DON'T MISS: Italian conceptual portrait photographer Sara Lando coming to US for two weekends of workshops in August.

Monday, July 16, 2012

On Assignment: Greg Funnell Photographs Joe Wright


You have a typical hotel room, which you will gain access to an hour before the shoot. You will have a total of 20 minutes with your celebrity subject, who will arrive in God only knows what mood and/or disposition. Go.

That's pretty much the setup for London photographer Greg Funnell's shoot of movie director Joe Wright. Think about what you would do for a moment, and then continue reading to see how Greg handled this exact assignment for Time Out London.
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If you do not know who Joe Wright is, you probably prefer your movies long on car chases and shorter on culture. Wright directed Pride and Prejudice, Atonement, Anna Karenina, etc.

I saw the above photo on Greg's iPhone when I bumped into him at The Flash Centre on a recent trip to London. I love the day-into-night swap of this shot. And as you'll see below, he had a cool and varied take given it was yet another celeb-in-a-hotel-room lightning round press tour assignment.

These aren't easy to do well, actually. The setting is repetitive, you sometimes only get 3-5 mins and you really don't know what kind of mood your subject will be in after, oh, a dozen of these shoots in a day.

Fortunately Wright was cool, quirky and up for interesting photos. Says Greg:

I was lucky because he came in not wearing any shoes, and having sat down he started rolling a cigarette on the end of the bed pretty much without me giving him any direction. His slightly rock and roll attitude worked well with the setup and meant that everything came together better than expected.

From the offset I realized he was going to give me quite a cooky set of photos. He didn't take himself too seriously, and that confidence is always a joy to discover in a subject.

His clothing also helped and it didn't clash with color palette I was going for. Sometimes you get lucky like that. I suspect that if his attitude had been different or if he'd been wearing something totally different I would have taken another approach.

Fortunately I didn't have to, which meant I could work quickly with what I'd prepared and still have time to try some more setups outside.

Greg got a lot of different frames from a constrained setting, reserving some of the twenty minutes to run outside for some different looks.

Exposing for the in-frame lamps as subject matter (not as light sources—big difference) dropped the room down enough to connote night. From there, he built the room back up by gelling one soft box blue and the other a ½ CTO to make it look like Wright was being lit by an unseen lamp.

What I love about this shot is the way the different color lights mix together on his hands. On his face, the planes are discrete. But on the hands it is a different story. Very cool.

Funnell travels light, as you can see in the beginning of the video. The lights are 400ws Elinchrom Ranger Quadras and the camera is a 5D Mk I (he has since updated) with a Canon 50/1.4 for all of the indoor shots.

At about 1:23 in the video you can see another blue light in the doorway, but Greg ditched that idea after finding it both too demanding and distracting. The key is to getting a variety of looks in a short time is to keep things simple.

Now that you have some background, take a look at the BTS:


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Cool, huh? That's a lot of looks in a short time. Which, I am sure, is very pleasing to Funnell's editors. This shoot was from a couple of years back (you may remember his name from a time-lapse of his assignment to photograph Colin Firth.)

But since then, Funnell has branched out into all kinds of self-directed assignments. I was really drawn into his recent work and highly recommend visiting his site, which contains several other BTS vids, too.

I you want to keep up with him (I do) you'll also find links to his blog and Twitter on his site. While we are on the subject, one of the best things you can do for inspiration is to RSS the blogs of a couple dozen good shooters and follow them on Twitter. Of all of the reading I do on the web, that is consistently my favorite.
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Next: Mathieu Young's Harvest


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14 Comments:

Blogger aa said...

As always, very "FUNTASTIC". Thank you again!

July 16, 2012 8:35 AM  
Blogger robert said...

One hour from start to finish!!!

Brilliant, Greg!

July 16, 2012 2:08 PM  
Blogger stefano giovannini said...

Actually I like the first shot with available light and the reflector best. It is the most engaging and has a better composition.
The sunglasses in some shots bother me.

Given the limited amount of time I wonder if wouldn't be more effective to just go with the available light and give more of a variety of poses / framing etc.

I am wondering if sometimes thinking too much about the lighting makes the photographer less aware of the subject. If available light is great I'd go for it.

July 16, 2012 3:41 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Stefano-

The first shot is nice, but if Greg stayed with available light, pretty much everything he got in the room would have been a variation on that.

Kinda the whole point of adding light to a scene is to be able to create a different environment or mood when you need to do that. That doesn't invalidate natural light, but rather keeps it from being your only tool.

As for the limited amount of time that you mention, I think it is a testament to Greg that he was able to pull off so many significantly different looks so quickly.

July 16, 2012 5:29 PM  
Blogger Lets Blog said...

I like this a lot, any quess on the WB?

July 17, 2012 7:23 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

Daylight.

July 17, 2012 10:01 PM  
Blogger Puggle said...

Always great to see behind the scenes of a photoshoot.

If you haven't seen this yet, check out Annie Leibovitz shooting Keith Richards.

Very interesting to see how she interacts with a celeb.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RGunD1tngg

July 18, 2012 11:52 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Puggle-

Newbs are always welcome:

http://strobist.blogspot.com/2010/06/softlighter-too.html

July 18, 2012 12:52 PM  
OpenID sethjacobson said...

Thank you David for sharing this wonderful portrait session. Very cool work, and it is impressive how fast he pulled it all together!

July 18, 2012 2:57 PM  
Blogger Lens Band said...

Very cool....

July 18, 2012 3:43 PM  
Blogger Puggle said...

@david Hobby

I'm not a newb, but I must have missed your post on Keith Ricahrds.

It is a good one.

:-)

July 19, 2012 8:59 AM  
Blogger Marta Clavero said...

thanks

July 19, 2012 12:50 PM  
Blogger Myron said...

Love the gels and the ambient set for the lights very cool

July 28, 2012 9:35 PM  
Blogger Myron said...

HE BE GELLIN Love the gels and the ambient set for the lamps very cool

July 28, 2012 9:37 PM  

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