Are The Profoto B1s Really That Good?

Having worked with the new Profoto B1 strobes for a short while, I’ve finally challenged myself to ask this question. The B1 brings a lot to the table – self-contained monolights, remote control, 500 watt-seconds of power, and TTL control. Not to mention the expansive Profoto lighting modification capabilities. But how well do they work in the real world?

Being somewhat “old school,” I still prefer to meter my lighting to place my light sources in desired ratios. I’ve been doing this with the B1 lights as well, but recently decided to test the TTL accuracy of the equipment in which I’ve invested. The below portrait of a patient and accommodating Nancy Grab is an example.

Executive portrait of Nancy Grab for Five Star Professionals' feature
Nancy Grab, Union Bank mortgage banker

After placing my main light in a 45” white umbrella I added my hair light with a 20-degree grid. I set the Profoto Air Remote to TTL and fired my first test shot. To my amazement this is the result I saw. I was able to start working with my subject and concentrate on expressions and angles that would flatter her rather than fussing with lighting and interfering with her workday.

TIP: With the Air Remote and the B1 lights, you can take your first shot in TTL mode. Then when you switch the remote to Manual mode, the Profoto system remembers the power setting of the lights it just fired. So you can easily adjust individual groups up or down to tweak the balance to your liking from your initial TTL exposure. In the above example I didn’t make any further adjustments, and merely switched to MAN and left it there for the remainder of the shoot.

How important is this? In my world, I photograph executives and groups of business people and time is of the essence. I don’t want to keep a CEO or a $400/hour attorney waiting for me to get my lights right. So this system has helped me greatly reduce my setup time, and being able to adjust the lighting from the camera (while I’m shooting) helps me get the busy executive in and out so that they can get back to doing what they do best. Not having to look for electrical outlets (and then tape down extension cords and power cords) is another huge time saver.

On that note, and in the spirit of the season, this final image was a portrait of a man who is quite busy right now. I had the opportunity to photograph him with the employees of the Omni San Diego and a hundred very excited children. He definitely appreciates efficiency!

Two Profoto B1s set up to light Santa
Lighting setup for Santa — no wires!

Santa is ready to greet children at the Omni San Diego
Santa is ready

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and best wishes for a joyous holiday season!

Does Your Image Represent Your Company Culture?

I’ve recently had an opportunity to work with a client photographing a number of different companies for a magazine awards feature. As I met and interacted with the executives and their staff I noticed significant differences in their personalities. Of course the executives and the staff had different personas, but the collective “vibe” is what struck me in particular. Since the companies were all financial planners and wealth managers they all had a sense of seriousness and professionalism. But a few stood out, which led me to the question: does your image represent your company culture?

Below are two different companies and their group portraits. Aside from the differences in offices and demographics, each group definitely had its own style.

office group portrait of Labrum Wealth Management
Jason Labrum and staff

executive group portrait of Epstein and White Retirement Income Solutions
The office of Epstein and White

On the left is Jason Labrum of Labrum Wealth Management, a Carlsbad-based firm. His team exemplifies modern, hip, casual and comfortable. Their single-story open office space reinforces this progressive style, and they project a team environment. On the right is David Epstein and Bradley White’s La Jolla-based office of Epstein and White Retirement Income Solutions. Their individual offices are located in a high-rise opposite University Town Center, and they exude an independent, professional and traditional environment. Their more formal style is apparent in their boardroom portrait.

As you think about your own company’s culture, does your office image match the personalities of your staff? Do you have individual portraits that showcase each valuable member of your team? What’s your style? If you aren’t projecting the image that you want for your company, find out how Morton Visuals can help you! Comments are welcome.

Glamour Portraits for Makeup Staff

Morton Visuals had the opportunity to photograph the staff of Camera Ready Cosmetics recently. We very quickly realized that these would not be (and should not be) typical business portraits. These aren’t lawyers or realtors — these are people that live and breathe the beauty industry, and they are accustomed to having everything look “just right.” So owner/photographer William Morton decided to break out the ring flash for a markedly different look.

Morton Visuals uses a ring flash for glamorous portraits
William Morton using the Paul C Buff Ringmaster to photograph the Camera Ready staff.

