Having a Studio on Location
Having a studio is great, but it can be restricting and limiting.
OK - it's lovely to have a changing room for the client, and being able to make coffees, and discuss ideas with the client, the hair stylist and the MUA (Make-Up Artist), and have the heaters on etc BUT, unless you have a very versatile studio it can be somewhat limiting.
I love locations - and I enjoy having to "wing it" and make use of what is available. Very often there are lots of great places that can easily be overlooked.
I am often asked where I am "based" or where is my studio. You can bet that if I did have a permanent studio, it would be inconvenient for someone or other!
I've shot in hotels, cafés, stately homes, disused railway engine sheds and all sorts of places that I couldn't possibly recreate in a fixed studio. In fact, someone was convinced that our "SS-Cornwall" shoot was in a studio (see my other blogs), but it was a simple café that we transformed for the afternoon and dressed like a film set.
In London recently we met with a client, the extremely talented designer and illustrator Emily Theodore - https://www.emilytheodore.com/. We've worked with her before on several different occasions, and this time we wanted something colourful, stylish and illustrative, as dynamic artwork is one of her trademarks.
We met in The Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank, but need somewhere close by that was sheltered and where we could set up some simple lighting equipment. I like to make things easy for myself, and for that reason I love using continuous lights. My preferred choice are Lupo LED lights - you can flood and spot them, even change the colour temperature without needing gels, and I just have to point them where I want them to go. No need to bother with flash guns, and then changing and adjusting again and again.
I knew of a place where my wife, Bergit, had shot a few years previously and it's a short walk from Waterloo station and a Mecca for street artists.
This beautiful little dragon sprayed on the wall just caught our eye. Even the artist watched as we set about the shoot. Unfortunately he never got in touch, and he must have lost our business card, as the little dragon had been partially sprayed over by the following morning, and is now lost forever.
So, if there is decent light available, then I like to work with it. It is natural, and will always look realistic, and very often it will be nothing you can recreate unless you are on a massive studio film set. You can either use the available light as a light source in itself, or augment it with a light or two of your own. I often like to use the available light as a back light or fill - that's neither right or wrong, but just the way that works for me.
A main light, in this case a Lupo Dayled 1000 provided the "Key" on Emily's face. I metered the back ground with the natural light, underexposed by a couple of stops, and then metered off her face so I knew how to set the brightness of the main light. I always meter so that I get it right. My one piece of advice no matter what equipment you use, is it get yourself an Exposure Meter!
The Lupo lights with their fresnels give a real "cinematic" feel which is a look I love. They don't blast the scene with light like a speedlight, and have a real Hollywood production feel to them. Look at the beautifully sculptured light that is used extensively in "Game of Thrones" for a real masterclass in how to paint light and shade, and three-dimensional depth, and even create mood.
Anyway, enough of the lights. Shooting on location can also add to the atmosphere and really affects the way I work in a positive way. I can't sit back on my laurels, and we had a small crowd watching us, even the local constabulary came by to have a look!
Working on a location also influences the model, or the client in this case (Emily is not a professional model, although I know she has got what it takes)! The colour, the grunge and grime, the people watching, the other artists spraying on the walls, the music, the noise and rumbles of London all added something which I never could have recreated in a studio.
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