[BTS] The Story of Mr.&Mrs. President
You know when election time comes because you see numerous posters popping up everywhere, begging for your vote. School's Student Council elections for President and Vice-President, as well as Secretary and Treasury, are really no different, and the quality of the advertisement work can make a great candidate pair stand out even more, or it could bury them deep on the notice boards among all the other crap. Rosen and Lora are some of my closest friends and I shot their campaign last year (when they lost by very little in runoffs as the underdogs in the whole thing), so it was only natural they would ask me to do it again this year and we would be working on it together as a concept.
This, however, happened on a Saturday evening when we gathered in a small (small doesn't even begin to describe it) apartment where we discussed some ideas for the direction and slogan for the campaign to help guide the visuals. The posters had to be done, printed and put up on Tuesday.
We had a printer secured, and Lora was taking care of that, as far as I know, so that wasn't a worry.
We shot the window - trapped in a box idea as a 'test' starting point. It was a grungy stairway in an old soviet apartment block, but there was the glass I needed for them to look trapped in the box and appear to be looking out of the poster and into the school. I had 2 speedlights with me and I shot with my Nikon D7000 with a 35mm f/1.8 and the cheap Samyang 8mm f/3.5 fisheye. I had a couple of friends holding each of my speedlights into position and basically act as my assistants for the shoot which is quite nice and can be quite funny. Especially when your friend starts playing with the 'test' button on the speedlight to flash people and then flash himself..... at max power... lol.Lesson of the post:You don't need assistants; instead, get some friends and use them as assistants! Also, flashes can be fun, but also kinda dangerous. We knew, though, that we couldn't rely on those shots to carry the campaign through, so we met up again on Sunday at my house prepared for a more proper photoshoot. They brought some clothes along to change up looks and I ended up giving a couple of my shirts to Rosen because they were more appropriate for what we were doing.
We went outside scouting for some locations and getting some more casual portraits, which we ended up not using for the campaign because another theme came to mind, and they weren't that well suited for our purpose.
We were joking around about making the posters like those of the film Mr. & Mrs. Smith with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, but the more we joked around about it, the more it started looking like a cool idea to develop.
We went back to my house and set up my studio background outside in my front yard. The sun was setting but it wasn't fully down yet. It was going down behind the background while the house, which was behind me as I was shooting, was reflecting some of that remaining golden hour sunlight back into the scene, as it was plain white.
I did a lot of different variations on my lighting on these, but for the final one I stuck with this is simple setup shown on the diagram. I used one of my speedlights into a reflective white umbrella, which was slightly above the camera, as a main light. For rim lighting, I put the second flash on the edge of the seamless aimed right above their shoulder to feather the light a bit. Finally, for fill, I was relying on my girlfriend holding up a 5in1 circular reflector [note: those are awesome and really useful and I should use them more!] and also dragging my shutter (using a slower shutter speed than the flash synch speed) to let the reflected light off the white house (no pun intended) fill in some of those shadows a bit more.
For the shot of Rosen (underneath) I put the rim light behind him so his body would hide most of the stand (the rest was photoshopped out in 2 sec). In this setup the reflected light from the background is enough of a rim, as the speedlight is pointed at the background. Originally, I meant to blow it all out white, but I somehow like it better this way, and it goes together better with the one of Lora which was using the setup described above.
Although my style is referred to with my high-contrast black and whites, we knew we wanted these posters in colour, so I had to make my lighting much more precisely.
We took some individual portraits as well; they changed their outfits a few times, and we ended up emulating the Mr. & Mrs. Smith pose but with our Mr. & Mrs. President twist on it. Posing on one leg proved to be a bit of a challenge, but with a bit of creativity (and some more funny moments) we managed to get what we needed.
I edited through the night, picking the final images and adding the slogans, etc to make the final posters that were, apparently, head-turning and everyone stopped to look at, as a friend told me, who's also one of their rival presidential candidates. Thank you for the honors, once again!
I forgot to mention that I had only come back to Sofia from London a couple of days before, and I was getting quite ill (also one of the reasons for meeting up at mine on Sunday), but I enjoyed the work I was doing, and I knew my friends were counting on me to create something awesome for them, so I did it regardless, and had a blast doing it.
They won! Yaaaay!
Worth in my book.