Here’s a shot I’ve seen plenty of times before, but I had never had the chance to do it myself. So when it came up as a component in a campaign I shot for a long-time client, I figured this was my chance.
I knew that in theory, it was a pretty simple thing, and in practice it turned out to be even easier than I thought.
Step one was to establish the composition. I set up the camera on a tripod and got it leveled out. Here’s my ambient shot:
Now, I needed to light this room up. I’m not going to go into the details of that, but there are 7 lights out there. Here’s the “beauty shot” of the space:
With that out of the way, it was time to get ready for the models. First, I needed to ensure that absolutely nothing would change in terms of composition. Since my tripod is not the most solid piece of hardware you’ve ever seen, I wrapped some gaffer’s tape around the mounting area and the ball head, just to be sure. I also wrapped a strip of tape around the zoom ring of my lens (this was shot with the Canon 17-40L 4.0) to make sure it wouldn’t “drift” during the shoot. As an added measure of stability, I used my remote shutter release.
The models were actually the homeowners, Hamilton, Gina, their baby daughter Bryce, and my client, Michael. I wanted them in several locations, with not too much overlap, and arranged in ways that were both interesting and which would lend themselves to a pleasing composition. Each pose was thought out beforehand.
On a creative note, I think it’s noteworthy that Michael only appears once in this montage, and then it’s in the background. One of the basic tenets of this campaign was that the photography would not always feature Michael prominently, or even at all. We wanted to tell a story, and avoid being too heavy-handed with the message. This concept is already a bit of a cliché, and so the last thing we wanted to do was amplify that by placing Michael front and center with a ‘hero’ shot.
OK, back to shooting. For each pose, I lit them with a 30” shoot-through umbrella, just to bring up their faces a little bit. Each pose is shot as a separate frame:
The rest of the project is a Photoshop exercise. Each image becomes a separate layer in the “Master” image. By creating a layer mask for each layer, I could simply paint out Donna and the umbrella from the photo, revealing the “clean” layers below. I hate doing post-processing, and I was dreading this part of the project, but in reality it was amazingly fast.
The result is a fun photo that will (hopefully) retain the viewer’s eye and flow well with the other images in the print piece.