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Concept-Driven Commercial Photography

Lesson 5 of 22

Shoot: Athlete Portrait

Joel Grimes

Concept-Driven Commercial Photography

Joel Grimes

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Lesson Info

5. Shoot: Athlete Portrait

Lesson Info

Shoot: Athlete Portrait

All right, philip how you doing? Well, now now can you play basketball? I can't well good that's a good thing I have done photo shoots where I'm not joking you I've had like a gulf scenario and we cast for it and we say look, you gotta learn you gotta know how to swing a club right? And the model gets up there and it looks like me swinging a club really bad so but no, we're gonna have you basically holding the basketball okay? So here's the fun thing about it I met philip about what ten minutes ago, so I immediately start to evaluate what I'm gonna do with him now we picked kind of a dark the wardrobe scenario and a lot of times I do that because what's the most important thing that I'm gonna be doing here face right? I want your face to glow I want that to be the center point so I as a general don't like a lot of flowery letters blow goes all that stuff on my subject now sometimes I have to do that because I'm photographing a real sports figure and has been his jersey but the less att...

ention I can draw away from his face the better so way got general black we might switch out into a gray shirt and you know we have that option but so the first thing I want to do is I want to show I'm going to my my, uh what I call my three light approach and to do this I normally start by getting my ads lights first so I kind of think of my edge lights is my main light that's kind of a strange wait approach, right? But that's how I think I'm gonna keep my f stop on my camera at f seven point one now does anybody know why I would do that? Why? Why seven point? Why don't I shoot at two point eight? Yes, the sweet spot of the lenses a two to three stops from wide open so I want the best performance from my lenses, so a lot of people don't know that. So if I go wide open, I get aberration because you got all these this glass that has all these elements that are curved, con cave, convex, whatever. So when lights coming through there it's gotta bend around all that. Now, these air today these air beautifully designed lenses for the most part, but you still get aberration wide open, usually in the corners. Corners are the worst part of usually of the weakest spot of your image. If you stop all the way down to f twenty two, you get two fraction and the fraction you get a sharper you get more depth of field but the light has to come through and it hits that little blade in there that was a little bit I'll come together as a whole and the light bends and it causes diffraction so I learned this back in the old days when I started photography and especially when I was by looking at buying and four by five or large format lenses I studied a lot about lenses, so I understand that, but I'm going to say I'll say one more thing about lenses and that is this you almost all me always see me on a tripod. Why is that the single greatest digression of lens quality is camera shake so photo wanna one back when it first started college nineteen seventy seven I learned to get a sharper picture you put it on a solid pack platform, so I've done that ever since. Now there's another reason why I use a tripod and that is when I get philip in there I'm gonna be able to frame him up and I go click and then I get to evaluate it and I'm not doing this whole time, so if I get him perfectly framed and then got dropped my camera, then go back to that perfect frame and I mean I get it right every time, so I like being on tripod to frame it up now that's the way I work you may say I could never work off a tripod that's ok that's why we're all different that's the beauty of life in whatever so let's do this let's get you in position and I haven't I haven't shot a picture of him yet so I do have my life set close to what I would think would be a good starting point so it's not just like I'm in the dark here but let's get you in position and I'm gonna um I don't have a piece of tape here but I want you to be at about your shoulders at about the edge of these lights should come right forward there okay it's a good starting point and we want you dead center between the two now you can see this one's angling a little bit so let me straighten that out so I want my life to be exactly the same on each one because I want my light my edge lights to be you know the same equal value and angle and all that so let's do it right here so we're gonna go right here and we are about four feet from the sweep the white sweep with this should give me a light gray remember I said if I want a darker trail go with a smaller overhead but we'll try this this is a good starting point for me the five foot westcott octo and so um let's go there now I'm going to frame him up and I want to get fairly close in here because I remember when I said I like white angle so let's do that we're gonna get in here oh let's get you the basketball and we'll put that now here's the thing you don't want too high up but you want to look natural like you don't upset the glasses you want to be you want to be able to look come people I'm gonna make you look like a superhero right? Like you could dunk it in your sleep so that's my goal and probably don't want to show logos you know depends on what what I'm doing here so let's get in position and so let's take a look at my settings as I said f seven point one and I've got my eyes so one hundred I'll start there if I have to I might have to goto s o two hundred I try to keep my solo um my show speed is going to be let me explain this at least my sink speeder lower right? Because I can't go above my seek speed because then it starts to, you know, cut out my my my life, my maestro be that's