Golden Anniversary

I would be lying if I told you this wasn't a super fun photo shoot to work on, but it's not for the reasons you are thinking, perverts.

Over the last several years my portrait style has moved away from controlled lighting situations and embraced available light. I enjoy letting the location help determine the look of my portraits, instead of creating a contrived environment in a studio. I equate it to shooting a documentary film vs. a summer blockbuster. Using available light allows me to collaborate with my environment to make something interesting on the fly. On the other hand, using strobes in a studio allows me to create an environment that I have meticulously crafted with the outcome always in mind. I had forgotten how fun the latter can be.

My original idea, since it was the Golden Girls 50th anniversary (see the story here: ), was to photograph past Golden Girls in their old uniforms. This concept was met with logistical resistance as well as thoughts that it could be unflattering to the subjects. I'm not sold that it wouldn't have worked, but option two was pretty good, too . We decided to photograph current Golden Girls in vintage uniforms, hairstyles and makeup. We ended up photographing one girl per decade, 60's – today. 

Once the concept was agreed on by me, the art director and the Golden Girls coach, I went into the studio and started building. I knew I wanted it to be flashy, I mean it's the Golden Girls for Christ's sake. I also knew that whatever I did, I wanted to do it in camera and not in photoshop. If I was going to control the look of these portraits, I didn't want to use photoshop as a crutch. At first I played around with a bokeh effect that failed miserably. Then I had the idea of cutting holes in the backdrop and shooting through them to create star bursts. Below are the first test shots that were promising. 

And although intern Kevin looks good draped in a reflector, he was invaluable to this project. The dude is a goboing God. We ended up using 14 lights and some of them were over 25 years old. Kevin stringing those together was pure magic, so if if this photography thing doesn't work out, he has a bright future as an electrician. 

I really liked the super flashy bursts in the test shot above, but felt they would distract from the dancers, so we dialed them down to create the tight starbursts you see in the final images. I really love the treatment art director Blake Dinsdale came up with. The gutter of the printed magazine erases the weird line between the two shots and it looks great. 

When you get into habits as a photographer sometimes you can become predictable. This project reminded me to step out of my regular mode of working and push myself for something different.  I probably won't move every portrait I make into a studio production on this scale, but it will be very fresh in my mind just how fun and rewarding working in a studio environment can be.