Victoria Will lights Brad Pitt with the Profoto D1
In 2013, Brad Pitt came to New York City to promote his film World War Z, an apocalyptic action film about a zombie pandemic. There was a lot of hype surrounding the film, and I was happy to be invited to a press junket at a local hotel along with journalists and other photographers. But these shoots are always a challenge; I’m often not told what kind of room we’ll shoot in, what clothes the subject will wear or how much time we’ll have. Because of this, I always show up early and prepared for any situation.
I was assigned a room in the hotel, and, upon opening the door, had to think fast. The room was tiny with floral wallpaper and no furniture except a table with simple chairs. I pushed aside the furniture and tracked down a chaise lounge in a nearby room. Luckily, the room I was assigned had a window, so I set up the lounge by the natural light filtering on the floor.
When Brad arrived, I directed him to the lounge to quickly begin. The sunlight casted enough light on the floor, but it wasn’t quite enough to illuminate the actor. Adding a bareheaded Profoto D1 monolight, angled upwards to bounce off the ceiling, plus a Profoto Collapsible Silver/White Reflector (positioned on the silver side, held by my assistant to the right) I was able to make the dim, small hotel setting suit my needs.
When I need to make a portrait under pressure, I rely on the Profoto D1 monolights. They gave me the quality of light I want and the control I need, and they are compact and intuitive to use. They allow me to focus on my subjects and to not get lost in the equipment.
TIPS & TRICKS
TURNING CHALLENGES INTO AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE BEAUTIFUL IMAGES.
- BE PREPARED. Time restrictions, location and styling can be out of your control so you need to be prepared to think on the fly and trouble shoot. Bring your kit of “just in case items.” Show up early and scout it out, and use what’s at your disposal to build an environment.
- WHEN YOU HAVE AMBIENT LIGHT, don’t be afraid to use it to build dimension in your image. Don’t over power it with your strobes. Instead, slow down your shutter speed to capture it by balancing the strobe and natural light.
- BUILD YOUR LIGHTING SETUP ONE LIGHT AT A TIME. Start with the key light and then add other lights only based on a need or desire to achieve something specific. Sometimes less is more.
- SWITCH IT UP. Use your strobes as fill instead of as your key. Also try indirect fill, like bouncing a light off a white wall or ceiling. It can soften and open up the shadows just enough.
- BE PRESENT. When making a portrait, having an honest and organic interaction is key. Listen to your subject, take notice of their natural body language and engage in a way that allows them to be comfortable. Genuine interactions help you make an image that feels authentic.