You ever wonder what it would be like to grow up in some far-off place like Thailand, go to an international school where English, Korean, Thai, German, and more languages are heard through the halls, then come to your Senior year, your mind begins to think more and more about which country you’ll move to for college, or gap year, and beyond?
That was the story, a uniquely formed identity, that I was trying to capture in a single image as I was preparing for a Senior picture shoot with 3 friends, Matt, Taylor and Evan. After living here for almost 5 years, what comes to my mind are stupas, orange, deep red bricks, evening light. So we met up first at the school, played around in the gym with a cheap lighting rig I rented from a local shop, then went to Wat Oo Mong here in Chiang Mai right as the sun was setting (I timed it out so we could get the deep blues and fill light).
I haven’t done many shoots with this approach. I lean towards the purist journalist, no flash, no staging. But when the time comes, embrace it baby. Your limits are now your creativity. I suddenly wished I was a trained stage lighter.
Regarding equipment, I had two battery-powered LitePanels, and enough parents with legs to move my light around on demand (an awesome idea. Better than static stands, I tell ya.). The LitePanels were made for video and dim light, so I knew they didn’t have enough output for bright day-time portraiture. I had to rent a separate light kit with DC-powered heads for the day-time shots, to push out enough wattage to overpower the daylight. But as dusk fell, I knew the LitePanels would work well as ambient fill-light. So at that point you’re basically working with model lighting. Shoot it with a Canon that has Live View mode (I used my 5D Mark II), and you can see your shot instantly, and dial your settings to taste on the fly. Bye bye old school light meter days (I run manual all the time, so it was lazy indulgence).
So as the technology changes to be more convenient, the creative preparation can take charge and explore new things. And when friends come along, it’s the perfect setup to just “see what happens,” get some “sure” shots, and then experiment.
I hope you enjoy the selection … and if you have a senior who needs pics, I know some people