Shoot: Matching Light for the Subject
We're gonna find out somebody's dominant personality here in a minute. I'm gonna go fishing now. Everybody's like, look away! Oh yeah. Hey!
Hi, I'm Laurie.
Laurie, Stacy, nice to meet you. Have a seat. Laurie, the ready to run pose. Always.
I figured. No, I saw you doing a little stretch and I finally put it together. So I was like, you're either really really really uncomfortable in this class or you probably have a little bit of a, orthopedics. Okay. Where are you from?
Born and raised in Seattle.
Okay, and have you traversed the world at all?
Not a whole lot. I've been to Africa.
Oh, actually, that's unexpected. Do you go there to look for gorillas?
Looked for a native African basenji.
You're looking for a dog?
Do you have said dog with you?
We brought several home, yes.
Wow. Basenjis now, they yodel.
Yes they do.
Cool. Charlie doesn't yodel, he snores. Well that's interesting. Was it hard to import your...
There was a lot of red tape to go through, yes.
But it was worth it for you?
We've got two that we brought back, have been registered through the American Kennel Club, and are now foundation stock.
I was gonna ask you, are you a breeder?
I have been, yes.
Okay, and did you do any dog show stuff?
Yes I do.
You still do it?
Am I ever gonna see you on the big time shows that are televised?
It's been a while, but yeah.
You were on TV doing this?
Oh that's awesome!
My biggest accomplishment is just this last weekend, the dog that I brought back from Africa, we competed in agility, and he earned his first title.
Oh, that's awesome. That's gotta be tough. So is it like local, regional, state, national?
I just compete locally.
Okay. Well that's very very cool. And is it like horse showing, where you acquire a certain number of points and that raises their stature?
You earn points towards the titles, yes.
Interesting, okay. Yeah. I don't know much about dog shows.
It's a different world.
Is it? Have you ever seen Best In Show?
It's hilarious, love that. If you guys haven't seen it you should watch it.
It was actually shot up here in Vancouver, so a lot of the local people were in it.
Oh, excellent, that's so funny. Okay. So we're gonna pause for a minute and I'm going to turn to your fellow students. Let's talk about choosing the right light. Now we're going to back it up a little bit about body language. Anybody? Shoulders are rolled forward, okay. Don't check it now. How about her hands? Intertwined just a little bit. Don't undo it. Okay, legs? Well, she's in the running position because of lower extremity issues, but if we're taking all of that aside, they are clenched together at the knees. Which, had she had the options, she would've been like, nope, no access. I'm sure, something of that nature. Or closed off legs. 'Cause right now it's a comfort issue. Okay, what else can you tell me? What do you think about yourself?
Reserved, shy. A listener. I'm a registered nurse.
That's new information. Wait for it.
I've got two grown kids, two boys. What else do you wanna know?
What are you willing to share?
What are you willing to share?
Oh. I've always had a love of photography.
Okay, great. If you were your own subject, how would you light yourself?
A soft light, probably short light.
Okay, let's ask your colleagues here. If she was your subject, how would you light her? She said soft light. Anybody contradict that? Okay, she also said short light. Does anybody not agree with that decision? Soft light, short light. Your grievance?
I would do more the Paramount. A little more, to fill her face with light.
Because she's shy and reserved, so I don't feel we need to make it look any more dramatic.
Interesting thought, okay. That's an interesting thought.
Make it look soft.
I would do Rembrandt because I think she's got really a soft energy, and I think would be really flattering and soft on her. So soft light with Rembrandt.
Why don't we find a 50/50 mix? I like where you're going, where you're saying it doesn't have to be overly dramatic. I like what you're saying, that her features might lend itself to Rembrandt, and that would be a nice, soft look. Why don't we do a combo? Again, there's infinite possibilities. Why don't we do a Rembrandt from here but we'll do a fill so the shadow definition is a lot less? Less aggressive, okay? So we're gonna find a nice 50/50 mix, are we ready? Okay, wish me luck. You are amazing and gorgeous. You're not gonna change anything about yourself right now, just nice and relaxed. I'm gonna start moving these lights around. Okay, nurse, mother of two boys. What type of nurse were you?
Oh, so was it a lot of hard cases, you think?
A lot of what?
Hard cases. Like were in ICU then?
A little bit, yeah.
Do you find yourself analyzing your own heart a lot now?
When you see people making bad decisions, do you feel almost obligated to tell them?
I wanna yank cigarettes out of their hands, yes.
Okay, got it. And what does your husband do? He's into dogs as well, I take it.
Yes, it's a team effort.
He's also into architecture.
Has he always been an architect?
So a nurse and an architect. I'm curious now, what did your sons end up going into?
My oldest was an accounting business major, and he's running a social media marketing company. And my youngest is currently getting his doctorate in material science engineering.
Wow, so you're all brainiacs. That's amazing, can I come join your family?
