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Class Introduction

Lesson 1 from: Editorial Portrait Photography for High School Seniors

Dan Brouillette

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Lesson Info

1. Class Introduction


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


How to Make Senior Photos Stand Out


What is Lighting in Layers?


Build a Lighting Foundation


Layer One: Main Light


Layer Two: Fill Light


Layer Three: Accent Light


Layer Four: Additional Light


Lesson Info

Class Introduction

We are here with Mr. Dan Brouillette who is teaching us all about senior portrait photography with editorial lighting. Now Dan is a photographer who has a studio in Omaha, Nebraska, and he is known for bringing his New York style flare to his seniors there. He photographs commercial, editorial, as well as his senior portrait business. He stands out in his market because he brings a commercial lighting feel and creates images with his seniors that make them feel like they are in a magazine. Now, in New York, he did lighting for editorial clients, as well as superstars. And some of those clients include folks like Time, ESPN Magazine, as well Men's Health and many more. So please help me welcome for the very first time to the Creative Live stage, Dan Brouillette. (applauding) All right. Well, like she said, My name is Dan Brouillette and I'm from Omaha, Nebraska. And we're gonna cover a lot of stuff today. Again, most of this class is gonna be about senior portraits, but a lot of it ha...

s to do with, like she said, the lighting I bring from the advertising and editorial standpoint. So, just to get a brief synopsis of the class here, we're gonna cover eight different segments. We're gonna start with lighting and layers. And again, this class is for everyone from beginners to people who've been doing it in a long time that are just in a creative rut or wanna try something new. So, the first segment we're gonna cover is lighting and layers. We're gonna go over all these in much more depth and detail when we get into it. The second chapter we're gonna cover this morning will be outdoor lighting, and it's basically how we take the studio lighting and take it outside. There's many different ways that we do that, and we'll get into that. The next chapter which is in-studio lighting, we're actually gonna bring models in the studio, do multiple lighting setups from simple one light setups to more complex setups in the studio. We have a second model coming in later in today which will elaborate even more on that. We'll go over clothing choices, direction, and all that sort of stuff as well. So, we're gonna cover the full gamut of shooting, from basic lighting, all the way into pretty precise direction. After that, we'll talk about some of the things that I do on the business side as far as the pre-session consultation. So, getting to know your client and knowing what they like, how to bring that personality out of them, which will guide you kind of toward your whole plan of whether you're making your lighting setups, planning how you can direct them, and what you need to capture their personality. After that, we're gonna go into editing and retouching, so everything from full workflow of how I structure the folders on my computer to keep everything straight between the different work I do from commercial to senior work, all the way into how I use Capture One to edit raw files and bring everything into Photoshop where I do all the basic blemish retouching, color correction and all that. And we'll be working a lot with the program Alien Skin Exposure on how we do color toning and add a little grain and extra flavor to the shots. And the last chapter is gonna be about marketing from a little bit of social media to other things I do outside of senior work to stay busy year round. So that kind of cover all eight segments that we're gonna go over. And like I said, we're go into much more detail as we get into it. I also wanna thank the guys who I use and they help me out, which is White House Custom Color for all my printing, Alien Skin for providing the great software that I use to do all the color toning, and Profoto who I use for all the lighting. This is the introduction that I wanna show you guys a little bit about me, my background, how I got into defining this style and bringing it to senior portraits. So, these are the few things we're gonna cover here, just a little bit about me, my adventure from being born and raised in Iowa, moving to New York City, and now ending up on Omaha, Nebraska. Breaking way from tradition. And by that I mean how to get away from that traditional senior portrait feel and do something new and different that kind of fits the personality of your seniors, and makes the work more creatively stimulating for yourself. Using direction, not so much strict posing, how to use direction to bring the personality out of seniors to make them feel comfortable, but also get genuine authentic looks. And lastly, lighting, and that'll be a big one. So we're gonna cover lots of stuff on lighting. Alright, a little bit about me. So, I was born and raised in Iowa back in 1983. And about 19 years later, I moved off to school at Iowa State University where I didn't really know what I was doing there, but I did know that I spent a lot of times at the Borders Bookstore which no longer exist. And I would just browse the magazine racks looking at magazines like ESPN Magazine, GQ, W, anything like that, that had portrait photography with unique lighting, and a lot of it was environmental based, so on location type portraits. And that was the stuff that really drew me in to photography. I would okay at that and think, "Wow, I'd