Skip to main content

Location Shoot: Create Scenarios

Lesson 29 from: Editorial Portrait Photography for High School Seniors

Dan Brouillette

Location Shoot: Create Scenarios

Lesson 29 from: Editorial Portrait Photography for High School Seniors

Dan Brouillette

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

29. Location Shoot: Create Scenarios


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

Location Shoot: Create Scenarios

The next part is scenario. So, Anna was a dancer. Before she ever came in, before we met, we had a little phone conversation. It was almost our pre-session consult. And she told me that she was big into ballet, that she's been dancing ever since she was four years-old. That gives me something to work with right there. So I said, "Why don't you bring your dance stuff?" because, two reasons, one, that lets her personality show within her photos, and two, it's something she's comfortable doing, and something that I know will look good because dancers are really great at taking direction and they also are... Hm, hello! They're also very aware of their body and positioning, so they almost make the flattering photo for you. In fact, sometimes they're so picky, I'm like, "Alright, does it really matter about that toe?" And the answer is yes, it does to them. So I knew she would be great with that. So we're gonna work a little bit both in the building at the park, and then we're gonna move out...

side, which actually I think is a later video. So we'll talk a little bit about putting her in a scenario. I think we had her tie up her toe shoes and just kinda let her move and do her thing while I capture it, and so let's take a look. Okay, so now we've moved inside. We have Anna in her ballet tutu and she's gonna be lacing up or tying up, I don't know what the correct term is. I'm not a dancer. Tying. Tying up her shoes. The idea is that we're gonna use the room, which obviously has a lot of ambient natural light coming in from the sun. We're gonna use that as a backlight for her, and then we're gonna counter that with the Profoto B1 with the white beauty dish. Basically, how I have it arranged is that the backlight is coming in from one side. The strobe, which is gonna be the main light, is coming in from the opposite side. And from the direction I'll be shooting, we're gonna be short lighting her again, so again, from the side that her face will be looking into the light. And we're gonna do, I like putting, especially with seniors that are into activities, I like kinda getting them involved more in the activity that they're in, and less so in that it's a photo shoot. So, I'm gonna have her kind of in the mindset that she's tying up her shoes. We're gonna do it multiple times so that way I can get detail shots of her hands actually tying the shoes, and then just create an overall really pretty picture of this great room with the light and everything kind of setting that mood. I am going to meter, so we're gonna set up the same as what we've been doing. So, I'm gonna take a shot of the room here real quick with my camera just to kinda get a baseline for settings. Knowing that it's darker in here, I up my ISO to 200. I'm gonna shoot at 1/100th of a second at 2.8. I don't know if those are the settings yet, but I'm gonna take one shot. So you don't have to do anything here, this is just strictly for settings. I'm also framing it out in this first stage. Behind her head from my angle I can see there some outlets and things like that. I wanna hide all of that. The less Photoshop I have to do later, the better. So I frame that directly behind her head. Framing this shot up, just kinda watching where the tutu is laying on the ground. Look right over here real quick, alright. (shutter clicks) Oops, I actually didn't want the strobe to go off yet, so I'm gonna turn it off. Take one just with the natural light. (shutter clicks) Alright, and we're at a really good spot. I'm actually gonna turn my ISO back down to (shutter clicks) because I just want the edge light to be really subtle. Alright, so there we go. So we're at 2.8 on our aperture, ISO 100 at 1/100th of a second. And now what we're gonna do, knowing that, is we're gonna re-meter for ISO at a 100th of a second at 2.8. So we'll set our meter. First, we'll turn it on. We'll set that to a 100th of a second at ISO 100, and then we're gonna go take a test shot, and we want the F-Stop to read 2.8, and then we know everything's balanced. So we'll take the, turn the trigger on, the lights on. 2.8 is pretty low power so I'm gonna turn the strobe down to start just as a guess. So, we'll give a test fire here. Alright, and now we'll meter her forehead. And we are at one one, so we need more power. We'll go up. And again, we're looking for 2.8. Almost there. And I could change the power from the