Since I work almost exclusively on location I am in some ways a bit jealous of the dudes who have the time and budgets to create entire sets for their subjects to be photographed in. So one of the things that I try to do when it suits subject and when it is f rankly even possible is to find a way to take a location and make it look better/different than it does with just a bit of tinkering. Sometimes that means moving object or furnature around, sometimes it means doing things with light and other times it means coming back at a different time or day so that it works for your intent.
I was doing some promo photos on location that went into the late evening that was going to include a number of set ups for a variety of looks that the client wanted. During the scouting I noticed this interesting lawn with a tree and stone path that led to some steps. I thought that it wouldn't work when the light was soft but after dark lit up it could be amazing with a bit of work. The energy was great that day and I mentioned that if we had the time and inclination after all the other shots to try something different and lo everyone was up for it.
Thus it was almost dark when I dragged all our gear down the road and had my assistant get us a bunch of candles from the home that the majority of the other photos were done at and had him set them up along the path. This brought color, warmth and a sense of depth to the image. At camera right I had a head with a 40 degree grid spot and CTB gel placed up the hill aimed at the tree for a moonlit backlight feel to give in addition separation between the girls and the dark moody background. On camera left I put another head into my 43" Octabank and put it up about ten feet pointing down about 45 deg aimed at the groups delightfully animated front girl Lani. After a number of shots we brought out more candles and put one in each of the other girls hands to light their faces for additional texture and mood.
Now, if this was done in a studio it would be a pretty big set to build and that would be the hardest part. The lighting would be easily controllable as it would be done in the dark with only the candles burning in during the exposure and everything else being lit by strobes but in this case my fill light was the moon! Being locked down on my tripod kept the camera steady but the girls had to remain motionless during exposures of up to 8 seconds including Lani who was doing all the wacked out poses for me. Yet when I said "Hold it!" they did and slap me silly, the frames are sharp.
So here is my favorite from that series: a photo that I had no idea would happen and certainly not like this when I drove past on my way to the shoot.
Technicals: Nikon D700, Nikon AF-S 28-70mm f/2.8 set to 45mm. 4 seconds @ f/5.6, ISO 1600, Daylight WB. Camera on Gitzo 1320 tripod. Lights triggered via Pocket Wizard.