Marie contacted me for a few promotional portraits for her upcoming website and blog. She’s currently working in an architecture firm, but the website’s going to be about video games. A stark contrast (kinda like biology and photography)! Even from our email exchange, I knew it would be fun to work with her. You know you have a great client when you feel like the person has full trust in what you do.
Marie shared with me a few reference photos - clean, vibrant, bright portraits with lots of soft natural light that wraps around the subject.
Process and Planning:
We decided pretty quickly on this spacious Breather room in the Belgo Building. It has interesting backgrounds, huge windows, and lots of light. The only issue with the room is that the light from the windows is all coming from one direction (and the floors and ceiling were black, the walls far away, which limited the light bouncing around the room).
So to get soft and even light without strong contrast on Marie's face, we had a few possible solutions: 1) Marie faces the windows directly. This would fix the lighting, but the background wasn't interesting in this angle. 2) Use reflectors to reduce the contrast. I only had a small reflector, which would have been fine for headshot, but we wanted shots showing more of the body, and some that were wide as well. So not only would the reflector not have been enough, it would have made it difficult to frame the shot without seeing it. 3) Reduce the contrast in post-production. This could work, but I think the contrast would still have been too strong. 4) Balance the natural light with fill flash.Yay. This works. This is what we went for.
Now the last thing I want to do is ruin the beautiful soft light that’s already in the room - remember that the look Marie wanted was a soft natural look. So what I need to do is balance the natural and artificial light by matching the colour, direction and quality of the fill light. So we eat Tootsie Rolls, talk about Game of Thrones as I fiddle with my flashes. I bounce one off a white wall and use an umbrella for the other. Nice wrap-around light without the obvious flash look.
Keep the end goal of the shoot in mind! Then make sure that all of your decisions (lighting, equipment, location) are compatible with that vision.