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An Impossible Photo with Andrew Schulz Live
Plus a new Capture One Pro contest!
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Last weekend, I had the opportunity to document Andrew Schulz at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. The job was to bring in a team and capture a ton of coverage video and key images that could be used to promote his tour.
Now look, there were at least four other photographers on site, making the same rounds, following the same shot list, and just crushing the work. Because of this, I knew that I had to land at least one unique image to have my work stand out. A signature shot that—even if it weren’t ideal from a branding point of view—would quickly establish my creativity in the moment.
I managed to find that shot. A shot that several kept saying was impossible, and if it weren’t for the fact that I snapped and shared it before the show was over, people would’ve thought it was the work of Photoshop. Here’s the story of my signature shot from that night.
The Signature Shot
At any arena show, you have lights and screens coming together to elevate the audience experience. However, compared to a musical performance, a comedy show is pretty bland because you don’t want to distract the audience. You want everyone to be tuned into the storytelling. Which makes sense.
So, is there an opportunity to use what is being projected in a creative way? In this case, Andrew had The Life Tour displayed on a large screen behind him and while it’s easy to juxtapose that when you shoot head on, what if we could throw it in front of him like a hologram?
And look, I don’t wanna sit here making you think that I thought of this for the first time at this show, haha. I’ve experimented with these type of shots before, so it was just a matter of recalling this trick in the moment. For this to work, you need some pieces and variables to get a great result:
A unique piece of glass or prism you can hold in front of you of your lens to refract the light. I don’t know if they make the exact one I used anymore but this one is very close.
A lens with a very wide aperture. I used the new Leica Summilux 50mm F1.4 for this shot.
A strong light source and good amount of contrast in the environment. Inside of an arena with large LED walls works great.
And a worthwhile concept. It’s easy to make funky, abstract with this technique but landing a more intentional shot requires some creativity.
With the right variables in place, I set myself stage right just behind Schulz, set my aperture wide open, exposed for the highlights, prefocused on the subject, and angled the prism right under the lens until _The Life Tour_ was in the place I wanted. Another thing to keep in mind is that whatever your refracting into the lens with the prism will likely appear backwards, so you’ll have to flip it horizontally in post.
It took a few minutes to get the composition right but I was able to land several options, this one being my favourite. I then threw it into Capture One, flipped it horizontally, applied one of my colour Styles, and AirDropped it to the Schulz team. Be it that night or the day after, multiple people couldn’t believe this shot was done in the moment. I’ll take it as a compliment.
So, was this the client’s favourite photo? Will I get credited if this gets shared? Will this secure the next gig? Who cares.
My goal was to capture key images from the client’s shot list and land at least one signature shot for myself. I did that, and that’s all that matters. Whatever happens afterwards is out of my control and not worth my concern today.
The Safe Shots
Normally I’d wrap the email up here but let me share some of the safe shots I captured for the client to give you an idea of how I navigated the space during the show.
Here’s a shot showing the subject with the audience in the foreground and negative space to highlight the size of the arena.
To be honest, this may be the hardest shot to land: a tight audience interaction shot where the foreground is silhouetted against an in-focus subject.
Here’s an eye-level wide shot that showcases the audience and stage.
I made sure to capture a collection of medium shots that align our subject against the tour name. I like this one especially because of the spotlight guiding our eyes to the subject who’s just cheesing.
A super-wide shot from the the nosebleeds to really show off how much of achievement this event is. I’ll be honest, I gotta bump the shadows here and send the client a better version.
I was going faster than expected so I made time for some more creative shots but this time, throwing our subject out in front to give that larger-than-life feel.
After a brief exit to offload some footage, I came back to wrap the shot list with some well-timed mediums and wides to showcase our subject on stage.
I’ve been following Schulz well before COVID and I never would’ve imagined being able to work with him for his biggest show to date. It comes with a lot of pressure and responsibility but lucky for me, I had an amazing team by my side. The opportunity to set out to capture a signature shot is the result of all of us firing on all cylinders and nailing the fundamentals. Creativity really is a team sport.
Each month, I run a contest for the Church & Street community and try to feature something that I think people will appreciate.
For October, I’ll be giving away a one-year subscription to Capture One Pro. Yes, an entire year of Capture One Pro on me! This is the image editor that I’ve relied on for years and the one I recommend for regular photographers.
How am I picking the winner? All you have to do is be a member of this community and leave a comment on this post. As with every contest, I’ll be randomly picking one person, confirming they meet the requirements and then contacting them directly before announcing the winner publicly.
Once again, this contest is void where prohibited by law. Good luck!
Reader Question: When will you release your new Capture One Styles pack?
Haha, the pressure is on! For those of you that don’t know, I’ve been working on a new set of Styles for capture one pro over the last year and just when I was about to launch it… I changed my mind. I had learned a few new tricks and wanted to re-work all the styles so that they’re the best tools for my work.
Rest assured, the goal is to release them this year as a versatile pack that users will look forward to using for their photography. Stay tuned.
October was supposed to be a quieter month but it looks like I’ll have the opportunity to work on some personal projects on the road. If any of you are reading this from Salt Lake or Los Angeles, let me know in the comments. I might be in your city pretty soon.
Anyway, that’s enough for this week. See ya next time!
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