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When I am on location with a list of images to capture, (particularly for industrial projects), there often times is a requested shot on that list of one, two or three people to be set up as an environmental small group portrait.  This could be three foremen, the owners of the company, a marketing team or any other group.  Experience has taught me that this forthcoming lighting tip works best with up to 3 people.

Portable lighting is standard equipment when I shoot on location, however, when I notice an overhead door leading to the outdoors I consider using it as a “canopy” for any one, two or three person portrait.  By placing the subjects just behind the plane between the outdoors and the indoors about 3 or 4 feet inside the warehouse, garage, loading dock or plant facility, I have a huge indirect source of daylight that beautifully illuminates the subjects with shadowless light.

The lighting is soft and broad.  The size of the overhead door opening essentially acts as  a huge soft box, illuminating the subjects.   In order to complete the image, attention must be paid to what is behind the subjects.  It can be put in soft focus.   If the background adds to the story, it can be kept in sharp focus.   A portrait of shipping clerks with a background of boxes and forklifts might be a great addition!

A few garage door portraits with soft focus background.

In conclusion, placing subjects  just inside of a garage door, out of direct sunlight, produces fine results.  The catchlights in the subjects eyes are large  (reflecting the large opening of the open overhead door).  Whenever I’m on location and I spot one of those big doors, leading to the outside, I use it as a lightsource.  I have never been disappointed, rain or shine.

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