I used to think that " singer-songwriter " were the most terrifying words in the language, but I have concluded that the invitation to set up a studio is. Beause you never can tell how much space you'll have or where it will be.
This reflection is brought to you by an experience on Saturday, doing a small studio event shoot for my social club. I've been doing these costumed dinner shoots for what seems like decades...and the places that we end up cover a wide spectrum of suitability.
Best ones used to be the halls with big stages and lots of electrical outlets and two big sets of stairs up the sides. Those were spaces where you could haul a backdrop stand kit and three big studio flashes and a big wooden posing chair and a a variety of backdrops and furniture throws. The sitters could swan up in big gowns and nothing got snagged.
Then we got to the smaller hall - one AC socket, narrower stage, one pair of stairs. Harder to get the people onto the set, but the small compass of it meant that only one studio strobe was possible - with a big beauty dish you could manage it. One memorable setup hooked Manfrotto clamps and arms off a Manfrotto light stand and slung a square-format film camera under the beauty dish...and it worked a treat. But squeezy.
Last Saturday saw perhaps the narrowest stage yet - a sub-branch hall for the RSL that was built in the 50's. Just enough stage for a speaker and a flag - and the flag was tacked to the wall. Not even wide enough to unfurl the regular backdrop on the backdrop stands.
That was solved by collapsing the support pole and putting the side stands en echelon. There was room to put one light stand on the stage for the portable speed light ( we have eschewed the studio lights in the field and are not ashamed of it...) and as long as you shepherded the sitters past the black legs of the stand in the semi-dark, you could get a reasonable portrait. A big umbrella did the trick - like a beauty dish but I could shelter under it as I took the stuff back to the car in the rain.
What it pointed out, however, was the need for some form of attachment that could stick a speed light to a brick wall - that would have permitted a two-light setup. Also, some little flashing LED lights for the legs of the tripod. They put a big flashing light on that builder's crane downtown to keep low-flying helicopters out of it, and portrait sitters can cause more damage than helicopters...*
I have not quite yet been reduced to on-camera flash and posing them in the toilets, but if the venues get more crowded it may come to that. Smile and flush, Kowalski.
* I must poke around the Cullmann stock. If anyone was crazy enough to have a brick-wall support it would be Cullmann.