commercial freelance photographer « Jurgen Doom

on how to take a group photograph …

9 March 2011 om 18:03 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie Flashlight,Group photograph,Photography,Portrait,Studio

Remember my previous post? I talked about portrait photography for MBS but also mentioned we photographed a the whole team as a group inside the house in which we photographed the individual portraits.  Well, I didn’t include the making of the group photographt in the previous post as I wanted to keep it for a seperate post.

The group photograph we took of the staff at MBS was done in a living room.  They had seen a group photograph of a father and his 4 sons I did a while ago and they wanted something along those lines for their formal group photograph.  Therefore, we set up a mobile studio containing a background system with white background paper and 3 Elinchrome strobes (RX600).  I used 1 large Chimera softbox on the strobe facing the group and two gridded strobes aimed at the background in order to illuminate the white background (as to render it as white as possible without blowing it out too much).  The grids I used in order to reduce the spill on to the people in the group, coming strait out of the strobes.  This is something I wouldn’t need to do in studio, but on location, where space comes at a premium, this was necessary.

You can see part of the setup in this image, which I took as part of my test images to judge the lighting and position of the people in the group.

group photograph

group photograph

Notice also the white curtain I had to use in order to get the group positioned against a white backdrop.  As the group photograph was to be cleaned-up afterwards in post production, it didn’t bother me too much.

So this is what it finally looked like.  I positioned myself a bit higher up in order to create more depth in the image, which was liked very much by the group (and myself …).  Image photographer on a Nikon D3x.  Flashes triggered with Elinchrome Skyport.

group photograph

group photograph

Group photographs are sometimes a nightmare for photographers, as there are so many things that can go wrong …. but on this one, it was almost plain sailing!

Corporate portrait photography for MBS

7 March 2011 om 14:52 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie advertising,Commercial,Flashlight,Gear,Photography,Portrait

As a corporate photographer, operating in Belgium and in particular in the Brussels area, I’m often confronted with different types of locations and surrounding in which I have to come up with images.  For the Manpower Business Solutions shoot, this was also the case.  We had agreed to meet up with the “models” – the staff at MBS – in a house near Overijse in order to create corporate portraits of them that were to be used on their brochures, flyers and advertising material.  I would bring all the necessary elements such as backdrops, studio lighting and gear to create the photographs and had asked my make-up artist Ans Brugmans to do the make-up on the models.

But what I hadn’t “budgeted” for was my health. The night before the shoot I became ill, even in such a way that in the morning – the photo shoot was planned in the afternoon – I phoned my colleague Evi and asked her if she could assist me and perhaps take on the shoot herself (with me directing a bit).

Luckily, during the course of the day I recovered somewhat so that I eventually managed to do all the photography myself, but I was more than happy to having Evi, my last-minute assistant, to lug around with gear and stuff …. Hey, that’s called “emancipation” ….

So what we did was basically a few corporate portraits, a group photograph and an outdoor group photograph of the whole team.  For the image I took inside, I set up a white studio background and used my studio lighting (Elinchrome RX600) with 2 softboxes and a gridded backlight. For the image outside I only used my Nikon SB900 strobes, triggered by Pocket Wizards.  The portraits were photographed on a Nikon D3s, the group shot on a Nikon D3x.

Despite me not being 100% – although I gave it all – we came up with some interesting photographs and I have just been sent the pdf’s of the publication in which the photographs are being used.

Portrait photography for MBS

Portrait photography for MBS

Portrait photography for MBS

Portrait photography for MBS

Portrait photography for MBS

Portrait photography for MBS

The outside group shot looked like this.  Because of in-house decisions, the images had to be delivered in black and white (as with the above images).

Portrait photography for MBS

Portrait photography for MBS

Portrait photography for MBS

Portrait photography for MBS

Corporate photography – or how to make photos to meet your clients needs

4 March 2011 om 14:47 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie advertising,Commercial,corporate photography,Flashlight,photographer,Photography

As a corporate photographer, specialising in business to business photography, you need to be able to produce photographs that meet your clients needs.

In this particular case, the people at bakker asked me to come up with a series of photos for their new website.  They had photographs on their old website, but those were stock images bought from an image bank.  They wanted the same look and feel of what they had on their old site, but instead of “generic” photos of models, they wanted to use their own people (in fact, the staff and partners).

So what the client basically wanted was to have images that were fairly evenly lit, with relatively clean backgrounds that breath professionalism.  All the shots were to be made at their offices in Antwerp.