a whole nother topic but basically I have a curtain it goes up and down my sink at my sinks be my curtain opens fully and exposes the censor and then closes if it's at, say, five hundred second it opens and has a half slit or thereabouts if comes down so maestro goes off I get half the frame being exposed so I want my sink speeder lower and I've discovered on some triggers like the older pocket wizard plus twos if you haven't your sink speed so my six beat on this camera's to one of the two hundredth of a second you'll get a little bit of bounce on the bottom a little bit of shutter bounce not really bounce but it's it's not the shutter bounce but it's the curtain just barely making it out of the way so I haven't set at one eighty so I'm sitting like this I'm fine, right? So one eighty s o one hundred seven point one the chances are I will not change one thing on that camera from here on out makes it easy, right? I'm gonna change my life and so the nice thing about these lights these air the einstein's policy but feinstein is I can't just clicks a one click equals one tenth of a stop so I go pop up up up up five times as have a stop so lot times I'm literally clicking without even looking at it, so people ask you what your settings I don't know because I didn't look I don't care I don't care I don't care what comes out of the back of the camera all right so let's go in here and I'm going to and you'll notice that I'll probably get my lights in the picture right but if I'm going to knock out I don't really care so I might be a little bit high so I'm gonna go down a little lower I'm gonna go like this who on this is tight really tight here so another thing is very important I want to make sure I focus on his face or his eyeball at least you know on his knot on the back of his shoulder or whatever so I get my focus point just right so not do this because I have a wide angle lens I want you just to lean just a little bit forward just a fraction and then drop the chin ok now let's put that arm on your hip right there so this is gonna be a good start already here we go so again I haven't shot this yet so let's take a look take a few minutes toe teo pop up because I'm shooting raw and j peg because later I want to what do a shot for you okay so what's the first thing I notice here number one my edge lights are too far for their they're exposing my subjects face too far forward I want my edge lives to fall right about there not here not here right there generally speaking that's where one would fall so right now it's a little bit too far forward so I have two options have him step forward to slightly or push my two lights back but to make a simple let's step forward just about two inches okay and then you're still can you see that picture you're just a little bit back like this I want that chin to drop because it's a wide angle lens it looks like you're falling over I don't want that so drop that chin and I might raise it up just a little bit okay, so that's part of it my fault and I'm gonna do something I don't do the old joel grimes cut the head top of the head off here we go ready one dr chin more one two three okay, so I haven't changed the output of this overhead light yet I'm going to do that in a minute so I'm watching my edge life's first member I said I start with my edge lights okay, so now I noticed it still seems a little bit too far forward uh so let's do this we're going teo well, they just have you step forward, step forward a bit more okay? And I'm gonna get those edge light's perfect now want to back this up now because it's a little too much so let's go right here drop that chin down a little bit right there. Okay, now we're talking now we're talking it's getting a little hold on here comes there were going it's a little bit better now I haven't even touched the overhead light yet or that light that light zone so let's talk about this let's talk about zone one let's just say ej later zone one this is own too so I'm going now work on zone two right now he's too dark in zone two but it's putting out something right? So I'm going now feather in the transition so we got here's a transition right here is own one transition zone too that's the most critical part of what I do so on a beauty fashion scenario I want a real soft transition for a sports scenario I want a pretty harsh transition but I still got to get the transition a little bit smoother than this and think about this when I'm doing uh photo shop I bring this over the photo shop it's a lot easier to build contrast and it isn't taken away so I want to have a little bit softer in the camera knowing that later I could build contrast so the next thing to do is I'm going to increase my power let's go let's just do it I have a stop okay, so I'm gonna go one, two, three, four, five! I haven't even looked at it, right? And sometimes I just triggered off to make sure everything's going good. Same thing. One, two, three now we should have just increased the value in the zone two bye. Have a stops here comes right. So that's a little more acceptable for me and photo shop. I still think I don't know what it is. I still feel that the zone one that edge lights are still looked too far forward. I may be wanted and again, it's, because the shape of his face is a bit different than someone's. A little round her. So let's, do this let's get you to step forward another two inches and I'm gonna back this up just a fraction. Just a fraction. Same thing about two inches and let's, fire this fire off another one. Here we go. One drop that chin down. Ready? One, two, three time. So now I think I've got it now have nailed it. Here it comes now the edge. Like just making the transition right about here and here's the thing even like to be the fashion, though no matter how smooth your skin is, no matter how if it's you know, smooth as a baby's bottom. That transition picks up a lot of little pores so when it comes down