Update: A new session of my favorite Finding and Creating Great Portrait Lighting class was just announced for the weekend of August 11th & 12th. Disney Hall is my all-time favorite urban location that is a perfect laboratory for learning how to see light and make compelling compositions. You will come out as a changed photographer with some great photos.
It’s all because I now have Virginia Postrel as a new Twitter follower and Facebook friend. The glamour rubs off from from Virginia being the Editor-in-Cheif of DeepGlamour.net. We met back in 2004 when I was asked to create a portrait of her for a Research Magazine article where she was stressing the economic importance of design on a city. The new Frank Gehry designed Walt Disney Concert Hall had just opened and it seemed like the perfect place to highlight the style of Los Angeles.
Opening night lighting on the Walt Disney Concert Hall
It was scouting for the portrait session that I learned that much of the grounds and building are considered public property and are open for public use. I now use it as a location to a teach a portrait lighting class through the Julia Dean Photo Workshop. The next meeting of my Finding and Creating Great Portrait Lighting class is coming up soon on the weekend of August 11th & 12th.
My portrait of the glamourous Virginia Postrel
Unlike basic square buildings that simply have a sunny and shady side, the Gehry building is full of curves and reflections. This makes the background and the lighting formula change every time you walk around the corner. There are also some great views of the city from some of the balconies.
Actor/model Michael Pierce surveying his city empire
The last time we held the class it actually rained in LA and just like a real photo shoot we improvised by jumping in and out of the building as the weather changed. This allowed us to explore the building interior more and the students ended up shooting some of their best photos of our models in the underground parking garage.
Another example of an environmental portrait that can also serve as a headshot. This time a simple hallway serves as our background and a blend of natural daylight and warm tungsten light on our subject provides the color variation. Similar to the HHMI fellows, this portrait can be cropped as a headshot as well as serve as a consistent portrait location for the Cancer Care Associates team.
Our subject is Dr. David Chan, an excellent oncologist in the South Bay area of Los Angeles and a family friend (he and my wife trained together at Stanford).
Oncologist David Chan, M.D.
I recently spent a couple of days in his busy office creating images of patient care and research for his website and stock use. Look for those photos in my next post.
I enjoy the challenge of shooting portraits of young medical researchers that need to serve a dual purpose. When Howard Hughes Medical Institute announces their new Gilliam Fellowship recipients they only run one very small headshot version on their website. But they often have other uses when they can run a full photo that includes more environment.
Angelica Riestra, HHMI Gilliam Fellow at UCLA
Here are two recent examples of this year’s recipients that were shot at UCLA. The portrait of Angelica Riestra shows how the same photo with a clean background can work successfully for a small headshot and yet has enough interesting information to be used in a larger feature format like the example of Ryan Dosumu-Johnson below.
Ryan Dosumu-Johnson, HHMI Gilliam Fellow at UCLA
I’ve since applied the style to corporate and academic leaders as well. I prefer the result better than the standard portrait in front of a studio background. What do you think – is it a smarter approach?
Photo rep/consultant Tony Luna recently wrote about my portfolio in his column on photo.net titled “The Six Elements of an Effective Presentation“. In the feature Tony focuses on the specific topic of a photography portfolio, but his general thesis can apply to any type of artist – as well as any marketing presentation.
In my case (used to illustrate element #4) he focuses on the challenge of presenting my diverse body of work. These could have be broken down in multiple portfolios, but instead I decided with my consultant/designer Deanne Delbridge to blend in a number of different styles that all speak to the message of a healthy lifestyle.
Portfolio designed as a doctor's black bag
By creating the overall theme we can present portraits or a senior couple in front of their house and a portrait of a surgeon conducting a liver transplant. A travel photo of women practicing Qigong in downtown Hanoi fits in with a Chinese researcher in an islet cell lab. The biggest stretch was blending in a series of my fine-art oriented photos into the book. They present the message that I’m an artist as well a visual story-teller and introduce the idea of using these photos to illustrate conceptual messages. (A separate Visual Concepts portfolio now expands on this message.)
Neuro-oncologist Dr. Daniela Bota - UC Irvine Medical Center
The healthcare portfolio allows me to have a book that targets a specific segment of the market that highlights the expertise I developed over the years. This also allows me to have a body of work that speaks directly to a client’s market. I have a healthcare book that I present to a healthcare client.
Looking to rejuvenate your career? Consider signing up for one of Tony Luna’s classes.
Just before our current financial crisis entered possible meltdown territory I had the opportunity to spend a day in my financial advisor’s office taking what I call my modified candid photos of their office worklife that will be used in a company brochure and website.
I love doing this style of shooting. Part of the process is being a fly on the wall and capturing spontaneous interactions that happen in the hallway.
The other part involves going into specific offices and work areas, doing some improvements to the existing lighting and then direct the people to act naturally instead of posing. I find that the best method for this is to start with my staging and lighting and then help the person become reengaged with their job. Interacting with a co-worker on a real issue is often the best approach.
The client likes this because real work is accomplished in the process and my normally camera shy subjects return to using their real gestures and become engaged.
I’ve also learned the art of doing nothing. When a person is already looking natural and engaged I can concentrate on improving on the existing light and searching for interesting angles through gaps in monitors or in reflections.
Whether shooting on the street or in an office I always love how the environment can add to the story. In this case I get to use my fine art photo of the old Pacific Stock Exchange building as a way to tell the financial story of my client’s firm.
The original Pacific Stock Exchange photo. The San Francisco build is now being used as a Equinox fitness club.
Here are some page samples from one of the finished brochures: