Starting fresh with a brand new blog in 2014. Over Christmas, my friend and fantastic model Mike Socozza, who was most recently on Americas Next Top Model cycle 20, and I wanted to collaborate on a shoot. Fortunately, so did a mutual friend Aaron Pierce, who is co-owner of bespoke clothing company; Commonwealth Proper.
So a few phone calls later we decided that we’d shoot outdoors near the Commonwealth headquarters in Philadelphia.
Until it rained …. and rained …. and rained.
Day of the shoot was basically a freezing monsoon, or every photographers dream scenario when photographing outside … We were in luck, like I said before, Commonwealth has a beautiful location and Aaron was nice enough to cancel any fittings just incase we needed the space to work in.
Sooooo … now what?
You’ve been de-railed as far as your original idea. Totally different location … and moral with the rest of the crew has been tested from the let down of, well, not being able to complete the original idea. This is where your skill as a human, who photographs, becomes most valuable. What do I mean by that? You’ve gotta be able to run the ship on a shoot.
When something goes down you’ve gotta be able to pick it up, smile, and come up with something to say before anyone second guesses your ability. Much more than your fancy camera, and those high speed cards you got rushed for the shoot. You need to make sure you’re brining your best … cause that’s what’s going to get you the best results.
Okay, time for the nerd stuff …
Now, look past my 6th grade drawing ability, and you can find all the info you’d need. I must say that a 4 light set up is not typical for me. However, this was a very dark room so I needed light in order to “level” the room to a working exposure. From there, it’s really just figuring out what look you want. Aaron and I wanted to make this more about feeling/mood/vibe and less about the physical clothing. Dark, Shadowy, Mystery man? Done deal. The most important lights are, in fact, only two … the floor skip and the colored light from the Westcott Apollo Orb with a 1/2 cut of CTO gel.
The skip off the floor gives enough to place Mike in context with the space. By bouncing the light off of the floor, one could assume there may be a fire (or another candle) off to camera left. Same with the light from the Apollo, little pop of light on the hair and shoulders puts him in a three dimensional space.
Now for a more simple set up, one I suggest for anyone.
The look above was completed with the favorite mod I own. The Westcott Apollo Orb makes beautiful light. With one small flash (LumiPro LP180), and the same 1/2 cut of CTO gel inside; Mike, Aaron, and I hit the streets to get some shots before we froze to death. A cuff grab here, a cuff grab there … and we were off for dinner.
A word on the Apollo: it’s a 43 inch octa on an umbrella frame and is perfect for a small flash on the go. I use this in a multitude of ways and it never ceases to amaze me on the quality that it brings to a shoot … especially when I want to work light and fast.
The first image I had the Apollo in what I would call it’s “standard” positioning. Place the flash in, open the umbrella and poof, great quality of light. I had Aaron position the Apollo away from Mike. Just so the feathered edge would grace his face and leave any sharp highlights off of the painted door behind him.
Here’s what the image would look like if the Apollo was aimed at the standard 45 degree angle facing Mike ….
Big difference right? You may like the image above in contrast to the first image, and if so, that’s great. Everyone’s style is different. The more I shoot, the more I enjoy “shooting for the shadows.” My dear friend of who I’ve had the pleasure of assisting Joe McNally has mentioned this on numerous occasions and it has really stuck with me. I hope it sticks with you too.
Thanks for checking out the blog and be sure to take a look at Commonwealth Proper for their amazing menswear. LumoPro for the toughest small flash on earth, and Westcott for some of my favorite mods.
Andrew Tomasino is an American portrait photographer based in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He has directed campaigns and for companies including Sorelli Jewelry and Nordstrom Department Store, and has had work published in Charleston Magazine, Lehigh Valley Style, and on America’s Next Top Model. Read Andrew’s blog and see more of his fashion editorial work.
This article is courtesy of American portrait photographer Andrew Tomasino.