Sue Bryce makes magic with the Profoto B1.
I specialize in photographing modern magazine-style portraits, and I want my clients to look like they are a part of a celebrity photo shoot and feel that buzz and excitement. I love beauty in all its forms, and after 26 years I still get a thrill from making a beautiful portrait for someone.
One of my recent clients, Rayna Starr, is an up-and-coming professional performer, dancer and actor—and her career is taking off in the best way. She found me through Facebook, and I photographed her this past January in my Los Angeles studio. I was asked to update her book shots, but while I had her there, I took as many experimental shots as I could.
Before I get started, I always lay out a plan for what I’m going to shoot, and took the time while my hair stylist and makeup artist worked with Rayna to do this. I plan ahead for two reasons: so I don’t get lost in the creative moment and forget something important, and, in addition, my clients love to see my inspiration board.
Strobes are a new addition to my studio, and every time I shoot with them I try to explore new looks and moods. My first step, and a rule I live by, is to light the face first, because nobody buys a portrait where his or her face doesn’t look good.
For this shoot, I set up one Profoto B1 off-camera flash with a white XL umbrella to my left, feathering across Rayna and bouncing onto a large white V-Flat to my right for fill. With my aperture open at f/2.8, I get an image with soft, beautiful light and a shallow depth of field. I couldn’t do this before I got the B1—shooting at f/8 and higher is not something I love.
After the shoot, I spent lunch with Rayna to chat—this is a great time to bond more with the client and talk about his or her viewing. When I started my own business I would book up to three portrait shoots a day, and it took me a while to build up my brand so that I could book less shoots for more money and spend more time with clients. The difference now is the ability to relax and make the whole experience better for both clients and my team.