camera. Sometimes I just like to do it manually. Almost there, two more clicks. Alright, and we are at 2.8. So now that we know everything's set technically, we don't have to worry about the light anymore, we don't have to change camera settings, we can just focus on Anna and shooting. So, I'm gonna have you first, we're gonna do one shot. I like how you're sitting right there. Just kinda hide that shoe down to your side and look right at me. I'm gonna frame it up again just how we had it. And I'm shooting with the 50 millimeter lens. (shutter clicks) There we go. One, two, three. (shutter clicks) Awesome. So now I'm gonna have you actually lace up the shoe and just concentrate on what you're doing. We're gonna do it a couple times. So you do that, I'll just be shooting and moving around. Yep. (shutter clicking) And I'm gonna get a little bit closer so we can get some shots of her hands doing that. (shutter clicking) Alright, good job. (shutter clicks) Right when you're about done, you can stop, and then actually just completely start over. (shutter clicking) Alright, I'm gonna have, turn a little bit more this way. That's good right there. So now I'm gonna shoot a couple horizontals. Those last ones were all vertical. (shutter clicks) Yep, and since it's a still frame, I can't really tell whether she's untying or tying it. So, we can get both motions and get double the photos. (shutter clicking) And I'm just gonna keep shooting and reframing. (shutter clicking) Because the way we set the light up, they all look exactly how I want. So we can just keep shooting. Again, I'm gonna get in and get some closer ups on her hands. (shutter clicking) And then just tie it up all the way, and then we'll get a couple shots right there. (shutter clicking) Alright, good job. (shutter clicks) I'm gonna scoot way back here once. I'll just get one of the full scene. (shutter clicking) Perfect. Okay, so now what I want you to do is just kinda bend that knee a little bit more. This one? Yeah, just kinda how, you know, bring your foot towards your body a little bit more. Yeah, there you go. And I like how you were reaching out and extending almost like when you were tying it, but I'm gonna have you look at camera. So just try it once just to see how it looks. So almost like you're tying, but you'll be looking at me. Yeah, and you can just kinda keep not a full smile or anything, just kind of a soft subtle look. Just to mix it up, I'm gonna move the light a little more around the back. So we're gonna make it even more dramatic just so we can get a little more variety within the shoot. I'm keeping the light the same distance away from her so we don't have to re-meter. We know that the power and everything is gonna be where we want. So we'll start there, and I'm also just, just to do it, I'm gonna switch lenses and shoot with the so we can really get some of the rafters of the building and other interesting elements into the shot just to get something a little different. Alright. So again, I'm hiding those outlets behind her. Oh yeah, this is gonna be cool. Alright, so look in right here. One, two, three. (shutter clicks) Oh yeah, very cool. One, two, three. (shutter clicks) One just like that. One, two, three. (shutter clicks) Alright, I'm gonna shoot a horizontal and get some more of this natural light coming in. Alright, one, two, three. (shutter clicks) Another thing I like to do when shooting is move people around in the frame, whether they're taking up the majority of the frame or if they're just small, in one of the corners, the middle, or any of the thirds, just to get more variety within the shot. So, I'm gonna put her right in the middle of the window in my frame. So you don't have to move, just lean back a little bit. And I'm gonna get both sets of these doors, and she's gonna be in the bottom third with this light coming in from the left side. Alright, so I'm zoomed out all the way to 24 millimeters. One, two, three. (shutter clicks) Awesome. One, two, three. (shutter clicks) One more like that. One, two, three. (shutter clicks) And one, two, three. (shutter clicks) Okay, great. The next thing we're gonna do is I'm gonna have Anna stand up, and we're gonna go in front of the doors over here and just really backlight it. So if you want to come right over here, you can stand about here. Okay. And we'll do more pose, you know, whatever you have as far as dance. Okay I don't know what you call it. I'm not a dancer, like I said, I'm not even gonna pretend to be one. So, I'm gonna light. Since we have so much backlight coming in, we're gonna really set up for a test shot first. So I'm gonna have this light off to start. And we're gonna use the light as a subtle fill for this one so it won't be our main light because we kinda wanna have this angelic glow coming in from the ambient light coming