I had the pleasure yesterday of photographing multi-platinum hip hop producer Keith “Clizark” Clark, in the warehouse of a music-library company called Big Fish Audio. Keith has worked with Snoop Dog, Dr Dre and others. This shoot was for the cover art of an upcoming hip hop music library called “Platinum Essentials III”.
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[Edit: Since it's been requested so many times, I've made a more detailed tutorial of the photoshop effect used here and elsewhere, and blogged it here.]
The shoot went very smoothly, even though the warehouse we were using was pretty hot…it was in Valencia, and it was probably 100 degrees outside (no air conditioning inside). I wanted him a little shiny for the shoot, so that didn’t bother me as long as he wasn’t dripping! Keith might not have been so comfortable, but he didn’t show it. Cool and collected for the couple of hours we shot.
The main set up was a black background, using four lights. I had envisioned this in pre-production, and it was immensely satisfying to take the first shot of my assistant as a stand-in, and realized I’d just about nailed it. A couple of tweaks with positioning and light, and we were all set.
Here’s a picture of the set up:
I’ve got the black velvet backdrop held up on two C-stands. Left and right I have two Nikon SB-20 strobes, with cardboard flags on the sides, as edge lighting (primarily on his face). I also have a Sunpak 333 on a tripod in back of Keith, firing at his back to provide a rim light. The tripod and light are hidden by Clark’s body in the shot.
The main light is a homemade beauty dish, made from a plastic plant pot, a bulk DVD case lid, and a few miscellaneous parts. It is suspended from a boom in front of and above the subject. You can see how the boom is bending under the weight of the dish and Nikon SB-28, and is counterweighted by a ‘super clamp’ and a bag of A-clamps.
Note my Bronica ETR-S on the extreme right of the photo too. Gotta keep it real for film!
The lead photo in this post was done as a secondary set up, using a white wall as backdrop. I don’t have a photo of this set up, as we were in a hurry. The main light was a sort-of snoot, made from an oatmeal container, using the translucent lid of the container as a diffuser half way in the middle. It basically throws a tight-ish spot on a subject, with an even light and quick falloff. I could (and should) turn this into a grid-spot. Anyway, this was up pretty high, about ten feet in the air, firing downward. It also lit the wall in the back a little. And an edge light (SB-20) to camera left, with a car-sunshade silver reflector to camera right (bouncing some of the SB-20 back to fill some shadows). A Sunpak 333 was firing a slash of light down the back wall, with a blue gel, but it’s not visible here. The halo around his head is a result of my post-production.
And finally, here’s a shot (below) on the black background again, which we had torn down and then had to hurriedly set up again as we hadn’t exhausted Keith’s wardrobe changes. This is without any post-pro, just simple adjustments made. Still looks pretty good!
[Edit: As per a request in the comments, here is a version of an image above, straight out of Lightroom, before retouching or cropping.