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Location Shoot: Senior Introduction to Shoot

Lesson 27 from: Editorial Portrait Photography for High School Seniors

Dan Brouillette

Location Shoot: Senior Introduction to Shoot

Lesson 27 from: Editorial Portrait Photography for High School Seniors

Dan Brouillette

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Lesson Info

27. Location Shoot: Senior Introduction to Shoot


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: Senior Introduction to Shoot

We're gonna move on to the location shoots, and we film those prior, like here in Seattle, at Golden Gardens, great location with beach, some cool old structures on the property, a lot of trees, and it worked out really well for what we wanted to do. And let's get started into that. So, there are a few different videos we're going to show, we have an introduction, and that's an introduction, not only to the models, but also, how I work with all the seniors to start. I know, earlier, we talked about doing that photo booth warmup, and we did that with both of the models at the pre-shoot. So, we'll show those, along with some of the resulting images. How to use the location, I spoke earlier about using your location to give you ideas. Not always having to think of everything on your own, you can look around, and use your resources. Use what the models give you. And, take that, you know, to your advantage. We're also going to talk about scenarios, and, you know, things from little cues, su...

ch as tying shoes and rolling up sleeves, to bigger storylines. We'll then work on walking, how to get, I know we talked, yesterday in the studio, about walking and getting those looks where it's flattering. I wanna move on and show how we did that outside on location, using lights, where not everything is in that controlled environment, like the studio, and you can see it was a little windy, so. And, then lastly, we'll talk about lighting outdoors. I know, earlier, we talked about that. The concept of it and how to do it, but I want to actually show you how to put it to use, in an actual shoot. From, you know, going over the metering, and the figuring out the composition and all that, to the actual shoot, so, it all comes together there. So, let's get started with the introduction. Again, our models there were Anna and Noah, and we'll take a look at that, how we started. We're here in Seattle, at Golden Gardens Park, and we are photographing a senior guy and a senior girl. We're gonna do a combination of editorial lighting, a couple of different setups here, we have some good locations picked out, we're gonna do a general intro, kinda how we get warmed up with the seniors. And then, we're also going to get into a little bit of editorial direction, and how you capture the personality of the senior, without necessarily posing them. So, giving them subtle cues, and putting them in scenarios, that bring out personality in a different way than you normally find in senior photography. So, with that said, let's get started. Alright, so come over here Noah, so one of the first things I like to do when I start any senior shoot is, kind of, a little ice breaker, and that's a photo booth. So, you've been in a photo booth before, right? Yeah. Almost everybody has, whether you're at a wedding, or with your friends. I like to do that, just to get a little gauge on people's personalities, and get loosened up. Do you wanna pop right over here, in front of this wall? And I'll be shooting this, I'm using a Nikon D810, this is a pro photo B2 pack, I like to use that, for the photo booth, simply because it's very lightweight, and I like to hand hold it, so the head of this light only weighs about a pound and a half, and with the sub-inch reflector on there, it controls the light a little bit, but gives that specular quality. Also, I can hold it up here all day, and not get tired. I'm shooting a 50mm lens, because it's wide enough, that I can get from just below his hands and up, but it's not too wide that it would be distorted, and I can't really do this with something like a 7200mm or, stand too far back. So, we'll be shooting that. Basically, every time I say "go", you're going to do something different, so whether it's smiling, you know, yelling, whatever brings out your personality, you feel comfortable with, and I'm just going to keep shooting. So, this will last about a minute, and we're gonna do about six to eight shots alright? Okay. So, I have this set up on TTL mode, for, just so that I can read it, and I put plus a half a stop, just so it's a little bit brighter. So, we'll start there, and let the light do some of the work for us, alright, ready go. (camera shutter clicks) Alright go. (camera shutter clicks) Alright let's see you yell at the camera, ready go. Alright perfect. (camera shutter clicks) Look out towards the window once, yep, now turn sideways, (camera shutter clicks) turn completely leaning into the wall with your shoulder. Alright, ready go, (camera shutter clicks) look right here. Looking over your shoulder that way again, (camera shutter clicks) Alright and one more time, let's see something crazy, what's your goofiest face? (camera shutter clicks) Alright, perfect. (camera shutter clicks) Good, alright, that was good. Now, it's Anna's turn, alright so what you can do is stay right in there, same idea, just kind of lean in against the wall, I'll get a little bit closer, so we'll do one test shot there. And then, again, anything you wanna do, whether you wanna hands out, hands up, anything you wanna do is totally up to you and, we'll do, like, six or eight shots. Okay cool. So one test shot here, this does not count but, yeah that's perfect. (camera shutter clicks) Awesome, alright, yeah smiley, whatever is your personality, so ready, yeah, go. Yep, right there, awesome, one two three, looking here, one big smile. Yep. (camera shutter clicks) Keep, now go with your back flat to the wall, yep and let's get hands, just kind of, like out front somewhere, yeah there you go, go. (camera shutter clicks) Alright, now you gotta do something goofy, what have you got? (laughs) (camera shutter clicks) Good, one more time, one more thing. Stand, just stay against the wall, and whatever you've got, something really silly, ready go. (laughs) (camera shutter clicks) Perfect, alright, that's good for starting. What we're gonna do next is, if you wanna switch into the purple shirt. Okay. Noah, you're gonna stay in that, and we're gonna go outside, and down the beach a little ways. Sure. Alright, so you, kinda, see how the warm up