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The Board Room

Lesson 19 from: The Ultimate Photo Storytelling Workshop

Finn Beales

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Lesson Info

19. The Board Room

Finn shoots the first part of his story in Dan Costa's board shaping room. He walks you through his thought process when capturing a person at work and the shot types he's looking for.
Next Lesson: Location Recce

Lesson Info

The Board Room

Literally for one sec. So Julian here has just been filming Dan shaping a board with his planer. He didn't come prepared. Yeah, I didn't. This is what you need when you come prepared. Be prepared for the unexpected. This is like a super cheap rain sleeve, cost about 10 bucks from Amazon. I'm gonna cover my camera in it, so it doesn't end up looking like that. (laughing) Voila, this is a Dan-proof camera now. Let's do it. Okay, so I'm just taking some test shots, just get my exposure right. Quite a high ISO in here. Gonna start at 800, 3.2 aperture, and 1/60 second shutter speed. I'll adjust it how I go. I'll probably ramp that up a little bit, when he brings the planer out. It captures some of those particles, freeze them in the air, but for now this is good, just drawing stuff. That's cool. (camera clicking) I'm looking for, what I'd call, like, environmental portraits, so I want Dan framed by this environment, framed by the studio, the workshop, but also like closeups of what h...

e's actually doing, so that I can pair them both together, it'll make more sense in the edit. If I just had close ups of hands drawing on stuff, without this surrounding, there's no context for that photograph. So I need both to work together, to tell the full story. (camera clicking) (camera clicking) This is where it all begins, the whole story, which is in Dan's shop. He makes these boards for some of the best known surfers in Portugal and worldwide, so shooting in here is a real privilege for me. Before we start introducing where the studio is located and the surrounding landscape, surrounding beaches, surrounding waves, this is the beginning of the story and we'll end up on the beach, culminating, rounding it all off. It was a really nice shot, just centralizing Dan. He's wearing a really nice symmetrical t-shirt. Nice shirt, Dan. He's converging lines, that works really well. (saw scraping) So, we just switched lens to a 50, so we can get some nice close details of Dan's hands, the saw while he's doing it. I'll probably shoot some stuff on the floor. There's like dust everywhere, he's wearing barefoot, all gives context. All gives those little details that I'm noticing with my eyes standing in the room. If an audience is at home, they're not seeing these things. They're not necessarily in the room, if you don't show it to them. A little note on cutaways, there's lots of nice little details in this room. Everything's arranged really neatly. I want to capture those things. It's secondary to the main event, which was happening here, where Dan was shaping the board, but they're just as important. They make up the environment that he works in. When shooting these sorts of scenes, I like to keep my camera really straight on. No crazy angles. It'll help me marry together a few cutaways in the edit. When I align them side by side, if they're all shot on the same plane, they'll all sit together nicely. They're all all over the place, it's much harder to edit together. (rain sleeve crinkling) Okay, now the machine shaping begins. So I'm gonna put on this highly technical device. It's as cheap as chips, but, you know, the camera isn't, so worth spending a little bit of money. In the machine part of the process, I want to capture the shavings coming out of the sander. So I'm gonna follow Dan around the room and hopefully stay out of the way a bit. (gentle music) But I wanna freeze the action, so get those little particles. (machine whirring) So, I'm not directing Dan a great deal here. This is his space, he knows what he (laughing), he knows what he does better than anyone, so he doesn't need me to tell him how to do something or what to do. I'm just following him around the room. If there's anything I like the look of, I might step in, stop him, ask him to redo it, repeat it, just so I know I've captured it on card. But otherwise, yeah, this is his space. I just noticed this Dan cleaning his mask. It's a really nice shot, a nice setup shot, but he was standing in front of this doorway. I noticed this backdrop, nice plain background with paint sprays all over it. Just makes a nicer cleaner shot, less messy. Pay attention to backgrounds when you're shooting people against them. (camera clicking) (camera clicking) Just step this way, one step, yeah. So we're about to pour the epoxy, is it epoxy? Polyester. Polyester resin onto the board. (gentle music) So, Dan's mixing his chemicals over there, good smells in the room. He has about five minutes before this liquid turns to a gel and then it'll set hard, so we have to move quite quickly now. I've just asked Dan to explain his process, so I'm aware of what's gonna happen before it actually does, that way I can put myself in the right position or ask him to move to a different position than he normally might, so that I can photograph him. See his face, see the liquid pouring over the board. Okay, so that was pretty intense, super dusty environment. Camera survived, no rain cover for me. But, I got shots that look really, really cool, super happy. The light in there and the angles leading into the back of the room, perfect. So, I'm gonna shoot this last sequence, which is Dan leaving his shop and putting the board onto the back of the Land Rover. This introduces day two, the transitional part of our story. So, the journey from the shop to the beach, which is the third day. Gonna ask him to walk out of the shop, the board under his arm, load the board on top of the truck, and then I think we're done for the day. When you come out, can I see the color of the board? Would you ever carry it the other way, or would that be really weird? (surfboard squeaking) You want it like this? Yeah, I think so. I think that's nice. So, I just asked Dan to flip the side of the board round so I can see the color. I think it'll pop more off this background. (camera clicking) (camera clicking) Just keeping a low angle here, 'cause there's a lot of city and industrial waste behind the truck. So just like isolating him against the sky, makes for a cleaner image. To recap, when you first meet your subject, do a bit of research so that when you meet them, you have something to connect with them on a human level, something other than the shoot, other than the photography. Your subject is gonna know their space way better than you. So, ask them questions, ask them to show you round. Before they do anything, ask them to talk you through what they're gonna do, so you're prepared before what they actually do it. You can have your camera in your hand, you can be in the right space. They can get on with what they're used to doing and you don't have to interfere directionally. You can't say, "Well, stop, move round the other room", 'cause they're in their zone then. You should be prepared for that. So as well as the main action of the scene, shoot cutaways, little details that you are seeing with your eye that bring the audience into the room. Don't just rely on that one landscape image of the space. Dan was barefoot, there was dust kicking around everywhere. There was dust all over his pictures. Shoot that, you may end up using it in the edit. It'll enrich the story for your viewers. Every location you go to is gonna have environmental problems that might interfere with the operation of your camera. I'd watched Dan working in this board shop before I arrived, in a YouTube video, I knew there was gonna be loads of dust in the environment. So, I brought my handy rain sleeve and saved the day on this front. So, that's the studio done. (gentle music) I'm gonna jump in and we're gonna head down the coast and we're gonna go surfing.

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Ratings and Reviews

Brent Morris

Fantastic My thoughts on the storytelling workshop. The short is; it’s fantastic. The long is I loved all the details covered, from shot types and the ideas behind them to the call sheets and shot lists, and the whole process. I felt like I had a better understanding of how to schedule a professional shoot and I really felt like I had a much better grasp on many ideas and concepts, and I believe I’ve been able to improve my photography with them, so thank you and Finn. It really is fantastic.

Oswaldo Martinez

A path to better stories Very happy I got this workshop. Finn and Alex do a great job at teaching highly useful methods and specific advice to help you improve your own work, and more importantly, tell better stories that are meaningful to you.

Tommaso Selleri

Simply the best This is simply the best workshop out there on photography and storytelling. Finn is awe inspiring and so real and authentic. A pleasure to watch, a joy to learn from such master. I really hope a volume 2 is coming soon! Thank you for this one!

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