really like to work for these people "or create images like that." But the one catch is that is I lived in Iowa, so I'm not exactly in the magazine capital of the world, so you gotta work with what you've got. So, I took the idea of that lighting and those concepts and introduced it to senior photography, which is a pretty popular business in the Midwest and all over the country really. So I thought, "Why don't other senior photographers "make images that look like "the same thing you see on the magazine." And there was no real answer for that, other than senior portraits can have this traditional stigma attached to it that they had to be one way to go on grandma's wall. And I thought, "That doesn't have to be that way, "like why?" So, I started a senior business way back when I was in college in with my first seniors. And it just kind of taken off since then. Then eventually, I came around really wanting and craving that need to shoot for those magazines and learn more about that world. So, I had my studio in Iowa from... Well, I graduate college in 2007, had that almost until 2010. And I had attended some workshops, met some people, and hopped on the old Facebook, and realized I had some friends living in New York City. So I took a visit, fell in love with New York City, and in end of 2009, early 2010, moved. My lease was up on my studio. I thought, "You know what, I'm gonna do this," kinda one of those things where I didn't wanna look back later in life and wish I had done something that I didn't. So, I sold everything I had, packed up all my stuff in a rental car, and me and a buddy drove everything up to New York. I was out there for several years. I learned a ton from the business side. I had an internship. I didn't make a lot of money in New York City, just to be real. I started off with an internship at a photo agency, so someone who represents photographers. I wanted to learn more about the business side and client relations and all that type of stuff on the commercial side, and just kinda go full circle, and learn all I could while I was there. So I did an internship for a while. I assisted several photographers, a guy named Randall Slavin, he's a celebrity photographer, now lives in LA. I worked with Victoria Will who a lot of you guys knows. She's taught at Creative Live and she's one of my really good friends. I still work with her and talk with her even today. Learn from all those people and just that onset experience when you're not actually having to create photos, but you're just getting to take in all that's happening from the lighting to to how those photographers work with clients, how they direct everybody from celebrities to CEOs, and seeing how they bring out that personality for a magazine shoot or an advertisement or whatever. Eventually, my lease was up in New York, family was back home. And in 2013, I moved back to the Midwest, and Omaha, Nebraska became home. So, Omaha, it's a decent-sized town, just under a million people. A decent amount of stuff going on. A good airport, so I felt comfortable being back to travel back and forth to New York and continue on that path as well. Back in the Midwest though, I didn't know anybody in Omaha when I moved there. So, I did know I want to get back in the seniors. I've taken some years off. I was a hundred miles away from my old town where I grew up and where I had had my old senior studio. So now, I have a studio located in Omaha, Nebraska. Going with that for about 3 1/2 years, a little longer. And it works out really well because I get this balance of the senior stuff in the summer, and then I still work for magazines both locally and nationally, and get to travel and still work on the stuff that I was doing before hand with the connections I made while I was in New York City. Like Kenna said, I shoot for different magazines. Just recently did some shoot for Men's Health and Outdoor Life with a fun guy who was making turkey calls. So, you get something different every day. And Men's Health for a guy in a swimming pool which had its own challenges when you're doing lighting with and water and all that. I also work for local corporations, creating advertising campaigns and things like that, that'll end up on their websites or on billboards, and then different ad agencies who work with other companies and corporations to kind of bring their vision to life, and collaborate on, again, a lot of environmental portraiture. So it's all in the same realm. It's all the things that I like to do. It's just finding that different markets to kinda keep you going all year round and keep business flowing. Again, just working with different magazines. But in the summer, it's different for every market, seniors that is. If you're in Texas or Arizona, you're probably not gonna photograph seniors in July and August, or else you're gonna sweat to death. So, I try and bring all the seniors to my market in the summer. Because in Nebraska, during the winter, it is cold, nobody is gonna be doing anything. It doesn't look so great outside, and school is in session. So, the markets change for every part of the country. June, July, August is my busy times for seniors. I shoot about maybe three dozen seniors. I've scaled it back over the years just because of the amount of time I put into each one. Back when I was in Iowa in around 2007, I would shoot 70 seniors a year, and that was my sole focus. I wasn't so much into the other advertising and editorial. But as that's picked up, I've kinda scaled back on the seniors. So again, my season for that is June through September, and then the rest of the year I kinda supplement it with all the other work. I like to keep things separate. And what I mean by that is I