Set Design Q&A


Senior Photography: Break the Mold


Lesson Info

Set Design Q&A

Back to your outdoor set. So you said that your building twelve by twelve? Yes, and if you should like full body, you basically kind of right in front of the phase. If you're strolling on a side, how that work, let's, just say that. See for camera purposes let's say that let's say that this is twelve, twelve, twelve wide twelve deep and I want to shoot this girl over here, but I want a full body shot. I still hav have twelve feet to back up over here, so I mean, I have twelve feet and I can use a little bit of a wider angle lens if I needed to, you know, like a fifteen to thirty five to be able to get still a full body. So when you'd be surprised with twelve feet that's still plenty sufficient to be able to get a full size image, don't you get some distortions? I mean, if you shoot wide it twelve at twelve millimeters, you would, but, you know, I can shoot at even at twenty four millimeters from twelve feet, and I can get a full size image, you know, and have plenty of room to crop, so...

you'd be surprised, do that at home, you know, mark off twelve feet and stand back and say, oh, I guess you could do that but yeah with a twelve millimeter lands you are going to get distortion but but yet twelve feet is is still plenty sufficient what kind of questioning already? Well, it was a lot of light what lens but going back to the through shops in hank reckless won't place like fine good stuff is that grodd cells yeah fifty scenes the dollar tool is the most a lot of good quality stuff yeah absolutely and you know a lot of times larger items people don't want to carry those back in their house you know so that you can bargain with them a little bit and say look, you know this whole thing here and this is what I would do if I find something and I don't want you guys to think I'm a manipulator I'm very honest and I'm a very nice guy but when I want something I want it so I would walk up in the yard sound I might look let's let's face it here you know, what are the chances of someone actually coming around on this thing today? I mean you're going tohave tio you're gonna have to get your grandson's back over here which there going to be less than thrilled, you know? So they're not gonna want to carry this thing back in your garage you don't want any garage so look you want forty bucks here just let me be twenty bucks and I'll just go ahead and grab it and it's not hurting them you know and normally like well okay and if not you know that it may not be meant to be so don't ever give people what they want for it unless you're talking about photography, right? Good point good point why don't we go to the internet and see what the internet is saying? Well, first off a ninja flasher says my sanford and son brain just exploded and and really ji said I need blair to come and visit to do an episode of studio extreme makeover and everyone kind of yeah we could can you be like hired two kans assault on studio way? Yeah, I've done that for some other folks with consulting there was a matter of fact that guy just drove down recently from about four hours away and he said, man, I just want to come and look at your studio he said, I really feel like I get so many ideas and I said come on down, look around all you want to and yeah actually what I'd like to do is I can look at people's space that they have and you know, the footprint of it and kind of give some ideas of you know, if this were my place because obviously I know how to maximize my space you know I'll say look this is kind of some ideas of how I would arrange it and what I would do to maximize your space. So yeah, absolutely that's always something, you know, I don't ever never turn anything down, never turn anything down, and that brings up my next question from tech wondering how large is your studio space? Because you have a lot of sets in a lot of space that you can play with. No, I d'oh the overall shooting area is probably listen, I'm gonna have to guess it's been a while since I measured, I would guess it to be forty I'll say forty feet wide and probably seventy five foot deep, so I mean, it's, a pretty large area, but I mean, man, I have crammed every square inch of that place with the shooting area. I mean, every square inch of it is used everything so there's there's no space left, because every little spot is, you know, turn here, I've got a background turn here, we can shoot this way turn here, there. I'm really, really maximize your space type of guy, and marianne was wondering if you have any thoughts on portable sets for those of us who have very limited space, right, portable sets, that's, that's where I think you're going to really gather a lot of information and a lot of really, really good stuff when I talk about how to obtain and secure and utilize locations there's really with locations I don't I don't I don't know of a good a good way or even a smart way to bring your own backdrops, so to speak I feel like that would be probably a lot more work and then you would need to do I think that during this next segment here if you watch what I do and how I secure locations thank you being good shape so not a lot of good ideas on that's a lot of work to bring stuff to physically set up you know you could bring props of course you know chairs from different things like that but gonna be tough to do that one all right? The next question is actually from two different viewers both leah, carol and apple ashley have the same question for you how much time do you actually dedicate to building the set and and apple? Ashley also is wondering what do you recommend for a girl that never has never used mortham hammer before? Right? Right, well, we need to find you a date I'm just kidding I'm totally getting it does take some time, you know and obviously it took me a couple of years to build all those sets I mean, it does and I don't just mark off like a month and say, I'm going to hit it really hard because I have to maintain business, but what I do is throughout a normal week, if I want to build a set, I will try my best to mark off an entire day so that I can devote all my time that so let's just say, like the palate set, for instance, the palace, it it took me an accumulation of several days