Thursday, April 14, 2011

28/52 Brian Warling

Due to a lack of general internets, I've been on hiatus from writing. Now once again my frantic attempt at getting caught up resumes.

I was going to use this space to jokingly make reference to Brian as a tyrant, a cruel heartless task-master, someone who makes animal noises and fart sounds for a living. That material is too obvious, and thusly, I'll save it for later.

Brian Warling is the man behind Picture Day, a company that specializes in well lit, timeless, amazing images of kids on school picture day. Unlike much of the competition, Brian and his crew (of which I am a member) set up flattering lighting, use a crisp white background, and sit with the kids for several minutes each. The photographers really work with the subject for as long as is necessary to get some great images. The business model is brilliant in it's simplicity. Who wouldn't want great pictures of their kids? It's something the competition really doesn't offer. I for one can remember a particularly bad school photo of myself, involving a turtleneck, a sweater vest, venetian blinds, and a blue spotlight. I don't think twenty years from now white backgrounds will be out of style.

More about Brian, he makes slave owners seem compassionate is a really great guy to work for. It takes a special type of person to legitimately enjoy waking up at 5am to go make elephant sounds at 3rd graders, and it comes along with a genuinely positive disposition about everything in general. I can't think of many people for whom I'd be willing to drag myself out of bed any time before noon, but Brian is definitely on that list. Assisting at Picture Day is not easy work, but seeing the kids and teachers positive reactions certainly makes it worth while. In addition to Picture Day, Brian is also an accomplished commercial photographer with a gorgeous studio space.

For Brian's shoot, I decided to turn the tables on him. We always use a standardized light setup on picture day, and it works really well. I decided to shoot him from the kid's perspective as they sit for their portraits. The Picture Day setup is a large octa and a reflector, with the photographer sitting on a stool. This constitutes what Chad refers to as his "uncomfortably bright chamber of light." I skipped on the reflector, and used the octa as a background element. I shot in Brian's studio, the first time I've ever shot in an actual studio. I keyed him from high camera left, and placed my edge at back camera right. I wanted to leave detail in the edge, so I kept the intensity moderate. It also helped to give separation, as I let the background fall off to black.

As I figured would happen, I was completely unwilling or unable to turn the tables on Brian. Instead of me making him make fart sounds, he readily offered them up without prompting. I got a solid series of animal-noise photos as well.

This one is entitled "Pig Sounds"

"Donkey Sounds"

Brian Warling: Serious Photographer

I dragged my shutter at 1/50 to expose for the modeling light of the octa. I offset the key just slightly to allow for a small area of shadow while still maintaining the catch light in both eyes. The white balance is tungsten due to the modeling light. I gelled my key full CTO and left the edge slightly cooler by only using 3/4 CTO gel.

Strobist Info:
SB-800 with Full CTO high camera left through 32" white-over-silver umbrella
SB-800 with 3/4 CTO back camera left with barn doors

Camera Settings:
1/50 f/5.6 at ISO 200
Nikon 35mm f/1.8

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