[BTS Video] Shooting Great Portraits With A Minimal Setup

In this behind the scenes video shot by Cinepro Studios, we see Michael Sasser working with a High School student to shoot her senior portraits. With only a bounce card held by an assistant, he is able to capture some stunning images, and the video does a very nice job balancing shots of the location and setup, with the stills that were taken during the session to give the audience a better idea of what the photographer was working with.

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José T.'s picture

I wonder why this kind of senior portrait sessions that seem to be so popular in the US are not usual here in Europe (at least in Spain).

Great pictures by the way.

yeah or switzerland - the whole periodical shoot is only a thing amongst american (or at least mainly english-speaking) expats here.... i find it's part of the whole lifestyle - prom isn't a thing, yearbook photos aren't a thing, school sports teams aren't a thing....

here in mexico, almost no body wants senior portraits, i think it is part of the american style of life

Topirceanu's picture

unfortunatelly, photography in Europe is in a very dark and small corner compared to the US. 

Love it! So simple, yet great pixs.... Good job.

once again proving that the sun is the best light source.

Funny how your minimal set up includes a 6000$ camera ;)

What do you use to shoot Pat? You've got some jazzy pics on your Facebook profile. =)

Anda an assistant ...

my assistant is always my friend, i'm his when he needs me!

Casey's picture

not so much the camera body, more like the 1.4 lenses. those certainly arent cheap

Like the 50mm 1.4 canon?  It seems pretty cheap to me.  Reflector is 40 bucks (maybe a little more for a bigger one than that) Doesn't seem like all that up front cost.  Yes he is using that nice camera but you can get good results from any camera like that once you've got good light and good composition.

 the 50mm is a cheapo, but the 85mm 1.4 is 1700 and the 35mm 1.4 is 1600. But I agree, these could have all been shot with the 1.8 versions for a fraction of the price.

Ero's picture

Beautiful pictures, but with model like she it is hard to make bad pictures :))))
Actually I love that simple light set up, 99 percent of my work I do with natural light and even without reflectors or assistants, so it hurts for me to see wedding photogs carrying big bags and sweating in 30 degree Celcius with lots of gear and assistants. Learn to feel and use natural light and free your mind, then good pictures will come to you easy :)))

Best wishes

 I saw your work on your website. Beautiful work!

I'm not sure about other people but the moment I open a website and I hear a music that automatically starts and cannot be stopped, I just close the window and don't care about the content anymore. Many people do that too. If you want my advice, remove the song.

Great video and superb demonstration of a single lens, camera and simple light/ relfector.......and the magic ingredient of creativity....cameras dont make images....photographers do! Thanks for sharing. 

luisfaustino's picture

Well, he used several lenses as far as I could see.. but yeah, demonstrated great technique shooting as well as interacting with subject.

Martin Beebee's picture

Refreshing to be reminded that simple setups like this can produce great photos. Even though there wasn't much BTS info in the video, it was nice to see how the photographer showed the model how to walk/move, and then how she used that again and again in multiple locations.

Thanks everyone! SO glad people enjoy the video. The set up was a D4, with a 35mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.4, and an 85mm f/1.4. Since it was bright outside for 95% of the shoot, this could really be done with any camera, as the ISO stayed around 200 the entire session. 

 For your head/shoulder shots are you shooting wide open (~f/1.4) or something slightly stopped down?

 90% of this shoot was wide open.

Lovely photos!!! I assume ND filters were used in those bright daylight wide-open shots?

No ND filters!  I just crank to a super high shutterspeed, around 1/4000 or 1/8000 if necessary to keep the aperture wide open.

Mike Wilkinson's picture

Thanks for joining the comment thread and posting your gear setup Michael. Keep up the great work and keep the videos coming too!

I hate when people say... It's easy to take pictures of a beautiful women... Can anyone just appreciate a video of a pro doing something he/she loves well. He has great people skills and the right natural talent to capture a natural not forced smile. Its time we learn something. Who cares he is using a high end dslr.... I use a high end Nikon and Canon! All that means nothing without technique and passion for the art of photography. Not to mention he made the client happy as well. From a business point of view he gets a A+ same goes for photography.   

Love natural light w/some fill in light ;)

Is the attached an example of your work, where the models right hand is awkwardly cropped?

BTW I agree that rapport with a model is critical to a relaxed session and producing more natural emotions. I'm just trying to understand the purpose of the attached image?

 Yes I agree with the arm comment. Its just a image I took that I liked the lighting and all. I attached it for the purpose of natural lighting.

Awkwardly cropped? How does that detract from the image in the slightest?

I guess Patryk understood what I meant.