It was the surprise in her voice that caught my attention.
I had almost finished dragging the last of the equipment that I thought I was going to need for this particular assignment into the foyer of the building, and it was starting to look like an impressive pile of … well … stuff.
Her surprise at the amount of gear that she saw me drag inside made me realise that oftentimes clients don’t fully realise just what it takes to get the pictures that they require. For that reason I thought I would offer a brief account of this corporate photo session that I shot a few days ago.
This particular job had three components to it. The first was to shoot straight-forward corporate headshots of all of the organisation’s board members — about ten people. Then I had to make group photographs of all of the board members together. And finally I was asked to make two or three different portraits of the CEO in her office.
But the catch was that all of this had to be done within a one-hour lunch break!
That was a fairly demanding requirement — three different shoots in three different locations, coordinating up to ten executives while still allowing them enough time to eat lunch. And I was to do it all on my own — no assistant.
[Gulp …] “No problem,” I said. “Completely do-able.”
The only way this could be done was to have each different location, each different photographic setup, prepared and ready to go before the lunch hour began. All three locations had to be set up at the same time — there would be no opportunity to move lights and other things from one place to another — and that was why a large amount of equipment was required for this job.
The other slightly tricky thing that I had to consider was that there was absolutely no room in the organisation’s offices for simple headshots, to say nothing of group shots. I had already met with the client the day before and had already chosen to set up for the headshots in a little-used area at the back of the foyer of the building, behind a staircase. There was just enough room — about 2 metres wide by 3 metres deep. Small but manageable. Here is a snap shot of the headshot setup that I used.
The second setup was for the group shots. Once again, location options were very limited and I ended up making these photographs on the staircase itself, at the entrance to the building.
You might be able to see in the photo of this second setup that the staircase is right at the entrance to the building. Just inside the glass entrance doors, to the left, I set up a very large, powerful light (which is about 1.5 metres in diameter), that I used to light this photo. Again, my options were limited because all of the glass surrounding the stairs would create myriad undesirable reflections if I didn’t choose the type and position of the light carefully. Fortunately the setup that I chose ended up working very well in this tricky environment.
The third setup was in the CEO’s office. I don’t have behind-the-scenes snapshots of this setup to show you, but for this location I used small, portable speedlights with umbrellas and other light modifiers that are less powerful but which take up less space and are quick and easy to manoeuvre.
So those were my three setups for this assignment.
As soon as the executives emerged from their meeting to have their lunch break, they were all asked to position themselves at the staircase for their group photos. This only took five minutes, and here is one of the resulting images.
So the first session — the group photo — was done very quickly and the executives were then able to move into their lunch area. While they were eating lunch, I had them come out to the headshot setup one at a time for their individual corporate headshots. Each one took no more than two minutes and so the interruption to their lunch break was minimal. In fact, counting the group photo, I needed only seven minutes of each person’s time during that hour.
So the group shots and the individual headshots were all completed within the first 30 minutes of the lunch break.
The last set of shots was for the CEO’s portraits in her office. Unfortunately the CEO had to give more time than the others, as this session took about 20 minutes, involving, as it did, some clothing changes and some light-tweaking on the fly. Here is one of the portraits from that session.