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Professional Portraits: Moving Beyond Headshots

Lesson 28 of 32

Shooting on Location: Working with Available Light


Professional Portraits: Moving Beyond Headshots

Lesson 28 of 32

Shooting on Location: Working with Available Light


Lesson Info

Shooting on Location: Working with Available Light

So I don't need high-speed sync for this, so I wanna make sure that I turn that off. There we go. And, I'm not even gonna use any speed lights on this, because this is going to be a common problem that you're going to have is light that is coming from above. But we are gonna need to white balance, I think. I might just shoot auto, see what that looks like. It's a little blue. Cloudy, that looks fine, okay, cool. Savannah, if you wanna be my reflector person. Come on out. So when you have light coming from above, these reflectors are very useful devices. So I have a skylight here, and so what I wanna do is if you just fill in from the bottom, if you shoot with a light overhead, and this happens a lot when you're outside and it's overcast on a cloudy day. And you end up working a lot with, in fact, come forward all the way to the green rug for me, Jen. Come this way. Savannah, you're gonna, yeah. Keep comin', keep comin', keep comin', right there, that's good. So let's take a picture wit...

hout reflection real quick, Savannah. And I'm gonna shoot pretty shallow. Bring that shutter speed out. Good. Okay, so gimme like an arm cross and stand off to the side a little bit. Cool, so what we've got, it's gonna create a little bit of visual interest with the wall and the portrait back here. Right there, and I'm gonna use a slightly lower, slightly wider angle to create something that might be a little more interesting. Got like a little plant back there. Good, and so, if I show you the exposure with just the light that's overhead, in fact, let's stand right there. Keep going, thanks, and towards me a little bit, yeah, I think it reads a little better that way. That's good, okay, perfect. So let's do this. This is a pretty good stock-looking image. We have pretty good directional light, except it's a little too much overhead, so let's go ahead and shoot it and see what it looks like. Good, so I've got kind of nice light. I got a really cool, interesting piece of art on the wall there. And I like the look. If you wanna make somebody look a little more large and in charge, get a little closer with a little wider lens, this is the 24 to 70 F2 eight. Alright, Savannah, come on down. Good, now this is that SweetLight Systems silver reflector. Keep goin', up, flatten it out, back it up, or -- There you go, up, up, up, right there, that's perfect. Right there, don't move, don't move. Okay, okay. You got it, you got it? Okay, perfect. So without using speed lights and the whole mess, using just what's around, this skylight, tilt your head this way a little bit, chin, or nose that way. Yeah, you got it. Turn and face into the light and a little bit of silver reflector underneath. I think we got it. That's a lot, but chin down, chin down into that light. Perfect, there we are. And we wanna see the difference between those two. Bang, and two. Now, that's pretty cool, but now what we're gonna do is add even a little more. 'Cause I like the way that that fill works. Let's not kick my stuff over. But, it's not quite what I wanted. So I wanna add a little fill by bouncing off the wall behind me. So this is a combination of using fill light, on camera flash, and remember, when you're gonna bounce off of a wall, you wanna zoom that flash head in as much as you can. Let's go to A group. All, there we go, group. So, contrary to what might be, seem the most intuitive in your mind is that if, the brighter a situation is, the more you flash, the more flash you need for flash to be effective. And so, if you're in a dark room, and you're shooting a wedding or a wedding reception, you can light it with the flash at like one-eighth power, one-sixteenth power, and it'll be awesome. But if you're in a situation like this where you got a good amount of daylight, you're gonna need a lot more flash. So I'm gonna start with this at probably about half power, zoomed in ... To 200, hitting this wall behind me. And this should add just a little bit of fill to get a few more of those shadows, or, it'll totally blow it out of the water. Who knows? Could be a huge mistake. Yup, too much. (laughs) Let's do that. There we go, start with an A. There we go. I'm gonna bring our ISO down. And there we are, perfect. And a little more. (camera shutter clicks) And we're seein' those shadows drop away as we add a little more light to it. (camera shutter clicks) And, we are good, oh, I love it. Okay, perfect. Let's