Earlier this year I was commissioned to photograph some local builders for this summer’s Parade of Homes. I have worked with the West Texas Home Builders Assoc before but this time I proposed we change things up a bit– Put a new look on the portraits and the book design. You see, in the past, these portraits were very formal: The images were head and shoulders, wearing a suit and tie in front of an old masters brown background. (You can see the previous look at the end of this article) They looked very nice and professional, but it did not match the style in which the parade magazine and website was designed or some of the modern architecture that these contractors were using.
I suggested we go with black and white images, with a stronger light quality and more casual clothing for the builders and show more body. A presentation that is more in line with a clothing or commercial image than a traditional head shot. Below is the result.
The lighting for this was not complex but it did have some purpose. Grey seamless was used as the background and I wanted a natural vignette on the background so I used a 5′ Octa-box with a soft grid to illuminate the background. This source gave me a large hotspot on the background with a nice soft falloff. My main light was an overhead 3′ octa-box again with a grid to keep light focused just on the face of my subject, again providing a natural fall-off of light. I chose to use the 3′ box for two reasons. One, being a medium-sized source, it created a crisper light quality, keeping in line with the commercial fashion inspired look. Two, it created a nice round catchlight in the eye. Finally, a 1×4 strip box with a soft grid was placed opposite main and 1.5 stops less than the main to add a kiss of separation and dimensional rim light.
On the floor you will see some posing blocks. I use these quite often, especially with men as it forces them to get into a more relaxed position. I will often have them put one foot on a block. This relaxes the upper body and puts the weight on the back foot of my subject, which works well in posing both men and women. You can find this lighting example as well as dozens more on our Lighting For Sales mobile App.
Each builder came in for 5 minutes, we captured about 7 images and they picked their favorite from my iPad that was connected via the CamRanger. Oh yeah, they loved them too.
The moral of this blog is simple. Do not be afraid to take the lead in a session or an assignment. They have hired you for a reason. You are the expert and your clients trust you to deliver the best for them. If I were to hire one of these builders, I would most definitely make suggestions to what I prefer in my new home, but I would also trust them to make the best decision based upon those suggestions.
As mentioned, I have done this project for the past 4 years. What I failed to mention above was that I was only photographing any new contractors that didn’t previously have an image, and matching that image to the old style mention before. By suggesting a different route for these portraits, it not only gave the publication a new, fresh look, it forced every contractor to come to my studio, see my work, meet me and get a new portrait. That was 35 opportunities to market and introduce myself to these business owners. Not to mention, I was compensated more than in previous years. Below are a few more from the project. Happy creating, Cris.
Here is what had been done in previous years.