Corporate Editorial Photography for The CEO Magazine Europe
In late April 2015 I received a commission from The CEO Magazine Europe to photograph Catriona Marshall the CEO of Hobbycraft, the largest arts and crafts retailer in the UK. I had to wait for the magazine to first publish the photographs before I could show them publicly, hence the delay in this blog post.
This business editorial photography session was a little different as I would be photographing in a Hobbycraft store during normal opening hours. This imposed some restrictions on the lighting equipment I chose for the shoot. Having large flash heads on lighting stands with trailing cables is not ideal with the general public wandering around your scene. I decided to travel lightweight in store and use speedlights with either a softbox or umbrella light modifier.
It turns out that the Bournemouth Hobbycraft store is one of the oldest stores of the 80 that Hobbycraft have nationwide. During my location recce I discovered that some parts of the store have a very low ceiling and no windows, which meant I would be working in a fairly cramped area with lovely overhead fluorescent lights providing a really attractive green colour cast. This is me being sarcastic by the way!
The colour cast from fluorescent lighting is a real problem when photographing people. Unless the green cast is corrected it can make a persons’ skin tone look very… well green! Not a good look I can assure you.
There were two ways I could have dealt with the fluorescent store lights.
1) Light the whole scene, background and subject with flash combined with a fast enough shutter speed to eliminate the fluorescent and it’s nasty colour cast from the exposure equation or…
2) Raise the ISO, slow the shutter speed and use the fluorescent to illuminate the background in the scene combined with a colour corrected flash to light my main subjects.
Even though at the outset I had decided to use speedlights for this editorial shoot due to location restrictions, I had still packed enough Profoto lighting kit in the car as backup to do option one. But the time required to setup many lights, combined with the restrictions of working in store during opening hours with the general public ready to trip over anything in sight, meant it was a non starter.
On the subject of backup equipment, I always bring LOTS and often joke that the contents of the car are worth more than the car itself. At least two camera bodies, multiple lenses, multiple lights, modifiers, stands, grip, batteries, memory cards etc. In fact the only item not backed up is me! Put it this way I am photographing incredibly busy people who have made time in their packed schedules to be photographed by me. They are not going to be very impressed if I have an equipment failure and tell them I can’t complete the shoot and we will have to reschedule. This is not how a professional photographer operates.
So option 2 was the preferred lighting method. I chose a high enough ISO combined with a sensible shutter speed to record the ambient fluorescent lighting. Set my camera to fluorescent white balance to neutralise the green colour cast. The main subjects were then lit with speedlights that had been colour corrected to match the fluorescent white balance of the camera. The speedlights provided just enough contrast and directional light to make sure the main subject stood out from the background without it looking unnatural.
The magazine required a number of different setups during the photography session, including product discussion meetings, environmental corporate portraits, some classic headshots and some general images of the store itself. Thankfully Catriona and her staff were a pleasure to work with and we completed the shoot list in good time.