Wednesday, September 23, 2020

It is that time of year again - time for senior portraits!

This is a crazy time for all of us, but for all the kids who are currently seniors in high school, this is an even crazier time. They are starting their final year of high school studying remotely and wondering if, like the previous graduating class, they will have a graduation and prom. There is so much uncertainty that it is hard for them and their parents. 

The good news is that we can still give them that sense of accomplishment and a little bit of normalcy by capturing their senior portraits for them and their families. Last Saturday I met up with one of my previous clients to photograph their son, Sam, to celebrate his senior year. 

The week prior to portrait session, we decided on a date, time and location. We decided that the Stanford campus would be a great place to take his portraits since it offers a great variety of settings and lighting. We also talked about Sam and what he wanted in the photos. He is really into skateboarding and wanted a really informal photo shoot, including some photos of him and his board.

(Canon R6, 70-200mm lens at 100mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/125th sec, Flash at -1 ETTL)

We met at Stanford in the late afternoon, and since the sun was still bright outside, we started by taking some "warm up shots" under the arched walkways.

(Canon R6, 70-200mm lens at 160mm, ISO 250, f/2.8, 1/200th sec, Flash at -1 ETTL)

The great thing about this location is that by moving 10 feet in either direction, there is a completely different look to the portraits. I saw this railing and asked Sam to lean on it and relax. He took care of the rest with that killer smile. I was shooting these photos with the new Canon R6 (mounted with the Canon 70-200mm lens) and letting the camera handle the focusing on the eyes, which was spot-on every time!

(Canon R6, 70-200mm lens at 120mm, ISO 160, f/2.8, 1/125th sec, Flash at -1 ETTL)

Once Sam got used to being in front of the camera (and seeing what I was capturing of him), I asked him to grab his skateboard but some poses. Having the skateboard in the shot really helped with the posing. It gives him a great object to lean on and also gives him a place for his hands.  

(Canon R6, 70-200mm lens at 200mm, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/250th sec, Flash at -1 ETTL)

We walked around the campus looking for good locations and lighting. I saw this bench in a shaded area and asked him to go "hang out" there for a couple of photos.

(Canon R6, 70-200mm lens at 200mm, ISO 100, f/5, 1/250th sec, Flash at +1 ETTL)

I saw these columns with their shadows being cast on the ground and I thought it would be a fun place for a portrait. Sam sat down with his skateboard, so I sat down as well (to be at the same eye level as him). I had to use my Canon 600EX-RT flash to add light to Sam, since without it, he would have been silhouetted by the bright light behind him. 

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 16-35mm lens at 28mm, ISO 160, f/13, 1/200th sec, Flash at +1 ETTL)

I saw this archway of greenery and thought that it would make a nice natural frame with Sam and the Hoover Tower in the background. This time I used the Canon 5D Mark IV, since I already had a wide angle lens mounted on that camera. For this photo, I was in manual mode and metered the Canon 5D Mark IV for the background. Then once I had the proper exposure for the background I used the Canon 600EX-RT flash to light Sam. 

(Canon R6 70-200mm lens at 145mm, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/200th sec, Flash at -1 ETTL)

Sam's mom was nice enough to bring different outfits for Sam so that we would have a variety of looks for him. I went back to the Canon R6 and Canon 70-200mm lens for these portraits.

(Canon R6, 70-200mm lens at 145mm, ISO 320, f/2.8, 1/160th sec, Flash at -1 ETTL)

When I am taking senior portraits like this, I am constantly looking for different "looks" so that the family has a lot of variety to choose from. I saw this brownstone wall and liked the fact that it was a solid and muted background. Sam changed into his blue sweatshirt which really popped against the muted walls.

(Canon R6, 70-200mm lens at 90mm, ISO 320, f/2.8, 1/350th sec, Flash at -1 ETTL)

He also changed into a green sweatshirt, so we did some more portraits of him wearing this outfit by the columns. 

(Canon R6, 70-200mm lens at 150mm, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/160th sec, Flash at -1 ETTL)

I love the repeating lines of these columns, with Sam slightly off center. The repeating lines of the columns helps to draw your eye right to Sam.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 16-35mm lens at 16mm, ISO 160, f/5.6, 1/100th sec, Flash at +1 ETTL)

As we were finishing up, I saw that the light was perfect on the face of the church in the main quad of the campus. I thought that this would make for a really cool wide shot of Sam. I switched back to the Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon 16-35mm wide angle lens, got down low to the ground and asked Sam to come and stand right in front of me. I used the wide angle distortion to make Sam look bigger and more prominent in the frame.

Thinking that this was our final shot, I packed up my gear and we starting walking back to our cars...

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 16-35mm lens at 16mm, ISO 1000, f/7.1, 1/1600th sec, Flash ETTL w/High Speed Sync)

...but then I saw Sam get on his skateboard and jump over these stairs. I realized that we HAD to have that shot. I used the same wide angle setup (with flash) and prefocused about 6 feet out from where I was sitting. I showed Sam where I wanted him to jump and BAM, we got this final shot.

We had a ton of fun and they have a whole bunch of photos for Sam's yearbook, framed photos at the house and maybe even a photo book.  

Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.


1 comment:

Linda Allen said...

Jeff, I have said this before but you really are my favorite photographer! I am a Hobbyist and love studying and learning from you photographs. I love how you use a hint of flash to light the subject and still have a natural look. Flash is my "area of opportunity".

I also loved the great tip at the end where you saw a photo opportunity even though you both were done with the session. What a great shot!

Keep up the good work and I look forward to the next Blog.