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Indoor Location Shoot Process

Lesson 28 from: Environmental Portrait Photography

Dan Brouillette

Indoor Location Shoot Process

Lesson 28 from: Environmental Portrait Photography

Dan Brouillette

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Lesson Info

28. Indoor Location Shoot Process

Prepare for the shoot with tips on the process of the environmental portraiture. Work with a checklist and a shot list, then jump into the first in a series of behind-the-scenes videos in an artist's studio.


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

Indoor Location Shoot Process

What I want to get to now is the actual indoor shooting process and the videos form the pre shoot. So looking at the indoor shoot process there's a few different things that I consider when we get there. The first is make a pre shoot checklist to be sure you capture all you need during the shoot. I know earlier I talked about using my notebook. You're actually gonna see me writing in the notebook here. Going over that checklist because again, once you get in the shoot no matter how large or small the shoot is you start to forget things, you start to lose that plan you had in your head because things happen naturally and you know something might happen on the shoot where you blow a flash tube and then all of the sudden everything goes out the window and you start to panic. Or just the stress of being on the shoot or having other people especially during a paid client shoot where the client might be there or an art director or someone from the magazine and they start asking questions or ...

you get nervous and you start to lose your way. So I always refer back to that notebook and that checklist to make sure that I've covered all my bases. So again when I get home after the shoot it's all there and I know I didn't forget anything. That also comes with the shot list. This could be provided by the client. It could be a collaboration between you and the ad agency or the magazine or just yourself your you know, if it's a personal shoot you probably have some sort of shot list that you're trying to add new work to your portfolio. So again I always start with these wide shots, I get the medium shot I get the close up. I analyze the location whether it's location scouting ahead of time or five minutes before the shoot. And make a quick shot list of you know I want three shots in this location, I think that'll help tell the story. I need this shot with this background with a window light. I need these detail shots and I wanna make a nice portrait. And a lot of times for me I always try and do all these action shots and the obvious shots up front but then I always want a nice portrait with graphic composition, just for me whether anybody else likes it or not I don't care but I have this affinity to really create portraits that are graphically composed. A little more quite moments where there's not a lot of action going on and at the same time there's definitely a mood there, but they're more still. And you'll see that I did that with both of the pre shoots and for me it's just something that again it kind of goes along a theme of everything I've shot over the course of my career. I always try and end with one of those portraits because that's kind of my thing. And it comes from people that inspire me as a photographer and it's also just something I like to give to the client afterwards. It's like I know you haven't asked for this but this is kind of the one I shot for me and I dunno it's something that helps me out creatively to end the shoot and know that I got everything. Also within that checklist are little reminders. These could be remember to plug in your laptop when you get to the shoot because you know it's low battery when you left the studio. Little things like that that can really be annoying especially if you're shooting tethered in that case. Or remember to bring an extra card for your camera. Just it's all the checklist of your day to day reminders. But those are things when you get to a shoot and you forget they can throw you off and really mix up the shoot or even ruin it if you're really unprepared so I set that reminder checklist before I get to the shoot or little things along the way and you'll see as I'm interviewing the subject for this indoor location shoot she gives me some ideas you know what she's going through her process and it's like oh yeah she told me she mixes these colors together. In my notebook remember to have her do that 'cause that could be a good photo. So just little reminders from the obvious things that deal with preparation to things that happen along the way just again so at the end of the shoot you make sure. And those other reminders could be for secondary ideas. They're not on the original shot list but they're things you thought of. Kind of happened organically during the shoot. You know sometimes these just don't work. Other times they end up being the best shot of the day. So secondary ideas are important. I know we all go into a photo shoot whether it's large or small with a picture in our head and sometimes, or a lot of times it seems like, that picture just doesn't quite work out. Whether it's the location didn't provide what you need, whether it's your lens, you just couldn't figure out how to get that focal length that got the framing correct. Maybe it was the lighting. A lot of times it's the lighting. So a lot of times what you'll find out is this picture that you had going into your head, isn't the best picture of the day. You kind of have to let it happen. You can strive to make that photo happen that's in your head and it is quite satisfying when everything comes together and your vision is you know executed perfectly. But at the same time a lot of the shoots, probably the majority of the shoots I've worked on, the idea I had in my head that I was setting up for initially ended up being okay but what happened in the moment and what happened naturally during the shoot ended up being a better photo that I couldn't even have thought of before hand because I didn't know the actual parameters of the shoot. You know and I think I told a story earlier about how maybe I was talking to some of you guys beforehand how you get this picture in your head let's say you're talking on the phone to someone for the first time and you've never seen them. You get a picture in your head of what they look like and then you meet them and you might be like oh I did not expect this person to look like that. Or maybe that's exactly how I expected you to look. That's how I always think with these photos I create in my head before I get to a shoot. Someone will say oh you're gonna shoot with this auto mechanic at this