candidly speaking.

Sol here. If an image is worth a thousand words, then these are worth a thousand plus each because of all the people that know how to talk really well.

I've returned as the Director of Photography for CaseIT 2017, and as the name would suggest, I had some responsibility over the shoot showcasing yet another group of beautiful individuals.

This year, the creative team is taking the time to really deconstruct the work we put out and why, and this is one of the first tangible results of said efforts. Won't go into too much detail, but basically there's a really grounded strategy we want to move CaseIT's creative work towards, bringing stronger alignment to everything to create this really coherent experience.

For the photoshoot, the two big things that needed to be accomplished were photos that were 'modern & professional', catering to the nature of the competition and event, and 'authentic', creating something that's a closer representation of who we are as individuals and as a group.

This meant looking sharp, but also exuding personality. Something that's professional but not a facade, hence the post name 'Candidly Speaking'. It was really just a shoot of really proper and good-looking people, yours truly excluded, being candid in front of the lens.

Here's how I tried to do it

The first thing I thought of was bringing a stool. A stool is magical for relaxing people I feel (albeit I didn't account for the slope of the surface that the stool would be placed on, which made for some shifty moments when a few people first tried to sit on it) Maybe it's just the lack of back support that endorses poor posture that allows for relaxed poses. There is nothing scientific about this post. I thought this would improve the sit-uation.

I spent too long explaining a stool.

Two things were of big contention coming into the shoot: location and attire. Let's ad-dress the attire first. Monochromatic scheme across tops, black bottoms, & black/white shoes. This was largely driven by the modern & professional goal of the photos. Clean-cut, minimal, contrast. It was also driven by the fact that if we wanted to achieve authenticity, it wouldn't focus so much on the appearance of the individuals, but the emotions and the 'vibes' that are emitted.

Our background requirements for the location were simple: white, with texture. Bricks, corrugation, etc etc. We found this the wall in the photo of that stool that fit our needs, but also yelled modern & professional at the same time. Clean lines never hurt anybody. And the hill came in handy for this layered staggering thing we wanted to try for the final group shot.

Here's a pull-back of the shoot while it was too sunny to shoot:

This is how the shoot worked, more or less:

1) invite individual to sit on the stool, and invite some people for them to chat with
2) instruct individual to sit with body towards camera, but not face the camera, and just chat with people
3) they laugh a lot. which is great. I shot as much as I could (shoot ended with 1000+ files)
4) pause, and instruct them to look into the camera for their normal 'professional linkedin portrait' (by this time (1 minute later usually), they're already more comfortable, and their smile looks more real)
5) I pull back for the wider shot

And over and over again, until I had to relinquish control over my camera to Azat for my four minutes of glamour.

There were the same goals in mind for the final big group shot, to keep it sharp but real. One cool style of group photos I keep seeing are those Vanity Fair-esque squad shots. We went ahead and tried our own, staggering people back and forth, bringing in props for sitting and layering.

But we just had the one stool and a bucket I found in my garage and a step ladder I decided to bring along last minute. The hill slant helped with creating some layering between people, and we look pretty cool, but also relaxed, which is what we want the world to see us as. That and only that.

Here's the final shot:


In terms of technical stuff, I chose to stick to natural light because I would not be able to light the whole wall evenly with any lighting setup I would've gotten my hands on, and we were lucky that the clouds were out on shoot day, but not dripping.

That's about it, I had a decent amount of fun dressed in all black and jumping around midday. And here are just some more bts shots that mostly Azat kindly snapped while everything was going on:

Till next time! Sol.