Gargoyles and CTO Gels…

One of the more interesting, albeit understated, parts of being a photographer, are executive portraits.  They can be challenging, and most of the time, they push you both from a technical standpoint, and one of time-management.  In most instances, you will be very limited in the amount of time you have with your subject, and everything should, in a perfect world, go relatively perfectly, in terms of your execution.  Again, in a perfect world…

I had the opportunity to shoot another local attorney, Bill Dillon, that works in the fabulous Candler Building in downtown Atlanta.  It is one of ATL’s oldest buildings, and had a ton of spectacular architecture and character.  I shot in one of the upper floor offices (here) some time back, and I always wanted to shoot in the lobby also.  We were able to work it out this time, and tried not to make a spectacle of ourselves.

The lobby is relatively grand, especially with it’s ornate marble carved starcases, chandeliers, and, who could forget, the marble gargoyles.  I always thought that the staircase would make a striking background for a portrait, so we used it this time.  

We had shot in one of the offices earlier in the morning, and the lobby shots were going to need to be quick.  We had requested permission from the building management a day or two before, but, as we found out later, the building manager was on vacation in the Caribbean, so permission wasn’t going to happen.  Forgiveness over permission was going to have to be the rule of the day.  Luckily, the ‘stand-in’ for the manager was very nice, and was more curious about the shoot than she was concerned about us shooting there.  We had about 10 minutes to set up, and I needed every second of it.

This was a 4 light setup (all speedlights) with the key being a 28″ Wescott Appolo with a 1/2CTO, a bare speedlight with a grid for a rim, a bare speedlight in the background camera right to open up the shadows on the stairway landing, and a last bare speedlight in the background camera left to open up the shadows from the landing below.  The room was a mix of tungsten light (from the chandelier, and sconces throughout the room, and a ton of daylight coming in from both sides of the lobby.  I gelled the key with the CTO to bring the subject in line with the room, and left the rim and 2 background lights at 5600K for some color contrast.  I wasn’t going to be able to kill the daylight, and I kinda liked the feel of the more blue ambient in the room.

All in all we had a great time, and the subject really liked the final images.  Can’t wait to shoot here again!



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