Portraits in a Pandemic

October 26, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Isabella StaddenIsabella StaddenOctober 19, 2020; Berkeley, California, USA; Cal Women’s Swimming; Isabella Stadden. Photo credit: Kelley L Cox/KLC fotos

After the weekend of covering men's basketball and football (with women's basketball coming up Thursday) I also covered women's swimming.

I mentioned how with football I bought additional packs and used Olympus Capture/Workspace to tether to my computer which was then mirrored on an iPad facing them. The swimming media day had an added layer of logistics because now instead of just taking marketing photos and having a separate headshot station, there was only to be my one station to take both headshots and marketing images.

They easiest method would have been to have the same lighting for headshots and for marketing images. Since marketing images aren't too dramatic of lighting, this was certainly a possibility. But marketing is also lit to have a blown out white background. While that's okaaaay for a headshot, traditionally, we've had Cal headshots being a little more of a dynamic gray or blue background. Now instead of headshots being solely for identification, it's now more of a portrait, lighting the subject and the background.

Emily GantriisEmily GantriisOctober 19, 2020; Berkeley, California, USA; Cal Women’s Swimming; Emily Gantriis. Photo credit: Kelley L Cox/KLC fotos

In previous years, I've placed a backlight behind them during a portrait session that then I manually remove for the marketing photos. Since I needed to remain 30ft away and we were taking portrait followed by marketing as opposed to entire teams portraits followed by marketing, I couldn't approach the area they are standing to move the light and since they cannot touch anything that someone else has touched, they can't move the light off to the side. I didn't want to have to ask them to step aside between portraits and marketing and I didn't want to be cropping out a lightstand, so enter, light groups!

In my set up I have six lights. I'm using the Elinchrom ELB 500 system.

Group One:

My key light and a fill light (with just a stop of two difference because I want pretty flat lighting since these are more-so identification than beauty photos) on either side of the subject

A light off to the side directed at the background.

Group Two:

Two lights on either side directed at the background to make it white.

One rim light, behind the subject with a 40 degree grid to prevent flare.

 

For the portraits, I used just Group 1. You can see how the background isn't one solid gray, but rather fades from a white to a blue-ish gray to help separate the gray jacket from a gray background.

Alexa Skorus-NeelyAlexa Skorus-NeelyOctober 19, 2020; Berkeley, California, USA; Cal Women’s Swimming; Alexa Skorus-Neely. Photo credit: Kelley L Cox/KLC fotos
 

 

For most of the marketing photos I had my remote set to ALL groups, the third background light wasn't a problem because the background was already going full white from the lights in Group 2.



Alicia WilsonAlicia WilsonOctober 19, 2020; Berkeley, California, USA; Cal Women’s Swimming; Alicia Wilson. Photo credit: Kelley L Cox/KLC fotos
 

Then, just to mix things up, for some of the marketing photos, I used just Group 2, background full white and then the rim light for something a little more dramatic.

 

Eloise RileyEloise RileyOctober 19, 2020; Berkeley, California, USA; Cal Women’s Swimming; Eloise Riley. Photo credit: Kelley L Cox/KLC fotos Eloise RileyEloise RileyOctober 19, 2020; Berkeley, California, USA; Cal Women’s Swimming; Eloise Riley. Photo credit: Kelley L Cox/KLC fotos

Taking these portraits has been quite a challenge as there is no cookie-cutter session. We start to get comfortable with our set ups, and anytime you are pushed out of your comfort zone, also gives you a chance to be pushed into something more creative. There are many elements of the upcoming photo sessions that I do not look forward to, photographing outside and balancing wind and sun. But I am so grateful that we are finding ways to do this while managing our COVID risk. With a few fun surprises

Sarah DarcelSarah DarcelOctober 19, 2020; Berkeley, California, USA; Cal Women’s Swimming; Sarah Darcel. Photo credit: Kelley L Cox/KLC fotos
 

 


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Thanks for stopping by! I am a photographer based in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area. Berkeley to be exact. I photograph sports, love, corporate, adventure... and my feet.

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