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Create Location Portrait

Lesson 38 from: Environmental Portrait Photography

Dan Brouillette

Create Location Portrait

Lesson 38 from: Environmental Portrait Photography

Dan Brouillette

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Lesson Info

38. Create Location Portrait

Work with the location portrait from the third shoot of the class. Learn how to spot locations for the more formal portrait and work with graphic compositions and more dramatic light.


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Introduction to The Environmental Portrait


Environmental Portrait Purpose


Personal Work


Find Your Process




Purpose For Action Editorial


Prepare for Shoot


Lesson Info

Create Location Portrait

The next thing I wanna talk about is creating that location portrait. Again, this comes back to my personal preference and my personal love of these portraits. When shooting, and again it's kinda what keeps me going as a photographer, when creating the portrait, that's for me. Again, just as we did with the artist, just as you'll see a lot of the shots on my website, these are the more symmetrical, the more graphic compositions with this kind of still moment and where everything's placed and curated exactly how I want it to be. Whether that means, you know, we've added accessories that weren't in the shot, we've added details, all those things are thought out. And there's also some work to be done in the back-end when it comes to Photoshop to really make it all come together. And the first shot I saw when I entered the garage was there was a tool rack which you haven't seen yet, and it had all these wrenches lined up, and it almost looked like a crown or a perfectly symmetrical backgro...

und. And there was two yellow air hoses hanging down from the ceiling, equally spaced on either side. So right when I saw that, I knew that was the frame for this portrait, so I saved that for last. And you know, this might be the client request or a personal goal for me, I just wanna do this. But I also love presenting these shots to the client, because a lot of times their vision does not perfectly align with mine, or I might see something that they don't see. And being able to present something like this is really fun and it shows that I kinda took my take on the shoot. Not only did I deliver what they want, but I was able to deliver the things that I wanted to do as well, and give them a different sense and a different viewpoint they might not have thought of. In this case, the shot was purely for me, it was just a personal shoot. And the graphic composition and unique lighting, they all play off of each other. So I'm analyzing the background and figuring out where the lights need to be, what kind of mood I'm going for with the artist. It was still specular light using that magnum reflector, but it did have a diffusion on it. And I also used that second Softlighter to really fill in all the shadows and kind of make it, you know, there was definite direction to the light, but it was a little more soft, the background was all white. Here, what you're gonna see with Richie is a black background and a tool bench, so I took the diffusion off the light. At least I think I did. And the fill light was also a silver umbrella, not a diffused Softlighter. So it's just a different quality of light that I felt fit his personality, it fit the garage, it fit the portrait I was going for, and you'll kinda see the differences as we go through that. And these are the shots that just really speak to me, so I'm always really happy to explain 'em. I'm really happy to be able to create 'em. So let's take a look at this video as we bring Richie back into the garage. I dunno if you'll be able to see in the video, but they had like 12 motorcycles parked in the space of a one-car garage, so the other challenge was navigating a C-stand and two lights and myself, I'm literally leaning over the tank of a motorcycle to square up to this wall to shoot. So there's those challenges as well that every location brings. And you'll probably get a kick out of that, of seeing us and the whole CreativeLive crew have to sift our way through the garage. So let's take a look at the creation of the portrait, and then we'll go over all the results. So now that we've done the wide shoot in the garage, the outdoor shoot with mixed light, we're gonna do the portrait, just because as I mentioned before we like to kinda get the full effect of all three type of shots from wide, to medium to closeup, and then this portrait. When I first walked in the garage the thing that caught my eye was the symmetry here of all the wrenches on the wall, along with the two yellow hoses. So we're gonna have Richie just kinda stand right in the middle, we'll prop this out a little bit with some other tools. And I'm not sure the exact angle, but standing somewhere in here, looking straight at the camera, it's gonna be a real flat, symmetrical shot where I'm really square to the wall. We'll have Richie lookin' anywhere from right at the camera, to off to one side to the other, and then maybe messin' with a tool or somethin' like that. So pretty straightforward, you can come right in here. And you'll just kinda lean back against there. I'll make sure you're centered. Do you want the tools? Yeah, I'm thinkin' if we, because we have this part of the engine over here, and then maybe to balance that out with something on the other side, whether it was a rack of sockets or whatever you got. Could put a couple of those over there. Might look pretty good, we'll figure out what works and what doesn't here pretty quick. As far as framing, this is definitely gonna be a horizontal frame because of the way the background's oriented, so let's see. Actually, throw that one back up there, and grab one of these, uh, let's see. Maybe just grab one, a bigger one off that, 'cause I like the symmetry here. There we go, and that way you can be holdin' on to that. We are all tethered up again. So I'm gonna do one test shot, we've already metered. We're at a 200th of a second, ISO 100 at f8. That drowns out all the ambient light, so it's, if you were to take a shot without the strobes it'd literally be black. I'm gonna, can I stand on this? Yeah. 'Kay, right here. I'm gonna have you move this way ever so slightly, so yep. Right there, I'm just centering you up. A little tiny bit more, like one inch this way. Right in there, and then I'm gonna have you start off by looking off this direction a little bit. Yep, move, I know this is finicky, but like, a tiny bit this way, right there. Alright, so one test shot, this does not count. We're just testing off the first light, we don't have the fill light on yet. Alright, so with that, oh yeah, we got a great, moody frame. So now what we need to do is add in our fill light to fill in some of that shadow, so we can see a little more of the background. But this is gonna be lookin' pretty sharp. So what I need to do, my fill light is just a silver umbrella, I'm gonna turn that power up. We're gonna start pretty low and kind of work our way up. So you can just do the same frame, lookin' off to that side like that. One, two, three. We'll see how the fill light's comin' in. Still, we need more. We're gonna make a pretty aggressive bump outta here, make sure it's firing, yep. Alright, one, two, three. There we go, we're startin' to get a little shadow fill. I'm just gonna go up one stop at a time until I like what I see. And we've done no adjustments to the raw yet, tethering. So, we'll get in there and play with that in a second. Alright, we're at a good spot. I'm gonna do one more test shot, and then I'm gonna get in there and make a couple of adjustments. So again, I'm shootin' with a 24 to 70, so I'm gonna zoom in just a little bit, one, two, three. Alright, let me make a couple raw adjustments, just so I can really, and I'm gonna move the computer so I can actually see it without crankin' my neck around. Oh yeah, that looks pretty sharp. Okay, so we have already made, it took the color and adjustments from our previous frame, but that was a totally different look. So we're gonna adjust it slightly for this new look. Gonna turn down the saturation just a little bit. We should be pretty good right in there. So I like what we're doin' with this. I'm just gonna shoot more and we'll see what happens. We'll try some different angles and things like that in a moment. So I'm actually gonna try a couple. Keep lookin' where you're lookin', I like how you were lookin' at that screen for a second. Right in there, we're gonna try a couple of verticals. It's gonna have a little different look to it. Try another horizontal zoomed in. Look straight over the camera, like you're lookin' towards the front desk. Yep, and again, I'm leaving myself room to crop on these, I'm not super tight, I don't wanna cut off anything. Leaning over this motorcycle, I'm a little bit crooked with the frame, and I'm gonna be picky about that later, so I'm givin' myself room to crop it, straighten it up. 'Kay, now I'm gonna have you turn sideways, we're gonna end up doing both ways, but turn like you're facing completely this direction, like you're leaning, yeah, can just lean into the bench. I like that, and now looking straight toward the camera. Yeah, right there, one, two, three, great. Yeah, that looks good, just kind of a couple more of those. One lookin' down at the, like your fingers once. Great, let me do a couple vertical, same thing. Lookin' down towards your fingers once. Yep, back up here, awesome. Now I want you to turn completely this way, so this is gonna be lit the opposite, it's gonna be a more of a broad lighting. Looking maybe down here towards the grinder or whatever that is. Alright, perfect. And I'm zooming out quite a bit for these, just to get a different look. Look right here, yep that's great. More of those, couple verticals. Yep, just messin' with framing. Okay and the last one I wanna do, I'm gonna have you go straight on again. And just set the wrench on the, and I'm just gonna have you go like hands in your pockets or somethin' like that, like pretty casual. Yeah, just shoulders, relax your shoulders a little bit. And I'm gonna have you kinda lookin' off that way, kinda through that window over there. Chin down just a little bit. Just gettin' a couple of different focal lengths here. Zooming in all the way with this 24 to 70. Eyes to camera real quick, yep. Pretty cool, last thing, I'm gonna have you turn completely this way again, and lean on to that bench, and then I'm actually gonna have you kinda lookin' over your shoulder like you're lookin' towards the computer screen over here, yeah. And these ones are gonna be zoomed out a little further. Looking right at the camera. One more, then I'm gonna zoom in, then we're done. Lookin' towards the computer. Eyes right to me. And one lookin' that way more. Lookin' down a little lower, eyes right here, we're good. Sweet, thank you. Thank you. Alright, so you kinda saw the challenges of working within that small of space with all the clutter and everything. And again, I saw that background right when we walked in, so I knew that's where I wanted to do a portrait. He was wearing all black, the background was black. It just, it would really make him pop. And there was like the yellow coils of the air hoses. So that was a shot I was excited to create, and definitely those are the shots that, they're not gonna be totally perfect up front. It's gonna take some work in Photoshop to really fulfill my vision, but that's okay, I'm willing to do that. We have a good base and we'll go through that editing process in a little bit. For those interested in more of what Richie does, you can check out the Yeah, they do a bunch of different shop stuff, they do some upholstery service and restoration, they had a whole bunch of motorcycles there, and it looks like they stay pretty busy, so they must be pretty good. And they had a really cool shop too, with a coffee shop right next door, so it was pretty convenient for us. But again, check out the MotoShed.

