One guy in our industry that continually impresses me with his execution of beautiful environmental portraits is Joey L. One concept he has been wanting to shoot for sometime is some portraits of "artic explorers" but rather than fight with the elements of the weather he pulled it all off in studio. Read on to learn how it was done and what equipment was used.
While Joey L. is known for being the kind of photographer that loves to be out in the environment shooting portraits of people in their habitats - for this series he also had with him a class of 20 student photographers as well as a film team documenting the whole event. This shoot was part of his creativeLIVE course and as such, rather than pull everyone out into blizzard conditions, Joey L. created blizzard conditions inside. The snow was created using an American Dj Snow Flurry Snow Machine which sends out soap suds that resemble snow flurries. In order to make the effect look as real as possible he had the soap suds cover a wide area both behind and in front of the subject (even up to the edge of the camera) in order to show depth in the flurries.
Another special effect used was a haze machine. He used this machine to create a haze that would create a more real environment and even be enhanced by the backlights creating an effect like a sun caught in the middle of blizzard conditions.
The lights Joey L. used included a 74" Elinchrom Octabank fitted to a Profoto head and pack. He then used two white beauty dishes as backlights and finally two white umbrellas turned onto the painted backdrop.
Joey L. shot a few different subjects in the environment. On the third subject they decided to add some "ice" to the face and some snow particles to the jacket to give it even more realism.
On his blog Joey L. explained "Photographing this in front of a live audience was a daunting task. Sometimes things don’t look as good as you envision them at first. You have to tweak and tweak and teak until you finally achieve what you set out to do. I think the most interesting parts of the shoot to the students of the workshop were actually where I failed at first, and overcame the mistakes step by step. Since I had a clear vision of the final image in my head, full control over the set, and knew what each light was doing, it was very easy to progress from the messy test shots and create the image I had imagined."
Watch this one minute video from the shoot to see all the effects and lighting come together.
I really dig the results of this shoot and hats off to Joey L. for pulling it off in front of live cameras and a group of students. To read more about this shoot and see additional behind the scenes photographs definitely check out Joey L's blog post. If you would like to see the entire shoot along with lots more instruction by Joey L you can download the entire creativeLIVE course directly from their website.