through the doors. So I'm gonna switch back to the 50 millimeter. I'm gonna frame it up. There's an archway here. I wanna get the whole thing. And I'm gonna grab an apple box to sit on. All right. So, the one thing I'm picky about is making sure everything's square so I wanna make sure I'm right in the middle. You don't have to do anything yet. I'm just gonna be framing up the shot. So, if you wanna scoot this way just a little bit and come towards me one big step. Alright, I'm just making sure that everything is gonna fit, and it's not. It should be good here. Oh, yeah, this is perfect. So, basically my frame is coming from right beneath her toes to the top archway of that door. I'm gonna take one test shot here just to see how much ambient light is coming in. (shutter clicks) And the answer is quite a bit. So I'm at 2.8 at 1/125th at ISO 100. I'm actually gonna open up to ISO 160. (shutter clicks) Alright, just so we can really flood the back with light. And now we're gonna balance that. So when you're posed... Give me a couple sample poses of what you'll be doing. Okay. Okay, so what I'm looking for is where her head is pointed, because that, wherever her nose points, that's where I want my light to come from. So do that one more time. So her nose is pointed off to our right, so I'm gonna move my light to that side. That way she's looking into the light. So, as far as getting catch lights and creating nice flattering light, we can keep it consistent. I'm also gonna light. I feel like this is more dramatic, so I'm gonna light it pretty much from the side so we're gonna have a lot of falloff in the shadow. So we'll turn the light on. I'm gonna put it nice and high because we wanna have a good fall off from the light so she's lit from head to toe, and that's about as high as this stand will go. And then I can move it back just a little bit. Alright, so that's good right there. So again, our settings are 1/100th at F 2. at ISO 160. So we'll meter again. We'll set the meter same settings as before. The only difference is we're turning up the ISO to 160. And we're at 2.8, so we're gonna put it at her forehead here, take a test reading. It's at four. That's because we went up an ISO from the last shot. So we'll bring it down. Should be just about there. Alright, and we are at 2.8. So everything is set up, so now we just need to shoot. So I'm gonna come back to my spot. So, yeah this is perfect. Scoot this way a little bit. I'm just making sure she's really centered. That's good. Do one practice one, go into your pose. Alright, this is gonna be great. So, I'm just making sure that I'm wide enough to not cut off her fingers on the edge of the frame when she puts her arms out. So, on three, you go up and then I'll take the shot. And we'll have to do this about three or four times. So, one, two, three. (shutter clicks) Awesome. Oh yeah, this is great. Yep. When you go up into that pose, you shift a little bit this way. Start this way a little bit more. Yep, there you go. And one, two, three. (shutter clicks) Awesome. One more. Actually, two more. I say one more a lot. I usually don't mean it. Alright, one, two, three. (shutter clicks) Awesome. Another one just like that. One, two, three. (shutter clicks) Last one, don't start quite as far that way, and then we should be good. And I'm actually gonna shoot from a little lower. Alright, one, two, three. (shutter clicks) Alright, great. So the next thing I wanna do is one more shot with this. I'm gonna have you do one more pose, but more just standing there looking back at me, since our light is already set up on that side, I'm gonna have you start. The back of your leotard is pretty cool how it shows the back and everything like that, so I'm gonna have you turn this way towards the light and then looking back over your shoulder towards me. Yep. Yeah, that's great. So we're gonna kinda use the same framing. I'm gonna move just a little bit to put her right in the middle of a window. And since all the distances are the same, the light power is still the same, but we can get another shot using all the same set up. So one, two, three. (shutter clicks) Alright, one more just like that. One, two, three. (shutter clicks) Alright, last one. One, two, three. (shutter clicks) Okay, perfect. Alright. So, here's one of the edited shots from that section. And, you know, just toned it up a little bit. I will say one thing that wasn't perfect about this shoot, which happens a lot, is if I were to do it again with that first section where she was sitting on the ground, I would have put a grid in the beauty dish. Going on locations, sometimes you don't have everything you need. Another thing you could do, I was getting a little too much spill on the back wall, I want to keep it nice and dark so she would really stand out. And without the grid controlling