Posted on July 2, 2013
Last week I did a senior photo session in downtown Cleveland and the surrounding areas. I’ve worked with Claire and her wonderful family in the past and was delighted when she chose me to shoot her senior photos. We met a few months ago to talk about the shoot and to discuss her personal taste when it comes to photos. Talking with her, I learned that she loves Instagram and the filters they offer and also that she loved the idea of doing a portion of the shoot in the heart of downtown Cleveland, OH. We looked at our calendars, nailed down a date for the shoot (and a backup date in case of rain) and began planning.
When I was shooting photos for the Cleveland Marathon a few weeks back, I was stationed at a position in Edgewater Park that allowed for incredible views of the city of Cleveland across Lake Erie. I made a mental note to use that location in a future shoot because I knew I’d be able to make some incredible images there using the right techniques. I’ve also done extensive scouting around downtown Cleveland itself and have a long list of locations where incredible photos can be shot. In the days leading up to the shoot I made a checklist of the locations and shots I wanted to nail for her senior photos and the techniques I wanted to use.
The day of the shoot was one of the hottest of the year. Temperatures were around 90 degrees with high humidity and little wind to speak of. We had originally talked about doing the downtown photos first, but I suggested that we go to Edgewater first because the breeze off the lake would keep us cool while we waited for the temperature to drop in the evening. This, combined with shooting most of the photos in the shade, worked out very well, with neither Claire or I getting too hot.
In many of the photos I shot at Edgewater I used off-camera remotely-fired strobes. This gives me far more flexibility when shooting portraits. If I were going to use only natural light or a camera-mounted flash, I’d be very limited in what I was able to do and the variety of different looks in the photos seen here wouldn’t be possible. We used a reflector in some of the shots instead of the flash when it would work out better, but the clouds kept the sunlight very random and I would rather use a flash in those conditions because the results are consistent.
When the temperature cooled off we moved to downtown for the second half of our session. Starting at the Soldiers and Sailors monument on Public Square, we used the beautiful architecture and landscape to our advantage. In some of these photos I used my on-camera flash with TTL but set to fill flash only. I didn’t want it to look like she was hit with a lot of direct flash light, just enough to separate her from the background. We used the off-camera flash much of the time and used natural light too. I like the variety of looks that can be achieved by using many different techniques.
The entire shoot lasted about 2.5 hours, including driving to the different locations. Claire’s mom worked as my photographer’s assistant the whole time, holding my flash stands from blowing over and also holding the reflector and helping me carry my gear. She was so good that she should put “Photographer’s Assistant” on her resume!
When processing the images, I kept in mind that Claire likes the Instagram-style retro look, so I used split toning in many images to get the effect. Because I do all my editing manually, each of the photos was edited by hand for that specific look.
All in all, the shoot went great and I’m very happy with the final results If you’d like to talk about having senior photos taken this year, please get in touch with me by phone at 330-861-3684, email, or a comment on this post.
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