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High School Posters as Marketing

Lesson 45 from: Editorial Portrait Photography for High School Seniors

Dan Brouillette

High School Posters as Marketing

Lesson 45 from: Editorial Portrait Photography for High School Seniors

Dan Brouillette

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Lesson Info

45. High School Posters as Marketing


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

High School Posters as Marketing

Sports posters, so this is a whole another aspect of my work that I love doing, it's really fun, it's also a great connection for you to get in with different schools and businesses. I've met so many people, I used to do a lot more of these with high schools whether it was you know the softball or golf poster, or the football or basketball poster. You get in with kids who are gonna be seniors, you get in with parents who might work in a marketing department at a hospital you never know, and you get connections to other people who just need photography. So I love doing that because for one, I love sports. Two, I love putting together the posters, for me I love the Photoshop, I love coming up with the concepts, working with the kids and seeing the excitement that goes with it. So for me that was an in to get a lot more seniors to my business, and also get a lot more connections in the community, and it helps you become a familiar name even if you do the posters of some of the younger tea...

ms, or younger kids, all of a sudden you are the photographer so when they have other friends who are talking about photographic needs your name comes up. So it's just a way to keep doing what your doing and become a familiar name within your community for what you do. And it creates that connection because if some of these kids are freshman, 8th grade, 5th grade, whatever, eventually they're gonna be seniors and they're gonna know you as a photographer. And again, the connections that come out outside of that, for me I met so many people that I've then gone on to do their business portraits or even work with them on major add campaigns. It's something for me, but there's always something you know whether it's working with dance teams, I've done entire posters for like local ballet school, which is totally outside of my norm, but I met all these girls who who were in dance and then what do you know, like couple years later went in and did all their senior pictures. So it's just a way to make connections, and for me it was something that came naturally, so I do want to come full circle and show you guys one that I'm really proud of from last year. It really brings, it's a poster and I'm gonna show you kind of the full buildup. So it's bringing in the light, the posing, and directing, the editing, and the marketing all together into one thing. To pre visit, I went to Iowa State University and back in about 2009 I was at some Alumni dinner or something, it was something to do with sports and one of the guys there was the athletic director, and I was feeling a little bold that day so I went up and told him that I was a photographer, and that I would love to work on their sports posters. And that was a stretch because I was, you know this is eight or nine years ago, I was just out of college and they had already had somebody doing all the posters, but I thought uh, they can be a little bit different, and I thought I had something to offer. So I didn't hear back, this was probably in when I met him, about two years later I randomly get an email from someone in the sports marketing department, and they said, "We've had your name for a while, "we're getting ready to do this new poster. "Would you be interested in working with us "to come up with a concept and shot it?" and I thought, wow, I haven't heard anything from you guys forever I just thought it got lost in the Rolodex and sure enough they reached out. So I worked with them to come up with a concept and I'll fast forward seven or eight years later I've done every football poster and some of the basketball posters along with the photographer Dan McClanahan he's one of my good friends form Ames, where Iowa State is located. So we worked together or separate on all their posters for about the last eight years, and this is last years poster. So before I get to that, how these things come up is this basically with any commercial work is you come up with a comp, it's basically a layout that's really rough it has some of the basic ideas they want from a job, it doesn't happen in any ad shoot or poster or anything like that, it's here's what we're thinking, here's how we generally want it laid out, now it's your job as a photographer to bring it all together. So in an email I received a PDF that was this. It looks like a finished poster, but what I know from this being a compass, that was a brand new coach to the school, he had been at a different school prior, so that is all like if you were to open this up in Photoshop and look, it's just a logo photoshopped on his hat and jacket. He wasn't actually wearing that, his hat and jacket were actually blue and black for his old school. Each of these photos of the players were from actual game footage, so they were just live action sport shots, but the problem was the player in the bottom left was the pose they want but they didn't want that guy, they wanted someone else in that spot. The player in the middle right had already graduated, but they liked that angle and pose so they needed another person laid in there, and this was the overall toning and branding they wanted for the poster, so that was no problem, that was part of the graphic design component. But they told me, "We want all these shots, "but we need to redo them, and here's the catch, "it is now January and we have to shoot them inside." So you can see the poster, the picture of the quarterback trowing, I mean he's in wide open sunlight. All those were, they were all from the game, including the coach walking and clapping. And how do you evoke the emotion