A few weeks back I wrapped one of the most fun shoots I've ever had and finished the year out with a bang! The planning for this shoot began a number of months ago when I met with my good friends Erica and Allison. We wanted to shoot some promotional images for their wedding DJ company, Heart of Gold DJs, to build up their website and marketing efforts for the new year. They are pretty heavily booked, so we had to look a few months out to find a weekend we were all available to make it happen.
Having several months to plan things out is both a blessing and a curse. There is plenty of time to try and nail pre production tasks for big ideas, but also plenty of time for the whole project to fall into the back of your mind and suddenly sneak up on you. We were on a limited budget but wanted the highest possible production value so we spent this time getting the important things dialed down - location, concept, and helping hands. We were very fortunate to find our shooting space at Above Category Cycling. Their location is great with both plenty of space as well as numerous options for different backgrounds and looks. We also found a great crew both in my assistant Dylan Buffington and our hair and make up stylist Shannon Nicole. Finally, I was able to piece together a somewhat cohesive plan for a concept for three different looks with a bit of room left to improvise on the shoot day.
Originally I had this idea to get some vintage music related props to have in the frame like an old phonograph, vintage speakers, an old juke box, etc; but when it came time to actually source these things, it became clear that renting said props was expensive, finding somewhere to store the props was expensive, and finding a way to transport these large props was... very expensive. We were working on some minimal budgets so come shoot day, we just worked with what we had, using some of their DJ gear and props found around the studio.
Look One -
For the first look I wanted a clean, fun look on a seamless with fresh and open light. Once the set was built, and the lighting dialed in, it was time to get things rolling. With four DJs on hand, there was no trouble having some great music blasting, and things quickly turned into more of a dance party. Here's what we turned out.
Then the dancing got out of control...
And finally, the "band" shot.
For the camera nerds I'll break down the lighting set up, which was pretty basic. The key light was a 53" Elinchrom octabank, high up on camera left. I removed the front diffusion to get a little more pop and sparkle to the light. For fill was the big bertha 74" Elinchrom octa, wrapping light around the whole set. I used an Elinchrom strip box behind the set on camera right to pop some rim light in, and lastly was a bare head with a wide reflector to put a nice wash on the background.
While my assistant, Dylan, was working on building the next set, we went out back to the porch to get some relaxed, natural light portraits.
Some BTS photos from Dylan -
Look Three -
After some outfit changes and a break for lunch we moved on to our final look. This time around, we wanted to do something a little more dramatic and edgy. My idea was to basically build a little DJ both and replicate the lighting of an overhead industrial lamp you might find in a club. I had Dylan stand is as we dialed in the light. I boomed over a 17" beauty dish, with the diffusion sock, and basically mimicked its position to an overhead light I described before.
Loved the direction and shape of the light but we need to pop in just a bit of fill to open up the shadows. I used an octa behind my shoulder, and a small white board under the table to bounce some light back into the eyes.
And then a final white balance adjustment...
Boom, we were locked in and ready to have the girls roll through some poses. Here's how it all came out.
Again, a lighting diagram for the strobists...
And that was a wrap! It was a long day of shooting with a bunch of different looks but we came out with some really great shots, and more importantly, we had an amazing time shooting them. The success of the shoot was due to the collaborative efforts of everyone involved and the opportunity to work with close friends. Looking forward to doing more shoots like this in the new year!