Outdoor Junkie

Hi, my name’s Kyle, and I’m an outdoor photograph addict.

There, I said it.  I’ve known it in the back of my head all along, but it really came to light yesterday.  A close friend of mine asked me to do a favour for her, and take a profile/portrait picture of a friend of hers for an opera site and the subsequent programmes.  The friend’s a close one, and I help my friends when I can, so I readily agreed.

Not being too familiar with the area anymore, living 60 miles away and only having about 36 hours from agreeing to shooting, I let the model/client decide where she felt most comfortable, and where she’d like to have as a backdrop for the shoot.  Scenery lost out to comfort and convenience – we shot at a local sports pub.

Fortunately, it was during the day, and we were on the restaurant side, so we had the area all to ourselves.  I set up my lights and moved tables and chairs as I pleased.  However, there are three problems with sports pubs:

  1. They’re generally dark.
  2. There are televisions all over.  Even when you turn them off, there’s still the set in the background.
  3. There is memorabilia everywhere there isn’t a television.

Remembering that this is for an opera company, and not the Raiderettes, I had to keep the sports look to an absolute minimum, if not out completely.  The latter is highly preferable, and also very tricky in a sports bar.  This severely limited where we could shoot, but we made do.  I don’t always get to shoot on a beach during Golden Hour, so I make do with what’s available and work around it.  As Marines have been known to say, Semper Gumby (“always flexible”).

So we did a bunch of shots, and she even brought a change of tops, so we got different looks (kudos to her for that)!  Once we exhausted the location, she switched tops again while I took a quick walk outside.


I wasn’t outside two minutes and I found three spots that I wanted to use, all within one door’s walk.  I told her boyfriend that I was stealing her for a minute (he was hanging out, watching the NFL games and keeping me posted on the Dallas/Philly game (Dallas won, 17-3!).

The side of the bar had this brick wall that was okay (she was wearing purply-red, so it didn’t work too well on the colouring).  The building next to it had an overhang, and the columns were covered in this great white pebble with the occasional black one thrown in.  On the other side was an apartment building (hers, I think), and the tile extending just beyond the glass doors gave a great backdrop, too.

So after 2+ hours inside, we got our best shots in about 10 minutes outdoors, including one wardrobe change, using entirely natural lighting (no flash at all).  Would someone please remind me again why I spent all that money on those strobes & softboxes??

(Since she was nice enough to sign a model release, as there originally wasn’t going to be any money changing hands, here are two of the three shots mentioned.


I just finished this one before posting it, so I’m probably going to edit it a little more before delivering it to her (yes, you’re seeing these before she is!), but I love the way her hair frames her face.


This background, I’ll have to remember for the future.  I’ll take one of my strobes out for a fill light on stage right and it can work as a background for corporate portraits!

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