of a coach walking on the sidelines proudly clapping his hands trying to pump everybody up when you're working with lights inside a turf inside of a gym basically. So that was the challenge of how do I direct these guys to get that natural look, how do I light it to mimic mid Saturday afternoon sunlight, and how do we match the poses, focal lengths, and all that technical stuff to bring this into something that they want? And the answer to that is, it takes a lot of work but also all that planning and that's why I love the commercial work it's this puzzle of deconstructing this and then rebuilding it. So what we did is here's a couple behind the scenes photos, you notice the lighting in the previous one, all the photos of the players were sunlight, hard sunlight, so in my head as I said from the very first start of this whole class, do I want hard or soft light? I want hard light. So what you'll see is up on the yellow border up here, and in the middle of that other photo is a silk, we talked about a silk it's a way to diffuse light a little bit, but what's behind that is the magnum reflector, the reflector that's very specular, that hard sunlight that's used to mimic the sun, I actually had two of those, one up high and one just below to give me a little more spread of light, but they were so harsh that I had to put that silk up. It knocks off 1.6 dops of light, so it makes it just a little bit softer and takes that edge, but it still looks like the sunlight it's just a little bit diffused. So in my head that's the main light, that's what we're gonna use to create the sun. Well having those two light up there also ends up being a lot of shadow, and hard shadow, so what I then did was take that same umbrella that you saw us using in the studio and set it up right over my head as our fill. So I wanna get closer to a one-to-one type of lighting ratio, so I just have that on full blast. And then you know in stadiums the lights are always on and things like that, even when it is sunny out so there's lights coming from all directions, reflections and things like that, so we added another light which is, you can see the edge of the stand right here as a accent light. So that's the coach. The other things that we did in studio remember earlier when we had the model walking and put that piece of tape on the ground, or when we had the model out on the trail and put that rock. There's always a sweet spot to the light so we actually had a piece of tape on the ground which you'll see in some of the other photos and that was to make the coach know you know, this is the spot where in my head I need to shoot the photo here. So now I'm thinking, all right going back we have this photo of the coach clapping and getting all pumped up, what do I need to do as a photographer to get him in that mindset? And I'm a football fan so, you know I'm talking to him about how can we get you back there? And he had remembered that just before that play the defenses in the field they made an interception and he was out there with that look like, we're gonna turn the momentum and all that, so it was getting him back into that mindset. A couple of the players start yelling and getting him pumped up, and sure enough he started getting into it, so I was able to have him go back and forth, we had music bump in and all that so we could get him into the right mindset. You can see he's wearing his full headset like it's game day but yet we're inside the building, and then you can see all the people from the athletic department ad agency laughing because he's getting into it. And then on the left you can see me working with the players because similarly we have players here in the comp who are clearly doing in game actions, so how do you replicate that and get them into the same full speed? Same idea, putting tape down to find the sweet spot of the light and all that, and then putting it all together. So all of these shots are from the actual shoot, they're not from live game action, so you can see the quarterback from our comp had that harsh lighting and you can see the arm angle, everything that he's doing, where he's looking, how harsh the light is on him, and now you can see through the layers how mimicking that same hard light, getting the coach to walk and have that fierce look on his face where he's clapping, having all the angles work out, but having the players that they wanted in each of those spots. So it's kind of bringing it all full circle so you get an idea of how all the things we've talked earlier can come into one shoot, and how important each piece plays from the lighting, all the layers of the lighting and thing about it, to the directing to get them to do what you want, to the Photoshop to bring it all together, and then just matching the concept that the athletic department wanted. You can see on the left that's just the players cut-out of the photos, little bit of toning going on, some disaturation adding in the elements of the graphic designer put in of that fogginess with the crowd behind, toning it, and then finally the final poster. So you get an idea of what goes into that whole shoot, and what my mindset and the puzzle was to taking that original comp, and then deconstructing it, and then reconstructing it back to a final image. So that's something that I love doing, I don't get to do it enough but that's kind of one of my goals as a photographer is to bring that because it brings all the elements of things that I like to do, and puts them into one shoot. And again, like I said before with the senior shoot you have two hours to get as many great images of that person as possible, where on something like this we had two or three hours to create essentially one final image. So it's just a different mindset we still had to take multiple photos of multiple people, but the result is one singular image that stands alone versus a whole series. So I just wanted to share that because it kind of brings everything we talked about full circle.

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