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Professional Portraits: Moving Beyond Headshots

Lesson 26 of 32

Shooting on Location: Small Spaces, Mixed Lighting

Gary Hughes

Professional Portraits: Moving Beyond Headshots

Gary Hughes

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Lesson Info

26. Shooting on Location: Small Spaces, Mixed Lighting


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Lesson Info

Shooting on Location: Small Spaces, Mixed Lighting

So we're walking into a situation here where we're in a hallway, and I use this particular location, it's got kind of a similar lighting setup to where we were before, it's even closer in, and you can do a lot of cool things when you're having to work close in. And one of the things that you're gonna find is that you might end up in situations where you don't have the room to bring all of your lights into it, and so I like this situation because it's restrictive. And because it's gonna be difficult to come up with something that might be really unique, so I wanna go through the process of talking about what I would do if this was actually where I had to shoot. And again, I shoot in places like this all the time, trade show booths, offices, conference rooms, and even storage closets. Yes, that's true, I've photographed in storage closets many times, so what I wanna do is I'm gonna show you a couple of different ways that I would handle this. I'm gonna get Savannah to bring me that flash...

with the gel on it, please. We've got kind of an interesting ramp here that I'm gonna do something cool with. What I wanna do is demonstrate the idea of using an on-camera flash to create directional light. And you can do it in a situation a lot different than this, but you can bounce the light across a much bigger room than you think you might be able to. But when you're in a tight space, you can get a lot of power out of these little guys. One thing that you wanna consider when you're bouncing a flash on your camera is that the flash has an amount it can zoom in which what it basically does is, it's going to recess the firing mechanism, or the bulb, back further into the barrel of the flash in order to narrow the beam, and so it's gonna, essentially it's going to cause your flash to be more narrow. Now when you're bouncing your flash and you zoom it in, it's going to give you a lot better bounce. It's going to get to the wall it's bouncing off of quite a bit better than it will if you shoot at, like 24 millimeters. So in this case, I'm gonna zoom my flash in to about 135 millimeters, and I'm gonna stick this right on the camera. Now, you can zoom in the flash and also it's not a bad idea to snoot it, remember we looked at that Rogue FlashBender in the gear portion. And I'm not doing this for any other reason than I just need a place to put it, so just stick that over here. So let's see what we can do with some on-camera flash. Alright, let me have Doug. We're ready, Doug. There he is, okay. Group, okay. So we're manual mode, I know a lot of people use TTL, I don't, not because I don't like it, because I don't know how to use it very well. Manual just makes more sense to me. If you wanna see, CreativeLive has lots of classes on TTL flash, including by the great and powerful Mike Fulton, who is the king of off-camera flash and TTL. Alright, so let's create something a little more editorial, a little more relaxed. Doug, do me a favor, have a seat on the ledge there. Perfect, alright, perfect. So what I want you to do is to bring your left arm a little bit more relaxed, and leaning onto yourself a little bit, that's perfect. So what I'm gonna do is get a little bit closer, gonna go this way and I'm gonna use the depth in the background and I'm gonna use this flash, I'm gonna bounce it right up into the wall and it's gonna zoom in at 135 millimeters. Now again, I have no idea if this is gonna work. (laughs) But I hope it works 'cuz a lot of times you're out on a job and you do something, and it totally works, however nothing should really be a complete surprise to you, you should not be surprised by what comes out on your camera. You should be able to give it a shot, if it doesn't work, reassess and then come up with something else. So let's see what we can do. (camera shutter clicks) Boom, okay, so it's underexposed and we need a little more zing. So my flash is set to an 1/8th power, I'm gonna crank that up. (camera shutter clicks) There we go, bang. Alright, so we got the bones of it right here, perfect. You can lean in a little bit more, and perfect, that's alright. In fact, put your right hand up like this, yeah good, 'cuz if it's a little too far forward, those hands together, I always think of somebody sitting on the toilet, you know? (laughs) Alright, scoot your butt out to the edge a little bit more for me, good, alright. And rest that hand, your right one, a little bit like that, perfect. So I got broad shoulders, I've created a triangle with his arms that's gonna support the head, he's leaning in, and I'm gonna use this wall as kind of a leading line and I'm gonna go ahead and light it up. Now if you'll see in the image, we've actually got a pretty nice, soft direction of light, just bouncing the light off this wall over here, so I'm creating directional light and a nice image, just using on-camera flash. Now there is something about this image that is bothering me a little bit, and that is that the room on the other side is so dark and that's dark because all these settings that we have are to light this room, and the flash is only lighting this room, so what I might do is actually add a little bit of light in the other room with one of those modifiers. Where is Savannah? (laughs) There you are, hello. Hi. Do me a favor, and I want you to grab the light that has the Speedbox on it, and I want you to put it in that room and kinda bounce it off of that white wall. Move it that way, make sure that it's turned on. And so what I'm gonna do that's cool about these 600s is that you can use the flash as the controller, and not just the control unit. So let me change the mode here, boom. Now this is the master, channel 15, and the link says that we're good to go. And, Savvy, what channel is that, or what group is that, A, B, or C? B. It's B, okay, so I've got an A:B ratio, that's cool. I've got a 1/2, and