Hit the lights!

I’ve become the primary photographer of a local magazine aimed at women in their 30-40’s with, how do we say?, disposable income.  This is going to be a good gig.  Last month I did a few assignments for them but as of the upcoming issue it’s essentially my baby. The cover story is about local women who each has a personal vision of success. During the editorial planning meeting we looked at which of the 4 women in the story would make the best cover shot and what that should be.

It became clear that the youngest one had the most potential as she is an actress. We decided to put her on the stage of a local theater in some fun, slightly costume-y attire. Well we got clearance from the venue to do the shoot before their normal hours but found that the house manager wasn’t there and thus we couldn’t turn on any lights except for about six what appeared to be 60 watt bulbs way up in the 3 story ceiling. We also couldn’t get the power turned on at the stage. Good thing I carry about 200 feet of extension cords with me. Hey! I was a Cub Scout for 3 weeks – always prepared!

I had to, in a way, simulate stage lighting but also make her look as pretty as she is. Stage lighting tends to be harsh as it’s lit with dozens of small but powerful lights that are quite a ways away. Portraits of young attractive women tend to use loads of broad and soft light. I used both. Oh, did I mention that the stage curtains are black velvet?  Did I say that she was wearing a black dress? No problem!

Take a strobe with a standard reflector, put on the opposite side of the stage and cross light the curtains. Texture! A medium softbox at camera left to act as the wall of little stage lights. A grid spot at camera right to act as stage side lighting and a gridspot overhead to do the same with slight spotlight effect and there you have it.


Technicals: Nikon D200, custom WB, ISO 100. AF-S 80-200 @ 112mm f/8, 1/125th. Strobes triggered with Pocket Wizards.

We also needed an inside shot for the story so she changed into this vintage ball gown with this, gawd I dunno, lace-y stuff over the long poofy skirt. I had her sit on the stage and swapped out the overhead grid spot for my x-small softbox.

Theater setup

We did some shots then I asked her to pull the lace-y stuff over her head. Ka-blam!


Technicals: Nikon D200, custom WB, ISO 100. AF-S 17-35 @ 24mm f/8, 1/125th. Strobes triggered with Pocket Wizards.

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