Only if you like dogs.
Love dogs. No no, I don't like them at all. Okay. What I wanna make sure that I impress upon you all as well is that there's nothing spastic about my maneuverability or my moving around the studio at all. I'm not in a rush to get anything done overly quick. 'Cause I find that when people move super fast, those actions tend to put people on edge. Again, the energy that we put around is what we're gonna get back. If I have nervous energy, skittering around the studio and fumbling over myself, that's gonna directly impact the emotions of my subject. Does that make sense? I don't wanna overpower the shadows. I just want to fill them a little bit. So I'm going to drop the ratio down. This is full power. Bring your chin around for me please. Okay, come back this way for a moment. Good. And see, to me, that's even a little too much. So I'm just gonna come back. How are you holding up?
I know this is probably the most uncomfortable thing that you've had to do. I'm gonna have your row mate come up and help me for a second. How are you doing?
Good. You are going to be the grip for a moment. If I can figure out where I left it. There it is. What do you think?
Does that work for you? Do you wanna just hold that for me? All right. ♪ Who's that lady ♪ So, how many basenjis, basenjis right? Okay, let's back up a little bit. What got you into basenjis in the first place. It's not a very well-known dog.
I wanted a breed that was nice and clean and very smart.
Okay. And how did you discover them? What was that process?
A lot of research. This is a long time ago, back before the internet.
And you were like, I'm gonna drop everything and fly to Africa and pick a dog?
No, that came much later.
Okay. So talk me through it.
I was going to a local dog show and looking at all the different breeds and deciding what I wanted.
So you were going there, like, rooting on the home teams and stuff like that? Okay, good. All right. You're doing good, how are your arms?
Oh, it's so heavy.
You losing feeling? No blood's rushing away yet? Okay. So this is what the general, you're able to relax your hands now. This is the general consensus from the class about finding a sort of 50/ between Paramount and Rembrandt. How are we feeling about this? It's off the mark, right? Why do we think that is? Let's analyze this for a minute. Just relax, just relax. Talk to me everybody.
It doesn't showcase her face enough.
Okay. She's angelic. So she feels pure and thoughtful and almost like there's a, sort of a motherly air about her, right? At least that's what I get.
I feel like her personality is much happier, and that's very moody.
Okay, too moody, right?
I almost feel like it's too bright for her and it takes, I wanna see a little more of her, like, reserved, mysterious side.
So one goes one direction and one goes the other. Well why don't we try it? I know what my instincts are, but I wanna make sure that we're taking this out. Go ahead.
I kind of agree. I kinda wanna see a little bit more of the mood. I think she's got some sass in her. She's very reserved, I think, about herself, but she's very assertive about other people. Which I think is a nursing thing.
Are you a nurse too?
So for a moment there you were kind of looking down to the floor for me. Can you just do that one more time, just looking back. That's good, right there. Perfect. Relax your arms. Okay, put that back in there, right in front. Can we get a little closer to her face? That's it, right there, good. And you're just gonna keep looking down to the floor for me. Nice and relaxed. Now the one thing I'm not doing during this moment of repose and sort of, if I'm asking or prompting or encouraging her to have a moment of reflection, I am not engaging in chatter. I am just letting the moment be. I think we're getting close. It's not quite there yet. But that's my fault, not hers. Bring your chin towards me just a little bit. Good, okay, and then follow me away. You can rotate your entire body this way, just a little bit. Perfect. Bring your chin here. Chin up just a bit. And eyes, follow me with your eyes. Tilt your forehead away. This way just a bit, tilt to your right. You got it, hold that for me. And I'm gonna bring you this way. Good. Okay. You can relax your arms down for me. So are we getting closer? You don't like it? Okay. You see something different than other people. This is interesting and this is why we're talking it out. Everybody brings their own personal experiences and their lived experiences and how they perceive others and how others perceive them and who they think other people are. So this is a dynamic we didn't talk about yesterday, but it happens when we begin to go through the photographic process. So we've had a couple of the more dramatic options. Let's go the other route. I'm gonna have you swing round front for me. Watch your step, there's cables here. We want you to keep your teeth. If you didn't have them, we don't want you to have to get a new set of dentures. Okay, here we go. So to do Paramount, again we're gonna come around front and high. You have such a beautiful dainty nose. Your little butterfly is like, boop, right there. Okay. All right. Okay, to input from, yeah? What are you thinking? You want something from underneath. Do you wanna go as much as adding light or would you prefer maybe a reflector.
You think just a reflector. Okay. All right boss, don't go anywhere. You're gonna stay right there because we're gonna put something else in your hands now. Okay. Now, good little tip, I haven't talked about this. This is a combination of silver and gold, it's a very reflective surface. Anything that's metallic is going to have a very specular response in terms of what's angled on the body, watch. Watch me. Sorry, joking. See that? Now, white, this white is going to have a softer fill. It's more diffusing versus specular. See the difference? I think for her we're gonna go a little softer. Now you can just keep on relaxing. No, you don't have to hold it. We have your neighbor here. Okay. I don't think I really discovered the color of your eyes until this very moment. Do you think you can hold two things at once?
