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In the Douglas Kirkland on Photography series, well-known photographer Douglas Kirkland explores a variety of real-world photographic scenarios, sharing technique insights and critiquing the results.
In this installment of the series, Douglas goes on location and shows how to shoot photographs for publications. He begins with a look at the planning and packing involved in an on-location editorial shoot. Next, he shows how to construct a photo that tells a story about its subject. He demonstrates how to light and position the subject and use props to best tell the story. After getting the shot that will be on the article’s opening pages, he shoots documentary photos that show the subject in action.
Finally, he reviews the best images from the shoot and shows how he uses Photoshop to complete his workflow and refine the images. Douglas also shows how the final images were used by the magazine’s art director and describes how editorial photographers must compose shots with page design in mind by leaving space for typography and other elements.
Douglas Kirkland> The shoot is today. Basically it's for the Craft Magazine. We are doing the lead picture and what-- well, in their case, what they wanted, the art directors, is that they wanted a Hollywood look of this lady and glamorize her. So, what it's going to mean is taking a main soft box and the low light. We should have a 9-foot seamless with us and the stands for the seamless.
This is a good example of a typical day where we're going on a magazine assignment. And it's a slightly different type of shoot. This is not like a portrait shoot, a traditional portrait shoot. She is a crafts person and she's going to be making something with clay, which she is a great artist at, and what they want is a forceful lead picture and then they said "Keep your eyes open for anything else." When you go on location as photographer, it's an entirely different ball game because you must have everything there.
You can't say, "Oh, if I only had another da, da, da." You have must bring it with you. And again, it's a strobe day for a number of reasons. First, that's a type of lighting the client basically wants. They don't want the sense of available light, which I love often, but the look that we are going for is this radiant, beautiful image and we have to have everything there. We have to have the spot grids, we have to have make sure that the holders are there for the grids, the radio transmitters for our strobe lights. We have in what we call our blue case, we have three heads and two 1000 watt packs.
So, you have to structure in your mind and you have to make choices. Especially this is one thing when we are in town, but it's even more complex, if you are going away as I've had to. For example, I was working on the film Australia. I was away for seven weeks. And you have to stop and think, what is everything I am going to need for the next seven weeks? And you better have it, because when you are out in the outback, thousands of miles, the other side of the Europe, you can't say "Gee, If I only had my special lens." You better bring it with you but at the same time, it's even more complicated because you can't take excess weight, because you have to drag all the stuff along.
Some people make a mistake of taking too much. So, the decisions are made, what you need, what you are going to use. Be practical. It's part of the game. Very, very important. This case is what we call the number one. Why do we call it the number one? Because it's the one that always goes. It's the one we put our meter in, our principal camera. See some of the transmitters are here. And in the side front pockets here we have lots of little tricks and things like there is a special screwdriver to tighten our tripod. There is a certain type of wrench that we require.
Here is a wonderful star and a mist filters that fit on our principal lenses. With adapters and otherwise. Sometimes, we can't take it if we are going certain parts the world but normally it's with us and has our meter in here. Anumber of our lenses are in here. Here's our 1DS Mark III here. That's the camera we're going to be principally using today and then there is a backup camera. I wouldn't go out without a backup camera. I don't want to go anywhere without one, because even though this equipment, modern equipment from I guess just about all manufacturers today but especially Canon, is highly reliable, weird things can happen and as a professional you cannot say "Hey I would gotten it, but the camera broke." The camera never breaks if you're really doing the job, whether you are professional or a serious amateur.
Bring back the goods. Again, I say, I repeat it, because that is what I must do today. No excuses! Just get the picture and make it good.
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