I had Ans Brugmans with me as my make-up artist and Jasmijn assisted me with the photography and lighting.

During the course of the day, we did about 8 completely different setups, having to change the lighting each and every time. Within each setup there was often room to move around and play with different compositions.

I used my studio lighting (Elinchrom RX600) in conjunction with my small portable Nikon SB900 strobes in order to create the look we wanted.  All images are photographed on a Nikon D3s.  During the day I only used 2 prime lenses.  One was a Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lens and the other was a Nikon 85mm f/1.4 lens).  I prefer to work with prime lenses over zoom lenses because it is sharper, has a higher contrast and is generally much lighter than have zooms.  On an assignement like this there is no need to work with zoom lenses as you have both your lighting and setup under control.  Framing the image is just a matter of moving forwards or backwards in order to compose your image.

Of course, all images were photographer in the RAW format and post processed through Adobe Lightroom.

The images are now used on their site, which looks like this (at www.bakker.be) and which looks stunning (see screenshots below).  Website made by Van Katoen (Damien Dubois).

Corporate photography for bakker.be

Corporate photography for bakker.be

Corporate photography for bakker.be

Corporate photography for bakker.be

Corporate photography for bakker.be

Corporate photography for bakker.be

Corporate photography for bakker.be

Corporate photography for bakker.be

Corporate photography for bakker.be

Corporate photography for bakker.be

Model photography – shoot with Sylviane Alliet – last setup

3 February 2011 om 10:54 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie Flashlight,fotografie,photographer,Photography,Portrait

To end the shoot with Sylviane Alliet, a TFCD project in which we took a number of types of pictures we wanted to make  but that we can not always do so when working for an assignment, we we decided to end the day with some images that had a rougher look.

Therefore we went to the “basement” – yes, I can say that I spent some time in the basement with Sylviane – to find a background that matched the character role that Sylviane was playing.

The “industrial background” is illuminated with a Nikon SB900 flash with a CTB filter (to get a cooler atmosphere), while Sylviane was lit by a Nikon SB900 through an umbrella.  If I’m not mistaken, I even made it a little warmer with a quarter CTO. Sylviane is also lit from behind, to create some backlight. The result is shown below.

What have we finally learned from this and previous shoots.

1. that it is possible to use a backpack of equipment (Nikon D3s, 4 SB900 flashes, stands, umbrellas and gels) at a location and still get different setups that are fundamentally different

2. that working with a professional model is just fantastic

3.that  you do not need much material to make different kind of images

4. that occasionally doing a TFCD is great fun in order to try a few things with or without great results

At the end of the day both Sylviane and I were ready for the scrap heap, but we were pretty happy with the cooperation and results. There are now plans to do something similar, but in an outdoor location …. and I am already looking forward to it!

model photography
model fotografie – shoot met Sylviane
model fotografie - shoot met Sylviane
model fotografie – shoot met Sylviane
model fotografie - shoot met Sylviane

model fotografie - shoot met Sylviane
model fotografie – shoot met Sylviane

Model photography – shooting with Sylviane Alliet part 3

1 February 2011 om 11:10 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie Flashlight,fotografie,Gear,Photography,Portrait

Being able to shoot a professional model such as Sylviane is always a lot of fun for a photographer. By working with someone who knows how photography works and how to behave in front of the lens, the photographer shouldn’t ecnounter too many difficulties any more in order to make good images.

This is of course partly true, because for the setup for our third part of the shooting session I was still a looking for atmosphere, lighting, composition and artistic interpretation. The “Yogaposes” that we had in mind were not so simple to implement, and many artistic and technical constraints made this - certainly for me - the hardest of the four setups that we’ve done.

The images were created with 3 or 4 flashes (in Sylviane’s living room), which in our first series of images were positioned so that I wanted to create a a dark and intimate atmosphere. But as Roeland on his blog a while back so well put it, the result was ultimately not entirely as I wanted and I did not immediately see many solutions to  quickly improve things. Frustrating!

yoga, wellness & zenn
yoga, wellness & zenn

Therefore we decided to change the whole look and feel of the image by turning everything around (angle, orientation, lightin, mood, etc  ….).  Hey, it’s our party and we cry if we want to!

yoga, wellness & zenn
yoga, wellness & zenn
yoga, wellness & zenn
yoga, wellness & zenn
yoga, wellness & zenn
yoga, wellness & zenn
yoga, wellness & zenn
yoga, wellness & zenn

The result was much more pleasing and we ultimately got some interesting and good shots out of it.

