29 Jan Group Portrait for Moonfarmer.
So this shoot came about through a series of events. It all starts with local filmmaker Aaron Weisblatt. He and his team started a campaign on Seed&Spark to fund his new short film, Rooster and the Queen. I had decided to offer a portrait session or two as an incentive/gift for would be donors to the film. Kale Kaposhilin over at Moonfarmer graciously donated to Aarons cause and in turn got my portrait gift. After speaking with Kale on the phone we went over some details of what he had in mind and how we could pull off something interesting. The idea first floated was shooting at their space in uptown Kingston, but after talking about it we decided it was going to be too tight to get the the whole team of 15 people in the frame. Kale suggested the use of the BSP performance space. I immediately loved the idea, it had plenty of room and cool possibilities. So we set a date. Fast forward to the shoot. Lucia and I met with Kale and Erin at the space on a very cold January day and went scouting. First thing you have to know is that when BSP is not being used it’s not heated, so the back room where we were to shoot was probably around 35 degrees. Its all very dimly lit, but one thing I did see right away was a curtain with icicle lights. Shazam!! Very cool backdrop. Next Lucia started looking for chairs, stools and whatever else we could use as seating. The idea was to have a wide shot of the team sitting and standing. I did not want a flat shot so we varied the heights and depths of the sitters. Next came the lighting, I wanted a more dramatic quality to this shot, something fitting the coolness of Moonfarmer and what they do, which if have not seen you must go look. So I used 2 of my largest lights off to the side. OK, here is where it gets interesting. I wanted to shoot the portrait in a painterly style. If you have ever seen an Annie Leibowitz portrait of a large group, like the ones she does for Vanity Fair you know what I mean. These shots are often compositied, meaning they are shot in pieces and assembled later on the computer. The major advantage to this style of shooting is you can make the light for each person perfect. The downside to the technique is the amount of post production involved, but I wanted to do it. One, it was a fun challenge and two, I really believe it makes a big difference in the quality of the shot. Now to be safe I did shoot the group all at once to have the shot locked in camera as it were. But then I asked everyone but a few people at at time to leave as I concentrated just on small groups. I shot eight individual groups, the background plus the seating area all separately. Everyone was a real good sport as I had them all take off their coats and gloves and hats, remember it was very cold. Anyway we shot it in about 1 hour total. Once I got back to the office and started to look at my RAW files I knew it was going to work and look great. There were a few logistical errors that I made while shooting but in the end they were easy enough to overcome with Photoshop. The shot came together really well and they were very pleased with the results. I made a little video to show the layering of the PS file. Its a little out of sequence and some steps were left out for expediency sake but it does give a good idea of what I did.. Enjoy.
Big, and I mean very big thanks to Moonfarmer and especially to Kale who was very trusting of the process and let me have fun..