(If you want to watch the video go here)
Hi, this is Jay P. Today on The Slanted Lens we’re going to take a look at how to do a Corporate Portrait on location. You know, since covid we have shot so many of these portraits out on location. People want to be outside. They want that organic look. Where you can let the background fall out of focus. It poses some challenges because it’s a fairly tight space we have to work in. But we want to make sure the background looks nice and out of focus. So let’s take a look at Lens Choice, Camera Settings and Lighting for a Corporate Portrait on Location.
Special thanks to Saal Digital that’s sponsoring this segment of The Slanted Lens. We’re really excited to be here. And the Anderson Ballard Companies is allowing us to photograph each of them. Then we’re going to give them a beautiful print when we’re done. These type of outside organic looking portraits we’ve done for Blizzard and Amazon Gaming and Henson. We’ve shot a lot of different companies like this. It’s just a great look and it has a really organic fresh kind of look that people are into right now. In this video I’m going to show you the right lens choice and camera settings to do a great outside Corporate Portrait. We’ll throw in how to light it and how to blur that background so Hana looks fabulous. So let’s get to it.
So we’re in a space like this. This is the challenge when you’re on location because we’re in a, I mean, it’s a nice size courtyard, but for photography it’s not like shooting alongside of a building where you have like 200 feet to let it fall out of focus. So our challenge is to be able to get our lights in a place where we can take advantage of the background that’s here. We like the green on the wall back there. We got to be able to avoid this so we cut some branches to kind of cover the corner of this so that it won’t push into the frame from the side. And it’ll feel organic like the background. There’s a strong white line back there. We put those little tables up to break up that white line on right and left of the person. So really, it’s a matter of using the space. We are certainly shooting so that when the sun does come up it’s going to be behind our subject and it’ll start to give us a rim light from behind and won’t destroy the lighting that we’ve created up front. So the space worked out great. It’s just a matter of figuring out how you can negotiate the obstacles you’ve got to overcome.
So let’s talk about the lens choice for this portrait. A lot of times I’ll go to a 70-200 because I want to shoot around 85 to maybe 135 depending on my background and how I can get that background to work. Today, because the background is kind of small, but I want it to fall way out of focus I brought it way forward. And that means I’ve got to go to a little longer lens. I’m going to use 135 millimeters and that’s going to fill the frame in the background and look really nice. Looking good. There we go.
So for this image we’re going to go to 100 ISO. That’s always my starting point. But for the aperture I’m not going to do f/2.8. Which I could do on this lens. I’m going to do f/4. I just want a little bit of depth of field. I want to be able to see Jonny from nose to ear and feel comfortable that he’s in focus. I’ve got the background back there far enough that that f/4 still gives me beautiful bokeh. Especially at 135 millimeters on the lens. So there’s a look at some of those of Jonny. You really get a nice look at that bokeh and that depth of field is really nice on the face. It’s just enough and not too shallow, not too deep.
So for our shutter speed I started out at 1/250th of a second. That’s really the fastest I can go to sync this without going to high speed sync. And so at that point it was just too dark. I didn’t get enough ambient. The problem with shooting outside is the ambient is going to come and go. As it’s gotten more cloudy I’ve gone to 1/125th of a second. I’m really using the shutter as the fill light. The longer my shutter is, the more open the shadows are going to be, the more open the background will be, the shorter my shutter is, the darker all that’s going to be. I had a reflector up to bounce some light in to Grady’s face. But it just didn’t need it because I’m able to use the shutter to open up the shadows. So it’s going to change. I’m going to be looking at that all the time. I’m going to lengthen it when I need more shadow fill. I’m going to shorten it when I need less. So there’s the shutter. About 1/125th of a second. Let’s see how these are looking. That’s nice.
So Saal Digital gives you this wonderful little sample box that gives you samples of all the different papers and surfaces that they do. We’re going to do the Hahnemuhle Bamboo Natural. This is a beautiful paper. It has a warm tone. It’s made from natural bamboo fibers. So it’s very environmentally friendly. It has a matte surface and I think that’s what’s really beautiful about it. You get that matte surface and it just doesn’t reflect. It gives you a beautiful print. It’s really great for any kind of image that you want to add warmth to the image. So it gives you a little bit of warmth in the highlights. You’re going to see it there. But it’s just a beautiful image. Great for skin tones and people. So we’re going to do our print today on that h Hahnemuhle Bamboo Natural. So this is that Bamboo Natural. It’s a beautiful warm paper. Look how warm it is compared to the art line. It’s really meant for warm subject matters. It gives you a beautiful, rich kind of warm look. Great for skin tones. You can just see the difference in those two. We’re going to put our print in a changeable frame. It’s an aluminum frame. Very clean design and easy to clean. Just nice, you can change it out if you want. But just a beautiful frame.