But watch this space, for our last series of shots we’ll go “down and dirty”!

Photographers, are they perverts or hard workers?

26 January 2011 om 11:44 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie Commercial,fotografie,Photography,Portrait

I get the next question or comment every now and then:

“Wow, being a photographer is really cool. All those handsome models to take a photograph from. All these naked women in front of your lens. All those photographs of nude models …. Have you ever ever felt the urge to uh, to uh …. .. And what does your wife think of this, all that female beauty, within your reach? “.

Well, what does my wife think of that?

Well, firstly, being a photographer is indeed really cool. For years I worked hard (I repeat, “years of hard work”) – after years of study in addition – to get where I am now, a professional photographer who was initially interested in photography and who has finally been able to make a living out of being a professional freelance photographer  (and in the process lost a hobby, but that is more than made up by my interest in music, playing guitar and wine, but this whole aside).

Secondly, we, freelance photographers, photograph certainly not every day (professional) models – unless it is your specialization and shoot nothing else but fashion and models. But there are not many photographers who do that.

In my line of work I photograph just about everyone, young and old, beautiful and ugly (whatever “beautiful” and “ugly” may mean), thick and thin, sympathetic and downright boring or annoying.

Thirdly, you will not believe it, but if I had a supposedly “smart” model to photograph (with or without a little or no fabric to the body), or if I have to take pictures of a series of potted plants, or pack shots of cosmetics or construction workers on a wharf, or architectural photographs in a modern building, or ….. in a way that remains more or less all the same to me. The same, you say? Indeed, the same, namely “how do I compose my image “, “how do I adjust my exposure’, “how do I guide the model”, “what background I choose”, “what angle do I choose,” “what does my customer want”, etc, etc …. As a photographer you are busy thinking about all those things at once, leaving very little brain activity remaining for pervert thoughts or comments, in order to get your subject between the sheets.

And that’s often the tone of the comments or questions from people when they talk about fashion photography and model photography.

Really, people. As a photographer, we are really busy with our profession. We work really hard to make images for customers with the intention that customers use the images to their case forward.

And the last thing we think about is to get the model in to our bed.

And my wife’s happy with that!

Model photography – shoot with Sylviane – part 2

19 January 2011 om 21:19 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie advertising,Camera,Commercial,Flashlight,Gear,Photography,Portrait

In my previous blog post I talked about the shoot with Sylviane. The purpose of the shoot was to further the portfolio of both Sylviane and me with work that usually doesn’t fit in commercial work.

For the second set of photos, we moved to a dental and medical practice. Well, in our imagination anyway, because in reality it was in Sylviane’s kitchen. We made a series of photos taken in  an environment of a dentist, nurse and surgery and the atmosphere had to refer to a doctor / physician.

The photos are all taken with a Nikon D3s, a 50mm and 85mm (both f1.4) and 3Nikon SB900 flash, controlled via the Nikon CLS system (flash on the camera that controls the other flashes). Behind Sylviane you see a white box / cabinet with glassdoors, which could perfectly serve in a medical practice, especially when you photograph them with large aperture. The colors in the photographs are from color filters that are placed over the flash heads.

model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie
model fotografie

Model photography – shoot with Sylviane Alliet part 1

17 January 2011 om 22:58 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie advertising,Flashlight,Gear,Photography,Portrait

As a photographer you are occasionally contacted by models, aspiring models or make-up artists for TFCD shoots. This means that the photographer takes pictures in exchange for the time of the makeup artist or the model. The images are then exchanged by all parties and can be used at will, but usually only for their portfolios.

TFCD shoots can be interesting if all parties benefit from it and one can do things that are impossible within the framework of a commercial contract. You get a lot more freedom and there is room for some experimentation …

But if you’re not careful you can build an exciting career as a photographer doing TFCD, without ever being able to do paid assignments. Therefore I often kindly refuse.

Enter Sylviane Alliet. Sylviane is a model (also does voice-overs and acting) that already “tried and tested” in the art of modeling (dont take this expression literally).

Sylviane contacted me through facebook a while back asking for a TFCD shoot. She had quite a bit ideas that she wanted to develop and which she wanted to shoot to add to her portfolio.

