Wireless Because It’s Easier, Not Required
Scott Wyden Kivowitz is a New Jersey photographer sharing his passion for photography any way he can. Scott regularly hosts photowalks in New Jersey and loves educating other photographers on all aspects of the art. Scott is also the Community & Blog Wrangler at Photocrati and the Photographers SEO Community, teaching other photographers on how to increase business with their Web sites. What follows is Scott’s account of how he achieved a corporate portrait with limited time and physical room.
For the most part, every time I have a photo session to do, I am using at least a pair of PocketWizard radio triggers. For example, if I am out and want to play with wireless flash photography at night, I will typically have a PocketWizard on camera and another firing off a flash. However, going wireless is not a requirement. Sure, photographers can still pick up a long PC cable to trigger their lights, especially when the session is in a studio. Wires can be hidden (sometimes) under rugs, backdrops, etc., but in the example you will see here, I used a pair of PocketWizard Plus II units not because I had to, but because it made the job easier.
I was recently hired to photograph headshots of every executive for a corporation. The session went on during the quarterly meeting, so I had to be very patient. I was put into a conference room where I had to work around a long table. It wasn’t a problem as the room was still big enough for me to maneuver. The camera I was using was a Leica M9 with the Summicron 90mm f/2 lens. The lighting setup consisted of a white backdrop, two softboxes and a hair light through a grid and each using a PocketWizard for triggering.
You might be thinking, “That’s nothing special and is very common.” You’re correct. The lighting setup was pretty standard, but it’s what the client requested.
One of the executives happened to be a shutterbug and asked me if when the session was done if I could take a lifestyle type portrait in his office. He wanted a more natural look. So when the headshots were complete, I moved to his office, and that’s when I got really excited as I have never experienced a room like this. The room was shaped like a triangle, with the longest side being a window to the outside. The executives desk was facing the window, so we decided to move things around so it looked as though he sat facing the door instead. The wall to the left was a large whiteboard painted wall, which served as a gigantic diffused reflector.
In the diagram you can see a fun diagram/mockup of the scene. The trick of this shot, was that I could not be in the room while taking the photo. This was because of where the light came in, was directed to and positioning of the desk and my artificial light.
With so much natural light coming through the window, bouncing off the whiteboard wall, I knew I did not need much of my own light. I set up one softbox to the right side of the room, just above the top of his head, aimed down slightly. The shiny wood desk served as a small reflective fill light so additional reflectors were not necessary, either. In addition, the natural light coming through the window also served as a hair light, separating the executive further from the background.
The end result of the setup, was a bright and vivid portrait that feels very natural and friendly. The use of a pen, notebook and notepad make it more comfortable to look at, and for the subject.
Using PocketWizards made my life easier for this scene because I had to find the right position and angle of the softbox to work with the desk, window light and whiteboard wall. Moving around a big light stand and softbox when it’s attached to wires is never fun. Of course, I can’t leave out the fact having to shoot the scene from the hallway and not the room, is much easier when you are not worrying about the cable reaching.
There you have it: a story with a simple and fun lighting setup. I am a big fan of PocketWizards and appreciate how much they have helped make the lives of so many photographers easier.
All images and quotes in this post are used with permission and ©Scott Wyden, all rights reserved; story is ©PocketWizard. Please respect and support photographers’ rights. Feel free to link to this blog post, but please do not replicate or re-post elsewhere without written permission.