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Live Shoot: Subtle Cues through Direction

Lesson 26 from: Editorial Portrait Photography for High School Seniors

Dan Brouillette

Live Shoot: Subtle Cues through Direction

Lesson 26 from: Editorial Portrait Photography for High School Seniors

Dan Brouillette

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Lesson Info

26. Live Shoot: Subtle Cues through Direction


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


How to Make Senior Photos Stand Out


What is Lighting in Layers?


Build a Lighting Foundation


Layer One: Main Light


Layer Two: Fill Light


Layer Three: Accent Light


Layer Four: Additional Light


Lesson Info

Live Shoot: Subtle Cues through Direction

So what I am going to do next, because we are still not getting as much fill as I want, this is where we are going to start the light. And I am just going to get rid of this, so you guys can see. In fact, we will go all the way back over here. So we are using this soft beauty dish, so I want to use a somewhat soft fill as well. And I actually don't want to fill too much of this side, so I'm thinking that I want to fill from a similar angle to where our main light is coming from. But because this is hitting her here, I am going to keep my fill a little lower but from a similar angle, so we can still keep that overall mood but just light more of her vertically. So we are gonna add this second light here, so the lighting ratio basically won't change. We're just adding more light, but keeping our main light quality that beauty dish. So we're gonna use this umbrella, but because it's silver, we are gonna put the diffusion sock on it, which is right here. (plastic rustling) (pieces clicking ...

