A fun senior portrait shoot with Alex


Recently I took a trip to southeast Michigan to complete a number of photo assignments. One of the assignments I was looking forward to was a portrait shoot with a great high school senior named Alex.

I’ve always loved location portraiture and I really enjoy the challenges involved. Every time I meet with a new client in a new location I don’t know what I’m walking into. Everything is out of my control at first and it’s up to me to use what I brought to make the most of the location and deliver an exceptional picture to my clients. It’s total pressure (and I absolutely love it).

The shoot started at a local park that overlooked a lake. We shot a bunch of pictures during that last hour of daylight and created a bunch of unique looks. We started shooting using only natural sunlight. After that we wrangled the sunlight with a large translucent panel. Here’s one of the shots where my assistant held a 4′x4′ light panel (with white fabric) between the sun and Alex:

Once we were happy with those shots we broke out a single flash and my 1.5 foot octa for a few shots. And finally, the sun was really low and the sky turned orange so we went with a two flash setup as the sun was setting. To match the orange color of the setting sun I used CTO gels on my flash heads. Here’s a quick look at the two light shot when the sun was getting low:

Once we were done at the park we went back to Alex’s home to talk a bit about the shoot and when I’d be getting some proofs to him.

It turns out that Alex is part of the school orchestra where he plays trumpet. We talked about playing in the band for a few minutes (I was also in my high school band) and we quickly decided to get one last shot for the night.

Alex left to change into his orchestra suit while I unloaded some gear and began to set up. The first thing I did was decide on a location with the simplest background I could find. I positioned my posing stool and set up a single 3′ octa on a boom stand (for my main light) and my 1.5′ octa on a light stand (with an egg crate grid) to use for a rim light. Here’s a quick look at the setup:

And here’s how the shot turned out:

WIth the traditional band shot under our belts I asked Alex if he was up for trying something fun. He agreed and I broke out more flashes, my colored gels and some grids. Here’s a quick look at what the lighting setup looked like as we were moving the lights around to find our shot.

And here’s how the final shot turned out:

Alex was a great subject to photograph and his reaction to the shots I’ve shared with him so far has been very positive.┬áThis shoot was another really fun opportunity for me to push beyond the standard shots and a great reminder of why I really enjoy location portraiture.

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