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Archive 2012 · Large Group Portrait
  
 
cas5
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p.1 #1 · Large Group Portrait


I just got an assignment to shoot a group of 100 doctors and nurses at a hospital. The shot is going to be taken at 6:30 a.m., 45 minutes before sunrise! Any thoughts about posing, lighting, good or bad examples would be appreciated.


Nov 29, 2012 at 07:04 AM
Eyeball
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p.1 #2 · Large Group Portrait


I am not posting this to slam you. It's just out of concern for your potential clients and your business.

Are you sure you're up for this?

I have a few reasons for asking:
- I took a look at some of your work and while you have some good images, you also have quite a few mediocre ones. It makes me wonder if maybe you are not yet at the point where you can really tell a difference.
- You seem to be trying a lot of different things (weddings, families, events, groups, etc.) and experimenting with a pretty wide variety of equipment in a pretty short time. Nothing at all wrong with "hustle" but I would suggest making sure your sales hustle and your ability hustle are more-or-less synchronized.
- Even the way you posted your inquiry gives me a "lack of experience" vibe. It comes off a little like "I want to build a rocket ship. Any suggestions?"
- 100 well-paid medical professionals and the hospital that I assume is the client could create a mega-storm of negative word-of-mouth for you if you don't handle the shoot in a professional, controlled, and calm manner or if the final result is less than very good.

That said, here is my suggestion:
- Re-post in either the Lighting or Sports forums. The lighting forum gets pretty light traffic these days but there are still some good lighting folks that check in there. The low traffic may actually help you since here in People you are likely to get cycled off the front page rather quickly. The Sports forum might even be a better place to post. Those guys shoot large groups regularly and have experience with posing groups, using large lights and modifiers, etc.. They can be merciless though, so spend some time constructing your post and providing some information from your side.
- That last point is important. If you want some good feedback on this, you need to provide some half-decent info from your side. Examples:

* How soon is the gig
* Do you have the location selected for the group? If so, what is it like? If not, what are the alternatives?
* Does "6:30am, 45 minutes before sunrise" mean complete darkness? I would assume so but state that clearly.
* Is it possible that other light sources will impact the photo (street lights, etc.)?
* How do you expect nearby structure to influence the shoot/lighting? Colored wall that would throw a color cast? White wall that could be used for bounce/fill?
* What are the constraints regrading arrangement of the group? Will they be spread out horizontally or going up stairs vertically?
* What equipment do you currently have and what is your level of experience with it? How powerful are your lights and what kind of modifiers?
* If considering renting or buying equipment that you don't currently have, how much time will you have to practice and get familiar with the equipment?
* How much time are they giving you for the shoot? 100 doctors and nurses doesn't sound like the most patient group you could have.
* How much access and set-up time are they going to give you?

Anyway, I hope you get the idea.



Nov 29, 2012 at 02:47 PM
CW100
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p.1 #3 · Large Group Portrait


Eyeball wrote:
I am not posting this to slam you. It's just out of concern for your potential clients and your business.

Are you sure you're up for this?

I have a few reasons for asking:
- I took a look at some of your work and while you have some good images, you also have quite a few mediocre ones. It makes me wonder if maybe you are not yet at the point where you can really tell a difference.
- You seem to be trying a lot of different things (weddings, families, events, groups, etc.) and experimenting with a pretty wide variety of equipment
...Show more


I agree with this ^^
unless you have good lighting equipment and the experience it may be difficult to pull off. But there are resources, check the lighting section here, DPreview, etc. or if you want specific advice on lighting large (100+) groups see the lighting section at
http://photography-on-the.net/forum/index.php as there are recent threads and set-up pics on shooting large groups using Einstein, Elinchrome, etc.





Nov 29, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Michaelparris
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p.1 #4 · Large Group Portrait


Scout location before you go. Have in mind what you want so you can work quickly. Get a ladder and shoot from above. Google posing large groups. Stay in the moment and don't panic. That many people you really have to take charge. Make them feel like you know what you are doing (don't let them see you sweat). If you are using natural light make sure no one is in the shade. If you are lighting I think you would need 2-3 lights with large modifiers minimum......Lastly, say a prayer. Good luck, enjoy the ride.


Nov 29, 2012 at 03:34 PM
bwield
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p.1 #5 · Large Group Portrait


Posing will likely be very simple. It is the lighting you want to make sure you have down up / down and backwards.




