointment. But it's not a big deal. We'll work on it till it works or just decide to forget the whole thing and go swim instead.

adam said...

ivan chow makes very engaging photography videos, mostly round the 10 minute mark...

Anonymous said...

>Godox AD200 Pro

Very interested in that, any review planned?

Jeff in Colorado

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Adam, I just discovered Ivan Chow recently and I like his stuff. He still seems to be finding his way but he makes interesting videos. Nice to be along for the journey.

Jeff, I just got it into my hot little hands this afternoon. I'll put it through its paces and report!

Frank Field said...

Kirk - You have a lot of fine portraits. I think this one is among your best. Love the lighting and especially the strong connection to the model I imagine most viewers would sense when viewing the image. Frank

Russ Goddard said...

What are the three LED lights you're using for these "studio" portraits? Thanks!

Greg Heins said...

Just a guess but I think if your video had shown the steaming cup of Really Good Coffee clients receive at the studio, your acceptance rate would have gone much higher. Certainly would pull me in.

Seriously, thanks for the very useful series of recent blogs.

Andy MacBrien said...

Every. Single. Time.
The first time I encountered one of your portraits of Lou (I think it was in your Amherst book on Photographic Lighting Equipment, 2010) I was gobsmacked. AFAIC, she's your Mona Lisa. If I'm not mistaken, the above was from the same session. Equally stunning and riveting. A shining example of rapport between the participants.

As to the current sessions; some folks (myself included) aren't comfortable with being photographed. I've had sit in front of the camera several times for marketing or other corporate needs. Always has made me anxious and, as a master procrastinator of long standing, would put it off until receipt the YOU. GO. NOW. email from on high.

Some folks just tend to dawdle...

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Russ, Godox SL150ii for the bigger lights (main and back light) and a Godox SL60W for the background (with a grid in the reflector). Thanks.

Ben said...

You’re a hard man to please, Kirk! Calling the landscape of the most beautiful and famous island in Scotland banal seems a bit harsh… maybe you’re a city boy at heart?

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Ben, if it's the most beautiful and famous Island in Scotland then I give Thomas additional demerits for not showing it off well. No disparaging of the island. I'm sure it's swell.

Frank Field said...

I think young Thomas Heaton has found himself riding the YouTube tiger and is uncertain of how to get himself off.

Anonymous said...

One should watch Thomas Heston if one likes to watch someone walking through the landscape. As he says, he would go walking even without the photography. The photography, if any, is a bonus. And sometimes quite nice. I like his manner, his presentation, and his content.

For me, I watch him for the same reason I read some blogs that, while ostensibly about photography, are really about the writer’s journey through (a portion of) their life. The photography content, if any is a bonus. I enjoy the content, the style of the writing, and the photography.