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My first paid job is coming up, any advice?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by lowlight, Mar 2, 2015.

  1. lowlight

    lowlight Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 3, 2014
    The story:

    I met a friend i had not seen in years randomly and we started talking, she mentions she heard i was into photography and the conversation took a direction that way. We parted and agreed to meet again to catch up. No biggie there.

    A few days later She called me and wondered if i could take some pictures of her and the coworkers at their workplace (she is a hair and makeup artist)

    At first i was not sure, I don`t take people photos that often and i never considered my photography to actually make me money. I was about to say no, but i thought it might be fun after all. If not at least its a valuable lesson.

    Anyway we agreed that i could come down and have a look at the "studio"

    And its a really tiny place! and the lighting is even worse!

    The entire place is filled with sinks, hairdryers (the big ugly ones that hangs from the walls) mirrors everywhere and the only "clean wall" i could find is a dark grey/brownish one with glitter and reflective patterns behind the cash register.

    so i asked what they wanted and it came down to this:

    -Headshots of the girls for their webpage
    -Some "action" shots of them doing their thing with a "customer"
    -And a group photo to hang on the wall

    So here is what i`m thinking:

    Headshots: Use that one "clean" wall and try to make something off the background with one of my flashes and use a flashbender or a shoot trough to light the subject.

    The "action" Shots: set up some lighting around a workstation (maybe a shoot through and some sort of rim light)

    Groupshot: Take them out of their studio and find a nice location. NO way i can make a nice background of all four in their studio. might have to this one a different day

    My kit is made up off:

    Oly 12-50mm
    Oly 45mm
    sigma 30mm
    sigma 60mm
    A few Yn 560III
    Umbrellas, stands, flashbenders,gridspot etc.

    Im thinking the oly 45/sigma 60 for the portraits and the sigma 30 for the action shots. Bringing the 12-50 just in case i need something wider. (everything is in my bag so no need to leave any lenses behind)

    I know this was a long post, but it just continued growing as i were writing it.

    Advice, tips, comments etc are most welcome! Being my first paid job (although i`m not getting rich of this) i really want to make some great images!
    I am looking at this as a learning experience and i am stepping way outside my comfort zone photographically speaking.

    Last edited: Mar 2, 2015
  2. davidzvi

    davidzvi Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    Head shots could be outside? Lighting and background might be better. Your lens options should be fine.

    BIG word of advice. Clean the set as much as possible. Cords, misc stuff around, etc. 15-30 minutes (or more) can save you hours in post, make the shots look more professional, and make their space look bigger and better than it is. An indirect constant light source that can just bounce around the mirrors (not looking like there is a specific source) might be good and that way you can also see any reflections/glare before the shots.
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  3. adamsmt2013

    adamsmt2013 Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 31, 2013
    Visit the location ahead of time to conduct test shots. With this beating your first time in the location, make sure you have your technique and settings locked down. Nothing worse than wasting the client's time while you figure it out, especially if they have a significant portion of the walls covered in mirrors - you get reflected light in the most unexpected locations. Try to use a softbox of equivalent to control lighting. A shoot through umbrella can be very problematic with the mirrors.

    If you have a Color Checker, definitely take that - mixed lighting can be a real bear to correct when you are shooting in the beauty salon.

    Good luck on your first job!!
    • Like Like x 1
  4. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    All of the hair places I know have CFL lighting and mirrors. Both of which are absolutely EVIL towards any type of photography. You sometimes get mirror reflections that you won't immediately notice in the small LCD screen. CFL lighting is damn near impossible to balance. Chances are they have a mix set of bulbs installed all with their own temperature and age.

    Just thinking of what I would use (from my current stash of stuff). It looks like you might have slightly better...

    25mm f/1.8
    45mm f/1.8
    Radio triggers
    3 of my Sunpack 422D on stands
    Shoot through and reflecting unbrella
    Westscott X-Drop backdrop.
    Main tripod.
    Heavy blankets to cover mirrors.
    Gaffers tape.

    For head shots, take them out of location if its too small. A simple backdrop with background light, key light, and fill should do the trick.

    For action shots, turn off the CFLs and stage the production. Rely on your own lighting. Cover all the mirrors accept maybe the one that is included in the action shot. Basically, pose the "actors".

