August 17, 2015
Four looks,in four locations, in two hours, and in 95°F (to make it interesting). Marcelles, I will always remember this portrait session!
I’m not gonna lie, I really do not like the summer heat. Especially in Georgia. It’s not just hot, but super humid as well. So when I got a request to do a portrait session in July, my immediate thought was: Super early or super late! Marcelles and I agreed 8AM would be perfect for the looks he wanted. And it was! We just had to settle for the fact that the city of Atlanta would be 95°F by 10AM. Yikes!
Marcelles emailed me in late May with a request for lifestyle, headshots, and goofy photos. No small feat! I told him to send me a few example photos of the looks he was going for and once we were on the same page, it made planning the day pretty straight forward: Hip hop, hipster, headshots, and a pikachu onesie. I came up with a basic game plan for where we would shoot and what the order would be shortly after.
We’d be shooting around West Midtown, Atlanta where it’s pretty diverse and relatively urban to help with the hip-hop and hipster shots. Georgia Tech would be used for the pikachu onesie shots, and the space in between would be used for his headshots(for the record, Google Docs just autocorrected “pikachu.” Way to go pop-culture!). I invited my friend Ty Autry to be my assistant for this shoot and it really paid off. Ty is an actor and an engineer, and we work incredibly well together. He’s great at helping with little subject related details when I’m focusing on some of the technical bits. For example, while I’m adjusting flash power, he’s immediately moving to fix my subject’s shirt. It’s a fantastic working relationship and really makes things go faster because I don’t have as much to focus on!
A few days before the shoot, I told Marcelles to bring a couple of items:
a bag with all the clothes for the different looks
Comfortable shoes – We would be walking a lot
A water bottle and potentially a small towel. I expected it to get warm quickly and most of his looks were long sleeved!
Pants that would go with most of his looks. Our access to public restrooms would be limited, and shirts are way easier to change in public!
The day of the shoot was a blast. We started off with headshots and immediately went to the hipster shots in the same location. We got some very dynamic lighting that I think made a lot of the shots really pop. Being able to use High Speed Sync with my flash made a big difference too because it allowed me to make daylight look like evening – while still lighting Marcelles. The only real downsides to High Speed Sync are that it devours battery power, and the working distance between the flash and the subject is much shorter than normal flash sync. Solution: bring extra batteries and double up on flashes. MORE POWER!
Once we knocked those shots out, we walked over to the Atlanta Humane Society and used the white brick wall as a background. I wanted to do the hip-hop shots there for the background texture, the ability to separate the background because it’s white, and for the big red heart! Ty’s acting and dancing skills were put to use here, helping to pose Marcelles in dancing positions. My flash made another appearance because the ambient light was very harsh and directional – which meant shadows that I didn’t want. High Speed Sync was my preferred method again because it allowed me to overpower the sun and turn the ambient light into my fill light. These shots have a slightly more studio-look because of the of the lighting, which matched the sample shots that Marcelles gave me originally.
We finally ended up at Georgia Tech and did the pikachu onesie shots, which were just flat out hysterical. Marcelles is your typical GT student, AKA a bit nerdy (Aren’t we all?). Ty and I agreed that a playful and whimsical feel would be best for these images, so I stuck with a shallow depth of field and natural window lighting. We also did some magic and had Marcelles “sit next to himself” to play with the idea of growing up and the struggle to maintain that inner kid. It’s one of my favorite images from the day because it tells a great story!
I really enjoy portrait sessions because it’s a great avenue for getting to know people and doing creative things. A lot of other photography styles are pretty straight forward: you take what you get and do the best you can. Portrait photography can be really dynamic and interactive, which is super fun. You just have to be ready to play around and have a willing subject! Lucky for me, Marcelles was great to work with and open to my ideas; both good and bad haha.
Here are some of my favorite images from my portrait session with Marcelles. If you’re interested in a portrait session, click Here to contact me!