do a couple of these. I'm gonna shoot three or four more. Tilt your head a little bit this way, chin down. Alright, gimme a more, not serious, but small smile with just at the corners of your mouth there. We'll call this the stock photo smile. (laughs) Or the celebrity smile. You ever notice that celebrities don't smile for the red carpet? It's always this. They don't show teeth, 'cause then you end up with pictures like that, you know? Okay, perfect. Two, three, love it, and four. (camera shutter clicks) Awesome. Cool, love it. I think that looks great. We're good? Okay, so let me show you one more set-up that I think is pretty cool. Jen, take a break. I think that worked really well. Nice work, everybody. Okay, so we're gonna use a little bit of the scenery to create a shot that incorporates more of the office. Savannah, I'm gonna need you to get the 16 to 35 please, and I'm gonna run over and get the speed box. I'm gonna use an example of using a really wide lens in order to ... Create a wide scene shot. Okay. For example, if you were going to be shooting somebody, and they were really proud of how their office was decorated or they wanted to show a little bit of the kind of work that they do, this would be a great kind of shot to create. Yeah, might as well bring the case over here. Okay, Doug, we'll go ahead and bring Doug in, if he's ready. Mr. Doug. Just have a seat right on the dead center of that couch. So we got some pretty good natural light going already. When you're using an off-camera flash, even if you just wanna fill a little bit, always consider the natural direction of light. If you've got daylight comin' in and you've got it already in a natural direction, if you put your speed light on the opposite side, you're not gonna see any direction, you're not gonna see anything interesting except two different, slightly different color temperatures lighting the same face. So kinda always look at, and in this case, the direction of light is comin' from my right, from the camera right, and so, I'm gonna add a little bit of fill using this main light that we have on Doug. Okay. Gonna take my stuff. It's not that I don't trust you; it's just that I don't want it in the picture. Alright, so let's, cool. So if you use a wide lens, and you get in the center of something, you're gonna be able to see really cool things in the middle of a room, like you start to see the leading lines on the walls coming towards the center. Even the overhead lights and everything is gonna start to create these converging lines that are gonna go right towards your subject. So I'm gonna kinda get low ... Here ... And create an editorial scene shot. And again, I told you that my go-to lens is the 70 to 200, but I find myself using my 16 to 35 more and more and more for portraits to create really interesting scenes. There we go. Let's see what we got going on here. Might even go lower. I wanna get the beams in the ceiling. I wanna get the background. There we go, I wanna get the table, wanna get the couch. You're inviting the whole world to sit in your lap right now, Doug. (laughs) Alright, okay, perfect. Not bad. Okay, cool, so let me see if I can get a ... Okay, so I've got a good exposure, as I'm set up right now to sort of get that in the background in focus. You've got one, two, three different color temperatures going into this situation. I would highly advise you to do a custom white balance in this situation. For the sake of time, I'm gonna kind of leave it how it is. I think it will be close enough, but lemme tell ya, I would definitely recommend correcting it. Okay, so now I'm using a live view on the Canon 5B Mark to see that my image is pretty dark. I wanna make sure that that white window behind Doug is exposed, and I've got a little bit, I'm looking at the shadow side of his face, because the side that this isn't going to light up and all the other things in the room I want to be able to have to be part of this image. If I just use the flash and I have my shutter speed too high, remember, it's relegated to be our thing that controls our ambient light. So I will use that live view to make sure that the ambient light that's in the room is good, and then I'm gonna add a little bit over here, already in the direction of the existing natural light. So let's do a test shot without the flash, just so you can see that. And it's gonna be under exposed, which is good, which is what we want. (camera shutter clicks) Cool, alright, and now I'm gonna add light onto Doug by turning on the flash, boom. So this is group A. I'm gonna throw this at like an eighth power, gonna feather it across him a little bit. And this is gonna spill onto that foreground a little bit, so I wanna raise it up so it's not too bad. And then