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Hotel Flash Photography with Celebrities
Ready or not, you just gotta say yes.
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In his photography masterclass, Joel Meyerowitz was waxing poetic about saying YES to the photograph and motherf*cker, I heard that and felt it in my core.
Leave any hesitations and what-ifs at the door. Just say yes and take the photograph. This is the philosophy that found me in a posh hotel at the 2022 Filmfare Awards with singer/songwriter, Dhee.
Hotel suites can feel spacious but once you throw talent, her mum, five makeup artists, a photographer and his assistant into the mix… Well, suddenly it feels tighter than ladies night at the hottest dive bar in New York. How do you stay creative and get the shot in this setting?
Let me walk you through my thought process across 13 shots.
Land some establishing shots of things around our subject to flesh out the story of the day. Some easy reps to warm up the shutter.
Look for details that might foreshadow something later.
Get up close and low to easily put your subject in a position of power. In this case we have this overt juxtaposition of this strong look with a delicate beauty brush.
The ol’ frame within a frame. Our subject on the other side of a ring light with two makeup artists adding some layers to the image.
Drop the shutter speed to a third of a second and twisted the camera like the lid off a cold pickle jar. The result is an image that conveys speed, chaos, and motion.
Get wide, step back as far as you can and capture a candid moment of everything that’s going on.
Keep playing with distance and even obstruct the viewer in a way that sparks curiosity.
That flash cable you saw earlier? Stretch that sh*t behind your subject, angle the camera high and fire down for this dramatic, voyeuristic shot.
Pay attention! You never know when an interesting frame will present itself like this situation here. Aperture at F8.0 and fire the flash at a high enough power to make sure we get all the details we need.
Have some fun with composition. In this case, a detail shot where we shove the point of focus to one side of the frame.
How about a medium shot with the eyes out of frame and a flash above our subject for some drama? Vary the portraits.
Do you need to land perfect focus for a good shot? Maybe, maybe not. Sometimes it’s more important to capture a mood.
Full power on the flash and a super narrow aperture to blackout even the most chaotic background.
That’s a wrap
So now you have an idea of what I was feeling while I captured those images. Not thinking, but feeling.
This assignment came with one day notice: the chance to capture some intimate portraits of a massively talented artist at the most prestigious film awards in India. Ready or not, you just gotta say yes.
When you make a habit of saying yes, and doing so on a regular basis, photography becomes even more instinctual where you feel it more than you see it.
It’s the thousands of times of saying yes to the photograph prior to this moment that led to this assignment being a success for us. So yea, if there’s any takeaway this week, it’s to go out and say yes to the f*cking photograph. Take those pictures and make Joel happy.