garage and in my head I'm thinking alright we have these greasy hands we have this, and I don't even know what this person looks like but for some reason I'm like we got this big guy with this beard, and then you get there and it's like nothing like that. It's like this tiny little guy who has glasses and looks totally different than what I was expecting and it's like oh well the picture in my head is already completely changed so let's just go with it and not be disappointed by these facts but just let them kind of help you and retell that story and you can get a new picture in your head and probably end up with something better than you imagined. So with that said let's look at the first video of our indoor shoot. So to kind of set this up we went to Alicia Tormey's art studio here in Seattle. She gives us a little tour but first I want to show you kind of how I go through that check list and everything that I write down and the thought process I'll be thinking out loud in the video like I do quite often and you'll kind of see how that all works out. So let's take a look at that. Hello we are at Alicia Tormey's stuido here in Seattle Washington. As you guys will see she has some great art work a lot of colors and textures some great light. All of which will make for a great photo but one of the first things I do on any photo shoot whether it's large or small, commercial or personal is I bring my little handy dandy notebook here. And what that does it keeps everything organized because everything in my brain is disorganized. So there has to be some sort of order here or else I'll get back to the studio I'll start editing through the images and I will definitely forget something so any time I get to a new location and I'm working with a new subject I bust out the notebook here, I title it with the location, the subject and any other little notes that I need to get going and then I make a shot list. So a lot of times this shot list will be done before hand with general notes and then when I get to the location I can fill it in. For this place obviously I hadn't been here before so I walked in I looked around, did a few laps looked at all the different angles and I started creating the shot list and you know it can be based on what you have in your head what you want to create or the amount of time you have or you know if it's the case of a commercial or editorial shoot the client needs. So for this one I came up with three quick shots because we have you know a certain amount of time here and I always want to work form wide and let the story kind of tell itself within each frame to then getting a portrait. So we go from wide to a little closer up and within my notebook here I came through and I looked and I thought alright for shot one we can have a nice wide shot. The vibes I get from this studio are that it's a little light and airy. The ceiling, the walls, everything's white. There's colors everywhere from you know even the tape that's on the side of the pieces of art that'll come off later to the actual beam itself to the wax and everything else. There's all these different colors mixed with the window light so I go this light and airy feel so for that you know it's not necessarily sunny out. It's really in the morning here in Seattle and you can't count on the sun so we're gonna to get that light and airy feel we're gonna actually create fake sun so I have in my notes fake sun with soft fill, bright and airy, depth. So to me that means adding foreground elements to create depth in the frame whether it's framing in our subject or just you know adding different color and texture to the frame. And the reason I make little check marks next to each or dashes next to each is as I go through I check them off. And that's again so when I get back to the studio I know okay that shot was done, I did that I did that I did that and as I think of more ideas throughout the shoot I'll add them to the notebook because early on in my photo career I would rush through a shoot, I would think I got the shot and I would get back to the studio and I would think oh I totally forgot to do this or I didn't push myself far enough and I could have gotten more so a lot of times even once I start checking things off I'll get other ideas and I'll add those to this. So I have shot one that's what we just discussed. Shot two is another wide shot but from an alternate angle so I even have you know shooting overhead, seated standing, adding more shadows, less shadows, eye contact with the subject. So I want some where she's looking at the camera, others where she's just focusing on her work. So we have that whole interaction. Along with you know eye contact type portraits and everything even from seated to standing and then for shot three I have a portrait so it's like we might have a blank canvas as a background or maybe a finished canvas as a background for some color. Leave space that's something I need to take a mental note on because a lot of times I'll get in close. You don't know the final use of the portrait especially when it's for commercial so you know if you start off with a frame in your head, back up, give it some room to breathe, it might be cropped later. You might be glad you did. There might be other elements that sneak in that are a pleasant surprise when you're looking at it afterwards. And shadow and flat that's for my lighting. When I take portraits I like to take two versions, one that has a little more mood and one that's a little more in this case bright and airy. So I want to have both of those options so we can decide later which one we like and not limit ourselves off the start by only doing one option so that's pretty much the importance of the notebook. Again I do it for every shoot. It's just my little check list to go through. I keep it in my camera bag all the time and it's also fun to go through previous shoots and kind of see you know what I did, how I did it and how I could do it better next time. So that's pretty much it with the notebook and how I start every shoot on any environmental portrait. Alright well hopefully that gives you a little better idea what I do before the shoot as far as breaking down the scene before we're ever working with the subject. That's what I do to kind of analyze the light, analyze you know the subject matter, the location, the whole works, and putting it down in writing so that way again when the shoot happens and everything goes to chaos I can still know that I'm gonna be checking those boxes and getting all the things I need from the shoot so when I have to give those files over to the client or put them in my portfolio later I'm not disappointed or thinking that I forgot something.

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