Vancouver Music Photography

ClintPic1(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 zoom lens)

I can’t believe it has been over two weeks since my last post.  It has been an insanely busy summer of shooting, and I have so much to write about (travel, street, portrait sessions, etc).  Today I’d like to share photos from a session with a musician, discuss things that go through my mind during a portrait session, and, of course, share a lot of pictures.

As always, each image can be clicked to view in larger resolution.

Not many people know this, but before my creative life shifted to photography I was a professional musician, playing the usual circuit of pubs, weddings, corporate events, etc.  I love music, love the guitar, and loved every minute of being on stage.  Being able to bring these two worlds together (music and photography) on this shoot was a rewarding experience for me.

This was also an opportunity to continue working with several items I am reviewing for Fuji Canada right now, namely the new Fuji X-T10 camera body, and two of the pro level zooms Fuji offers:  The Fujinon 16-55mm f/2.8 and the Fujinon 50-140mm f/2.8.

Let’s get started:

Whenever I am discussing a shoot with a client I always ask what they are looking for.  In this case Clint wanted some portraits for his website that showed him as open and collaborative.  He  then uttered that phrase that all creatives love to here:

“Other than that, go nuts with whatever you want to do.  I am putty in your hands.”

YES!!!

We shot on location, and in studio, to capture some of the following images:

ClintPic6(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 zoom lens)

ClintPic5(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 zoom lens)

Clint4Version2(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 zoom lens)

ClintPic3(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 zoom lens)

What you see in the above 4 photographs is really want you get with Clint.  He is the nicest guy you’ll ever meet, and a lover of all things music.  It is impossible not to see his passion for it.

Although focused on getting the above images, we also took the time to be a little more creative.  Moving the light to the side and shooting profile got us something like this:

ClintPic10(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 zoom lens)

I love this kind of thing.  A clean background, contrasting outfit, side lit… simple and beautiful.

The last thing we did in studio was to bring in 2 small flashes up high on each side, crank the aperture down to get a starburst effect from them, and placed a gridded flash just on Clint’s face.  Oh, and we added a leather jacket of course.  It is rock’n’roll after all.

That gave us this:

ClintPic8(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 zoom lens)

It’s cliche, but I love this kind of thing.

In previous blog posts I have said that I love working with actors, dancers, and athletes because they understand their physicality, and usually aren’t shy about putting themselves out there.  You can definitely add musicians to that list.  We put on some tunes and Clint just jammed along while I shot:

DSCF1960-Edit(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 zoom lens)

ClintPic9(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 zoom lens)

The final shot of the evening was the one at the beginning of this post:

ClintPic1

Where we also shot this:

ClintPic2(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 zoom lens)

What an awesome way to end the evening.

You don’t need a lot to shoot compelling portraits.  These were shot in two places only:  My living room, and an industrial park.  I used one camera, 2 lenses, and a light or two.  That’s it.

That’s just the technical though.  Portraits are about so much more.  Portraits are about the person you are photographing.  Once you have your technical down you need to forget about the camera, make a connection with your client, and build a level of trust where they can relax and enjoy the photoshoot.

For example:  Clint is in his comfort zone on stage.  He owns it:

DSCF1289(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 zoom lens)

DSCF1324(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 zoom lens)

That definitely made my job easier, but a portrait session is still different.  It is just the two of you, maybe an assistant or two on a bigger job.  It is more intimate, and capturing emotion in a still frame is always more difficult than feeling it during a live show.  As photographers this is where our focus needs to be during a portrait session, and something I am constantly striving to get better at.

Cheers,

Ian

p.s.  Readers of this blog will know I am a prime lens shooter through and through.  I cannot tell you, however, how amazing the Fujinon 50-140mm f/2.8 lens is.  My full review is coming at the end of August, but this is an incredible lens to work with.

Shooting portraits on a sunny winter day!

DSCF3963(Fuji X-T1 with 56mm f/1.2 lens @ f/1.6 – Click to view larger)

There are photoshoots that are carefully planned:   Discussions.  Pre-shoot planning sessions.  Studio bookings.  Wardrobe.  Hair and make up.

Then there are those days where you call up a friend and say “it looks gorgeous tomorrow, want to  shoot?”  That pretty much describes every shoot I have done with my friend Saige, a brilliant and beautiful local actress in the Vancouver area.

When the day of the shoot arrived it was bright and sunny, literally t-shirt weather in Vancouver in January.  Fabulous!    For a quick and impromptu location we chose Campbell Valley Regional Park in Langley, specifically an area of the park that has several old heritage buildings (barns, an old schoolhouse, etc).

I travelled exceptionally light in terms of gear, bringing only my Fuji X-T1 with the 56mm f/1.2 lens (an amazing lens for portraiture work) and my Fuji X100s with it’s 23mm lens if I wanted something a little bit wider.  I planned on shooting mostly natural light, but threw in a small flash and some modifiers just in case I wanted to add a little fill.  All of this fit into a small Think Tank Retrospective 5 shoulder bag.  No big gear.  No backpacks.  No packing around large lights.

I love my Fuji kit.