into place) Okay, get that set up. And a lot of these things, you know, you kind of know them beforehand going into a set up, but just so you guys can see the thought process acted out, we will do a little more with that. (plastic rustling) Almost there. Come on. Alright, so we are at 5.6 with the main light. I want everything to still read 5.6, so we're gonna start with this turned pretty low, and we will re-meter. I don't want it to go above 5.6, because that tells me that that light now has more power, since we already knew the top one was at 5.6. So what we're gonna do is still meter, so that is actually at 4 - you must have moved a tiny bit. Come, yeah, there we go. Okay, more. So, we are at 6.3, we need to go down just a little bit. (clicking) Almost. Alright, 5.6. And then I want to meter down here. I just don't want this at 5.6, I don't want it to be totally even, but like somewhere above 4.5, 5.0. It's a 3.6, so that means we need a little more fill here. (clicking) So, we are at 3.6, we are getting close. It is going to throw a little bit of a wrench into the top light too, because this light is not just hitting her hands, it is also hitting up here. So, this is just tweaking. So what I'm going to do is turn that, Oh, sometimes, these are on the same channel, and I am hitting this to adjust the light. I am just basically undoing what I just did, so that is also a good notice to look. So I want this to be higher, and we're gonna leave that. And I am only going to manually adjust the bottom one. So if this is a 5.6, this needs to go down, (clicking) and we are pretty darn close. This is the only problem of having this thing on a stick, is that I gotta lower it to change the power without changing the power of that one. And then we are almost there. Sorry, this is taking a little longer, but it's a little more intensive as far as settings, and in the meantime, like I said could happen earlier, I accidentally changed the ISO with my thumb. (laughing) So this is kind of one of those samples of everything that can go wrong in one little segment. That's good. Alright, so we got that. We are at f4 for that. Alright, here we go. Works like a charm, right? Let's move that there. Oka, so stay right in there, and now we should have a little more even light. Turn, yeah, here we go, 1, 2, 3 (click). I'm gonna have you turn way more this way. In fact, keep turning and I'm gonna have you turn back into the light. So go this way, now shoulders wide open. Yeah, just like that, head over the shoulder so we still have the same hair. Swoop this hair back over your shoulder, yep. So I am just watching the look, you know, for full flatter. 1, 2, 3 (click). Alright, I'm going to have you turn even more, yeah, there you go, and then head over that shoulder. Just let this arm hang down once. So we are going to, yep, 1, 2, 3 (click). Nose even more this way and eyes up. 1, 2, 3 (click) Yeah, we are getting closer. So the bottom light just needs to come up now that we have had her turn because she is blocking some of it. Alright, last look this and then we are going to change it up, 1, 2, 3 (click). Eyes up, 1, 2, 3 (click). Okay, we are going to be good with that, because I don't love it, and there is sometimes when you're shooting and it's just not quite working, that you just need to move on, and this is one of those times. (laughter) So what we are going to do next, is I'm gonna move you back to the center, we're gonna stay with this same outfit, and what I'm gonna do, is we're gonna switch the lights to something that is a little more forgiving space wise. We're not gonna do anything super soft with light yet, but we are gonna go more to an even light using two of the umbrellas. But they're both going to be soft. So we're gonna put diffusers on both of them. (rustling, clicking) And then, what we're gonna do, because we're gonna create a nice even light, is I'm gonna have her walk towards the camera, so we're gonna get that flattering portion of the walk. So we'll get into a little more direction with that in a nice, wide open, lit space. In fact, we're gonna take the diffusers off both, so we have a little more edge to the light. Because I feel like the way she's dressed and with how she is gonna walk, we can get away with that. (clicking, rustling) Alright. So our large light source is gonna be our main light, and our small light source is gonna be our fill and that is gonna go right behind me. We are gonna shoot her walking from a lower, almost a straight on lower angle, and we're gonna pick the sweet spot in the light for her to walk, and that's where we're gonna meet her from too, and then we're gonna show you guys a little trick. The further this umbrella is out, the more widespread the light. The closer down it is, the more narrow. So we'll be good about there. Alright, so what I'm gonna have you do is come stand right here looking straight ahead. So we wanna pick a spot where everything is gonna be looking good. We'll meter for, I'm going to turn this off, because I just want to meter for the main light, and we want to get back to 5.6. So you're basically going to just stand here, for like, two minutes. Too bright. (clicking) Counting down. Almost there, we are at 6.3. (click) Okay will go up two. Okay, 5.6. So, when she is there, what I'm going to do next is we want more fill, so we are gonna kinda do a quick lighting ratio. What I'm thinking is closer to that 1:1 look with a gray background. So we are gonna put this directly over where I'm gonna be sitting and I'm gonna measure, so that both sides of her face are measuring at 5.6. This will be a lot easier than what I just tried to do with that beauty dish. So it is going to be way too bright because we just added that in. Knowing that, we can turn this guy down, turn this guy down, so we will go this side, 5.6, this side almost there. Come up two, we are kind of balancing, because that side was down. They're both hitting both sides of her face, so 5.6. 5.6. Now, don't move yet. I'm gonna grab a little piece of tape. And what we are going to do with that, is we're gonna find the spot where she is standing right now, and because I'm gonna have her walk across camera into the light, so your left foot is gonna hit right here. Okay. So, now what we're gonna do, you can move since we know where the light is, I'm gonna have you walk backwards, because as we talked about before, the most flattering spot is when her front leg is going to be in front, her hips are back, this leg is across, and it's when this foot hits right here and this toe is going up. So, I am gonna have you walk backwards, and I'm gonna hit that spot when we're taking the photo, we'll get to where you are going to look. I'm also having her walk this way, because then she is walking into this light, so we are gonna keep her short lit. If she is looking this way or this way. We might even do something crazy and have her look back over her shoulder, I don't know. So you'll just be taking like two steps, just because I want her to be in a natural rhythm of walking. Now, I'm gonna stand right back here. And we'll get her feet in for a couple of these, but the idea isn't to do it, just because we don't have the full sweep out. We'll open up the laptop here. Alright. So we've metered, it's gonna be pretty flat light. So, it's gonna be real neutral. If we have to turn this down some to create more contrast we will. Let's actually, come up and take one test shot. So just stand with, almost do a fake one, have that foot back, yeah, and just be looking straight out here, yep. A little more over camera, yeah right there, 1, 2, 3 (click). Tricked ya', and by tricked, I mean tricked myself. (audience laughing) 1, 2, 3 (click) There we go. So pretty even light, but it still has good contrast because we are using the silver umbrellas. Now we are gonna get her actually in motion. So, I am gonna have you go back, walk back a few steps, and your whole goal is for your left foot to land on that tape. So if you need to do a practice one, and walk backwards. Let's move up, start there, and walk backwards. So start with your foot on that. Start with that food, and now walk