Over the span of two half-days William worked with each manager and employee to bring out their personality and beauty, producing a cohesive wall of portraits that are similar yet still unique per individual. Each subject got to review his or her images immediately after shooting, and if they weren’t 100% satisfied with their smile, expression, or anything, we continued shooting until they felt they had an image that represented them they way they wanted to be represented. After a little basic post-production — no one wanted the overdone magazine look, but opted for “real” — the images below emerged. It’s hard to go wrong with great subjects!

Portraits of the staff of CRC makeup
The beautiful faces of Camera Ready Cosmetics

Camera Ready Cosmetics can be found at http://CRCmakeup.com, on Facebook, or Twitter. And they have a showroom in La Mesa where “makeup artists come to play.”

Event Portraits at a Holiday Party

Morton Visuals had the opportunity to provide formal event portraits of the employees of the San Marcos Costco for their post-holidays Christmas party. This event was held in the Crystal Ballroom at the beautiful Grand Tradition in Fallbrook, CA. This event was a well earned chance for employees to celebrate a hectic holiday season – and William Morton was able to capture everyone dressed to impress on this occasion. I have to say, this is a great group of people – and we had a great time with the Costco team!

Event portraits ("Prom portraits") at a holiday party
Bobby & Tiffany Radovich

The Crystal Ballroom’s most prominent feature was the beautiful staircase at one end. The first steps provided the best opportunity to position couples and groups for formal (“prom style”) portraits. Filled to capacity, there wasn’t much room to set up camera and lighting as the tables were tightly arranged and filled all but the dance floor. A main light was positioned against the wall between the first two tables at camera left. A (tightly gridded) fill light was positioned across the room against the wall at camera right. We were able to place a gridded hair light at the top of the stairs, which was out of sight of the camera. Thankfully we had PocketWizard radios to fire three of our Dynalite power packs. Overall I think the “remote lighting” setup worked, and we were able to produce some really nice event portraits at this occasion. What do you think?

 

Best Use of Your Event Photographer

Since I am often asked this question, I wanted to provide some answers here. How can you best utilize your photographer at your event?

  • Documentary Photography
    Documentation is the most popular use of an event photographer. Images often get reused next year as groups show potential attendees (or sponsors) how much fun last year was. And it helps remind us of who was there, particularly important at events like family gatherings.
  • Public Relations Photography
    • Media/P.R. – If you have a celebrity making an appearance or an employee receiving a “Top Earner” award. Community Service events are often publicized in the media, garnering valuable PR for a company or organization.
    • Internal Publication – Often companies showcase their conventions, events, award winners, and the like on their company Intranet or in internal publications. This use often builds camaraderie and encourages future participation from others.
  • Live Entertainment
    • “Live Photography” can capture guests arriving, celebrating, and indulging in the event’s activities – and simultaneously be displayed for the enjoyment of others. For example, guests arriving on the red carpet can have their images displaying on a projector or big screen inside the event just moments later. So the guests become part of the entertainment!
    • Event Showcase – Images captured throughout a conference or convention may be merged into a slide show that is displayed at the beginning of an awards banquet on the final night.
  • Portraiture
    • Formal Portraiture – This is the perfect time for a formal portrait of the group, and for individual executive portraits. Major events like a convention or annual conference may be one of the few times an entire Board of Directors can be able to be together (with a photographer available). Other key personnel may usually work out of different offices. Not to mention the fact that formal events like awards banquets often allow guests to enjoy a “prom photo” with their significant other dressed up in their finest!
    • Green screen photography is quite popular at a casual event, particularly if there is a theme to the party. These are always fun, and a great way to enhance the celebration.
    • Printing on-site – The ability to print immediately, and hand your guests a print to take home with them, is huge! Not only do they now have something tangible to hold on to, whether it’s a keepsake courtesy of the company or a memory that they purchased at the time, this simple portrait print lives on. At a minimum this provides ongoing advertising for the company or sponsor, as the event name and/or sponsor logo can be part of the image.

These are but a few examples of how you can use your Event Photographer. Do you have any other ideas? If so, please share them with us by commenting below. Subscribe to this blog to see others’ ideas as they are posted.

Morton Visuals Goes On Location For The Pink PartyPhoto courtesy Tom Yip Photography.

William Morton is a commercial and event photographer based in San Diego, CA. Shooting professionally since 1991, William began focusing on event photography in 2004 and now shoots for clients nationwide. To see more of his commercial and event photography, visit MortonVisuals.com.