to do it because on my lunch break, as I was going somewhere, I would go by this one particular place, the scout set out pallets pick up the palace, bringing back throw him over the fence. It took several days to humiliate the palace, and then once I had all the materials there, and literally, I would say from start to finish on most of those four hours or so, and I can normally pretty much have it all within the shape, or at least good enough that I can start photographing on it and then finish it, you know, throughout the next coming weeks, so it does take some time and that's, why you want to, you don't want to start so many projects at one time, start one and finish it, starting all the one, finish it starting alone, finish it and you know, you can probably find some cheap labor, you know, I met a guy a while back and actually helping with a little bit of my studio, but I had to fire him because he was just crazy, but he would work for ten dollars an hour and he was a very skilled carpenter. He would bring his own tools or at least all the tools that he could fit on his mo peds because he was a victim of a drinking problem. So he had a d u r and that handed him from getting to work some long story matter fact when we get into that no kidding, but, you know, reach out, reach out in your community. There's there's friends of yours that no, someone there's there's, someone at the store there's someone at j c penney's when you walk in like this a random question, but do you know anybody that's uh, that is a good carpenter that would work, you know, a decent rate and it might be single. Help me learn how to use more than a hammer. So ask around. Ask around good questions and everybody wants to know how do you get your ideas for your sets? Because you're very creative and innovative where you finding your inspiration? You have to say that it all started in the very beginning by not having a lot of money not having anything and when I would just be out riding just driving on the road and that was always one of those guys was looking this way looking this way, never really looking at the road, unfortunately, but like I would see when I saw that house that was going to be torn down, you know, like, no, I could do something with that or I'll see, like, a pile of stuff that's going to be thrown out and I would stop and say, you know what? There's some texture here, I can use pieces, it isthe so it became like a game almost of anything that someone would bring. I would not turn my back on it, and I would look at and say, how can I how can I create something out of this? Like looking right here? Sea water bottles? You know, like what? I could build a set out of water bottles somehow I don't know how, but I could figure out something and that's the cool thing about billings building sets is it doesn't have to make sense. It just has to have texture, something to look at urban outfitters I want in urban outfitters one time and saw a bunch of wood like different pieces of wood cut and glued to the wall that's where I got the inspiration for the palace that so my wife she is a little more adventurous and she calls me a lot more money than I do because she'll see something in macy's or somewhere and she's like well they're okay listen I've got it we've got to get some of those I'm like suzanne those air louie vuitton trunks like we can't get big pieces of luggage too she's like no no no we're going to do that so I had to keep her grounded but I would say if you're just starting out you know look for things you can use that your recycling basically that don't cost you a lot of money all right speaking of those big walls that you have brought into your studio that just a lot of people have questions about that one is from charlie about those floors and the and the side walls how do you move them around on and kimberly ji is wondering how do you support the walls that you build a twenty eight hundred square foot studio that I would like to build new walls for news great question first of all I don't move them around they are fixed into place because moving something around like that is not efficient for me I want to be a sufficient as I can I want to have it all laid up late and set out so that I don't walk out with my camera all I have to do is engage with my client. I'm a big believer in if you have to keep moving stuff around, you put your camera down and you disengage from your client and you go work on things and you work on things, then you have to come back and re engage with your client. You don't ever want to break that engagement there and with all of mine they're set, and the way that I fixed them is to the ceiling and my ceiling. I have it's kind of like it's exposed beams, and what I've done is I just on my sidewalls nail a two by four to the side of the wall and make sure that it's long enough to go all the way up into the ceiling, and then I just fix that to one of the beams in the ceiling so I won't go anywhere. I just drill through the beam, run a bolt through it, and then it's just it stays there because I got nice hardwood floor. I don't want to drill into the floor, but it's heavy enough that it's not going to move back and forth on on the floor is going to stay there, and I cut little carpet strips that air four inches wide to put up underneath that. So that whenever I put the wall up it's on that carpet signed scratch my floor but if you were gonna you know, fix it to the wall or to the ceiling you know you could get those big drywall anchors drill a hole, put the drywall anchors in it and then screw it in there someone of the hardware store would be able to help you with that to tell him what you're trying to do. Make sure you get the right tools for because you don't want to screw is coming out and the wall falling and killing someone that would not be a good look for you. You definitely need your own reality show studio makeover I mean, this scene this happening it could happen that could have very cool. All right, what have you people? Pro photographer bruce cyril and others were wondering about the outdoor props and how you protect them from elements of the weather. That's a great question, guys, how do you protect all that stuff outdoors? And what I've done is I used materials that can withstand the