I’ve been a member of the D.C. chapter of the American Advertising Federation (formerly the Ad Club) since I moved to D.C. in 2010. Joining an organization that is adjacent to, and often interacts with, your own industry is an easy way to understand how your own profession fits into the greater scheme of things. I personally love elegant communication strategy and execution in all forms whether it’s written, visual, aural, or all of the above.
I was (and am) a member of the committee that promotes and puts on the yearly “Addys” awards banquet, held each spring. One of our goals is to raise awareness of the awards and encourage more agencies and groups, of all sizes, to enter their work. One of the strategies we came up with was to interview previous award winners and make engaging portraits. The results would be shared on the AAF-DC blog and social media. Through mentions and tagging, our strategy as to get each subject to help us in spreading the word using their own social media channels. As past winners, they served as our evangelists.
The trick with this shoot was to come up with a studio set-up that I could drag, alone, into different agency offices. It had to be small, easily replicable, and have few moving parts. The theme was “unexpected” so we also needed a mechanism that allowed people to be fun and unique, but not so much that it required an intricate production. After some experimenting, I came up with the idea of a white (light gray) background and a white tabletop. I would intentionally have the subject on a low stool so they would be forced to interact with the white/off-white line formed at the intersection of the two. That was it. Everything else in the image would be up to the subject.
First a Few Self-Portraits to Nail Down the Lighting…
And, a few of the resulting images… . (Click for larger images.)
The Technical Stuff…
The set was pretty straightforward. I had picked up a Lastolite Hilite a few days earlier and that, with a Profoto A-1 inside, gave me a fairly uniform front. The key light was a Profoto B2 with a 22” beauty dish directly over camera. The white table top doubled as a bounce. This way the subject would have pretty much unlimited movement within the space and still be well lit. Everything was shot with a Canon 5D Mark 4 and a 50mm prime, tethered to Capture One Pro. Everything was around f7.1. Black and White Conversions were done in Capture One 10, using my own secret sauce.