Morton Visuals Shoots the Siemens Smartchopper

William Morton worked with photojournalist James Aronovsky tonight to photograph convention guests posing with Paul Teutul Sr. (of Orange County Choppers and the American Chopper TV show). Guests of the AHA Leadership Summit got a chance to pose with Paul Sr. and the Siemens OCC Smartchopper, an all-electric custom motorcycle, on the pool deck of the nearby Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego.

Paul Teutul Sr gives William Morton a thumbs up at a recent shoot
Paul Teutul Sr with the OCC Siemens Smartchopper

During the only brief pause in the line of fans, Paul Sr. gave William a smile and a thumbs-up. Morton Visuals, assisted by Tammela Loy of Photos by Tamme, shot 286 portraits in a hectic 2-hour period, eventually printing 400 4×6 and 5×7 prints for the excited guests to take home with them.

Morton Visuals Celebrates Valentines with Fundraiser

William Morton Visuals event photography participated in the All You Need Is Love fundraiser at the Stoneridge Country Club on February 13, 2010, to benefit the National Brain Cancer Association.

Event portrait by Morton Visuals
Event portraiture printed on-site
William Morton helped celebrate the Valentines Day holiday by participating in a dinner/dance fundraiser at the Stoneridge Country Club in Poway on February 13, 2010. Yvonne Szikla of Affairs with Flair organized the All You Need Is Love event in honor of a former Stoneridge member who passed away from brain cancer. Morton Visuals provided portraits printed on-site, handing each guest a 5×7 print in a folder a minute after they chose their favorite. The guests raved about the excitement of seeing their images instantly, and being able to retake them if they weren’t 100% satisfied – not to mention being able to take them home with them immediately. A motivated group of gentlemen even dragged in the Kissing Booth to capture images of themselves offering up $100 bills and credit cards to generous ladies working the booth. All in all it was a very fun evenings, and we were very glad to be a part of it. Kudos to Yvonne and all the vendors who participated in this event for the National Brain Cancer Association!

William Morton To Help Portraits of Love Project

William Morton will be participating in the PMDA Portraits of Love project at the Southern California Photo Expo in Anaheim CA on February 20, 2010.

PMDA Portraits of Love
Portraits of Love
William Morton of Morton Visuals in San Diego, has been selected to participate in the Portraits of Love project during the Southern California Photo Expo. PhotoImaging Manufacturers and Distributors Association (PMDA) has teamed with the Soldiers’ Angels volunteer organization to create the PMDA Soldiers’ Angels Portraits of Love Project. The goal of the Project is to provide 10,000 U.S. soldiers around the world with portraits of their families and loved ones this holiday season, taken by the incredibly talented photographers within our industry. What better way to make our soldiers feel at home than by providing them with a beautifully photographed and printed portrait of the ones they love and miss the most? The PMDA Soldiers’ Angels Portraits of Love Project is the imaging industry’s way of giving back with gratitude to the men and women who defend our country each and every day.

Navy veteran William Morton understands the value of images of loved ones – particularly when stationed so far from them, with little connection to home. William will be photographing military families at no charge during the expo in Anaheim on the afternoon of February 20th. Images will be uploaded to SeeHere.com for the families to select prints for themselves and one to send overseas. William is honored to participate in this event, and is very much looking forward to it. If you are in the Anaheim area, please stop by and say Hi!

Morton Visuals Goes On Location For The Pink Party

William Morton Visuals supports The Pink Party fundraiser for breast cancer awareness at the House of Blues in San Diego.

William Morton photographing portraits at the Pink Party event
William Morton shoots portraits at the event.
(Photo by Michael Walborn)

William Morton shows event guests their portraits captured moments before
Guests view and select portraits instantly.
(Photo courtesy Tom Yip)
On December 3rd William Morton of Morton Visuals went on location in support of a great cause, the 2009 Pink Party at the House of Blues. This marks the second year that William has worked with the Pink Party, and this year he stepped up to serve as Photo Coordinator for the event. Setting up in the Pink Lounge, William photographed posed portraits with 5x7s being printed on-site, presented to the subjects in under a minute. The crowd was delighted with the instant gratification, taking their memories of the celebration home with them in a nice folder. Half of all sales were donated back to the Pink Party charities, and the images created at this year’s event have been posted online so that supporters can order additional prints. A special thanks to Michael Walborn and Tom Yip for the behind-the-scenes shots of William.