outdoors. But if you notice on that picture that I showed you before only on the outside, I haven't overhang it's a four foot overhang that keeps the rain from blowing in that everyone smiles some of the rain if we get a really hard rain with a lot of wind it will blow the rain in there, but it's a concrete floor and all the materials in there can withstand a little bit of moisture, a little bit of dampness. So it's really not that big of a deal. Now one thing I wanna point out, too, that I didn't was in between. So, like I said, you have three sets on one side and three sets on the other. So there's a wall that divides the middle all that's in the middle. What you want to do is leave some space in between the top of the wall and the top of your prop shop because you won't wind to be able to flow through it, because if not, you're gonna have some wind shear that could get in there and are really stormy day. I mean, it could be, you know, it could lift the roof off of it and that's. Not a good look either. So you want to spend a lot of time doing a lot of research before you just jump in and build something like that? I mean, like I said, it took me. It took me a year to go, and I consulted with some other photographer friends of mine that had something similar on dh, you know, I got some of their input. And then I was like, you know, like that idea, but I think I'll spend off that and I'll do it this way, so and I did one thing I didn't mention is I have three bays on one side, three on the other, so really, I've got three and two I left that last day completely there's no sets in there, and I use that one just for storage for props because if not then all the props that I have that I may wanna use outdoors and put somewhere I have nowhere to put it, so I kept one open for that have another one way, do it on a let's see well, first of all, you have so many different color and texture combinations to yourself, so sky's the limit they could have so many different options and their images do you work with this your client's beforehand and what clothing to bring? And how do you coordinate that with your backdrop, right? I don't I don't do that before they come because and what I do is I just tell him to bring way more than there ever possibly going to need. I mean, I want my client to show up like four suitcases because if you don't, they're going to show up with some of the dumbest looking outfit a photograph and you're going to like oh, great this is going to be inspirational have nothing that's going to work with this this looks terrible on this looks terrible what we're doing what do you do here? So I'll tell it to bring like four suitcases I want to bring way more than they'll need and I ensure them look, I've got something that will work with every one of your outfits it's a big selling point to you know like on the phone when I can shoot them ah few images of the different backdrops that we have a different says I'm selling variety and that's what kids won't that's whatthe seniors want they want variety well that they come to my studio I'm definitely gonna be able to do that it's really important to have a lot of different you know a lot of different colors because you want to match greens with greens you want imagine rounds with browns you know like this right here her skirt matches everything in there the color combinations match so you know, it's nice toe have different color combinations just like this one here the green green with the green you know, they didn't paint their walls green at this gym just because they love the color green no, I mean it goes with their school so having that variety is very, very, very key and you know before when I first started I didn't have that variety but I would go out and find that variety on location, so when I was out, you know, I would see if I had a yellow wall here and I told her, all right, just bring four outfits that's all we're going to need lied on the phone, and she shows up and she doesn't have any yellow, then I'm not going everything is going to match that, but by telling her look and I'll say, I'll say, look, I'm not even killing I want you to bring I want you to go to your friend's houses, I don't want you to raid their claws is I want you to bring everything you confined within reason don't get too stupid on me now because that way, when they come in, they line it all up. I just said that we're not going to use all of it by any means, but I want to have variety because you don't know what I have. I don't know what you have, and then I'll just go around like this one. I've got something perfect that's going to go with this while you're putting that on, I'm going to go get ready, so I create a good shooting environment. By having lots of clothes to work with. Now, everybody's not going to always do that. Some people are not going to listen, and they're gonna bring four, five outfits. And when they do, it's gotta roll with the punches. You gotta work with it.

Class Description

Are you ready to add a new, lucrative dimension to your photography business? Join award-winning photographer Blair Phillips for an introduction to everything you need to know about taking portraits for high school seniors.

In this three-day course, you’ll learn about how to market yourself to the high school audience, no matter where you live or who you know. Blair will discuss his signature techniques for effortless, versatile posing. You’ll also learn everything you need to know about both off-camera and natural lighting, including how to create foolproof lighting setups, even if you’re working without an assistant. Blair will also cover strategies for creating a productive workflow and working confidently in a wide variety of settings.

By the end of this course, you’ll have be equipped with the core marketing techniques and one-of-a-kind photography skills needed to connect with high school seniors, give them results they’ll love, and grow your business.


a Creativelive Student

Blair is great. This class is packed full of great info and is a genuine good hearted person.. Really like his approach with high school seniors. I recommend it.


Loved watching Blair Phillips. He has so much energy and is very entertaining to watch. He was extremely well prepared and did a fantastic job.