to retouching time that's why I spend the most time that little transition right there so you can see that loaded a port is there little wobbles I take it all out I'm gonna show you how to do that later so right now everyone's pretty darn good for me to say that's the look that I do now if I didn't have the talk how long would it take me to get there four clicks four five klicks haven't used a flash motor yet I haven't used lighting rachel's I'm talking about zones maybe but really to me it's just what is my I like now you're I may say I need more light too much edge lights too bright so let's do this let's take I think maybe those edge lights are a little bit too hot looking at this monitor here now looking out my back in my camera it may be I think I could do this actually pretty good in here so you monitor is a little different right so let's just for simplicity's sake let's just feather down these um I have a stop so let's click down five clicks down arrow down one two three four five even a third grader could do this right you're talking about what's on the back camera versus what we're seeing here in the moderate issued tethered a lot ok, good question all right, so the just recently I started using the camera ranger wirelessly tethered to a ipad and it's beautiful but it's very somewhere the monitor I mean I I am in the back of my here so what do you trust more you should you look at the monitor a lot look at the monitor a lot here on the back because you're used to that I'm used to that but actually the ipad I have my luminous value so you and you go in the back your camera and you say number one you never want your display to be on auto luminous disaster so lots of light it changes it dim light opens it so and I have mine my cannon five day mark three one stop darker than what it defaults to and I encourage that when I have a workshop everyone do that I also remember this this monitor is a j pig okay, now I'm shooting wrong j picked the same time but even if I'm on raw is still only gonna preview a j peg now when you have your settings on your camera you go vivid you can sharpen it, you get color balance to be really warm, punchy all that what I do is everything zeroed out to normal natural and that's what I like to work from and the other thing that I've discovered to his in icons are usually a little warmer can is a little bit cooler so you get used to your camera a little bit and how what you like and stuff um so that it may be influenced the way you approach, but I would say zero out your settings it's a j peg when that raw goes over it will take its isa with it it'll take the color balance all that stuff with it, but then you have the option to change all that later except the eyes so you can't change, so so but anyway, good question and I have to trust this monitor or whatever I'm doing question over here. Yes, quite a few people are asking questions about the grids and one question that came up from sandrine, who asked, will I see a drastic difference in the edge lighting if I don't have a grin on my lights and also people asking about the degree? Okay, very good question at some point I would have gotten to that, but I'm glad he's been brought up now the grids are they actually have two purposes. You could say it does corral the light it does take and push the light and not let light spread around, but ultimately the grids were not there for that they're there to minimize flare into my lens because what, um what uh is a problem? I was a student what is the problem for for if you've been around photography for a long time you know that generally zoom lenses have a greater risk of getting flair than a fixed lens so and then white angle picks up flare more than a telephoto so if I was shooting the eighty or seventy two hundred back there I probably need grits because the floor is not going to hit my limbs but I'm shooting wide angle so if I don't have grids boom I get all this really nasty flare into my lens you don't have to buy lenses and I don't know if the degrees on here but I could tell you that on the westcott there very well made and I've had some others that in the past manufacturers where they start framed falling apart stuff um you pay they're not cheap I mean they pay for him but they'll last you ten years or longer if you treat him well but and they're worth the value of bynum now if you don't have the money to spend on grids right now just get a flat and black foam core and I do I use to make a v um this black on this side ok so I usually get two sheets tape it folded together then I bring him over here and I just said him because there's two they've open like a book set him right here and I blocked the light to my wins very inexpensive way of getting solved a problem however you get to these on both sides of my poor models kind like back in the box, right? It's kind of like way back in there and so this just helps minimize having a lot of clutter on my set, but you don't have to have the grids. You can block it, but you need to officiate a wide angle lens to minimize where another question? Actually really quick before we get to john here, uh, cosmo b and a couple other people just tow kind of set the tone or that goal for this shot. What are you trying to do with the background? Is this to composite or will this background being the final product? Okay, now no, I mean, yes, I'm gonna composite know the background is not going to be in the final shot. If I was gonna do a beauty scenario. Beauty head shot a lot of times a beauty had shot looks beautiful on gray and that scenario I would probably leave the option for me to keep the background. Right now I just need enough background for me to cut him out so I could throw two lights on that and make it pure white what's the advantage of that at this point, nothing, because my edge detection would pick that up beautifully so you look how small that white or that background nine foot