Ratings and Reviews

Julie V

I had the chance to sit in the audience for this class and absolutely loved it. Watching Dan create amazing images from start to finish in front of us was so inspiring. I've learned so much from this class. It actually gave me the confidence to start playing with lights in my studio. It was really useful to see how he sets his lights and how he can easily mix ambient light with artificial. I also love how he focuses on getting the image right in the camera to only do light edits after. I recommend this class to anyone wanting to learn more about lighting, shooting tethered and editing efficiently!

a Creativelive Student

I love this guy! I so appreciate his honesty while he is explaining his thought process, admitting that his “shoulda/coulda/woulda’s” - which I experience ALL the time. I am now going to dust off my light meter and start using it on location as I’m convinced that it works now that I’ve seen Dan’s class. I enjoyed the detailed way he sets up each light individually, checking to make sure it adds the amount and quality of light he wants. Definitely recommend this class - especially for those people who have experience using studio lights and want to see how they can be used to get specific results. Dan’s clear, simple explanations, his unabashed humility, and his sense of humor made this a truly enjoyable way to spend my time learning his methods.

a Creativelive Student

Dan is an excellent instructor! He's completely transparent with his thought processes, from technical to creative. He doesn't waste time horsing around or getting off topic, but is structured and sticks to his outline. Every minute watched is on topic, and is understandable. He's sincere and likable. The course is great for anyone interested in this genre!

Student Work