Commercial Photoshoot for Trade Magazine / by

When you're a commercial photographer you never know what your next assignment might bring. A few days ago I was contacted by the publisher of a Trade Magazine for the funeral industry. The magazine is produced in South Carolina but they were doing an article on a mortuary professor from Jefferson State, here in Birmingham. They needed creative photos of him for the story highlighting his passion for teaching. The publisher wanted high quality and creative images that would compliment the text. After a couple of calls with the professor and publisher I had a few ideas in mind. Still, I would have to see what would work once I was there and could see the facilities first hand. Given that this was a topic and a subject that I'd never attempted to photograph before, I was quite excited. Now, I realize that not everyone considers this type of photography to be their cup of tea, but for me, any day I'm working with a camera in my hand is a good one. I enjoy the challenge of fulfilling my client's vision and getting the best images possible. When I arrived on location the first thing I did was scout the location looking for the best settings. Some of it was already determined by the client. They wanted images of him teaching in class and at his desk. The rest was up to me to figure out. Once I had my locations set, the next thing for me to do was visualize the shots. I took the scene before me and mentally placed the subject, choose my angles, and thought about how I wanted the light to look to properly tell the story. After that, Kelly and I set about getting the lighting, exposures, and equipment set up to make it all a reality. Here are the results with how they were done. Please feel free to comment below with any questions you have.

I needed an image of him teaching in class but a cinder block walled, overhead florescent lit, classroom was less than ideal.  I turned out the lights and used a gridded snoot on a monolight, placed in the center of the room, high, and at a down angle. I wanted dramatic light that would spotlight the subject. I had a speedlight with a blue gel at the left and rear of the class to provide a little fill light on the class. I wanted them to be silhouetted but still somewhat visible. I shot low and to the right using a telephoto lens to compress the distance of the students and to reduce depth of field . Canon 1D Mark III, Canon EF 85mm 1.8 USM, ISO 200, 1/250th of a second, f5.0, manual exposure, custom white balance.

Birmingham Commercial Photograpghers

The second location was the merchandising room where students learned all about the different parts of casket, monuments, etc. The light in the room was overhead florescent light banks. Yuck! See the diagram below to see how I lit this scene. Canon 1D Mark III, Sigma EX 50mm 1.4 HSM, ISO 100, 1/30th (slower shutter speed allowed me to bring in some of the ambient light in the background cubicles.), f4.5, manual exposure, custom white balance, lights triggered by PocketWizards.

Canon 1D Mark III, Canon EF 20mm 2.8 USM, ISO 100, 1/30th (slower shutter speed allowed me to bring in some of the ambient light in the background cubicles.), f4.5, manual exposure, custom white balance, lights triggered by PocketWizards.

Alabama Commercial Photographers

They wanted a more causal image of him at his desk. This could be a boring and flat shot. I wanted to make it a bit more interesting. I used a higher ISO to draw in more of the ambient light from the lamp to add some warmth and character. I positioned my main light (speedlight shot through a softbox), in the hallway and used the front door of the office as a light controller. See the diagram below. I just had him interact with Kelly to get more natural looks and expressions. I didn't want it to be the typical cheesy smile and pretend action. Canon 1D Mark III, Sigma EX 50mm 1.4 HSM, ISO 400, 1/250th, f4.5, manual exposure, custom white balance, speedlihgt triggered by PocketWizard Multimax.

Tommy Daspit Editorial Photographer

Lastly we needed a couple of simple portraits with negative space where copy (text or headlines) could be added. The sky was giving us some dramatic clouds and I wanted to incorporate them into the image. The camera's shutter speed was set to the meter reading for the sky. If I metered for the subject then the sky would be overexposed. Since I was exposing for the sky our subject would have been very dark and underexposed. To prevent that from happening I lit him with a YN-560 speedlight at full power shot through a medium softbox placed to the right, high, and at a down angle. I adjusted my aperture and ISO to make sure my shutter speed was within my camera's maximum sync speed of 1/300th of a second. The flash power was set so that it was correct for the aperture used. In this case it was full power. I composed this image from a downward position looking up to incorporate more of the sky and not the parking lot behind him. This angle also gives the perspective of enlarging the subjects stature.  Since my light was at a down angle there was a shadow under his chin which is a slimming look. Canon 1D Mark III, Canon 85mm 1.8 USM, ISO 100, 1/200th, f10, manual exposure, custom white balance, YN-560 manual speedlight triggered by PocketWizard.

Birmingham AL editorial photographers

Tommy Daspit Editorial Photographer


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