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Shooting on Location: Q&A

Lesson 29 from: Professional Portraits: Moving Beyond Headshots

Gary Hughes

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Lesson Info

29. Shooting on Location: Q&A

Lesson Info

Shooting on Location: Q&A

Let's go ahead and take a few questions from the internet. Question, can you explain the high-speed sync again when shooting into the window? So in the last segment, I did demo one of my favorite things to do in a difficult lighting situation, which is to shoot into a window, which is the outside when you are inside. So basically, way, way brighter than the situation that you're in. And so the way a high-speed sync works is that you can set your flash, if it's high-speed sync capable and you're using a wireless trigger that is high-speed sync capable, that is TTL, which is means through the lens, which means that your camera can talk to it and send all the data and information back and forth. You can beat your speed light's sync speed, 'cause the way a sync speed works is, up to a certain shutter speed, let's say it's around 200th of a second, some it's 250th of a second, your speed light loses the ability to get past the shutter in time before the image actually gets exposed, 'cause t...

he curtain shutter in your camera, one shutter goes across to open the exposure and one shutter closes across the sensor to end the exposure. And so the faster your shutter speed, the faster that happens. And it'll get a point with your flash, where that light cannot get past the curtain in time and so you'll see, like, half the image will be dark. You actually catch the shutter. And so with high-speed sync, what you can do is, the flash can talk to the camera, they can work out timing so that the speed light will go instead of one shot, it will go... Multiple shots along with the shutter in order to make sure that the light gets to the subject despite the shutter speed. Some of the best uses for high-speed sync are when you really need to crank down that available light inside or outside, when you've got something really bright. If you're shooting a wedding or you're shooting a portrait or you're shooting fashion. You can use high-speed sync if you're doing pictures on the beach to bring down that bright ambient light and your speed light will still be able to get through the shutter and expose your subject properly, even though you're past the shutter's native sync speed. So the reason that I use that in that situation is because one of the things that you can't really do if you've ever been outside and you'd like to shoot with a shallow depth of field but you can't because it's too bright, so no matter what you do, you can't use flash, because you'd have to crank your shutter speed up way high. So with high-speed sync, I can shoot at F28 or F32 or 35 or F and I can crank that shutter speed and that will bring down, in the exposure, the light outside of the bright street while I can still use that flash to expose my subject that's indoors while still using a shallow depth of field. So high-speed sync has some really cool uses, not just for shooting things that are moving. You might think the high-speed sync is better for shooting, like, skateboarding or action or you know, a soccer player doing a bicycle kick, and those things are all true. But high-speed sync is also really practical when you're trying to bring down really bright ambient light and use a strobe to light the subject. So that's a really cool use that we just demonstrated in that previous segment. What's another question? When you're on location, would you typically have a stand in for photos if your subject have a limited time? How much adjusting are you doing with clients in front of your camera? That's a really great question. When you work in the professional world, you know you can go to, like, a conference, like a photo conference, like Imaging USA or WPPI, and everyone knows who the famous photographers are. And everyone's like, psst-psst-psst, when they see them walk by? It's that way when you go into big company's offices. Like, the boss, nobody's even gonna approach him. So you know who the big person is and usually your handler, the person you coordinated the job with, is the one who's like, oh, he's very busy, he's only got five minutes for his photo. And you know who those people are, you know what situations are. In those cases, if it's a big enough job or I get that information ahead of time, I will very often make sure that I have an assistant with me and yes, I will shoot through every single lighting setup I have that I'm going to do, one and the other. So that when that person comes, when Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. Big comes for their photo, I can bam-bam-bam-bam and get them on their way. We talked about in the very first segment how efficiency is one of the most important things when you're working in the corporate world. It's absolutely the case. You wanna be able to get your shot and nail it. Sometimes when you book jobs like this, you'll be surprised, once you get really good at it, by how few photos you come back from a job with, 'cause you don't need to take 20, 30 shots of everything. It's psh-psh, got it, psh-psh, got it. And you move on to the next thing. So that is a very, very great question. And it's a very good idea to make sure that you have that information and that you bring an assistant with you and run through all your shots, so that you know what you're doing before that person comes in, so. One day, maybe I'll be a celebrity photographer and I'll get to photograph all the famous people and I'm sure it'll be much the same with them. But for right now, we'll just photograph lowly CEOs and Fortune 500 companies, no big deal. See, I've never done that. Okay, next question. If you're working against a bright window, is there a set distance you try to keep subjects at? I'm working against a bright window. The only thing that I'm considering as far as distance is my depth of field. One look that I really like to get is, like, an extreme distance from the background. So if you're shooting at a shallow depth of field and you're relatively close to the subject and the background is the other side of the street outside the front of a bank of windows, if you get closer to your subject, that relative focusing distance is gonna throw that background crazy out of focus. So I really want the implication of what's out there past the window and not necessarily a whole bunch of detail. So the distance from the subject to the window is only gonna be considered depending on how much of the light coming through the window you want falling on the back of your subject. And the closer you get, the more that's gonna wrap around behind them. So I'd say probably just like you would with a background, maybe six or eight feet as a rule of thumb, but it also depends on what image you're trying to create. We have one more question. When we're on location, are there textured backgrounds you avoid? Not offhand, there's no particular texture. I like a little bit of texture in the background as long as it's not distracting from the subject. If it is part of the background, if you're photographing a guy who owns a brick-laying company and he's surrounded by lots of really cool, interesting, different multicolored types of bricks, and that kinda busyness becomes part of the story. If you're photographing somebody who is, you know, a Mary Kay representative or a real estate agent, that may not be the case. So really, you just want the texture not to conflict with what you're trying to say and visually speaking, you have to remember that your eyes will continually be drawn to areas of high contrast. And texture, by definition, has high contrast. And so as long as it's not distracting from the subject, I'd say, would be my, you know, my general guideline.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Ten Tips for Professional Portraits
SEO Workbook
Posing Guide
Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews


Gary is super knowledgable, yet down-to-earth and relatable. I love how he explains the exact gear he uses but also describes ways to accomplish the same look using DIY and less expensive alternatives. The segment where he demos a live shoot in multiple, difficult lighting situations is worth the cost of the class alone! Bonus: He's super funny. He could probably double as a comedian on the side, but I digress. This class was informative, funny, and very practical for any photographer that wants to increase their profit and expand their business into the professional world. He gives all his prices and workflows so you can get up and running in 2 days! :) Awesome class overall, and it's a great sequel to his professional headshot class (which I also bought and loved.)

Richard Blenkinsopp

I love Gary's straight teaching style, and appreciate him demonstrating with regular people, not models. This is the real life of a regular photographer! I wish Creative Live could show more from the photographers viewpoint, so that when he's posing and moving lights etc, we see exactly what he's changing, and can analyze why... not sure how they'd achieve this in a live environment though. Loved his going around to less than ideal locations and finding the place that works. My favourite course on Creative Live so far.


Gary makes taking editorial portraits look simple and fun. I want to start shooting heads! I love Creative live and Gary is really doing a great job. I got to buy the class next. Thank you.

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