Community theater cherishes precious rehearsal time, so when the producer needs headshots and/or publicity images, I know that I have to work as quickly as possible. Fortunately, with practice, my theater shots seem to be getting better and the shoots are going faster. Part of the improvement is better communication: I make sure I know how the pictures will be used. The headshots below, for example, are to appear with actor biographies in the program – they will be tiny. As such, I knew they would need some pop, so I put an SB600 with a Gary Fong Lightsphere directly behind the subject’s head, creating a rim light to separate the actor from the background. For the key light, I put an SB800 with umbrella right behind me, perhaps a foot over my head, pointed down at the actor. If you don’t count time spent waiting for actors to arrive and prepare, I believe it took less than twenty minutes to set up the lights, photograph five actors, pack up the lights, and hit the road.
On another visit, the director asked for a specific image he could Photoshop into a poster. Because he described precisely what he wanted, I was again able to quickly set up the lights and grab the shot.
Edit: Reading over this post, I felt I needed to add something: It’s been a while since I referred to this blog’s intended audience of lazy, disorganized, impatient photographers. I fear that my references to multiple flashes, umbrellas and such sends a message that this kind of photography is difficult. Well, that’s a matter of opinion, of course, because when you enjoy the work, it doesn’t seem like work, right? I’m not sure I’d be doing all this off-camera flash stuff if the wireless control was not already built into my D300, SB800, and SB600. But it is built in, and it’s fairly easy to use, especially for those of us who read manuals. Find the easiest way to get your flash off camera and play. It’s not work – it’s FUN!