Small Backdrop | High Impact with Casey Dittmer
Let’s face it, we are not all blessed with an abundance of shooting space. Some of us shoot in our homes, in client’s homes or in smaller commercial spaces. And there is NOTHING wrong with that. But you do need to think differently and get creative so you can maximize your impact. I recently had the pleasure of shooting a demo of High Impact on Small Drops at the Intuition Backgrounds Booth in the IMAGING USA EXPO.
Talk about small spaces. We had about 6-7 feet to work with between the backdrop and where I stood. On top of that we were surrounded by wonderful people joining to watch us work. Here are the THREE key points we touched on:
From the moment you start planning your session, you need to pay attention to details. Making sure that the wardrobe is coordinated while also complimenting the backdrop. There isn’t going to be a lot of space in your frame, so busy will not fly. It needs to be planned and purposeful. Complimentary colors and tones will add to the impact with your frame being fuller. Never underestimate the need for amazing accessories. Again, these will most likely not be full body shots, therefore details like earrings, necklaces, and other fun items will give you focus points and give you a punch of pizzazz. We loved how this wardrobe set had burgundy and green that would be cohesive with Noelle Mirabella’s green tones. The hat and gloves added a little detail and texture for those close up shots.
Up close shots take finesse. Fine tune fingers, hair, and clothing. Be assertive in putting your client at ease with simple instruction to get them where you need them. Even helping them breathe will give you better results and it will show in their expression. Due to being in a crowd of people, our model sometimes held her breath. It was up to us to joke, and encourage her to relax and breathe so that she was more comfortable and her expressions softened. Use flow posing by moving eye placement to maximize your shot variety without reinventing the wheel every shot. We did this with each pose so we could choose our favorite. Most of the time we loved them all and it was hard to narrow it down. Change hands, body direction… small movements, big changes. Don’t overthink it. We were very careful with finger placement and her hair. Having her hands up by her face would become a distraction if done incorrectly. Have a game plan BEFORE you shoot. Sometimes our brains stumble in the moment, therefore having a plan will help you be efficient and give a more professional client experience. We brought small props and little fun things to spice up the shoot. They added even more variety to the finished set of images and made the shoot fun and engaging. Shooting a variety of cropping is equally important. Take advantage of those close up beauty shots, three quarters, and ambiguous detail shots. Maximize the number of shots for each pose!
Tight work space doesn’t have to mean boring images! Use gels to change the drop’s color and texture. We shot the majority of the demo with one light. A Profoto B10 and Westcott rapid box beauty dish. But we added in a color gelled B10 in the end. Melding a bit of red with the already gorgeous green drop made for a subtle yet dramatic change. You can change lighting direction to add variety to poses, but always make sure your client is lit in the most flattering way possible. Just because we were in the middle of a trade show didn’t mean we had to use slopping lighting. We used a mix of loop and butterfly lighting patterns to flatter our model. Learn your lighting patterns and what is best for different client types. Not everyone can be lit the same. This makes a huge difference on tighter shots and simpler set ups. Don’t be afraid to play! It’s the best way to learn new things and it can lead to exciting surprises.
We loved this little demo in the Intuition booth. We were there for about 20 minutes and made many signature shots. These five were our favorite and they show how little things can lead to big impact. Special thanks to our lovely model who was so willing to wear a false baby bump and a wool jacket in the warm expo. You were amazing!
So remember, KEEP IT SIMPLE. Don’t try to force huge full body shots, it’s not going to happen. Focus and perfect, tight, detailed, powerful shots. Planning ahead and being purposeful will make all the difference during your session, therefore leading to better client experience and making the most of each shot.
After all, it’s not the size that matters.
Casey Dittmer is an award-winning photographer based out of Colorado. She specializes in Dynamic Maternity Portraiture. She travels the world teaching and shooting in an effort to push the industry forward. Along with Maternity, Casey's studio in Colorado serves a variety of clients such as Newborn, Child, Family, Senior, Beauty and more.
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Photographers often discuss the challenges of variety during sessions with little ones during their studio milestone sessions. Learning which poses work best through the years (age dependent of course) and growing my backdrop collection have helped me improve the variety of images in my milestone sessions.