    For group shots... as you said, take them out of location for late afternoon shots.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oh yeh... bring a simple camera + flash on your first visit.

    It helps to understand the locale by taking a few shots and seeing it TTL. Nothing too fancy. You will also have something to look at when you try to come up with a few more ideas at home.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. sbuntin

    sbuntin New to Mu-43

    Nov 17, 2013
    Portland OR
    Scott Buntin
    Not sure if this also applies to your Oly, but I'd avoid electronic shutter - the indoor lighting may well leave some ugly banding in your shots, and it sometimes isn't *quite* apparent on the LCD.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. ean10775

    ean10775 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 31, 2011
    Cleveland, Ohio
    I have been shooting headshots of stylists at a local salon for the past several years (they tend to get a lot of turnover). The shots are used on the salon's website and in their email newsletters. It certainly sounds like a similar situation to what you'll be encountering. I shoot with a single umbrella, strobe and a portrait lens (over the years it has been both with a Canon FF and now with a m43 system). I agree with what has been said regarding the in house lighting and the havoc it can wreak on blending with your flash. If I can't kill it with the off camera flash, I'll ask to temporarily turn off the overhead lighting rather than try to balance with the fluorescent lighting. As for candids, if you need to use on camera flash, see if there is a white or light, neutral colored surface off which you can bounce your flash. Again, I would ask to turn off the other lighting if you can.

    Also, +1 to not using any electronic shutter.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. adamsmt2013

    adamsmt2013 Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 31, 2013
    Great idea - covering the mirrors not in use. I never would have considered this.
  9. lowlight

    lowlight Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 3, 2014
    Thank you all for the advice!

    Covering up the mirrors was something that never crossed my mind! Simple solution to a big problem.

    On camera flash is something i really dont like, specially for portraits. I think i am going for some kind of clamshell with a flash and a reflector(forgot that in my original post)

    Going down there this friday to test some llighting setups.

    Again, thank you all for great advice and tips!
  10. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I once shot as a secondary for a wedding photographer as a college student....

    After the main stuff, we often would split up for more coverage... I ended up in a rather nicely decorated hallway with mirrors flanking nice paintings on each side. Not... A... Single... Frame... Was... Usable... Flash light was bouncing all over the place leaving small bright spots. Didn't notice until film was developed. Fortunately, the photographer simply laughed at me.. a lesson learned. He had enough to satisfy his client so it was ok. :redface:

    I hate mirrors more so than CFL lighting.

    Glad I could make a useful suggestion.
  11. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    For portraits, its always nicer to have full control over the lighting and have the subject relaxed in a pose.... portable studio of sorts. I generally keep my camera on a tripod and subject on a stool. Keeps both statically positioned. It allows me to frame the subject, then walk to the subject to make minor adjustments to their pose, and return without the camera loosing my original framing. At times, I will actually stand to the side and talk to the client. Make them comfortable. Talk about stuff and coach them to show the expressions that are useful. Meanwhile I have remote in hand tripping the shutter on the camera.

    They say in street photography a big camera puts people on edge and it shows. In portraits, I have seen the same when the photographer is stuck behind the camera the entire time. The subject feels like they are interacting with a camera... an inanimate object. Of course this is different for a model who has experience.

    For more candid or dynamic situations, you can use a old but tried and true tool.... a really tall flash bracket. Place the ambient towards the bottom of the exposure but just enough for context.... rely on flash for the primary subject. Use gels to warm it up if the lighting is warm. I used to hate those contraptions though.... simply opting for holding the camera in hand and my flash in another via a cable. I had a wrist strap attached to the strap so the flash can hang while I manipulate the camera.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2015
  12. lowlight

    lowlight Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 3, 2014
    Was thinking about trying this, no need for a cable though as the 560tx got me covered.

    really starting to look forward to this, i feel more prepared now that you guys have shared your experience and knowledge!
  13. RamblinR

    RamblinR Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Aug 16, 2012
    Qld Australia
    If you have a decent wall to work with and the room is painted in white (which can often be the case) set up your flash to bounced and fill the room with a more natural looking light (use 2 flashes if you have to). You don't need much wall space for a head shot. Same with the group of four, as long as you can keep the heads in a clear space come in nice and close and pull them in tight (like a wedding photo). Just another option.
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