Glass Wall Corporate Portrait

The first thing that I do when I’m setting up a portrait is to scout out the area where I’m going to shoot to find something cool and unique. When shooting corporate portraits this can be a bit tough. Beige cubicles are the norm in office construction and let me just tell you that they are no fun to shoot in. As a way to get around this I generally take a walk around the office and try to find something that will give my photo a little more interest – with a little luck I can usually find a lobby or a hallway that will do the trick.

A couple months ago I did a full day of shooting for the Forum Studio division of Clayco, a construction management and design company based here in St. Louis. In addition to a series of lifestyle “candid” shots, I was also tasked with shooting a number of individual portraits.

Luckily for me, the Clayco facility (while chock full of cubes) is very well designed and serves as a showcase of the company’s creative abilities. The modern design includes a ton of interesting surfaces and materials that can serve as backgrounds. While exploring I found and gravitated towards the glass wall in the company canteen for this portrait.

I love shooting against glass walls, because you can use simple and quick lighting setups to get really dramatic results. As long as the glass is translucent or semi-translucent, a carefully placed strobe behind the glass can look amazing (while providing it’s own backlight and separation from the subject). In this case, I was able to use the design of the glass wall itself to really make the photo pop.


Lighting Setup

Back in December, I picked up a couple Profoto D1 Air 500 Kits as part of my end-of-the-year tax purchases and have been using them for several months now. Let me just tell you: I love these lights. They are reasonably priced (for Profoto gear) and are so much easier to use than my older Acute Packs since each strobe can be adjusted by 1/10th of a stop independently – no more trying to do the math on adjusting several lights on one power pack. Plus, since each strobe has a built in receiver that is triggered by a single transceiver on the camera – no more messing around with a bunch of Pocket Wizards.

For this portrait, I placed a strobe with a 7″ silver reflector outside of the room in the hallway, and positioned it so that the main hot spot caused by the strobe was blocked from view with the subject’s body. I tweaked the power level using the Air Transceiver on my camera (another benefit of the D1 Airs – no need to run into the hall with every tweek) until I was happy with the look of the light coming through the glass.

Next I put an extra small octodome(1.5′) on another head and used that for my key light. This little octodome, made by Photoflex gives very similar light to a round bulky beauty dish with the added benefit of being small enough (with collapsed) to stuff into my speed light travel kit. It is perfect for portraits because the light is soft and beautiful, while you can easily control the light drop off for more drama.

Finally I had my assistant hold a collapsible white reflector off on camera right for a little fill. This was a simple, two light setup that we put into place in less than five minutes.

Corporate Head Shot

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