Okay, excellent. Do you wanna grab the diffuser that's behind you please? Actually, anybody in the front row wanna come help for just a moment? When I'm working solo, by the way, I have light stands with clasps. You're gonna hold this one and you're gonna come around to the other side for me. You can get in there. You can't hold that pose forever. You got it, good. Okay, when I'm working by myself, I have light stands with clamps, and that allows me to clamp these modifiers on stands so that I can just manipulate it, walk away and come back to position. Okay, I'm gonna angle your chin this way, chin up. Come down Perfect, rotate to your left. Good, follow me, tilt. Right there, good, a little less, real small. There we go, perfect. Tell me about your husband.
Now, he's an architect, so is he like a left-brained thinker or right-brained thinker?
Probably a little of both.
Bring your forehead back. Do you consider yourself more analytical or creative.
Okay. I would say analytical too. That's not a bad thing. All right. What I want you to do is bring your chin this way. Rotate your knees away from me. You got it, good. Do you have any neck issues I should know about before I put you in a pretzel?
You're good? Okay. All right. Tell me about your agility course. How do you train a dog for agility?
Little bits at a time. Break it into little tiny pieces and you teach them in little tiny pieces and then put it all together and hope it all works.
Have you had a dog that doesn't work?
We have our moments.
So what I'm doing is I feel like the shadows are still too much. I mean, she is really opening up in her own way. The problem is, I feel like the shadows are sort of overpowering that emotion. It's giving the wrong message. Are you feeling that too? So, instinctually, you said you wanna go Paramount, and you wanna actually have front light. I'm in line with your way of thinking. So I think we're on track here. You're like, wow, how does he know me so well? He's been sitting next to you all day! Okay, so in order to decrease the shadows, I'm actually going to move the light down ever so slightly so that it reduces the angle in which its hitting her face and those angles, and the wrinkles, which you've earned most beautifully by the way, it's going to reduce the shadows. Then I'm gonna fill whatever shadows are left. I'm sorry. We're gonna flip this to the reflector side. Raise your arms, shake it out.
I was just changing my grip a little, sorry.
We're just gonna amp everything up a little bit. Alrighty, you look beautiful. I love the gold in your hair. Now was it strawberry blonde or red at one point? Bring your chin this way.
I think I'm a brunette.
I always say that I can't wait to turn gray. Sounds odd, right? Now, you guys can relax for just a second. We're going back to this. What I think is missing, what do you think's missing?
You think a hair light is the answer? Somebody said angelic earlier. I think you might be right. We're just gonna amplify this a little bit. Okay. What do you think about the lights on her face though? Taking all that other, is it better? Okay. So now we're gonna change the tone of the image. Here we go. All right, y'all are doing an amazing job. Thank you so much. You're gonna feel that isometric in the morning, I promise. It'll be well worth it. Bring your chin this way for me a little bit. Good, good. Come back up for me just so slightly. That's it. How are you feeling? You good? What's your dog's name?
Oh Mosika, is that a Congolese name?
It's, yes it means "from far away."
That's a very thoughtful name. And the names of your other dogs, how did you come up with those? Let's hear it.
One of the hardest parts of being a dog breeder is finding names.
What do you think? Okay, you guys can relax. Do you wanna see your portrait? What do you think? How do you feel about it?
I wish my eyes were open more.
Well when you're genuinely smiling, oftentimes we don't.
All right my work colleagues on studio set, thank you for being griptastic. And I'm gonna hug you. Thank you for opening yourself up. Charlie said, everybody clapped, it's time to get up. You're such a good boy. Thank you for the support, kiddo. Okay. How was that process for you? Interesting. So each and every one of us had inputs about what we thought might best personify her personality. And sometimes that's a process. And that process, okay, Charlie, place? It's not ball time. Charlie, go on, place. Good boy. We'll play. No Charlie, place. I love you so much, just know that. Okay. It's a process, oh go ahead.
I think your instincts of putting white on the background changed everything, it really made it sweeter and lighter. That was just dramatic.
Should we look at the thumbnails together? I think that'll be much more prevalent if we see them wide. So look at that difference. Okay, the biggest telling part between this and this, it's the same smile. Doesn't she seem more friendly here? The tenor and the tone change our perceptions, change how we infer information, and can be very dynamic on how we perceive one's personality. Not every initial instinct will be the right one and that's okay, it's a process. And we will not always share the same ideals, but that's okay too, because that's the artistry of portrait photography. We are going to bring our stories into it as well. Just remember, it's not about you and all the cool lighting tricks that you know. It's about the individual, the subject, and how we're going to best accentuate their personality.