Prepare for the unexpected. Or how to get the most out of 15 minutes of a photoshoot.
To be honest, the photoshoot with my buddy Jerome Mercier did not go exactly as planned. Normally, I do like to predefine ahead locations for my sessions and figure out what can be done there. Also considering how the light of the sun falls and how one wants to be depicted. However, this one was a bit different, in a good sense. : )
Originally from the raw climate of the Bretagne, Jerome is an avid surfer and long-time yoga teacher, and now in charge of Power Yoga East, the original donation yoga studio in Santa Monica.
“ Meet me at tower 20 “ was the sole instruction I got over a hard to understand call on my cell phone. Where the heck is Tower 20 again?
I found Jerome on his break between two classes, for a quick surf. Carpe Diem!
In the spirit of seizing the day, we gave priority to the glassy, clean waves. We met in the lineup and enjoyed a couple of raw waves (with me getting my biggest wipe-out of the summer!). Now, he truly lives the life of a yogi and surfer, wearing no wristwatch in the water and using the sun to read the time. Back on the beach, it turned out we had 15 minutes left before he would need to leave for his next class at 11am.
You can have the best plan worked out, only to throw it over and adapt to the new situation, namely when you are photographer!
Instead of the nice vista point with some edgy rocks and whitewater splashing on shore, the new plan involved the parking spot and cars to all sides as the backdrop.
Still dripping wet, and with the feet full of sand, I quickly did set up for the shoot.
The good thing was that we wanted to include Jerome’s mystical Chevy Van into his portrait. I wished we would have been able to explore all angles of the van and get Jerome into some really heroic poses and dramatic lighting with the van and one of his classic surfboards.
However, the timing was super tight: all I had available was invested in coaching him to get into a proper pose I wanted to see him in.
Yet, one of the cooler shots included Jerome chilling in his hammock, suspended above his old school surfboards. Again with little time on hand, improvisation is king and I quickly figured out an interesting set up of the light for a catchy visual.
This short glimpse at his personal kingdom is part of personal branding, of reflecting one’s true nature seen through the photographer’s eyes.
For my next visit, I am looking forward to do a proper “ Day in the Life ” photoshoot with Monsieur Jerome.
Maybe this involves some rocks, waves and dramatic light. Maybe not.
And if the latter is the case, it is okay too. I am already working on how to improve my own qualities as photographer to make any spot – be it as ordinary or ugly as you can imagine – a hell lot sexier to portray the true nature of the people in front of my lens.
Reading the available light is most important. And so is experimentation.
And in this case, lighting the van with only one speedlight was totally possible. As the van is cover with insulation foil, it created a very interesting light even with the sliding door closed. The choice of cropping is also essential in order to capture the moment.
Finally, all details count. Whereas I would normally tidy up the location a bit, I just love the slight chaos, mainly the fact that Jerome showed up with two different flip-flops on his feet!