have two different businesses. A lot of people who shoot weddings, and babies, or boudoir, and families, it's that balance of how do I keep some of this content here and other content there, how do I let my clients know what I do, but not have other ones know what I do, even with branding and your style. Knowing that, I keep two totally separate websites and business names just so I can keep my commercial and editorial work in one spot because it looks a lot different than the senior work as far as content, and the message, and branding, and everything else. With seniors, you're marketing to 16, 17-year-old guys and girls, mostly girls in my market. And with the advertising, you're dealing with adults and more corporate setting. So I just wanna keep those separate. So with that said, here's a little bit about what I do on the editorial personal advertising side. So these are just the sample of shots that I've taken for different jobs for personal work, just to go out. And we'll talk about personal work later, but that's just work that I go out and create on my own to try and get my creativity going and show people both capabilities and where my vision is and passion within photography. So, these are some sample of both assigned work and personal work. And the good news is it kind of intertwine, which is the goal you want. You want the work you're getting hired for to look like the work you really want to create. Here's a few more images from other some fun jobs I've been on. This is a guy in sawmill up in Norther Iowa. This is an artist outside of, actually, he's in Omaha in his studio. And I like to match up portraits a long with environments to kinda create the full story, and take a little bit of a cinematic approach of creating people doing things in their natural environment and then also posing them in these portraits where I can get really finicky with the lighting and do things that are a little bit different. Here's a few more. The middle one, that's the newest one for Men's Health that I was talking about of the guy in the swimming pool, and then just some other stuff that I shot while I was in New York. So it's all different stuff, a lot of lighting. Although I will say the two on the outsides are both natural light. So just as much as we're gonna talk about adding light to the photos, it's just as important to recognize natural light and being able to control that as well. So, it's all aspects of lighting from what you can add to what you can subtract. Alright, when I was talking about keeping my business as separate, I literally have two different logs, Dan Brouillette Photography, that's the one that's primarily editorial, advertising and everything like that. I did this on purpose. I kept it as my name because I don't know how long I'll be doing senior portraits. I've already been doing it for 13 years. It's one of those things where the marketing and everything, keeping up with kids is fun, but I also love the aspect of the puzzle of putting together an editorial or advertising shoot. One of the main differences is when you're shooting a senior session, let's say it's a three-hour session, the goal is to get as many great images of that person as you can in that time. So, it's kind of the opposite with a lot of the advertising shoots. We talk and plan and figure out exactly what that shot is that they wanna use for this ad, and we'll take that same amount of time to really hone and create one great image. And that puzzle of putting the lighting, the environment, and everything in the advertising is what really speaks to me, but I do love kind of the candidness you get on the senior shoot, just going out and shooting and capturing that person's personality, and then showing them all those images on the backend. Another reason why I came up with Look is because, I don't know if you know that, but my last name is not that easy to spell. And when you're asking high school kids to find me on Google... When I moved to Omaha, I thought, "Alright, let's come up with something "that's a little easier than Dan Brouillette Photography, "plus that's a long URL." So, coming up with something like look makes it so that way people don't have to necessarily know me. I'm in a new market where I didn't grow up, so people don't know me or my family or anything like that. So we're just kinda keeping those things separate and making it easier on the clients to be able to find me.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

Lighting Gear List

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Lighting Terms Guide

Ratings and Reviews

pete hopkins

awesome teacher and awesome technique. after soooo many webinars, it's really great to see someone break it down to the bare bones of lighting with exceptional quality results. i can listen to Dan all day. no pretense, no over the top emotional pleas, no drama! did i say awesome!!!! Plus, I'm a huge fan of the B! and B2 systems. Freedom is key. Now I can shoot anywhere, anytime. Thanks Dan.


This is by far the best class on senior photography I have found on creativelive. Dan explains the technical aspects in an easy to understand format. He does a great job going through studio shots, outdoor shots, editing and marketing. He's given me some great ideas and inspired me to be more creative. I am going to rewatch the lighting set up for the "hero shot". It's super cool!

Tristanne Endrina

Dan was great. His class was very comprehensive but easy to follow. The slides he used weren't flashy. Instead, they were simple and he went at a good pace. I left feeling like I could really pull off the lighting techniques he taught. I'm excited to put what I learned into my photography. :) Thanks, Dan.

Student Work