Friday, February 26, 2010

Marketing images at Carrollwood Day School

Last week I had an assignment at Carrollwood Day School in Tampa to shoot pictures for their promotional material.

I spent seven hours at the school and I think I might have shot in every single room!  I got some great stuff and a lot of the credit goes to the students who were wonderful to work with and very polite.  It was a great experience.

When shooting promotional material, it's important to remember that faces are only half the shot.  A picture needs to be more than just smiling happy students, it needs to convey learning.  The best way to do this is to put something in the foreground that is unmistakably "school-like."  If you are shooting in a biology classroom, put the beakers and burners in between you and your subject.  This picture conveys "Chemistry" or "Biology" the minute you see it and it will still convey that message if it is reduced to a thumbnail on a website.

I was asked to take a few headshots while I was there, first of some faculty and then a few students at the end of the day.  The key to taking a quick headshot is bounce flash.  Bouncing the flash over my left shoulder brings the light back to my subject at an angle and eliminates the hotspot you would get if you had the flash pointed right at their face.  I dropped my aperture down to blur the background and ended up with some really nice, natural headshots.  I love a picture that looks like it was taken in natural light when I actually used a flash.  This is the sort of technique that can only be optained with a dedicated, shoe-mount flash and it's the reason I am always pushing my students to breakdown and buy one.

By the way, if you ever want a sure sign that there's a flash involved just look at the eyes.  See the little white dot?  That's called a catch-light and it's a reflection of my flash firing, even though it wasn't pointed directly at his face.

This is another favorite shot from the day.  CDS has great computer facilities for the students with gorgeous Mac computers on every desk.  I wanted a shot that could be used to convey, "computer" even if it was reduced in size. 

Using the keyboard as a leading line, I composed this shot so that the computer and hand would be the focus instead of the actual child.  I was squeezed against a wall but that was okay because I wanted to bounce my flash in tight anyway.  I bounced to my left and brought the light back across the shot so it would light his face and provide contrast for the keyboard.  This is actually the third shot I took.  The first two were too close and the hand seemed a little disconnected from the subject, like it might actually be someone else's hand.  This is why you should always chimp your work (that means, "look at") before you move to the next shot.  Sometimes you miss a small detail that can mean a lot to the final image.

Booray Perry is a professional photographer in Tampa Bay FL.  Visit his website to see more of his work.