Lessons Learned From My First Studio Session
As the 7th anniversary of Luner Imaging approaches, the summer prior has provided a wealth of opportunities to grow as a person as well as an artist. Those opportunities include my first bar mitzvah, first feature in a national magazine, and now... first session of portraits done in a studio.
I'm fairly positive there are many of you who do not believe that I have never photographed portraits in a studio throughout seven years in operation. I was equally surprised when I made that realization, but if you jump over to my portrait galleries, you'll notice that the proof is in the pudding.
As a photographer, I have always opted for headshots and portraits outside of a studio. If you needed a solid reasoning for why, I unfortunately cannot provide one. An attempt would detail that it is how I began, and it has always stuck. The outdoors provides so much opportunity in areas of color, focus, and variety that in my opinion are significantly lessened when stepping into the studio.
A gig is a gig, right?
My fellow freelancers will shake their heads up-and-down when asked that question. So, it was only natural when asked to shoot headshots for the 2019 mainstage production at Upper Darby Summer Stage, I willingly opened the door into uncharted territory. Yet as with doing anything for the first time, I learned a lot that I plan to utilize in future opportunities of similarity.
1. Prep, Prep, Prep
While this is a must-do for any assignment or gig, it was probably of the utmost importance in this instance where time was not always on my side. With this job, I utilized a studio that was already partially established, but I definitely should have taken the time to evaluate and trial the space prior to the first shoot. It's also good practice to establish and enforce guidelines in clothing, schedules, and direction that can make or break a smooth and enjoyable client experience.
2. Consistency is Key
This lesson has always been applicable elsewhere in life so it should be no surprise that it is also applicable in this instance. With this job, there were three days of shooting that were each about a week or two apart on the calendar. Even as a freelancer, other gigs and photo opportunities amass during these gaps. Photos from prior shoots can serve as basic guidelines to grab your settings again, but I will definitely be taking detailed notes in the next adventure. To the common eye, the headshots above may present as well done. Yet, as a (mild) perfectionist and passionate deliverer, I do notice a few inconsistencies and need for application of technique when viewing the set.
Getting The 'Money Shot' Isn't Always Black & White:
3. Crop 'til You Drop
Last, but obviously not the least is the crop job. With this particular set, I did want to emphasize personality through the color and style of tops, but there is not much wiggle room when it is called a headshot. Much to the benefit of the client and myself, I still achieved the ability to show said personality while satisfying the client in maintaining and directing the focus of eyes. While I would not legitimately encourage cropping until one drops, I do encourage spending an ample portion of your editing in this realm. While I previously mentioned the making or breaking through preparation, the crop will be the tell-tale sign of a hit-or-miss deliverable and I'm so glad the common ground was found.
A learning experience for me? Certainly, but I'm excited to see the finished product when paired with cast bios and displayed in the venue's lobby. The collaboration with the client and I also led to an online display, which I am very happy to see with the increasing value of digital marketing. Lastly, I appreciate the agreement of the client to allow my preferred printing lab, White House Custom Colour (WHCC) to complete the final piece of the puzzle.
If You Decide To Go:
- Based on the novel by Daniel Wallace and film directed by Tim Burton, Big Fish introduces audiences to Edward Bloom’s world of giants, witches, and other larger-than-life characters while touching the hearts of the young and old alike. Bloom, a traveling salesman who lives life to its fullest by telling incredible, larger-than-life stories thrill everyone he meets especially his devoted wife Sandra. Yet their son Will, who is about to have a child of his own, is determined to find the truth behind his father’s epic tales. Overflowing with heart and humor, Big Fish is an extraordinary new musical that reminds audiences why they love going to the theatre – to hear great stories and share experiences together.