backwards. Boom, boom, boom, we'll see if this works. So your first step is gonna be with your back foot. And I am gonna put my camera on continuous and I am gonna track here. So, ready, go. And I'll know when that foot is extended out. And that's when the light is in the right spot. So now, when you are doing that, look straight over me, towards that big black umbrella over there. Alright, yep, (click). Okay, keep going. I'm gonna move just so I'm a little more behind this, I don't want this fill so much over here. I want a little more contour to the light. Alright, go again, (click), there we go. Really good. I need to work on my holding the camera level. Alright, ready, go. (click) Perfect, that'll be better. Yep. One more time, and by one more time, you know what I mean, keep going. (click) And I am just trying to exaggerate the angle and get even lower, yep. Look even a little lower, but chin a little more like straight over my lens. Yep, go ahead. (click) There you go. This, yeah, yeah, that's really cool. Now what I'm gonna have you do is almost look straight down at the camera. So keep going, there you go, whenever you are ready. (click) Yep. Chin to camera just a little bit more, but that's great and untuck your hair, yeah. Alright, whenever you're ready. Ready, go, (click) awesome. Yeah, that's really good. Now, since we have that spot picked out, I'm going to have you stand there, and we are going to do something that's a little crazy. Actually, we are going to do one other thing first. I am going to switch and shoot this with a long lens from further away. She is going to stay right there. I'm gonna go back here and not get the light stand in the shot. So, do the same thing, you can keep walking, and you are going to stare way out at me, but because of the compression of this lens, it's going to be a little bit easier for her to look at me, and I don't have to be down as far. 'Cause I'm going to be zoomed in quite a bit. This is going to be more focused on a little closer up than the last ones, but not by a whole lot. Similar crop, I just don't want to get the floor in the shot. Alright, go stand on the shot real quick, just so I can make sure, and because I moved over this way, she is going to have more shadow, because now all the sudden, the light has moved around. But she's still short lit. One test shot, this might actually be pretty cool, right here. 1, 2, 3, (click). Yeah, that looks pretty cool. Head towards me a little more. 1, yep, 1, 2, 3 (click). 1, 2, 3 (click). Yeah, this looks pretty great, so I am just cropping just below where her shirt is hitting, and I don't really want to get her knees in there quite as much, but it is just part of the deal with the shirt. We are going to crop a little lower, 1, 2, 3 (click). And like I said, I'll end up sitting on the floor or something as fun. So, I am going to do one really close up one, same idea. 1, 2, 3 (click). And, again, once I have a shot that I like, I like to mess around with different lenses. Almost every outfit I use on a senior, I shoot the 35, the 50 and the 7200, especially like if we are outside walking, and you will see that from the preshoot videos tomorrow. I like to shoot, so you get all the different perspectives, focal lengths, you know, al that type of stuff, and the same with sitting on the ground, standing up and all that. I'm going to have you turn so you are facing that way almost looking back over your shoulder towards me, yep, right there. 1, 2, 3 (click). So we are still keeping the lighting angles all the same. A little bit more towards me. See how her nose crossed in front of her eye, I don't want that. So turn even more this way, right there. Yep, 1, 2, 3 (click), awesome. Okay, now go do the walk one more time, and I'm gonna shoot from back here. Okay, whenever you're ready. (click) Perfect, well, almost. It's actually pretty darn close. Just, even, exaggerate your steps a little bit more, so they're longer, I really want that left leg to go out, so it's more flattering. Yep, go ahead. (click) There we go. And just don't lean back quite as much. And ready, go, let your hair do whatever, that's fine. Just let it go (click) awesome. You know, I kinda like that, it worked out that the split happened not in front of her eye, so. I want to do a soft light set up but this actually works out really well because we want that 1:1 lighting ratio. So, we got that whole thing. I want to get a little bit closer up and do one last thing with this flatter lighting. So I am just going to do that with the 35mm, just so we can do it. So you can stay right there. I am gonna grab this. And I want these to be more smiley, and I am actually going to stand on this because she is taller. And these are going to be close up with a 35, so this will kind of answer the question earlier. So what I am going to have her do because of this, is lean towards me, just a little bit, yep, there you go. Feels weird, but it looks good in the camera. And I want you to let your hands down, but let your hair fall in front of your face, and you are going to move it with your close hand to me, but this time you are going to be smiling almost the whole time, and so, whatever you need to think about to get in that mindset, and you don't even need to make eye contact with the camera that much, just kind of be looking down, let the hair fall, fix it, let it fall, fix it. Because the light is over here, I am going to have her keep standing this direction. Hold on one second. Alright, one test shot. And we don't need to re-meter because we are already there. Perfect. So this is just a totally different look. In fact, I am going to have you use your back hand, no I'm not going to have you do that, yeah. Alright, ready? Keep this elbow tight. So what's happening here is this elbow that's close to me is looking larger. Alright, ready? Just let your hair fall, yep. Look down even more, yeah right there. Just keep smiling, yep, eyes right here. Move that hair, awesome, yep, one more, smile (click). Looking down, keep leaning towards me. So even exaggerate it more, lean straight towards me. Yeah, there you go, 1, 2, 3, (click). You can be smiling. Let the hair fall again. Yep, one more time, right there. Let the hair fall right in front of your face, now swoop it back, and right as you're doing it, look right up here. Yep (click), go ahead (click). Awesome. Alright, that's just, to use the and do a totally different look. It is still not unflattering, it's just different. And especially once we get in there and start toning things different. It is weirder to shoot, it's even weird to look through it when you're that close, but it's just something different. So hopefully, you guys got some different ideas, about, in studio direction and subtle use of props and looking different ways. We didn't have too many props but, with the jacket, you know, just subtle cues.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

Lighting Gear List

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Lighting Terms Guide

Ratings and Reviews

pete hopkins

awesome teacher and awesome technique. after soooo many webinars, it's really great to see someone break it down to the bare bones of lighting with exceptional quality results. i can listen to Dan all day. no pretense, no over the top emotional pleas, no drama! did i say awesome!!!! Plus, I'm a huge fan of the B! and B2 systems. Freedom is key. Now I can shoot anywhere, anytime. Thanks Dan.


This is by far the best class on senior photography I have found on creativelive. Dan explains the technical aspects in an easy to understand format. He does a great job going through studio shots, outdoor shots, editing and marketing. He's given me some great ideas and inspired me to be more creative. I am going to rewatch the lighting set up for the "hero shot". It's super cool!

Tristanne Endrina

Dan was great. His class was very comprehensive but easy to follow. The slides he used weren't flashy. Instead, they were simple and he went at a good pace. I left feeling like I could really pull off the lighting techniques he taught. I'm excited to put what I learned into my photography. :) Thanks, Dan.

Student Work