Usually the end of the year tends to be when things slow do and people rest, recover, and prepare to get things going for the new year ahead. For me, things were quite the opposite as the last couple months of 2015 were some of the busiest I've ever had. One of the last shoots was creating the new advertising and web material with Heart of Gold DJs for their 2016 season.
If you've been following me over the years, you'd probably know that the DJs are some of my absolute favorite clients and every time we work together, we have a blast and create some amazing imagery. This time would be no different, except for one caveat: we only had about three hours of access to our location from load in to load out. Efficiency would be key.
Speaking of location, we were very lucky to have 1234 Go! Records in Oakland grant us access to their space. Behind their record store they have a venue area with a small stage which ended up being the perfect backdrop for our set. I had not actually been there before but Allison from Heart of Gold was able to swing by to get some scout photos for me as you can see above. I knew we'd have our work cut out for us to get everything set up and into shape for the shoot, especially on the limited couple of hours we'd have, but that is always a challenge I like to take on.
While the girls were off site getting their hair and make up done, my assistant Miles and I got to work setting up and pre-lighting. We had quite a bit of clean up to as well as prepare a few different lighting scenarios both for individual portraits of the girls as well as bigger group shots. Our first set was for the close ups.
We threw up a 27" Elinchrom deep octo, but set up like a big beauty dish with the silver deflector plate and losing the diffusion panels as our main light. Then we put up a standard reflector on a Quadra head to light up the velvety blue background. Then I had Miles stand in for the light test.
Um, okay. I know we're in the middle of a presidential campaign but that is not at all what we were going for. So we thew a tight grid on the reflector to build up the drama on the background, put a white bounce under the face to open up the shadows, toned up the color balance, and boom, we were in business.
Much, much better. The little details make all the difference. And right on queue, the DJs arrived and we were ready to get through.
There were more dad jokes than I could have imagined being thrown out to keep the laughter and mood going, and that definitely helped get all the portraits knocked out. Before rebuilding the light for our next look, an idea popped into my head that I just had to make happen before moving on.
And in three takes we knocked out our moody bohemian homage. Then we were ready to take a break for the girls to change, touch up make up, and to set up our next look.
Shannon did an amazing job styling the girls out and keeping hair and make up on point. You should probably hire her.
Oh, and here was my very state of the art tether station.
We used the same set but went wide, brought in some staging props, and completely rebuilt the lighting. We took two Elinchrom heads, gelled them orange to mimic stage lights, and tucked them far up into the corners to backlight the girls and spill some color onto the velvet. We then put a big, open faced Rotalux octo off to camera right for a directional key and feathered it just right to get even illumination across the girls without too much spill onto the background. Finally, I set up a huge 7" diffused umbrella directly behind me for a subtle on axis fill. All of this came together to for our hero group shot.
Heart of Gold DJs, ready to take on the 2016 wedding and event season, all over California.
So at this point we had what we planned in the can and our location was ready to lock up, but there was one last idea floating in my head, and there was no way I could live without bringing it to life. The store front of the record shop had just closed, so with the place free of customers I quickly thew the 53" Rotalux on a Quadra Ranger head, piled all of the DJs into the tiniest of spaces, and in no more than five frames, got my favorite shot of whole shoot.
Always, always, always make the effort to get the last shot in! With that in the can, we were fully wrapped and carried on to tear down at lightning speed.
With all that shooting done, the only thing left to do was head to the closest karaoke joint and sing the night away. What, isn't that how you wrap you shoots?
Hope you all had a great end to 2015 and are getting things going to 2016. Thanks for reading!