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Group Photo - NYS Supreme Court Appellate Div.

NYS Supreme Court Appellate Court, 4th Div.

The studio was asked to do a group photo of the judges of the NYS Supreme Court Appellate Division in Rochester. Like they say in the movies, "it was an offer I couldn't refuse". So we took the Luke Photography show on the road to the courthouse.

I imaging my time with them was much like a Hollywood photographer having 8 minutes of time to shoot portraits of a celebrity.  Their time is important and limited, so I had a minimal amount of time with them in the room, and once their put their robes on, the clock was ticking.

At a time like this, preparation is key.  You don't want to be fumbling around with lighting and camera settings with them standing there watching, judging every move you make. We arrived an hour early to scout out locations and settled on a traditional location for their group photo, where I could also set up for individual head shots of each judge.

Umbrella LIghting - Group Photo

I went with a fairly simple lighting setup with two umbrellas on my strobe heads.  The umbrellas were pointed straight forward, and not tilted down.  With groups...and especially big, deep groups,you don't want to point the umbrellas down towards the front row.  In doing that, the strongest light coming from the center of the umbrella is going towards the people closest to the camera, and the weaker light coming from the edges of the umbrella is going towards the people that are farthest from the camera.  You want the strongest light going towards the people furthest from the camera so that the exposure across the whole group,...front to even.  In this case, with only two rows of people it wasn't quite as critical, but it's a good habit to do it all the time.

I always meter the light from front to back and left to right across the whole scene, to ensure as even light as possible.  Having an assistant...and best case you have two clones of that assistant...helps to see that and correct it before your subjects even enter the room.

Metering group lighting with a talented intern



Family Portrait in a Movie Theater

Family Portrait - Theater

When families call the studio for a unique family portrait, my first question is always, "What do you do together as a family?"  I try to photograph families doing what they enjoy doing...having a family portrait does not mean you have to get dressed up in formal attire and have your picture taken in a studio in front of a painted background.

When this family told me they go to the movies almost every week, I said to myself, "Holy Cow, that can get expensive."  My second thought was, "Great...this will make for a fantastic family portrait!".  I contacted a small, local theater that shows a lot of indie movies, and they allowed me to use the main theater room for about a half an hour mid-day on a weekday.  Not wanting to impose on the theater owners at all, I made sure that I brought all of my own lights so that they would not have to do anything special for me.  You don't want to go into a place like this and starting making all sorts of requests...they will be sorry they agreed to it, and probably will not take your call next time you want to use their facility.

With the family seated in the center of the theater, I wanted to make it look like they  were watching a movie.  I brought in a large 4' x 6' softbox that I placed in front of the family on the small stage in the theater, to replicate light coming from the lit-up movie screen.  I also brought a smaller flash that I placed high and behind the family, to replicate the light coming from the projection booth.  This light also provided nice rim lighting, highlighting the family against the darker seats behind them.

We ran through several sequences of them reacting to different kinds of movies: laughing at comedies, frightened at scary movies, intrigued by the height of a dramatic sequence,etc.  Once I was satisfied with that sequence, we moved along the aisle and we did several arrangements there.  Finally, we moved to the concession booth and finished the session there.  All in all, I tried to give the family several options for the wall portraits that they were interested in purchasing. They ended up buying two large wall canvases for their home...a fitting gift for the couple's 25th anniversary.