David X. Tejada Lives in Conference Rooms

So, how are we sleeping lately? Having trouble? Lemme see if I can help:

"Meeting shots..."

The mere mention of the phrase just nudges you towards somnambulistic bliss, doesn't it?

But while you are sleeping, Dave T. is minting coin. Because he knows how to light a room to get nice-looking corporate meeting shots.

"But I am a creative photographer," you protest. "And I would never waste my artistic talents on meeting sh- how much?"

If you are gonna shoot corporate, and by that I mean if you are gonna be a photographer and be able to afford braces when your kids' teeth start going squirrelly, this is a very good skill to have in your back pocket.

This, from a guy who just found out that he is two-fer-two in the "kids who will need braces" department. That's $10k worth of meeting shots right there. (My nine-year-old just got hers.)

Points to note in the video:

1) Door + sheer white cloth + strobe = humongous softbox.
2) Choose a shooting angle and create a zone of light around it. You can shoot in either direction, but you have to light the room for a shooting alley and stick to it.
3) Gels make even corporate people having a fake meeting for a photographer look warm and human.



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Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Dental plan!"

"Lisa needs braces."

"Dental plan!"

"Lisa needs braces."

"Dental plan!"

"Lisa needs braces."

November 29, 2007 3:30 AM  
Blogger Paul Baarn said...

I always wonder, when I see the resulting shots, how the shots would have looked without the lighting efforts.
I don't do these kinds of shots myself, but if I would, I would like to inform the customer of the difference and the need for all this preparation.
Before and after is what I'm looking for.

November 29, 2007 6:11 AM  
Blogger Kat said...

Interesting! I have one of these coming up. I would never have thought of shooting through a door with a diffusion panel on it. I love bouncing off white boards it works great. The meeting room I'll be shooting in is a glass walled on one long side with windows on the other long side. I really liked the light clamped to the ceiling.

November 29, 2007 6:53 AM  
Blogger Birch Blaze said...

Speaking of "$10k worth of meeting shots," what would be a typical rate for a shoot like this? He did mention 50, I believe, head shots just before this conference room setup...that must be the sped-up, softbox+reflector video we saw recently.

November 29, 2007 7:29 AM  
Blogger Craig said...

I've been watching the Dean Collins DVD and I've been intrigued with his use of diffusion panels. So I appreciate seeing David's "frameless" approach in this video. A role of tape is a lot easier to carry around than a bag of PVC.

November 29, 2007 7:34 AM  
Anonymous Jeff Geerling said...

There are so many times having a large white sheet is useful; when you're not using it as a softbox on a window or in a doorway, use it as a seamless backdrop (folded over itself if you want, so it's pure white), like in this picture.

November 29, 2007 8:58 AM  
Anonymous Jon said...

First, I should qualify that I'm not nearly as experienced in corporate photography as DT, and I love the videos he's done - they are always very informative and helpful. That said...

I like this video and the technique, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I'm not wild about the final results. The close up, detailed shot of the man with another person in fore-ground looked warm and natural. The wider shots, especially the one with the man next to the white board didn't do it for me. I didn't like the shadows everywhere. There is no conference room in the world with lighting that would cast shadows like that. You never (or at least rarely) see lights in a conference room that are anywhere but the ceiling. The challange, then, is to light the room in a manner that suggests even, ceiling light, while still creating drama in the highlights and on the people. In these photos there is a strong light coming from just above the table, and even with the diffusion, it's too direct and strong.

I think the people were lit pretty well in this instance, but the room itself seemed overly dark and dull. I understand the limitations of a conference room, especially a very boring room like in the video (they can't all be polished mahogany law office style). But if it were me, I'd try to light the walls a bit more, give them a bit more life. Maybe another strobe straight down over the whiteboard, like a spotlight or something to that effect.

Even so, I love to watch these videos to see how other people are doing it, they are always a big help.

November 29, 2007 9:42 AM  
Blogger Box of Frogs said...

