Posts tagged Editorial Photography

Cinematic, environmental portraits

I love creating environmental portraits.  That’s good, because I make an awful lot of these as a commercial photographer.

One challenge when doing such location portraits is that the benefit—the environment, which can offer very cool, very visually striking contextual cues—can also be a severe liability.  Imagine showing up to a shoot to find you are limited to shooting portraits inside a tiny conference room with orange walls, or in the middle of summer using an interior of a steel shipping container (both are recent examples).

So what do you do when the environment detracts from,  instead of adds to, your portraits?

I opt to shoot portraits with very shallow depth of field, in order to throw my distracting backgrounds out of focus.  Then I carefully add in lights to create depth and color as needed. Given the time of day or the situation, this may require using ND (neutral density) filters or high-speed sync to achieve this look, but it’s worth the extra effort.

The results are tack-sharp portraits that pop from the soft background, minimizing the things I don’t want while giving a sort of cinematic feel that I love.

 

 

 

 

Might & Main: how a brand feels

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Might & Main is a branding firm based here in Portland–they do fantastic work and cast big shadows on the local creative scene.  They’re the team that you call in to do a rebranding, or to handle the look and feel of a product or campaign.  They’ve also got a great sense of style that infuses their work–take a look at this award-winning work for the Portland Museum of Art’s Homer Winslow exhibition (I want that bobblehead, Sean).

More than that, Kevin, Sean and Arielle (the principals behind M&M) are great people who always seem to be up to something interesting.   The trio,  along with team members Graeme and Morgan, moved to a new downtown Portland location in January and wanted a photo that showed them off in their new environment.  They didn’t dictate the look of the photo, but we discussed what the image should do for them:  it should give a sense of each individual person (all three principals had successful solo businesses before partnering, and all three bring different skills to the table), but show them as a team as well.  It should be interesting and striking, incorporating key elements of their new space and their quirky retro decor (Boris the Boar has made one other appearance, in an Inspire Portland feature on Sean from last year).  These guys are young, very hip and are extremely creative, so I knew I wanted to show these attributes as well.

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When you strip away all the fluff–the globe, the -um- shotgun, even the lights–it’s all about the people.   Might & Main is comprised of interesting people, and I wanted to give a sense that they bring a strong point of view, a certain touch of humor and, yes, a little attitude.   To that end, I think the shoot was successful.   The final frame we all liked shows plenty of attitude.  If you look at each person’s face there’s something interesting going on.  Someone once told me that successful photos don’t give you all the answers, but make you wonder a bit, too.  Add on the lighting, the props and the “look” of the final image and you get an image that tells a story…and captures the “feel” of a brand.

There’s always room for serendipity, too.  Although I gave a few pointers on dress, I could have hugged Arielle when she showed up in that bright red dress.   How could I not get a great final image?

Might & Main: Behind the brand