It’s always great to feature various photographers’ work on our website and in this article, we have a behind-the-scenes look at a large scale commercial campaign for the desert tourist destination city of Palm Springs. The commercial and active lifestyle photographer Kevin Steele used a combination of Profoto strobes and sunlight to seamlessly create a series of natural, but cleanly lit images.
Guest Blog Article by Kevin Steele – Greater Palm Springs Mystery Ad Campaign
It was still relatively cool in Palm Springs a few months ago as my team assembled for a very fun shoot: an ad campaign for the Greater Palm Springs area. The thread running through the eight images was the concept of a mystery woman revealing scenes and experiences unfolding before her. The campaign is out now – here’s a behind-the-scenes video, just under 4 minutes. Awesome client, crew and models! Everyone worked so well together: Creative Director Jeff, Producer Rebecca, Make Up artist Leah, Wardrobe stylist Tiffany, Max on the assist and the client team of Jessica, Bob, Scott along with the seven models cast to bring out the best in Greater Palm Springs. Have a peek behind the scenes:
Philosophy on Lighting
My philosophy of lighting is to blend the lighting to create a feeling, and most often that means just to support the existing scene. I’ll control the sun (if we have direct sun) with diffusion panels to soften the light,taking it down a few stops and then build the light back up. The “Tech Scout” is where we visit the location ahead of the shoot with the goal of understanding how we’ll light, where the models will be, what’s the story we’re telling. Approaching a scene during our tech scout, the first thoughts are about the mood – soft light versus hard and how shadows will wrap around the models. I’ll be thinking in terms of areas of light that I want to use to bring attention to the important parts of the scene and mindful of areas that will be negative space used for copy or ad text.
This recent shoot was for a tourism campaign with a bright feel and the dual roles of showing a destination as well as showing our “mystery woman” discovering the destination. So in most of the shots I’m working with large soft light sources, Elinchrom Octas (53″ and 69″) for creating a wrapping wall of soft light. Usually, the lights are brought in as close to the models as possible. In the pool scene one light is on camera left to provide soft fill for the foreground model while the other light provides some highlight for our model in the pool.
The Octas are powered by Profoto B4 packs, each 1000W/S and triggered with Pocketwizard Plus IIIs. I’ll meter the lights with a Sekonic L-358. Everything is manual: meter the ambient scene, decide on my aperture, decide on my lighting ratios and set it. In these very specific ad shots I’m locked on a tripod in case we are going to be doing any compositing or retouch.
For other scenes where I want to control the light spill I’ll go to my beauty dish, usually with a grid, to provide a directional pool of soft light.
Whether it’s one light or many, it’s all about understanding what you want to achieve. Visualize in your mind what you are looking for in terms of light and dark, how shadows will fall and where will the eye be drawn first in the scene. Then you can build up the lighting to create the scene, using the tools in your kit. Doesn’t have to be big Octas and Profoto packs, a speedlight and a few sheets for diffusion or reflectors for bounce can often achieve the same feeling.
About Kevin Steele
“I shoot people in motion: active lifestyle, people and places for advertising and editorial clients. I love shooting people with a zest for life; every assignment is an opportunity to create something extraordinary. And have a lot of fun.”