worked, you know, we did that earlier with the models in the studio and showing, you know, with Anna and Noah. You'll notice, just from seeing those shots, the screenshots from the actual camera, it's not so much about, what I'm telling them to do. You know, let's see your goofy face, it's that you keep shooting immediately after, because anytime you do something silly like that, it's gonna cause another reaction, where you get a genuine look. And the best pictures of that whole set, were of either Anna or Noah right after they did something goofy, where they started that laugh, and you got a genuine smile. And a lot of times when you have a senior who's maybe a little more stiff, or a little more uncomfortable, getting through that ice breaker, where they give you that natural look, it then let's me know what, you know, their smile actually looks like, rather than that, "cheese" type of face. And, I feel good about where I'm starting with the session. It lets them know it's gonna be a fun time. And that they can, kind of, let loose. And, one tip I have, is occasionally, and you'll learn this during the pre-session consult. You have seniors, that aren't so outgoing, so a lot of times what I'll do is, I'll hand them the camera to start, and I'll do the photo booth first. And that's okay, because all those pictures are gonna end up on my camera, and no one else will have them. (audience laughs) So, I'll do that, it kind of let's them know that, I'll let my guard down, and that it's okay to be that way. And then, I'll flip the script and have them jump in front of the camera, and if they're still feeling a little shy, I, sometimes, I'll throw in their mom or, brother and sister, or boyfriend, or whoever they brought with them, just to, kinda, get that connection going. So, they know how the shoot's gonna go. So, that's the general warm up I do, almost every single senior, and I don't always use that lighting setup either. In my studio I have a big, north facing, window with a white wall so, generally, I'll use that to start, just to keep things simple. But if I do use lighting, it's that lighting, because it works really well for that setup. It's pretty forgiving, it let's me have a little room to move around, and the quality of light just works well with that type of look. Here's one of the shots, that I just toned up a little bit in Photoshop, an alien skin of that shot. And, like I said, it wasn't so much that I had her, this was right after she did one of the those goofy faces. It wasn't so much that I care about the goofy face or, anything silly, it's that she, you know, she was moving her hair out of her face and laughing. And it was this genuine look. And I'd rather capture something like that, and sometimes this is the ticket to getting there. Yes? I noticed you said that, you will throw a boyfriend, or a mom in. Do you always request that they bring someone with them? Yeah, for multiple reasons, one being the fact that I'm a guy, I like to have someone else, and the majority of my clients in the senior world are, you know, 17 year old girls. So, I like to have someone else there, just because. Also, things with, you know, hair and wardrobe and, you know, if someone needs help. I'm not a hair stylist, or a wardrobe stylist, so you know, if their mom or sister or one of their friends comes along, it's really helpful. Plus, if we're out on location, using a reflector or things like that, it give me someone to help out. And those people like participating in all that. Yeah, I generally prefer, if not demand, that they bring somebody with them, usually a parent, and then, you know, a friend, sometimes they bring their whole crew. So, yeah, another question? Do you give them any sort of posing advice in the pre-consultation or? Yeah, I don't give them posing advice in the pre-consultation, but right before we do that photo shoot, the little photo booth warm up, I'll stand them up by the wall and I'll show them, kind of, you know generally, like I said earlier, if you're facing the camera this way, you're gonna want to have your weight on your back foot, just to keep the hips away from camera. We'll work on things with arms, you know, keeping a bit of separation because a lot of, especially females, don't want their arms to look big. So, we keep, you know, a little bit of separation with arms away from bodies and things like that. But generally, I'll keep that minimal because I don't want them overthinking that, or worried about it, or looking too posy so, as a photographer, I make sure that I make them look flattering, based on the situation, without going too much into that. Why don't you use continuous shooting instead of singles? Can the light not keep up or, is that just your methodology in terms of, one, two three? Yeah, I mean, as far as camera settings, it's on continuous for focus, but a lot of times, the light can't keep up if I'm just gonna be rapid-fire shooting, every other frame might be a little darker, it won't recycle quite as much. You know, and outside, when we're dealing with ambient light, competing with that, you have to have the light at even higher power, to get the look I want, which makes the recycle time even longer. So, I'm definitely not doing that out there. You know, if you're using one of the really high-end packs, like a pro8 pack, or something like that in studio. You can get away with that because the recycle time is almost instant, but for these, I just don't feel the need to do it and, you know, I'm not really trying to catch as much live action as, get these moments. So, I'm giving them a little time to reset, so I make sure we get that flattering shot. So, I'm not really worried about how fast I shoot. It's more of, getting the shot that I want. Cool, alright one more question before we go and set up the next video. This is from May November Photo, do you ever use a ring flash for those photo booth shots? Yes, I do use a ring flash a lot for those. The only reason I haven't done that here is because I know a lot of people don't have that. It's a really specific piece of equipment. I know the pro photo ring flash is around $1000. Especially, for something that high end. So, I don't, I wanna show alternative methods to get nearly the same result, for those who don't have that. Because, I only know a few people who own the ring flash because it is so specific. Yeah, I have one and I use it, but a lot of times, with the new pro photo B2, it's just so lightweight, and the results are so similar, that I just don't feel the need to use it as much.

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