Drew Gurian Captures A Star With The Profoto B1
In 2014, I was hired by an agency to photograph the now seven-time Grammy winning rapper Kendrick Lamar.
Kendrick was in New York City for a press day announcing a new brand collaboration. I had been hired to shoot reportage throughout the day, and I wanted to sell the agency on the idea of shooting a quick portrait as well. Due to the jam-packed schedule, they were hesitant at first, telling me no. When I said I could do the portrait in one to two minutes, they gave me a tentative go-ahead.
As a New York City resident, I jump on any chance I get to create a classic New York scene. On this particular shoot, we had access to a terrace that had a great view of Chelsea.
Given the time constraint—and the freezing December temperatures— my assistant and I had everything set up on the terrace and tested well before Kendrick’s arrival.
I opted for a Profoto B1 flash with a white Profoto Softlight (a.k.a. Beauty Dish) at camera right and photographed Kendrick head on, at iSO 200, f/9 at 1/125 of a second. I used my Profoto B1 monolight and a Profoto Softlight for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I wanted to light him with something that had a bit more punch than your average soft box, and I thought the reflector would suit him well. Secondly, because it was incredibly windy, I knew that the shallow profile of the Softlight would stand up to the elements a bit better than a soft box.
Some people need a lot of direction and I have to fight to break down barriers, but Kendrick is not one of those people. He’s one of the most genuine, humble people anyone could ever hope to work with, and as soon as he stood in front of the camera, I knew I had what I was after.
The few minutes I had outside with Kendrick—and this single frame— made the entire day a huge success. While the client had their own goals, I knew I needed to push the envelope to produce something really amazing. By convincing them to let me create something of my own, we got something out of the day that all parties were truly happy with.