Because it just would not be smart to ignore such an offer and because the subjects of these shoots me really interested, I of course wholeheartedly said yes. We then had to find a common date.

Recently, we gave it good horns (ed, not be taken literally) and we went to shoot one day at Sylviane’s home. In the next posts I will show some shots that we made.

The images are all made with “backpack material,” ie

Camera: Nikon D3s

Lenses: Nikon 50mm 1.4 and Nikon 80mm 1.4

2 or 3 Nikon Speedlight SB900

Attributes and a few accessories such as gels, umbrellas, tripods …..

All photos have been through post production in Lightroom3

The first series of pictures we made were to refer to a professional and ambitious young lady. A corridor with “outside light through roof windows (Velux type)a rear strobe and umbrella for the front head light with a kicker light for extra dimension. At the end of the series, we played with the color and atmosphere of the images.

Sylviane, model - young professional

Sylviane, model - young professional

Sylviane, model - young professional

Sylviane, model - young professional

Sylviane, model - young professional

Sylviane, model - young professional

Sylviane, model - young professional

Sylviane, model - young professional

Sylviane, model - young professional

Sylviane, model - young professional

Sylviane, model - young professional

Sylviane, model - young professional

Sylviane, model - young professional

A cover photograph, aka the Christmas cover

7 December 2010 om 13:02 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie advertising,Flashlight,Photography,Portrait

As a photographer, freelancing for magazines and art-directors, you have to be both very adaptable and flexible.  Take this cover photograph for OKRA as an example.  The art-director wanted a photograph for the december issue, which had to have a connection with Christmas, but the image shouldn’t be an obvious christmas photograph either (tree, lights & presents). Fine with me.

In addition to that, they suggested a photograph of a mother with baby (you see the Christmas link here) in a Christmas atmosphere.  So, they said, the photograph should have some connection with the time of the year, yet don’t go all the way ….

OK, fine, I’m up for a challenge.  Photography in itself is a challenge, so why not make it more challenging.  Anyway, I set out with my gear, but I had additionally taken some christmas lights as well, hoping to incorporate it somehow in the photograph to have a visual link with Christmas.

The location where we set up the photograph was a simple home living.  I asked to close a dark brown curtain (wouldn’t you want more light, sir? No, thanks), which I would use as my background.  With the help of a few clams I attached the christmas lights to the curtain and switched them on.

Then I had to position the mother and baby in such a way that they were nicely framed by the curtain and Christmas lights, in order to have a balanced photograph.

Next thing I did was to set up 2 Nikon SB900 speedlights, main light coming from camera left and softened by an umbrella, and one coming from behind mother and baby, directly aimed at them (for separation).

The most difficult part of this whole exercise however was to balance the flash light with the Christmas lights.  Too much flaslight would kill all ambiant light, including the Christmas lights at the back.  Too little light would have meant that the ambiant light would overpower the strobes, whereby the dark background would have become light.

So after this execirse, I could freely photography my subject, with this as a result.  The image looks like it was lit through a big window (which it was not).

Thanks to the people at OKRA for such a wonderful response to this image!

OKRA Christmas cover photograph

OKRA Christmas cover photograph.

Cover photograph for Sporta Brochure: which one would you choose? Cover A or cover B?

15 September 2010 om 10:46 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie Commercial,Photography,Portrait

As a photographer, trying to satisfy the needs of your clients, it is sometimes a difficult exercise to meet your clients view with your own.  However, as a professional photographer, creating images that have a high impact, you want to deliver photographs that your clients can use and not only what you think your client should use.

During the assignment for Sporta – a centre that provides training facilities for all sorts of athletes in varying disciplines – I photographed many setups and situations, one of which we thought would be useful for the cover of the brochure.  But when it eventually came down to choosing the cover photograph, it proved to be more difficult than expected.

My opinion was fairly clear from the start on how I saw the cover photograph (but my opinion doesn’t count), but even the art-director’s opinion wasn’t 100% on par with the opinion of the board of directors.

Eventually, the art director came up with 2 versions of the cover, which are listed below.

Which one would you choose and why?  Cover A or Cover B?

Please leave your comments in the comment section …

Photo A

Suggestion A for the cover of the Sporta Centrum Brochure.

Suggestion A for the cover of the Sporta Centrum Brochure.

Cover B

Suggestion B for the cover of the Sporta Centrum Brochure.

Suggestion B for the cover of the Sporta Centrum Brochure.

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