Commercial Portraits

I have been shooting Commercial industrial jobs since I first started in Photography and I really get a buzz from them as they are so totally different than shooting weddings or portraits, much more difficult.

You have to be very technically minded as well as creative which is not easy as that’s using the 2 opposite sides of the brain.

During my 4 hour beginners course, when I explain about the studio set up of 45% portrait lighting, I say whether you are here in our studio or whether you go out and set up a studio elsewhere the rules are the same.

Last week I received a phone call at 4.00 asking if I could photograph 24 executive portraits in offices in the City of London the next day. Late notice but they had been let down by another photographer and somehow got my number.

The drive into the City is always awful, regardless of the congestion charge it never deters anyone from travelling. Once I got there after a 2 hour drive, I unloaded all the camera and lighting gear into reception and went off to try and park. It took me 40 minutes driving around at a snails pace with so many roads blocked off because of Cross Rail, it was awful. I eventually found a parking street area, which cost £16, its such a rip off.

I got back to the offices and set up the camera and lighting gear, really simple, one main light at 45% and a fill light behind the camera at 1 & 1/2 stops less than the main light.

There is a photo here of the set up taken on my iPhone. I always do a couple of test shots first, just to make sure everything is working, so I choose someone from around the office, just to sit there. This young lady was serving coffee so I asked her to sit. It’s funny whenever I do this no one ever asks ‘can I have a copy’. The answer would be ‘yes, of course’, I’m just surprised they don’t ask.

The people being photographed were executives from all around Europe, coming together for the first time, so it was the perfect opportunity for them to be photographed. The difference between the various cultures was very different, the more South of Europe the more casual and laid back they were. The other surprise to me was how few of them have had a professional portrait taken before.

Just as I was photographing the last 3 people one of my Elinchrome heads blew up right next to my ear. the sound was awful, but the smoke and smell were dreadful. I then had to change the lighting just a little by bringing the main light around to the front a little. It worked out fine and the customer was delighted as they had the selected and cropped images 2 days later on their desk.

When I left the shoot, I went straight over to The Flash Centre, to get the head repaired, when I took it into the repair department it was still warm from blowing up. A £100 repair bill takes the shine off a £500 commercial job, but that’s life.

It’s Great being a Photographer!!!!