So I was assigned to shoot this series of portraits of three guys in Manhattan who all have "man caves." I had this stunning idea for a 32 page spread on these guys (I don't even think MM has more than 32 pages;) and I kept wondering about an opening shot. I eventually came up with the decision to do a group shot. Lets face it, photographers hate groups. Every time John asked me to go shoot a group sweat started to bead from my forehead and I eventually passed out from the heart palpitations and sever "legs turn to jell-o" syndrome.
But it's true. Everything is a-ok with one person but when you add two more, people start to freak. How am I going to pose them? How do I light all three people? How do I get all of them to get the reactions I want? How do I keep their attentions? In the strobist's case...What if my CLS doesn't work?
I haven't shot enough groups yet that I'm confident tackling any job yet so I went simple. It didn't always start that way. I was going to take him out to the wood field where Glen's "man cave" is and light each person independently with HSS and all that. Turned out that that was going to be super complicated. And when you have to juggle three grown mens schedules and end up with 30 minutes of time that scenario would have killed me. Had to think of a new image for the freakin' opener and ended up taking them out to lunch. This time I went simple. Simple background, big windows, great photo.
For a group you want a giant light source that wraps so your subjects can move around and not have worry about staying perfectly still. When you and the subject don't have to worry about the light the better. You can see that I took a simple bed sheet and gaffed it to the windows at the restaurant...instant softbox. Stuck three Sb-900's zoomed to 200mm out in the street and blasted them into this bed sheet. Because the strobes are zoomed to 200mm the light that hits my subjects is still going to be a little punchy even though its very soft and smooth. Perfect for this portrait. It gives it more definition and feeling to it. Simple, easy window light when the ambient light just isn't cutting it. I shot this with my 70-200 so I needed to be back far from the table and where my vantage point is there was no windows left for my flash to trigger the remotes out on the street. I stuck the Sc-28 flash cord on the camera, stuck the master flash on the other end and attached it to a stand right next to the windows. Now my flashes can see each other and I can move freely knowing the signal is reading, giving me the advantage of working the subject. Really I didn't do anything. Maury, in the middle, was the talker of the group and I just had him tell a few jokes and it got everyone laughing. Told you I went simple. I went so simple that I had my subjects entertain themselves so I didn't have to.
After spending about 5 hours on each subject and shooting an entire story on each subject they ran one picture of each. They did run the group...but on the contents page about 2x2 inch square, haha. Oh well, this was one of my favorites which deemed it necessary to have a spot on the blog.
(Image captured via D700, 70-200VR, on Sandisk digital film)