background looks now he's not even that far from it because I wanna weighing a lens so I just need enough though to cut him out that's my goal and then really quick follow up to that somebody was asking earlier do you ever shoot on a green screen when you're doing your composite and if not, why do you use white instead of green? Okay all these great questions at some point I would have dressed them all now I mentioned I'm colorblind right? So my worst color that I do not see is green so if I shoot on a green screen and then I go to knock this person out cut him out I leave all source a little green on effects in this scene because I don't see green so green screen is a disaster for me number two usually not always depending on how you have a set up if you use a green screen you often get a green cast that comes back into the scene a little bit and for someone like me I don't see it so even if I make a perfect cut out for the program makes a perfect cut out there's green influence and a lot of that has to do with how close you are to your green or your blue blue screen but white is a white or gray is and I'll show you guys how I cut out and you're gonna go oh my goodness is really pretty darn cool so it works great and I would say that most retouch er's today as every touch hers but photographers that air doing knockout composites use a white sweep a grey suite but there's programs coming along at a really part kind of amazing doing this not got cut out for us, so and five years from now we would say green or blue is the only way to go you just hit a button because everything cut I don't know the future's moving that direction, but we're gonna get into composites and I'm gonna tell you something that may surprise you how well I cut out my subject isn't the most important thing to sell the fake, so we'll get into that. But all right, so where were we? Um john, you had a question about the lighting on the model and just with the transition from your mainline teo, your kick alight on what you call it you have there is a darker line exactly at the transition why is that? Well, that's a good question. All I know is that when I retouch I take it out like that so it's not when I'm looking at right now I don't go oh my goodness that's a problem doesn't make sense because I can retouch it really simply and buy a dodge in bern and so but why it happens I don't know that's I mean someone could answer that question for me it's just part of the way our faces shaped in the way but we just turned it down have stopped right and we we shot way did shoot I don't remember shooting let's do that let's look and see what happens we're gonna soften that edge light a little bit all right so here we go ok move that rages to factor right there right there focus one two three pop here we go and so this should soften the edge light a little bit and again this monitors a little bit more contrast e uh there's a little bit more detail see right along the side here it's a little bit more detail um so let's do this I am going now we're gonna raise up zone to watch what happens okay so I'm gonna go like here is gonna go one, two, three, four, five a lot times to go third stops but let's just do a complete have stop shoot another one same thing philip you do excellent and we're gonna fill in a little bit more here his eye's going to be a little bit more here comes up he close his eyes you did it, you did a terrible job, you're fired okay, I'm gonna count one two, three boom right? So he's praying there because he's a little nervous about this photographer he's having photograph him but okay, so now I've brought zone two up in value good or bad what do you think is better than before not as edgy okay, so but now I'm photo shop I could go and darken it I wanted but for my taste right now for sports I'd probably go the other way but again this is what this tells you is that it's an artistic decision? Let's go let's go one more half stop and I'm going to see how far we take this and tomorrow when we do our beauty fashion I'm gonna even go mohr into this but here we go want one, two, three, four, five so that's gonna be uh even more let dropper changes to fraction right there and so now I think we've gone way too far we start getting into a more of a beauty a beauty look here not that he's not beautiful it's just that we want the edgy sports uh question revolves around female athletes do you still tend to keep to the edge eddie, look or do you like maybe our middle option here? Okay, so that's a good question now remember I said when I photographed hope solo um she's a beautiful woman right but it's a sports so now I got to make a decision on how far to take the edginess before I started losing the beauty look right so you're right it would be now there you go look that's that's a lot more lit and that little dark spots still there a little bit but again that would be easy to fix um and what I haven't done let's get the phil card her it was just use this watch don't move we're gonna use white so let's put it right I usually hold it myself because of my assistance I don't trust you no I'm just kidding ready now we're going to a little filling there is that's gonna fill under his chan and stuff but I've gone way too far I think in terms of uh for a sports thing maybe not maybe for your for your taste so uh but you see I control it all bite now right now all I'm doing is playing with zone to my overhead light now if I put my small little octo on I don't know yet but if I put a small octo on what's it going to dio is gonna like him here taper down right now the basketball is lit pretty close to even is you know all the way up now photoshopped liken darken it later or whatever but there's my options if I put the small or beauty dish or a small octo the background gets darker, good or bad so you see where I'm going here so I have choices that I make as an artist as I move along here so let's do this you're