Whenever our shoot location for the day has a strict “jacket and collared shirt” dress code, you know it’s going to be an interesting day. Back in December, Philadelphia Magazine asked Chris to shoot a group portrait at the Union League of Philadelphia, our city’s most exclusive members-only club. We were tasked with shooting a handful of Philly’s most influential gay men, known as the A-gays of the Union League.
An 8-person group portrait in one of the swankiest locations in the city – How did it go? Keep reading for behind the scenes photos and the details behind this shot…
The final shot as it ran in Philadelphia Magazine – make sure to read the full story over at Philly mag’s website
Working with groups always adds an extra level of composition and planning to a photoshoot. By now I think I’ve assisted Chris on dozens of shots with groups and I’m still shocked at his ability to not only cut through the chaos of a busy set to arrange our subjects, but also how he can remember the names of everyone he’s photographing. It’s crazy (kinda feels like I’m on set with rain man).
If you’re looking for the nitty-gritty details, here they are.
We went into the shoot knowing that it would be a challenged to light eight people, but also a challenge to balance the lighting effectively in such a dark and moody space. We also had to deal with a series of not-so-awesome reflections from the reflective wood paneling throughout the scene.
That being said, we started with a base coat of light coming from two large octabanks, each putting out 1000 w/s. We positioned these octabanks on the opposite side of the space we were shooting in, and set them up about twelve feet high. By positioning them up so high, we sucessfully eliminated a ton of glare and reflections that would have plagued the shot. Even at a distance of ten to fifteen feet, the octabanks provided a nice base coat of light.
To add to this and create shape on our eight subjects, it was a matter of carefully positioning both the models and our key light. We used a slightly smaller 4′ octabank for the key, positioned to the left of frame, slightly ahead of our group. That source was cut at such an angle as to light all 8 of out subjects. Even though we chose a smaller source, it was still plenty wide enough to create the shape and mood we were looking for.
And of course, no behind the scenes post would be complete without some kind of ridiculous photo of myself or another assistant – or in this case a few ridiculous photos of myself. You all can thank Photoshop for that one. Also, make sure the Union League doesn’t see this photo – I may have been breaking their dress code by taking off my jacket.