the spillable light, we were getting a little bit too much spread. Another thing you could do to combat that is turn the beauty dish back towards the camera, so that way the light, the spill of the light is actually happening outside of the frame. So just a couple things that, you know, if you don't have the right equipment or you're trying to control light just kinda figuring out where you don't want light to hit and how to keep it off of there and out of the frame. So that's something I would do a little different if I were to do it again. And when we moved to this set up, it didn't really matter because so much of the ambient light was coming in that where the beauty dish was basically just hitting her and giving that nice little bit of light on her right side, or right side for us viewers, and letting in so much ambient that she just kinda glow. And then when I went to edit it, I wanted to have that nice warm tone. It was kinda calling for that with the amount of light we're using. Yes. In the pre-consult you do with your clients, especially with the students that do other activities, like myself, I'm a ballet dancer myself, there's really specific things that we do look for. How detailed do you get into it with the clients on what it is that they want, even the nitty-gritty part? A lot of times, yeah, that's a great question, and especially with dancers or any athlete, I wanna know if there are specific things that they're looking for, I wanna make sure that they're happy, especially with dancers. I know if we're doing something that's more like this, I wanna make sure that they're happy with the resulting image or that we're gonna do something a little more active. If they wanna do things like jumping that we have time for them to stretch and so that way... I know that's really important, just being fully loosened up. So that way they're comfortable and it's similar to what we talked about earlier about somebody who goes and does a different hairstyle before their photo shoot, and they're not comfortable and something goes wrong. I want somebody like a dancer or anybody who's in any activity to feel like they're warmed up or fully ready for that, so when they're looking back on the photos, they're not thinking, "oh, I could have done that so much better "had I had time to loosen up." Or with somebody's hair, "I wish I had done my hair the way I know how to fix it "so I wouldn't have felt uncomfortable." So we talk about that because I want them to feel comfortable at the shoot. She told me she was just gonna bring that one tutu, and one thing that wasn't ideal is she actually didn't have hers at the time, so she brought a friend's, and it wasn't sitting quite how she wanted. So, it was one of those things where once we got past that part, it was fine, but, you know, again, in the consult, we try and iron out all those details, but things happen where not every shoot goes as smooth as possible, and sometimes the photographer forgets the grid. So, yeah, we try and iron all that out beforehand, but again things happen. You just kinda gotta go with it and minimize, even if it to you is, you're thinking, "Ooh, this isn't awesome." You can't let them know that. And sometimes, if they're feeling like they have a problem, I'll minimize it as well and be like, "Oh, it's really, "you know, it's not that big of a deal. "It looks great." Keep the positive vibes going. So, yeah. Many times there's a lot of interesting locations and stuff that you're going to. Do you often get involved with having to do location releases, permissions, things like that? Sometimes we do. I know we did a shoot with a girl who was in theater, and she wanted to be on the stage at one of the theaters in Omaha, and they normally charge a fee and all that sort of thing. If there's something like that where there needs to be a release, I generally let them handle that. Because if there's a fee or anything like that, it's their photo shoot, it's their activity. Usually they have the connections. If it is somebody I know, great. But a lot of times when there's a location that requires something, extra that we don't normally do, I let them set that up. I know last year we had a girl who wanted her photos in this big garden. It's owned by, privately owned gardens. I don't know anybody who works there, but I said, "That's awesome. "I will definitely do photos, "but I want you guys to call "and get permission and set it up, "because I'm not trying to add anything else "to my normal workload." And it's so specific to them that I'd rather have them take care of it and make it work. Plus, if the answer is no, and I'm the one who's telling them no, it doesn't go over as well as if it's the location. I just kinda want them to handle the special parts like that.

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