So when I tested this light with Julene she has a light blouse on. Hana’s got a dark shirt on which makes it so much easier for me. I won’t feather this light up. But if any of the other people I photograph have light shirts on I’ll need to feather this up. To kind of take the light off from the front. But in Hana’s situation the light is in the perfect spot, so. And she has dark hair, so that background light is going to look good and the rim light. So let’s get a shot here Hana and see what we’ve got. One more.
So in the background here, to get nice bokeh I’ve got an FJ400 head. I’ve got a warm CTO on it and it’s raking across those leaves. You can’t get nice bokeh without light. Light has to open up the branches or the leaves or the grass, whatever you’re looking into. So that gives me the bokeh. And it looks beautiful behind Kelly here. So there’s a couple of the shots.
All right, let’s talk about the lighting we’ve got set up here. We’ve got three FJ400s. I like the FJ400 because it just gives you a beautiful soft light. Especially through this circular soft box. That soft box gives me a nice round light in his eyes. So it’s not a square. It gives us a nice round light. So I use this as my key light. It’s going to be up and off to the side. I always tell students when I’m working with groups that if you can touch your light it’s in the wrong place. So I get it off to the side where it’s not going to be in our way. And that really it’s going to give us a nice Rembrandt. He’s going to turn towards the light. But the light’s going to throw shadows on his right side. I’m looking into the shadow side of his face. Which gives me a beautiful look at the face. I can see that little Rembrandt or Loop light from the side. So this soft box is in a really nice spot there. The challenge we have in here is this. We’re trying to work into the space here. So we’ve got him right up against the little counter here. But behind I’ve got a rim light. It’s going to hit his hair from behind. And his, Trey’s got darker hair, so we want to open that up a little bit to separate it from the background. So that FJ400 there is about, oh, two-thirds power. Same with this one. But then in the background I’ve got an FJ400 that is on all that greenery back there. I’ve got a grid with a tight grid, like a 20 degree grid. And it’s on full power. And I put a warm CTO in it because I want it to give me warmth back there. You have to have light in the trees to create bokeh and so in order to create that bokeh I had to put light back there. Because there’s no sunlight right now this time of day. I also had, I forgot to mention, on the rim light I’ve also got a 20 degree grid. So it’s just lighting his hair and it’s not throwing light everywhere. There’s a lot of white here. I don’t want it to bounce around and open up the shadows. I want to control the shadows with the shutter. I want to control that rim light with the grids and the background with a grid. So I don’t want to just blow that whole background out so it’s just all one value. I want a little area of bokeh so it has some interest to it and its just not all one value. So there’s our lighting: three lights, full power, half and half.
So when it comes to posing my goal always is you’ve got a vertical frame. I don’t want the person to be straight up in the frame. I want them to kind of lean to one side. So you get a little bit of movement in that or that vertical frame. So you’re going from lower left to upper right and that just creates a little bit of interest. Not a lot, but just a little bit to get that to happen. I’ll have a person just stand on one foot and that kind of leans them to one side. It gives us a nice line that brings us up to their face. We certainly have that V of the jacket which brings us up to the face.I’m also going to turn them towards the camera with the light on the camera right side. I’ll turn them into the light and look to the camera and that means I’m photographing the shadow side of the face. So now all the interest of the face follows, all the shadows fall towards the camera. And it gives a much more interesting way to look at the face. We get that nice highlight, either a Rembrandt or a loop light, towards the camera. It’s just a beautiful place to look. If people get uncomfortable I do sometimes fold their arms. Put a finger in the pocket, not their whole hands. This kind of thing right here is called, “I have to go to the bathroom”. So I try to avoid that. If you’re doing any kind of waist up and if you’re just right here this is terrible because it looks like they have no arms. So you want to work with the arms up here, finger in the pocket. You can cross your arms gently. Some of those kinds of things will give you some different variation as they’re photographing. So there’s a quick thought on posing.
So let’s wrap this up. This process is really about finding the right background and bringing your lights in creating some bokeh if you don’t have sunlight that’s doing it for you. A shallower depth of field which allows a background to give you that beautiful bokeh. And then posing the person so they feel comfortable. You can do about 15 minutes per person. Once your setup is in place you can do 15 minutes per person. If you’re going to change and make the background different for each person you’re going to have to go to probably it one every 45 minutes. Because you got to move your lights and make things happen. So, as long as you’re in the same setup you can do it one every 15 minutes. You can go through 10 people in, you know, two and a half hours pretty easily. So this is a great way to make some money. People are asking for portraits all the time. If you’re interested in some other videos on portraits take a look at some of these. So keep those cameras rollin’, keep on clickin’!