go ahead. Savannah? Yeah, right here. Put it where I can't see it, and shoot it at that wall over there. So I'm gonna try and bounce flash to give a little light in that room behind us. Let's see if that worked, there it is, bang. Now I've used that other off-camera flash to create, and I've lit up that other room. The reason I'm bouncing it off the wall in the other room is because, if you shoot it direct, you're gonna have one really hot wall, you're gonna have a really hot spot on the ceiling. And so since I know that that wall on the other side is white, I'm gonna bounce the light off of that wall at pretty high power, and let it light up the room behind him. (shutter clicks) Boom, very cool. So now I've got kind of a nice, easy, editorial style kind of portrait. Lower it a little bit, get some hands in there, there we go. There we are. I can see a couple cables on the ground back there, I'm not too worried about it. Alright, okay. Alrighty, focusing, good. (shutter clicks) Bang, alright, now that's gonna give us a real nice casual, editorial beat right there, and this is CreativeLive, so there are gonna be wires and people and cameras everywhere, but we're gonna crop those out. (shutter clicks) Perfect, good, now what we can do is, I'm gonna switch to a portrait orientation. And it's gonna be this way because I still wanna be able to use the flash bouncing against the wall, like so. There we go, perfect. So, ah, there's the camera. It's like trying to eat left-handed, it's kinda weird. Alright, we got it though. Perfect. (laughs) Yeah, perfect. Tilt your head a little bit this way, bring that chin down just a touch, there we go. Actually, lift your chin just a little bit, right there, okay. Can you just go like this? You got one little, yeah, you got a Superman curl. (laughs) It's perfect, there we go, two. (shutter clicks) And three. Perfect. So I've created, oh that light didn't fire that last time, let's make sure that that goes off. There we go. Hey, Savvy? Yeah? Is that firing? It should. There it is, okay, cool. Okay, so I'm pretty happy with that, I think that's pretty awesome. So let's do something else, let's bring in Jen. Doug, you're the best, thanks. Alright. Let's do something else, where's Jen? There you are, alright, perfect. No no, we're doing different, because you know, they just watched us do it with Doug and I just wanna do something different. I do have certain clients that I work for that, they want me to shoot slightly different stuff for every single person, but they want it to have kinda the same look. So that's what I would like to do with you here. Alright, so we might keep it like that. And what I wanna do is maybe add an edge light to this, make it a little more interesting that way. Okay, Savannah, can you grab the Larson little two-by-two? Yeah. Thank you. This is why it's always good to have an assistant. Stick it right against the wall there, back behind that couch. Make sure that it's turned on, and that should be channel C. Okay, your other light is on, it's firing this way, lighting up this background at the same time. Yeah, yeah, that's what I want. Okay. Alrighty, and that's gonna be C, give it an 1/8th. Alright, let's do a quick test shot to see if this is even gonna work. Alright. Oh, that's not firing. Okay, channel 15. Hey Savannah? Is it turned on? Yeah, it's on. Okay, what channel is it on? 11. Okay, bring it here real quick, I'll change it to channel 15. Coolio. Watch your step, watch your step. Okay. Channel 15. Do you want the other one higher too? What's that? Do you want it up a little bit higher? Yeah, and feather it just a little bit. Okay. Oh, there it is. (clears throat) (laughs) Alright, I think we should be better off there, hold on. (camera shutter clicks) Okay, cool, that one's a little hot, but we'll bring that down. Okay, we're blowing it out a little bit. Hey Savannah? Yes? I wanna feather that light away from Jen just a little bit, there we go. It's going right in the lens. (camera shutter clicks) There we go, alright, so let's bring that ISO down a touch. (camera shutter clicks) And there we go, and we'll power this up. So what I'm doing is I'm getting the lighting ratio between my different lights, I've got one light that's bouncing off the wall, one light that's giving her an edge, and another light that's lighting up that back room. So once I got that ratio set between 'em, I'm pretty happy with it. Okay, cool. Gimme a nice, gentle arm cross, and I like the, yeah, we'll stand out to the side a little bit, like give me a little bit of leg, perfect. Chin down just a touch, yeah, you've got it right there, perfect. And now I'll change my angle just a little bit. Anyone ever tell you you're really good at your job, Jen? (laughter) (camera shutter clicks) Perfect. Yeah, I like that a lot, that looks good. So what we'll do is, ISO a little lower, and we got a lot of light bouncing around. So we got a really nice, cool edge light that's adding some interest to the image, adding a little more depth, and then we have a light that's lighting up the background, which I'll probably bring down just a touch, so that edge light stands out a little bit more. There we go, perfect, and then we'll pump up the main light a little bit more. And I think we've got something really cool right there, let's do it. Two. Ready? (inhales deeply, exhales) Perfect. Oh, didn't fire. There it is. (laughs) It worked that time. Alright, there we go. And a little crop, we'll get some of this wall in here, boom. Two. And three. And like you can see, there's not really a ton around in order to make this a more interesting shot, but there is a lot you can do with just a couple of Speedlights creating some interest for you. Okay, cool, I love that, I think that works really well. Alright, cool, so let's move on to our next location, what do you think?

Class Description


Professional portraits go beyond the standard headshot. With the age of social networking upon us, businesses often have the need for environmental and editorial portraits. Not only will you understand individual portraits, but you will also learn to execute large group posing for corporate clients. By adding these to your client sessions, you can add to your business plan AND widen your target client outreach. 



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.