I was very excited to work on this project with Dan Mills, for his upcoming record “Home Before The Rise of the Tide”.  I’ve been lucky enough to have this record for a while (actually listening ot it while I write this post), and I am in love with it! Pick it up here! Seriously, its such an amazing record and I am very proud of Dan. One of the greatest humans I know. Bird’s Eye View is my favorite track on the record :)

I’ve never done a informational blog, so I figured I would give it a go. As I am still learning and developing, I figured anyone who reads this and cares, can do the same.

#1. Location Scouting
Sometimes you just show up and shoot, and sometimes you need to spend time to think of what setting you want. I had a good idea of what I wanted, but finding it was a bit more difficult. Initially I wanted a giant open barn with a ton of sunlight and all natural woods. There is an old barn on the property I live on, but it didn’t really work for what I wanted. Although you will most likely see that pop up in another shoot of mine. (See left photo below.) So I asked a couple other people, visited a couple other barns and still couldn’t find what I needed. Finally after doing a small shoot with my friend Kelley Margera we discussed using her antique store as the setting. Took some reference shots and decided on this spot for the shoot. Aside from the 7 foot ceilings, it had the perfect look… warm woods, just the right props and a ton of windows. As you can see in the pic below, there were a ton of antiques in there but Kelly did an amazing job of stripping it down to a perfect level. LESS IS MORE! We spent the week before sending shots back and forth of different inspiration shots along with prop ideas for the main shot (photo below). Kelly and her friend Jessica have a business called Golden Arrow. They do styling and propping for events, shoots, or pretty much anything else you need. She has a great eye and a ton of amazing pieces. I actually ended up buying the chair that is in the shoot (red one to the right).



I wanted it to feel like warm fall day when the sun hits the windows just right and it seems to illuminate an entire room. Since we shot this mid day and the sun didn’t set where we would have wanted it to, I had to re-create the sun. I ended up using 5 light sources and a lot of warming gels. I had this all planned before I got there as to not waste much time setting up. You can see the diagram I made below.  There were some minor adjustments as the day went on but here is the basics. I used an Alien Bee 1600 camera left as high as I could get it at full power. The ceilings were only 7 ft tall which isnt the best situation for shooting. That is why we did the entire shoot sitting down. When they stood up, they looked like giants.

Instead of a soft box I bought an 18″ acrylic globe. I needed to fill the entire room and this offered a great 360 degree light source… It’s also way cheaper than the ProFoto Globe. With a little duct tap it fit perfectly on my strobe. Used 1 AlienBee 800 outside the window camera right with 2 CTO warming gels on it to get a warmer rim light. We were on the second floor so I had to balance it on the porch roof with a couple of sandbags and duct tape. The light directly behind them was also an AlienBee 800 with a CTO warming gel on it. Again for a warm sun like rim light. I used an AlienBee 400 outside window camera left, with a CTO warming gel and a yellow gel. Gave it a little more color, and made it feel a bit more like there was a room on the other side. I used one more 580ex in the window far left. Aimed this one down to fill the floor and their legs. Last but not least, added a giant foam core board camera right, just to fill in some of the shadows on Dans Face.

Equipment Used
Camera (first setup, group shot): Canon 5D Marl II
Lens  (first setup, group shot): Canon 24-70mm 2.8L
Lights (first setup, group shot)
1 –  AlienBee 1600 with acrylic globe light modifier
2 – AlienBee 800 – one with a beauty dish and one with a gride
1 – AlienBee 400 – with grid
1 – Canon 580ex
5 – Orange (CTO), 20″ x 24″ Color Correcting Lighting Filters

Second Shots “Natural Light”
Lens: Canon 50mm 1.2L & Canon 70-200 2.8L
Extra Lighting – Kino Flo Diva-Lite 401 Fixture 

Lens: Canon 50mm 1.2L & Canon 70-200 2.8L


After the main shot was done, we stuck around the barn a little longer to do some natural light shots, and then headed out to do some outdoor shots. You will notice in some of the indoor shots some odd lens flare. I ended up grabbing a wine glass from the store and holding it half way in front of the lens. Bends the light and adds some interesting effects. I didnt want to use any secondary lighting for the outdoor shots, to try and keep them as natural as possible.


Took a ride with dan in the back of the el camino to nag this shot.

The lens flare in these next shots were made by holding a wine glass over half of the lens.

This was taken outside my place while deciding where else to go shoot.

My friend mike let me borrow his El Camino.


If you aren’t in the shot, HOLD THE REFLECTOR!

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