Dylan Patrick, Thespian Photographer
Dylan Patrick left Coeur d’Alene, Idaho to pursue his acting career in New York City. A few years after graduating from the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts in 2006, Patrick began his photography business in earnest. Finding his love of photography equalled his desire to act, he was soon earning a living as a photographer. Always a fan of cinema lighting, this photographer enjoys using shadows for added drama. Via word of mouth, other actors began to seek him out for their headshots because of the cinematic influences in his work. What actor doesn’t want to look like a movie star?
“Many of my clients, both current and prospective, as well as agents, casting directors, and even other shooters, have told me they love how my shots actually look like film stills,” Patrick says. “I stumbled upon my style on my roof shortly after getting the PocketWizard FlexTT5 transceivers, and I’ve slowly fine tuned ever since. You could say high-speed sync and PocketWizard helped me find my style. I’m always more excited to shoot on sunny days now, and I’m constantly looking for brilliant angular light, which is where a vast majority of the color comes from in my images.”
Currently a resident of the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood in Manhattan, Patrick hasn’t strayed far from the Great White Way. He was recently kind enough to explain, in his own words, how he created this portrait of a fellow actor on the streets of New York.
This is a fairly simple shot, technically. I like a lot of different things. Sometimes I want the artificial and natural blended smoothly. Sometimes I want the flash more obvious, yet soft, and still semi-blended.
I took this for a client named Kristin Wetherington at the end of her headshot session. It was shot for her one-woman show called “Carolina in the City.”
First, shooting anything on the street in New York City can be a pain. Luckily, I was in my neighborhood, and wasn’t bothered by the cops for the lightstand. Essentially, this setup was very simple. There was an awesome June setting sun behind her, and a 36-inch Lastolight Hotrod Octa in front of her, high and just out of frame, held down with just a backpack. Despite that, it kept precariously rocking in the occasional breeze.
I live on West 49th Street between 10th and 11th, and it is a popular cross street for people getting out of town to the West Side Highway. This shot happened to be taken in the heat of rush hour at about 6:30pm. I had to have her stand fairly far away from the curb and in the street to get the desired composition. She was still safe, just much closer to the cars than a normal New York cab hail.
What happens when you put a beautiful girl in jean shorts and red cowboy boots halfway in the street at rush hour to fake hailing a cab? I had three-quarters of the male drivers, not to mention pedestrians, hanging out their windows to ask if she was single, needed a ride, or for her phone number. I had one guy say to me from the passanger seat of his friend’s car, “Can I get a shot with her?”
I told him jokingly he wasn’t as pretty as her, so unfortunately, no. He had a good laugh and then promptly agreed with me. Frankly, I wish I would have had a video crew doing behind-the-scenes footage, as it was truly a New York moment.
I shot this with a Nikon 70-200mm at 200mm, f/3.2, ISO 640 at 1/400th sec. Shooting full length at 200mm can create communication challenges, especially at rush hour, but we managed just fine. We had setup and shot maybe 15-20 frames before this, searching for the right pose, and right amount of flirt in her expression. We ended up moving her purse from her right to her left, and I just coached her in the direction I wanted. Emotionally, I wanted her confident, sexy, with a little sass, as I had a “Carolina girl in the city” -kind of thing in the back of my head.
I don’t like to pose people too much—just enough of an idea to get it—and then find the comfortable way for them to do it. I find, especially with actors, you don’t want to get them “in their head.” Once we got the pose down, we fired off another 10-15 frames until we got the right look with the light feathered a bit to fall off her cheekbones and a cab in the background.
My post production with this image was very simple and needed very little done. Basic RAW Processing was done in Lightroom, a little brightness, contrast, and color, then off to Photoshop for a few blemish removals, and a little bit under the eyes using the clone stamp set to lighten at about 5% flow, 100% opacity. I also did just a little work on a couple wrinkles on her shirt in the wrong places. Clone stamp set the way I mentioned previously is a really good method when used properly, however in the time between this photo and now, I have since discovered Frequency Separation, and it’s now all I will ever use for skin, along with the tried and true dodge and burn.
Stay tuned for more features on Dylan Patrick, including his headshot work and hospitality industry shots. Until then, you can learn more about him on his site and blog. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, 500px, and Vimeo.
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