Often times when given a brief for a shoot, you try to schedule time and location to best fit the clients ideas. Sometimes you get lucky and everything goes great and other times weather doesn't play nice and you have to improvise. Having experience thinking on your feet is helpful when these situations arise. A few months ago I was commissioned to photograph author portraits of Kimberley Kingsley for her new book "Modern Hippie". The portraits were originally intended for the cover and she gave me a few example images showing the idea and look she was going for. They were light and sunny, coinciding with the theme of the book.
To achieve this look, we had to shoot late afternoon where the sun would be glowing perfectly through the main window of our location. This time of day is commonly known as golden hour due to the soft warm light it provides. It would have been perfect had the day of our shoot not been extremely overcast and had potential for rain. This is where my point about thinking on your feet really came into play. When you're expected to deliver a certain look or feel to an image, you have to find a way to do it no matter what situations arise. Anticipating the light not being in our favor, I brought along a large Paul C Buff 64in parabolic umbrella, AB800 strobe, and vagabond mini battery pack. During my location scout I took note of the large "balcony/roof" outside the window. So I knew if this exact situation arose, I'd have a spot to put my light. My biggest worry was the heavy wind turning the 64in PLM into a giant sail. Luckily I had my 2 fearless assistants standing on the roof holding down the lightstand and giant modifier. I cranked the light up to 1/2 power and blasted it in through the window and curtains creating a nice golden glow in the room. With proper positioning of the light, I had no need for any additional artificial light inside the room. I was able to use the bounce of our "sun" along with the ambient inside to create the perfect mood matching the client's brief. From here all I had to worry about was working with our lovely author and directing her.
You can see the set up and how we progressed through the shoot in this fun behind the scenes video:
Below are the three final selects chosen by Kimberly and myself. And even though they decided to go a different route with the cover, they still had three amazing portraits to use elsewhere in the book.
As a photographer it is very rare that a shoot will go 100% according to plan. Sometimes it's a little problem and other times you have to entirely recreate a certain time of day or weather pattern. The trick is to be prepared for the worst and hope for the best, which in this case saved our butts. Kimberly was a thrill to work with and we created some great images for her.