Nov 29, 2012 at 03:34 PM
jefferies1
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p.1 #6 · Large Group Portrait


I would not expect to be shooting at the time mentioned. A group that big will be late. I would estimate 25% of them late. This will push you back and make the rising sun a issue. Not sure why you would want to shoot a large group in the dark anyway unless a lit background is going to be part of the photo.
For groups it is not the numbers but the position. If they fit on stairs in a 8 foot wide space going up 12 feet high then you need lights that can reach deeper into the group. Means higher placement so very high stands.
Would really need a photo of the location at that time of day to give any suggestions.



Nov 29, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Miker2
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p.1 #7 · Large Group Portrait


In the dark that is going to be almost impossible without a huge amount light.
And yeah people will be late.
Try to reschedule for 1 hour after sunrise or before sunset and shoot with natural light out of direct sun. Pray for a bright cloudy day.
Shoot from above and look for a hill/slope for the group so they are on a hill of some sort so they can stagger heights.



Nov 29, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Steve Wylie
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p.1 #8 · Large Group Portrait


You also need to be somewhat distant from the group as well, in order to minimize the apparent size difference from the front row to the back. If you're too close to the front folks, the rear folks will look tiny.

If you're stuck with this time frame, I would urge you to work closely with the client to get them to help wrangle this group. I'd also scout this location heavily, as recommended above, to know exactly what you're dealing with. What needs to be in the frame and what shouldn't be in the frame. What's the ambient light (it might be a plus, who knows?), etc.



Nov 29, 2012 at 05:16 PM
vraspa
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p.1 #9 · Large Group Portrait


I have to agree with eyeball, you may be in over your head. I imagine they forced you into this time slot which would allow a larger number of people to attend. If your going to try to shoot this before dawn your in for a nightmare. You will need a Hollywood lighting truck and crew to make it work. Even if you manage to light all of the people evenly, the background and surroundings will still present a problem. If you can manage to reschedule to daylight it would really make things easier. I do these types of shots often so here are a couple of other things you might want to look into. Where to shoot. A set of risers would allow you to shoot anywhere (can be rented). A set of steps will do if risers are unavailable. Take a step ladder with you and position yourself at eyelevel with the center row. A set of folding chairs will make for a good front row for department heads, etc. Keep in mind what size the final prints will be. If your giving them all 8x10's they will need to be cropped properly. Remember your shooting 4x6 so leave adequate space for cropping. Don't shoot on auto exposure and don't meter off of white lab coats. Make sure your camera is level and parrallel to the middle row. This will help maintain sharpness from front to back. Focus just behind the front row. Try to shoot at about f8.0 for increased depth of field. Finally, shoot at least 5 frames, someone is going to close thier eyes or look away on 4 of them. You might even want to consider hiring someone to help you with more experience for your first try. If I can figure out how to upload here I will try to post a sample. Good luck.


Nov 29, 2012 at 05:23 PM
cas5
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p.1 #10 · Large Group Portrait


The shoot is in 8 days. Considering the size of the group, I think we'll be forced to either use the front lobby, which, might be difficult as it opens to the public at 5:30 am, which means involving security and limiting access or we use the front lawn and use the hospital as a backdrop, which probably pisses people off because 6:30 am is cold. The front of the building, entry area and lobby are colorfully lit, so that might work well. 6:30 am means it's pitch black outside, the entire group would have to be lit. Lighting such a large group evenly, balancing with the ambient and getting sufficient DOF is an interesting problem to solve. I don't have any constraints on how the group is arranged, but, whether they are in the lobby or outside they are all on the same level.

Equipment: D800e plus backups. I've got 8 Einsteins with a variety of modifiers and CyberSyncs for triggers. Relevant Lenses 14-24/24-70/70-200/35 1.4/85 1.4. Tripods/tether/ladders/etc. Anything else I need is rentable (including a bullhorn) and I can bring in assistants

Time: 15-20 minutes. That means that everything has to be in place, set up and ready to go well before 6:30 am. They arrive, get arranged, snap and they're on to more important tasks. Moving the time is not an option. If they're late, they're not in the photo. They've got rounds to attend to, surgeries to start and patients to cure.

