I’ve been commissioned to do a series of corporate portraits.
This is something I’ve not done before, but, quite frankly, the money was too good to turn it down! So, now I have to get my skills and confidence levels up so I make a passable go of it.
The company wants a half-body shot of each of its executives — some 60 people spread across four offices. The executives will be seated at a “desk”. They can rest their arms on the desk surface, or not, as they choose. Each image will be cut-away from the background and placed within a black box on the company’s website. The bottom edge of this box will replace the desktop so it will appear the executives are resting their arms on the lower edge of the box. It’s important, therefore, that the desktop does not appear in the shots other than the front edge, so I’ll need to shoot head-on to the table.
I’ll have a room in each office that I can use as a impromptu studio. I want to keep things as simple as possible and buy as little kit as possible. Also I have to lug everything about myself so my kit has to be light enough for me to travel with and compact enough to allow me to go by train and taxi. I do have a light but sturdy sack-cart I can use.
My plan is to buy a white backdrop. Either some sort of folding screen, or a portable hanging-system to take a paper roll. I think I favour the screen, although I’d need to keep it in place somehow — any suggestions? Or any recommendations for the type of system to go for?
I also plan to light the person using two Westcott 43-inch white-satin umbrellas each fitted with a Canon 430EX II flash on portable light stands. I’ll have each umbrella just out of shot at 45° either side of the subject and raised so that the centres are slightly higher than the subject’s head. I can’t think of a simpler set-up! Hopefully, there’ll be enough stray light to light the background without the need for an additional flash. The background will, after all, be cut away, but it does need to be lit evenly enough so it’s easy for the web-guys to do the cut-away.
I’ll either shoot with my Canon 5D-III and a cheap (but sharp) 50mm f/1.8, or I might try using my Fuji X100F with a 50mm conversion lens. The advantage of the former is I can use my PocketWizards to trigger the flashes. For, the latter, I’ll have to run PC sync cables to both flashes and use two PC adapters.
My main question is: (1) What background system (type, not brand — I know the rules here!) would work best?
But, also, I’d like to know: (2) Does this seem like a reasonable plan? (3) Are there any obvious holes or oversights? (4) Any tips or comments anyone cares to offer!