Masquerade Promo shoot pre-visualization sketch.

Tomorrow night I’m shooting some promo shots for my friends at The Vintage. You won’t see this post until Thursday, at which point the shoot will already be over. But I still wanted to put my thoughts down on paper, as it were, regarding the creative process and pre-visualization that I’m doing as I get ready for this.

It’s going to be a down and dirty kind of shoot, taking place in the midst of an meeting of local artists. These folks don’t know it yet, but a few of them are getting pressed into service as models, will be donning masks and goodness knows what else. I’m planning on 15-20 minutes of shooting, 3-5 different shots for The Vintage crew to use on their site and in the media as they hype their Masquerade Ball event.

Aside from highlighting all the reasons I didn’t become a pen-and-paper artist, my sketch shows the shot that stands out most in my mind, and around which the others will be built. I’m figuring three models, although I can handle up to 5 without much issue and could probably pull it off with only two. I want a horizontal composition in tight on their faces and, of course, masks. And since this is a colorful, extravagant sort of event, I want the images to reflect that. Bright colors, bright lights, lots of fun!

(For clarification purposes, the guy/gal (?) on the left is wearing a crown.  The one on the right is…I guess a monk.  And see that fancy shadowing, to show light direction?  I got skillz!)

So here’s the general plan: models several feet in front of a background of some sort. Nothing fancy yet, and the backdrop will mostly likely be a painted wall (although I could break out the backdrop stands). I want a light on the wall for separation, a hair light on the models from behind, and a good key light from the front.

The key to all this is going to be color. So gels are a must and the more saturated the better. I’m thinking of some mix of red/blue/purple throughout. Perhaps a red and blue gel on the background flash, each covering half the flash head so that both colors are thrown up on the BG. Then maybe a purple gel on the hair light, so that it’s different yet compliments the BG colors.

The key light will remain un-gelled. I haven’t entirely settled on a modifier yet, although the key has to be in something with some control, to keep it off the BG as much as possible. The hair light will be either a 24” softbox or beauty dish and the BG light will be a bare speedlight, flagged to keep any light from spilling back on the models.

Up until now I’ve never done much work with gels. The few times I’ve tried them, they haven’t come out very well. My basic understanding is that you need enough power to get the light through them and onto a background at a level that works, but not so much light that it washes out the color. So I’ll be doing some practice tonight with Mandy, who has kindly agreed to sit in a chair and ignore me while I blast lights around her. Ought to work out pretty well.

I’ll post the finished item in a few days, along with any notes from the gig. More to come!

Brent Pennington is a freelance photographer and the driving force behind The Roving Photographer. When he\’s not working with portraiture or promotional clients, he’s usually in the field, hiking, or kayaking in pursuit of nature and wildlife shots.

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