Bit of ageeky Q this...what make is the light that he has outside the conference room? It's really compact

November 29, 2007 12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Box of Frogs

I think D.T. mentions that the lights are Dynalite.

It's compact because that's just the flash head (flash tube and reflector); the power pack is on the floor. You can see it at about -2:35 in the video; the cord from the ceiling fill light runs down to it.

November 29, 2007 2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was curious as to why he was using CTO gels. my guess would be that the ambient light was incandescent. In my experience it is usually fluorescent lights. to that end, if you wanted to brighten up the background on the room you could simply shoot around a 30th (lighting 101 mixing ambient and flash).

you could always warm it up in PP if need be.

i do like the scissor clamp in the ceiling move. very clever.

dos pesos.

November 29, 2007 3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He's probably killed the fluorescents, or at least overpowered them with his strobes, and they aren't contributing to his exposure. No reason to mix when you have the control of multiple heads, and it's not like the fluorescents are a flattering light source that you'd want to mix in or balance to. I'd say he's warming up the lights with CTO's so we "read" it as indoors; whatever the lights may be, people are used to seeing the color temps of incandescents.

November 29, 2007 4:38 PM  
Blogger laird said...

Yes I was surprised that he was using CTO (later changed to 1/2 CTO). But I'm thinking it was only for the light in the window. He doesn't mention filters other than the ND on the overhead. I assume he turns off the florescents, which is why he wants an overhead flash to simulate them. (A corporate room would look really weird with only cross lighting.) David likes to play with color, so I suspect he wanted some "sunshine" in the "window" for some contrast against the regular flash color from the other two lights. I see in the third picture, the man on the right is oranger on his face with some whiter light on the back of his head. IMHO

November 29, 2007 6:40 PM  
Blogger Jürgen said...

David's videos are a treat. Questions that arose for me, watching are the following:
1) Would this work with the smaller strobes we normally use? In my case I am talking SB800s. I would assume that the best way would to pair at least two strobes outside the window.
2) How would I work this with Nikon CLS? Probably it just would work. CLS has surprised me many times in the past, where I thought the setup is impossible to work and would just work. Probably, I would trigger the outside strobes using them as slaves...
David, thanks for sharing.

November 29, 2007 10:41 PM  
Blogger AlexJB said...

he did mention that the light outside the room is a dynalite. i think that you could get the same results with one of those budget work lights, and since they're halogens, you might not need the gel.

the room lights definitely looked like flourescents to me, which would add a green cast if they were on. the CTO on one of the lights would introduce some 'warming' effect. otherwise, the cold white of the strobes in close proximity would probably make the suits look pasty. gelling the brightest light source helps with that.

i wasn't bowled over by the composition of the shots myself, but there are only so many 'meeting shot' variations, and sometimes you've gotta pander to the client. mainly, i think that there's a lot of value in the details of the lighting setup b/c such small quarters are definitely a big challenge.

i don't agree that there's an aesthetic advantage to trying to mimic normal lighting. our eyes and brains can compensate for standard office lighting in ways that the camera can't. and if the goal of the photo is to have decent 'action' shots of the board members, then it's more important that their faces be clean and visible rather than the lighting seeming 'authentic'.

November 30, 2007 1:14 PM  
Blogger Abe said...

I actually assisted another photographer about a year ago with a shoot similar to this. He did corporate annual reports and would travel around shooting in conference rooms and small office spaces. I learned more about lighting that day than I had learned in the 5yrs I had been shooting. He did the same thing, used a white sheet over a window that was facing in the office with a grid on the light then a large shallow softbox high and from his angle and then had another strobe up in a corner with a 1/2 CTO for a warm sunlight effect. Then had a strobe on the floor behind the subjects to give a nice rim light to the chair and then two small SB-28s to light art work on walls.

So watching this video I liked it, but as Jon said, I wasn't too impressed with the final outcome, he could of got a lot more technical.

December 04, 2007 12:10 AM  

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