Creative Portraiture | Andy Davis, Part I

We are starting a new video teaching series for you guys called In the RAW!

This series is brought to you by Zach where he brings you along to creative shoots he has and you get to learn how he executes the shoot from all aspects including gear, client interaction, lighting, editing and more.

This video series does not kick off until Tuesday, August 19th so in the meantime, we wanted to share with you the first shoot that will be featured in this series.


– Zach & Jody

PS. Let us know by your comments if you are diggin’ the content and videos (yup, we said videos! Stay tuned for more info). If you love it then we’ll keep them coming!

In the Raw

Andy Davis | Artist Shoot, Part I


Over this In the Raw 2-part series, I am going to break down some of the studio and on-location set-ups for my shoot with musician Andy Davis who plays guitar for The Band Perry. Andy asked me to shoot his upcoming album release images and I was excited to work on something creative and fun with him, and here are the results and breakdowns of parts of the shoot!

For part 1, I will walk you guys through the lighting set-up for the pallet wall part of the shoot which was one of Andy’s favorite set-ups of the day. The entire shoot except for my outdoor shots, were all taken at Westlight Studios in Franklin, TN where I live. They have all these amazing backdrops, props and walls that I used for the shoot which made it that much cooler! 0101

 How it was Created

For this shot, Andy wanted something casual for him to do (play his guitar) and not “posing” for the camera. Giving your client something to do that is natural for them always helps them feel relaxed and helps you get great shots that are not overly posed and stiff. On shoots like this when there is lots of lighting and production, the more relaxed you can make it the better. set up 3 diagram

Main Light

I set up my main light which is the Elinchrom Ranger  to camera left and fitted it with my Elinchrom 39 inch Octa.

I then feathered the light (or turned it away from the wall and more towards me) so that I would not get any spill from that light on the wall. I just want that nice light on his face without washing out the wall with tons of light and feathering helps me do that.

Fill Light

Because my main light was pretty close to my subject to get that nice soft light, I knew there would be lots of shadows, so I took my second light from my Elinchrom Ranger and added the Westcott 7 foot parabolic. This light is very large and allowed me to add light everywhere to fill in the shadows. That light was powered two stops LOWER than my main light.

Kicker Lights

I added two kicker lights that each have tungsten gels on them to warm up the background of the shot and add separation to the image. These lights were leaned up against the wall and turned back towards the camera to keep them from flooding the wall with too much light. They were also powered to two stops below the main light so that they would not blow out the details.

The Process

You always want to meter your fill light first, then ADD your main light until you get to the settings you want. If you do it the other way, then you will now know exactly how bright your fill light is. Then, add your kicker lights and meter them and be sure that the other lights don’t effect the readings you get on your Light Meter by blocking other light sources with your hand.   Once I had everything set, I brought Andy in and had him casually lay back on the couch and just strum his guitar. I had music playing through a sound system  to keep things vibey. I always ask in pre-production emails before the shoot what type of music my client likes, and then am sure to play that during the session to help them have fun and feel comfortable.

Final shots from this set-up:

0007 0103 After shooting on the couch, we use the same lighting set up and had him stand (we brought the lights up a bit higher and made a few tweaks to the angle of the lights). 0105

For this shot, we used a piece of glass and sprayed some water on it to create this effect in-camera. Pretty cool what you can do with something laying around!   On Thursday, for part 2 of this shoot, I am going to show you how I created this image below in the camera: 0001

Questions about the shoot or techniques that I used? Leave them in the comments below!

PS. Want to see me shoot these setups and explain through them all? Check out this In the Raw in the store!