Last week I watched a very inspirational video [Link is Here
] not too long ago which featured Joey Lawrence
, a fantastic photographer from Canada now living in Brooklyn. Joey
is a bit of a phenom, he's incredibly talented and very young. His images boggle the mind with light quality and intrigue
Like many photographers, I want to be like Joey. I spent a bit of time learning how he sets up lighting for his portraits and found out that he will make use of artificial light even in the depths of a jungle somewhere, to make sure his subject looks amazing. He also uses a medium format camera which helps to give his images incredible sharpness where focus is on and a bokeh that melts away where it isn't.
While I don't have profoto heads or battery packs, or a medium format beast camera I did my best to hit the streets of my own city and tried my hand at making portraits of people I just met. I wanted to have the end result look like they were commissioned works; they should be compelling and well lit, but not so much that the layperson would suspect something wrong with the exposure.
Lighting? I used three flashes in a Westcott Apollo Orb
softbox. The big soft light will flatter most people, and it helps to emulate the deep octa box that is used by so many photographers nowadays.
|Robyn and Eli|
I want a shallow depth of field to emulate that medium format look, or at least to give my subject some extra isolation off a backdrop. Three flashes, and a daylight exposure? Hmmm, I'm going to want to push the ISO down to 100 or even 50 when I can. Manual flashes? that means my shutter tops out at 1/200 of a second, but really it tops out at 1/125 to be on the safe side.
Secret weapon: 3 stop neutral density filter. I bought it to make water look silky, but it might just come in handy here. With it I am able to shoot with an aperture of about f/4.0 or wider while keeping my shutter below 1/200 of a second, which should provide the soft bokeh in the background when I shoot with my 50mm lens.
I learned a lot from this approach. I found that people were very receptive to have someone take their photo if the photographer had an assistant toting around a massive softbox. Maybe it looked more professional or something. I learned that it's possible to be out on the street and shooting a portrait while taking control of the light, and making it work for you. I also found out that my ND filter is a great tool to manage exposure.
Best of all I learned something new about some people in my city. Halifax is such a wonderful spot full of wonderful people. It will be a sad day if I should have to leave, because by walking the street and talking to the people I've found myself quite welcomed, and it's an amazing feeling.