doing cut out how great can that background go before it starts that cause the problem? Well, in this scenario it would probably be his hair if it gets too dark attack, but he doesn't really have I mean it's not like it's curly hair, right? Here's what I do where's that foam core watch this very often if I'm doing a list, sam doing a blonde model and a burnett or dark haired model for a client and they're exchanging in and out so we go pop up up and then there's another instead of me mixing up my lighting. What I'll do is I'll have a assistant hold up a few frames could pick a click and if it's if it's just a blonde or a dark haired person and then I had that frame later to go back to to pull hair out if I need it, I don't do the whole shoot like that, but then I just go back, pull out some frizz ease, bring it in, drop it in just through layers just bring it right at the top and it looks like never any problems? So I'll do that with just a little bit bigger in this piece, but I just flip them back and forth. So, um, I so let's do this let's go and let's get a couple frames so I could maybe have an option to retouch later of how I would photograph him. So let's do this. I'm gonna go back to at least one stop from here. So let's go. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Okay. And then I never had to look at my stroke, did I? Right. Okay, so let's, just see them move that way. Just a fraction right there. Okay, I'm just gonna fire one off here. What? I got your blinking. Maybe a little bit. Okay. All right. So just lean on me just slightly right there. Drop your chandra opportunity right there. Okay, I am just shy of twenty four millimeter. I'm just like almost twenty four millimeters. And so that's kind of where I like it right there. To me, that would be like a perfect joel rhymes to bring into photoshopped. So now what? I'm gonna work on let's, work out a little bit of character for him, let's, get him a little more engaged. Uh yeah he's standing like this okay. Not the best picture though a lot of my images are pretty stoic right but I want to bring it I want to bring something out of him so let's let's do this let's take and I'm just going to start snapping pictures okay so let's have you again move just slightly that way right there you're dead center okay so bring that ball up just a fraction of much just a fraction right there relax it here we go drop your chin we're gonna right there okay so I'm looking at that who I love it I love it here we go drop your chin even more stare me down come on you're tough good ready now it's gonna be a lag on on the transfer time here because it takes about eight seconds so I can't go I can't go too fast here but see now I'm starting to bring it together started bringing together yeah there he's got a squint in his eye a little bit like you know we're gonna bring us some glittering in a minute but what do I get my lighting everything then I'll add some sweat and they don't make a big difference to I'm actually sweating but no joy really quick so do you normally then shoot really quickly and also do you normally shoot tethered on a commercial shoot? Well, I use that cam ranger now this instant okay, so a client to be sitting in with the lad with the the ipad just pop pop pop pop I might go over and grab a look at it but usually I'm looking at the back of my monitor but once I get everything fine tune I'm not gonna go like now but I'm starting to work it right? So I'm gonna find a point where he looks like a superhero that's where the artist comes in I'm watching a lot of times people will see an image they go wow you did you direct that model to do that? I go well no, actually what I was doing as a watching the model they did it and then I went let's do it again I see it I'm not smart enough to figure out a lot of times ahead of time what should the model be doing? But here we go. Okay, so I'm gonna show you something here ready? I'm gonna fire that off, but I'm gonna do a shot which is very typical of how I do something watch this. I might walk in on my subject, but right now I'm just gonna go like this. This is this is very typical of me ready one, two, three I'm gonna shoot crop down a little bit and you'll see I've taken the top his head off and I still think he's chins up too much. I know it sounds weird but um but I have his shoulders let's do this let's take the ball out I want your shoulders both equal undersides okay, I want you to lean at me just a little bit, okay? And I also want you to go that way just a fraction just a fraction right there so you can watch this. No, I won't force that chin down really come on right there. Got it. Got it. Got it. Watch this. This is this is good now I'm starting to get this look that really is what I do right there boom now his arms look a little he's like this right the arms back a little bit so the next shot I'm gonna haven't come forward a little bit give a little more meat on those arms because the white angles making them look smaller and nobody wants to have small arms right beefy looking arms but look at his face that's what's starting to get to where now he leaned in a little bit too. So that changes the value of is that zone too? So let's do this I'm gonna have you lean in and I'm going to go a third of a stop down one, two, three klicks okay, all right, so do this still just take about a step just that way, a little bit. So you did center in that background, okay, drop your chin, right, they're ready, and I'm gonna have to go a little wider. Did you brought your good? You brought your arms forward. One, two, three. Okay, let's, take a look at that, and I still have. I'm still your still little bit go that way. Keep going. You're not quite dead center, but that's starting to get my look right there. I'm still a twenty four while not quite twenty four, maybe mab zoomed him a little bit, but still a wide angle, so you dropped him in the background.