Here's what I've got to work with:




Nov 29, 2012 at 05:33 PM
 



honorerdieu
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p.1 #11 · Large Group Portrait


It's doable with Einsteins but it is not easy. The trick is positioning them so that everyone will be evenly lit. That means hoisting them really high where everyone can see them, and making sure that a person is not blocked by another person or his/her face will be cast in the shadow. With a large group, you're not looking for anything dramatic--just a straightforward shot. I have had success in using large light modifiers like the 86" parabolic reflective or shoot through umbrella from Westcott. Here's a photo of my lighting setup while assisting a main wedding photographer:







Since you have 8 days, take the time to practice practice practice.



Nov 29, 2012 at 08:59 PM
david1234
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p.1 #12 · Large Group Portrait


goodluck is all i can say!!


Nov 29, 2012 at 10:51 PM
peterindb
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p.1 #13 · Large Group Portrait


And that's why I lurk on FM.....I learn a ton from everyone.

Now where are my kids and their classmates so I can practice large group pictures.....

Edited on Nov 30, 2012 at 01:38 AM · View previous versions



Nov 29, 2012 at 11:13 PM
ChiShutter
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p.1 #14 · Large Group Portrait


Multiple strobes with big modifiers and tall stands. Telephoto lens and you on a ladder at a decent distance to compress the scene. I still feel nervous just reading about this.


Nov 29, 2012 at 11:20 PM
cas5
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p.1 #15 · Large Group Portrait


I thought about using 4 86" parabolics, two on each side but was concerned that the fall off is so fast that if I didn't get everything aimed and overlapping perfectly, I could end up with dark spots. I am also concerned about having modifiers that large some 13' up in the air. While it's generally very calm a good wind will bring it down. I know I can address the issues adequately, but, it doesn't seem like the best solution. I really appreciate everyone's feedback and brainstorming on this. Thanks.

Edited on Nov 30, 2012 at 12:37 AM · View previous versions



Nov 30, 2012 at 12:13 AM
ChiShutter
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p.1 #16 · Large Group Portrait


cas5 wrote:
I thought about using 4 86" parabolics, two on each side but was concerned that the fall off is so fast that if I did get everything aimed and overlapping correctly, I could end up with dark spots. I am also concerned about having modifiers that large some 13' up in the air. While it's generally very calm a good wind will bring it down. I know I can address the issues adequately, but, it doesn't seem like the best solution. I really appreciate everyone's feedback and brainstorming on this. Thanks.


Is there a way to get a huge white scrim above them and fire four (bare) strobes up to bounce off? Or move them indoors someplace where you can use the ceiling? I've seen wedding photographers light an entire, massive reception hall with just three or four alien bees pointed up.



Nov 30, 2012 at 12:19 AM
cas5
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p.1 #17 · Large Group Portrait


Except in the lobby most of the ceilings are too low to bounce off of them. As I mentioned, using the lobby could be problematic for the public and security, but, it would certainly be easiest for me :-)


Nov 30, 2012 at 12:40 AM
honorerdieu
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p.1 #18 · Large Group Portrait


cas5 wrote:
I thought about using 4 86" parabolics, two on each side but was concerned that the fall off is so fast that if I didn't get everything aimed and overlapping perfectly, I could end up with dark spots. I am also concerned about having modifiers that large some 13' up in the air. While it's generally very calm a good wind will bring it down. I know I can address the issues adequately, but, it doesn't seem like the best solution. I really appreciate everyone's feedback and brainstorming on this. Thanks.



Light falloff can occur but it depends on distance to subject. Placed too close to the group, you'll have to deal with the inverse square law where the light fall off can be dramatic. Since you mentioned you have 4 Einsteins, I would hoist 2 or 3 of them up at the same height in one row from where you're shooting--all bare bulb so you don't have to worry about the wind. Basically, 2 or 3 strobes altogether will act like one big light modifier bombing the entire area with light. But... that's how I would shoot it.

Whatever plan you come up with, test it out and practice practice practice. On the day of the shoot, the pressure can be really high. Good luck.




Nov 30, 2012 at 01:07 AM
Steve Wylie
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p.1 #19 · Large Group Portrait


And please let us know how you ultimately decide to do it and how it turns out.

Best wishes.



Nov 30, 2012 at 03:22 AM
jhobgood
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p.1 #20 · Large Group Portrait


maybe rent concert riser so they can be at different levels. You need LOTS of assistants.


Dec 03, 2012 at 04:18 AM
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