we're gonna zoom this in to about so that the light is gonna get to Doug a little bit faster. Now that speed box is gonna diffuse a lot of that and spread it out, but I want more light on Doug than I want on that white coffee table. Alright, so let's give it a shot. Okay, it looks like we got it goin' on. Good, and I might even up it a little bit more. (camera shutter clicks) Perfect, there we go, how cool is that? Alright, Doug, cross your, put your ankle on your knee, you know what I mean? Gimme like a, yeah, there we go. Now look at this guy. Does he not own this room or what? Like, this is the CEO of the company right here. Awesome, I absolutely love that, that's killer. I'm gonna go a little bit closer. The closer you get with these wide lenses, the more distorted your perspective can become, and it ends up having kind of a totally different look and feel to it. Awesome, very, very cool. I dig that a lot. So now we've got this office that Doug built. He started this company when he came to America from Lithuania with only 30 cents in his pocket. And he started this company out of the basement of his cool uncle's garage, bam, and now he's a billionaire. Turn your head into the light a little bit. And he's got this really sweet office. Yeah, cool, alright, I dig that. That is awesome. But now, let's go ahead and make this a team photo. Where's Jen? Come on, Jen. No, no, you're alright. Let's leave you where you -- he's like, oh, I still get to be the boss? That's great. Jen, I want you to go around, actually, scoot this way a little bit, Doug, now that I think of it, 'cause I want this to be more equals than boss and subordinate. I want you to go behind the couch, and I want you to sit with your body facing this way, and bring your thigh up onto it. Scoot back to Doug as much as you can, so that maybe your caboose is just next to him, good. And now, you're gonna turn your face into the light, and even, yeah, I think that's pretty good. Come to me a little bit. I know that it's an awkward spot for you to be in, good. Even bring your elbow back onto his shoulder, like, okay this could be a really good husband and wife power shot right here. So let's make sure that we have our scene set, and that the light is gonna reach both of them. So feathering is how you get the light on multiple people. Cool, good, now Jen, turn your head into the light a little bit. Chin down just a touch, okay. Everybody good, everybody happy. Power couple, booyah. Alright, let's even up that light a little bit more. Bam, alright. I think that we have ourselves a pretty awesome editorial image. If you really didn't want that coffee table in the foreground, we could -- oh my God, that thing weighs 600 pounds. That coffee table is staying in the foreground. (laughs) I'll just raise up a little bit and crop it out. There we go. (photographer laughing) I had no idea how heavy that thing was. Alright, Jen, turn into the light a little bit. Perfect, alright, there we go. So now we got a really cool editorial portrait with the two people in it, and I'm gonna even add a little more light to it. (camera shutter clicks) Bang. Yeah, that's great. Alright, tilt a little bit towards him, chin down. Gimme a little stair step pull of your left hand, please, Jen. Your left, just wrap your fingers up a little bit, yeah, perfect. Yeah, there you go. Alright, and take your right hand, and just rest it on your knee, like out that way, perfect. Perfect, let me go, one, alright. Doug, this way just a touch, chin down a little bit. Two and three. Okay, and we did not rehearse this. This just worked out really good, okay. I'm pretty satisfied with that. You guys did such an awesome job. Thank you so much. You can take a break. That is killer, okay. So, what we have done is we have moved through several different situations, used a bunch of different lighting techniques. And we have used off-camera flash, on-camera flash, reflector, available light. In what were the more difficult situations in a place that I could've really easily phoned it in, you guys, I could have, I really could have, because this place has beautiful light all over. They have a whole red brick wall warehouse in there with amazing light; that would've been easy. But that, you don't learn anything. So it's important to me to make sure that you know that in any situation, versatility is gonna be your number one strength, to be able to create good light in any situation, on camera, off camera, a flashlight, a lamp. I've lit images at a wedding with cell phones before. You can do it, it doesn't matter what light sources you have, it's what you can think to come up with, so.

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.

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