This black-tie event (the annual dinner of the Explorers Club) brings together the most accomplished scientists, explorers, and their teams to celebrate their remarkable achievements. As a portrait photographer, my goal is to capture the spirit of exploration and honor these extraordinary individuals through my work.
I wanted to give you an overview of the behind the scenes of this massive shoot, sharing insights into the work that goes into pulling this off, and how Elinchrom’s lights and modifiers, which I used exclusively, made this a success.
Preparing for a shoot of this magnitude requires extensive light testing. Having my own studio space at home allows me to conduct thorough tests and fine-tune the lighting setup before the actual event. This year, I challenged myself to photograph the entire setup against a lighter backdrop, pushing my artistic boundaries and utilizing a backdrop by Oliphant Studios that I already owned. By incorporating exclusively Elinchrom lights and modifiers, I aimed to achieve even lighting and flattering results for both individuals and groups. Softlite White Beauty Dish Reflector 44cm (17.3″), added as an experiment during the light test provided an excellent outcome, adding the ‘commercial touch’ I was trying to achieve.
The Explorers Club Annual Dinner portrait shoot is a culmination of lots of preparation and planning. Based on the results from the light tests, I prepared a lighting diagram for my assistants to efficiently set up the equipment on the shoot day. The chosen lighting setup, which takes methods from my class, The Lighting Series, ensured even light distribution, filled shadows, and created flattering portraits for all the subjects.
As I mentioned earlier, I shot this entire project using only Elinchrom lights, and I want to delve into the reasons behind that choice.
Back when I started as a photo assistant, we relied heavily on lighting, particularly large Rotalux Deep Octa Softboxes Indirect 150cm (59″). They were, and still are, the secret to achieving that exquisite painterly light. Whenever I see an Elinchrom modifier, I know it will yield beautiful results.
Now 15 years later, that hasn’t changed. Currently, I own three of their Indirect Litemotiv Octa Softbox 190cm (75″) , using two of them for the explorers club setup. If I had more space, I would have utilized three because they are unquestionably the most dependable modifiers in the world.
To enhance the setup, I paired these Indirect Litemotiv Octa Softbox 190cm (75″) with various smaller modifiers, effectively bringing out details, filling in shadows, and extending the ‘area of good light’. It’s truly remarkable to have a set of lights working flawlessly together without worrying about their reliability or whether they will fire when needed.
Aside from the support Elinchrom has provided for past projects, as an ambassador for them, I genuinely believe they manufacture some of the finest gear available.
Throughout my career, I have always tried to be thoughtful about making the right investments and committing for the long term. This principle extends to my lighting choices as well. I vividly remember purchasing my first Oliphant backdrop over a decade ago when I could barely afford it. I strive to maintain the same philosophy when selecting lighting equipment. The right investment pays off over time.
Here is a list of the equipment I used for this shoot:
2x Indirect Litemotiv Octa Softbox 190cm (75″)
1x Rotalux Deep Octa Softbox Indirect 150cm (59″)
1x Softlite White Beauty Dish Reflector 44cm (17.3″)
1x Rotalux Strip Softbox 35x100cm (14×39″)
1x ELB 500
1x ELB 1200
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