Class Description

This course is part of the Joel Grimes Bundle.

Commercial photography isn’t about mastering complex lighting ratios or obscure retouching techniques. Successful commercial photography hinges upon your ability to turn your creative vision into a polished product. In this class, commercial photographer Joel Grimes will teach you how to think of your photography as an artistic process, not a mathematical equation.

Joel, a commercial photographer with more than 25 years’ experience working for top advertising agencies, will reveal his signature lighting, shooting, editing, and marketing methods. Joel will teach you to trust your artistic instincts by demonstrating how he conceptualizes two different photo shoots: an edgy athletic portrait, and a commercial beauty shoot. Joel will also walk you through how to identify the right lighting to attain your desired result.

After transforming the way you think about conceptualizing, lighting, and shooting, Joel will unveil his creative compositing techniques and tips and tricks for retouching skin. By the end of this two-day workshop, you will have a tried-and-true playbook for creating works of photographic art that dazzle commercial clients.

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Fantastic!! He is so down to earth and humble. His work is unique an exceptional and he shares his techniques, experience, tricks, and best of all his life stories that took him to where he is now. One of the best instructors in CL. I love how he checks the ego at the door and just shares his art and techniques with us. I definitely recommend this course and I was lucky enough to get it at a great discounted price but it is worth its regular price imho.


He's my new favorite instructor, there are many CL instructors I really like but the second I watched and heard him I bought the course, love his style, love his knowledge and the way he conveys it. His way of Frequency separation is fantastic and pretty precise and takes care of a lot of flaws. Learned lots! Thanks Joel! Thank heavens I am not color blind ;)


Joel makes it easy to follow when it comes to editing and shooting. He is a wonderful teacher and very easy to learn from. I enjoyed the photoshop techniques he taught as well as his approach to lighting. My favorite part is his advice on business it's very motivating and inspirational. I thoroughly enjoyed this course!