This diagram set was adapted from Steven Begleiter's book 50 Lighting Setups for Portrait Photographers, published by Amherst Media. You can read an excerpt from it in the MOC Learning Center. To learn more about Steven Begleiter's books, view his work, and read his blog, visit his website.
Assignment: I was assigned to photograph employees of ExcelleRx for a web-based advertising campaign. Visual Objective: The goal was to create very warm, happy portraits using clean and "commercial looking" lighting. Pose: These were very tight images, so my main objective was to capture happy facial expressions. I asked Monica to close her eyes and open them at the count of three while she threw her head back. We did that many times to capture this image. The Story: I received a call about this assignment from a Philadelphia client—three months after I had moved to Montana. Fortunately, I decided to ask about the project and the budget; I realized that I could fly round trip, rent equipment, hire an assistant, stay within their budget, and still make a good profit. For the shoot, I chose the largest conference room they had and asked them to clear out all the furniture before I arrived the following morning to set up a commercial studio. The biggest challenge here was to contain the light; all the walls were white and the ceiling was at about eight feet. To do this, we used black cards to gobo and model the lights. Monica was great to work with and looked great in the camera, but she kept saying that she didn't photograph well so I decided to play off that insecurity. I joked with her that she needed dental work and to curl her hair if she wanted to become a top fashion model. She turned her head and laughed and that was the shot. Tips: It is always a challenge to photograph "real people" in the corporate environment, but it helps to warm them up by greeting them cheerfully and engaging them in conversation about their lives. Don't spend the session looking at your LCD screen; this is the fastest way to disengage from your subject and remind them that they are being photographed.