I have been wanting to add more lifestyle images to my portfolio. I contacted Denna Armstrong with Flash Models International and she put me in touch with Amy Leck, mother of Sicily Leck. I explained what I wanted to do with her and she contacted some other moms and rounded up three girls for the shoot. We chose Express Ranches as our location. Love that place. They are very friendly and accommodating.
I wanted to shoot fast and flexible and wanted the girls to have fun, laugh and enjoy themselves while I photographed them. No elaborate setups, no static, stiff posing, just girls playing, having fun and capturing lifestyle images in my camera.
I set up two Einstein lights with softboxes and grids, each running on a Paul Buff battery pack and triggered by Paul Buff Cyber Commander. I love this equipment. It gives me studio-level flashes with on-camera lighting control in a portable, affordable and powerful lighting rig. I could easily move my lights around myself, do a quick setup, check the lights by grabbing a couple of frames, then I could work with the girls on activities instead of concentrating on my lights, posing, and composition. After shooting hundreds of thousands of images, many in studio, I have finally gotten comfortable enough with my equipment that I don’t have to think on my lighting and camera settings much. I know them inside and out and I know from experience about what settings are going to work. I can set my lights up, shoot a test shot, and dial in the lighting in just a few seconds. This allows me to do what is REALLY important, spend more time interacting with my subjects so I can get the emotion and action I am looking for.
Have you ever tried to get 13 year old girls who don’t know you from Obama to laugh and have fun during a photo shoot? And you are a 52 year old male photographer who looks like their grandpa? It took a bit to get them loosened up. I don’t know any jokes that a 13 year old girl would find funny. Thirteen year old boys? A good fart joke always works with them. Not so with girls.
My strategy was to move fast, take lots of pics, talk to the girls, get them moving and having fun and laughing, and try to capture the magic that would hopefully come. At first they were a bit uncomfortable to say the least, and the pics showed this. I knew the first few pictures were going to be throw-aways so I started with props and scenes that weren’t my favorite, then eventually working our way to the stuff I really wanted.
Of course mom’s were there monitoring the shoot. I had given them a heads up before the shoot that my preference was for them to stay in the background and let me direct. I was happy that they were very much in the background. I set up my Nikon D3s to transmit images wirelessly to my iPad so the mom’s could view images of the shoot as we progressed. This was a big hit.
One of the girls was very uneasy around these huge horses. I don’t blame her, these things weigh over 2,000 lbs! But they are gently and used to people and distractions. It was fun shooting with the horses but a bit challenging since they don’t listen too well to my directions.