Saturday, April 4, 2009

Some recently published executive portraits

A new client, Utah CEO Magazine recently hired me to shoot a series of portraits for their monthly CEO Spotlight series. In the process I've met some interesting folks and thought I'd share some of their portraits with you.

My first assignment was to meet and photograph the CEO of Ogio International, Michael Pratt. His story can be found at Utah CEO Magazine | Michael Pratt (free registration required for the full articles).

Ogio International CEO, Michael Pratt
Nikon D700
Nikkor 85mm f/1.8
Nikon SB-800 and 43" white brolly, camera right, fired via Nikon CLS

For the lighting geeks: I love shooting a mix of ambient/available light and using Nikon Speedlights as fill rather then using them as the main, or key lighting. In this case I shot in manual exposure mode and exposed for the warehouse's available light. I then placed CTO (color termperature orange) gel over the SB-800's business end to try to color match it's white balance, which is just a bit color-warmer than daylight but much color-cooler (bluer) than to the very color-warm warehouse lights.

Ogio, located in Bluffdale, UT is a "bag designer [and creator of] top gear and technology for golf, duffel, travel, messenger, skate, moto, bmx, street, travel, snow, girls, and more." Their connection to the extreme sports world is strong and it shows. Upon entering their offices you'll find samples of their gear, television screens showing clips of their gear used in various extreme sports competitions and there are even the remains of an Ogio-sponsored motorcycle used to jump a cliff into the Grand Canyon.

Michael Pratt was warm and welcoming, and very passionate about his business. He took a lot of time out of his busy afternoon to give me a tour of Ogio and to introduce me to his employees, for which I was extremely grateful. When it came time for his portrait, Michael confessed to being camera-shy but you wouldn't have guessed it once I started hitting the shutter! Not only did he scout a great location in his warehouse for his shoot but he came up with some great poses, even including using some of his company's gear as props. Here he is hamming it up a bit:

Ogio International CEO, Michael Pratt

Michael's other outtakes can be found in this set.

It's always a gift to have some extra time to spend with a subject, to have the ability to get to know them better and build a rapport definitely helps me capture their personality!

My next assignment was to drive to Provo, UT to photograph a student in BYU's MBA program, Jessamyn Lau who is focusing her post-MBA work on social entrepreneurship. Her inspiring story can be read at "Capitalists for Change".

Jessamyn Lau
Nikon D700
Nikkor 50mm f/1.8
Nikon SB-800, on-camera, bounced into ceiling

For the lighting geeks: Again, I shot in manual exposure, exposing for ambient light and using a Nikon Speedlight for fill. As this location was so crowded I didn't want to set up lightstands and umbrellas so I opted to leave the flash on-camera and shoot quickly in various locations.

I met Jessamyn at her favorite student lounge, where she and a group of fellow students were busy working on a project. I took some time to scout a quiet yet interesting location in her building but quickly realised that our options were limited as every place I had in mind was already occupied by either working students or faculty. Upon returning to the lounge I decided it was truly the best location for her shoot, especially since she told me she had spent countless hours there studying!

My hesitation in shooting in the lounge wasn't due to any lack of visual interest, it was just so busy that I didn't want to interrupt the other students. Of course once we started shooting I immediately drew the attention of everyone in the room, who were not at all put off by the shooting but in fact were quite supportive of Jessamyn's new-found celebrity. It turns out Jessamyn is quite popular in her department as verified by all the accolades - and posing instructions :) - she received. A fun shoot indeed.

Finally, I had the pleasure of photographing Dean Hiram Chodosh of the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah. His story can be found at Utah CEO Magazine | Hiram Chodosh.

Dean Hiram Chodosh, S.J. Quinney College of Law, Univ. of Utah
Nikon D700
Nikkor 85mm f/1.8
Nikon SB-800 and 43" white brolly, camera left, fired via Nikon CLS
Nikon SB-600 with diffuser dome, camera left, fired via Nikon CLS

For the lighting geeks: The Dean's office was lit mainly with florescent overhead lights, which wreak havoc with white balancing off-camera lights so I opted to shoot with a fast enough shutter speed to overcome their power. This also meant that the Speedlights would be doing the heavy lifting when it came to lighting the room but with a single subject in a smaller room I find the Speedlights to be more than capable. I decided to use an SB-800 as a key light, shot through a white umbrella and to use an SB-600 (with a diffuser dome) as a rear fill/hair light.

As you can imagine, Dean Chodosh's time was very limited - we had about 20-30 minutes to shoot - and we quickly decided that a shoot in his office would work out best. While I was setting up my Nikon Speedlights I spoke with the Dean about his work and we shared stories about each of our relocations to Salt Lake City. It's so important to get to know your subjects and try to build a rapport and when time is limited it's important to continue talking with your subject even when setting up.

As for that setup, my editor had already asked to shoot an environmental portrait that would best depict Dean Chodosh in a scholarly atmosphere so I decided to use his office library as a backdrop for his portraits. I also took a cue from photographer Ryan Brenizer's excellent portraits at Columbia University in NY:

...and asked the Dean to use a book as a prop. The Dean wisely chose not just any book but his own, "Global Justice Reform: A Comparative Methodology". :)

After shooting the main portrait that my editor had requested I still had a few minutes left to shoot so I asked the Dean if could take some more candid photos. He agreed, however he truly did have some e-mail to read before heading to a meeting so I shot a small series of him working and asked for one last glance at the camera before ending our shoot.

Dean Hiram Chodosh, S.J. Quinney College of Law, Univ. of Utah

Dean Chodosh's other outtakes can be found in this set

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