With both of us being creative types it was almost inevitable that we would start the shoot a little later than we planned, which meant the sun was high overhead when we started.  The quick and easy solution was to find the shady side of the barns and work from there, adding in a little fill flash as needed:

DSCF3952(Fuji X-T1 with 56mm f/1.2 lens @ f/2 – Click to view larger)

DSCF3920(Fuji X-T1 with 56mm f/1.2 lens @ f/2.2 – Click to view larger)

From there we moved to another barn to get a different look.  This barn was red, with white trim around the windows, so Saige chose a white top to compliment the colours.  Due to space I switched out to the wider lens on the Fuji X100s, but used the 35mm teleconverter to get a little bit more of a pleasing perspective for portraiture:

DSCF5134(Fuji X100s with the TCL-X100 telephoto converter @ f/2.8 – Click to view larger)

DSCF5122(Fuji X100s with the TCL-X100 telephoto converter @ f/2.8 – Click to view larger)

In another part of this park there is this amazing bench, under the shade of this amazing tree, in this amazing field (I’m starting to channel Bob Ross apparently).  We tried several looks there but by now it was noon, the sun was high, and the light was not working in our favour.

You win some, you lose some.  😦

I did, however, get one of my favourite shots:

DSCF3963(Fuji X-T1 with 56mm f/1.2 lens @ f/1.6 – Click to view larger)

A few things came together in this photo:  Saige  is beautiful.  Shade from the tree provided  diffused light on her face, and the incredibly shallow depth of field of the Fuji 56mm f/1.2 lens shot at f/1.6 gave a beautiful out of focus background which really made her pop.  Love it!

Finally, we spotted this great field full of tall grass on our way back to the parking lot.  We wandered into the field and a series of events occurred  that soon had us laughing (stepping in hidden puddles of water, getting poked in inappropriate places by the grass, etc).  This made it very easy to capture some more great portraits of Saige:

DSCF5166(Fuji X100s with the TCL-X100 telephoto converter @ f/2.8 – Click to view larger)

This was a great way to spend a sunny winter day.  The sky was beautiful, it was warm, and I got to spend time creating images with a friend.

The recent trimming down of gear in my camera bag (and my shift to working with small Fuji cameras) has shifted my focus away from the technical aspect of my photography and put it more on capturing who my subject really is.   Each shoot takes me one step closer to who I want to be as a photographer, which is a great thing.

Sweet Sixteen Photoshoot!

DSCF2604-6

Years ago when I began shooting portrait photography I started working with a model / make up artist / hair stylist / all around amazing woman named Jenine.  Over the years we have shot together on many occasions and it is always a blast.  She is brilliant.

Recently Jenine contacted me about helping her out with a birthday present for her cousin Tamara.  The plan was to give her a surprise sweet sixteen photoshoot, with three different looks (natural, high fashion, “rocker chick”).  I didn’t need to hear anything else to know I was in.  Jenine spends her time working in the film industry and instructing hair and make up…. I knew she’d be cooking up something awesome!  We were to be assisted on this shoot by a brilliant wardrobe gal named Claudia, Tamara’s mom, and my niece Meghan.

Tamara arrived at the studio the morning of the shoot with a perma-grin on her face:

DSCF3761-23

During hair and make up we occasionally got this:

DSCF2531-1But, it was much more of this:

DSCF2533-2

This proceeded into the first third of our shoot, the natural look.  Tamara was a little bit nervous of course as she hadn’t shot like this before, so we decided to do some basic head shots to get her warmed up.

For every one of these though:

DSCF2579-4

We got two of these:

DSCF2587-5

This was a seriously fun start to the day, and by now everyone was warmed up.  It was time to return to hair, make up and wardrobe for the “high fashion” look:

DSCF3767-24

DSCF3781-27

What sixteen year old girl wouldn’t love this?  Being pampered, made up, and dressed by professionals in the industry?

For the actual shoot we moved into a different part of the studio that had a fantastic look and some great old furniture.  With posing tips from Jenine, Claudia and myself we shot another series of images:

DSCF2609-7

DSCF2614-8

DSCF2635-13

DSCF2642-14

Finally, after another round of hair, make up, and wardrobe, it was time to play with the “rocker” look for a bit.  For the first few images I set up two off camera lights behind Tamara to mimic stage lighting:

DSCF2685-17

Then we moved outside into one of the alleys:

DSCF2706-19

DSCF2714-20

It was a very fun day shooting and spending time with family and friends.   There is so much that goes into a shoot like this… planning, studio rental, organizing wardrobe, hair/make up, the photographer, etc.  This was a fabulous gift that Jenine gave her cousin, and of course HUGE props to Tamara herself for stepping up the way she did.  I hope she loves the images!

<CameraSpeak>

All candid images during hair and make up were shot with the Fuji X100s with the TCL-X100 adapter.  This converts the native 35mm field of view of the X100s to a 50mm equivalent.  The Fuji X100s is the perfect camera for use during candid moments as the leaf shutter makes it virtually silent and unobtrusive.

The main portraits were all shot on the Fuji X-T1 using either the 18-55 or the 55-200 lenses.  I love this camera.

All candid images were shot with natural light only.  The only lighting used for the portraits were two small off camera flashes and a 43″ reflector (often only using one of these).  The flashes were triggered via pocket wizards.  For most of the portraits a single flash was used in a 43″ umbrella on a stand or floated directly overhead.

</CameraSpeak>

In closing, never say no to an opportunity.  This shoot came right in the middle of an insanely busy month for me, but I wouldn’t have traded the time doing it for anything.  I got to help out a friend with a present for her cousin, I got to work with a remarkably talented young lady, I got to meet new wardrobe talent (thank you Claudia!) and I got free reign to try out some new ideas and grow as a photographer.  That is a win all the way around!