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Confused by the title? Well allow me to explain how I did a Photoshoot 600+ miles apart from my subject, this is the use of modern technology at its precipice. Myself and Sam Mathias did a photoshoot using her gear, in Indianapolis, and me at home, in Charlotte, shooting her from my computer. Using the tethering capabilities of her Canon 4000d and natural light, we were able to produce some of the best boudoir shots I have done thus far. This shoot alone proves, it is not just the gear that makes a great photo, but the talent and chemistry of the parties involved. In this video, there is a full behind-the-scenes look at our shoot:
This was something I was rather eager for, so much so I lost track of my day and was ready, waiting at the computer 5hrs before our scheduled time. In my 12 years of practicing photography, I had never done a photoshoot this way, where I had to rely on gear that wasn't mine, on a set I had never been to--only saw photos, and taking photos in a place I wasn't physically at. Had someone told me in 2013 that I would be doing this, I would have laughed it off...then probably tried it lol. Even what was needed for this to work was surprisingly simple. (See bottom of this article for gear list).
During this shoot, I told Sam, quite a few times, how happy I was that she showed me this and was working with me. Working with her was seamless. Though we had never worked together before, it felt as though we had done many productions together, as she knew what I wanted to go for and it was easy for me to know what she wanted as well. Some may chalk it up to experience, but I would definitely like to add a spice of chemistry in there as well--regardless of how good you are at what you do, if you can't work cohesively with your production team and talent, then what's the point? Now editing, that was a beast all on its own! I actually believe I made it much harder on myself then I should have. Luckily the set was dressed nicely and Sam did an amazing job on prep so there was not much that needed to be done, at least on the side of corrections. Where I did have my trouble and where I could have made it easier on myself, was on DeNoising. My fault was mainly in shooting, with longer shutter speeds, I would have been able to drop the ISO and being able to balance the exposure properly while minimizing the amount of noise. Normally, I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark IV, which within an ISO of 800, noise is still minimal, and doesn't get annoying until around ISO 1600. But with the 4000D, I should have realized that the tipping point was around the 400-600 mark, whereas 800 gave me much more noise than desired (making a note for next time). I did the best I could though and utilized the noize to give a more stylized look in post.
The question is, now what YOU need to pull off a Virtual Photoshoot? It's actually very simple. You need:
DSLR Camera with tethering cable
Laptop with Tethering Capabilities
Moderate source of light (either from a window or artificial lighting)
Remote Shooting software (We used DigiCam)
Zoom (Necessary for Camera Control)
These 5 things are essential for the talent to have, in order to execute a virtual photo shoot. Why is a cell phone mentioned as essential? Well because the shoot is over the internet, Zoom has a bit of a latency issue, wherefrom the time you speak until it is received by the other party, a couple of seconds could have passed. This can be mitigated by calling each other and relaying a conversation that way.
Pros and Cons
Able to effectively stuff produce photoshoots over long distances, both during and after the pandemic.
Allows me to experience the use of other cameras
Will allow me to work with a much wider range of models despite the distance, as long as they have the essential gear.
Completely at the mercy of the equipment that the talent has access to, now your own--this can be good or bad, depending on the gear.
Production is done via the internet, which can be unreliable at times, depending on the ISP and the purchased package.
Not physically on set to direct if necessary or make scene, garment, or lighting adjustments.