Tunnel Vision

Several years ago I was commissioned to create a series of portraits for a large CPA firm. My only art direction was the portraits needed to be dramatic and unique. The marketing director wanted pictures that did not look like the typical image of a CPA. It took several days of interviewing the staff to come up with ideas that highlighted their area of expertise and also their personalities. Because of a large number of people to be photographed we needed a reliable plan for every picture. I would have a week to complete the job of photographing every staffer.

In this portrait, I wanted to convey the amount of data the CPA had to process to do his job. By stacking papers and large envelopes, I created a tunnel with leading lines. I positioned the subject between the mounds of documents and asked him to lean in. He naturally put his hand to his head. 

Lighting this picture was simple. To the left of the camera was a large bank of windows which provided rim light. The primary illumination came from an Elinchrom flash in a 39" deep octabox to the right of the camera. A ¼ CTO warmed the flash, and two layers of neutral density filters reduced the flash output to mesh with the available light exposure. 

On the Canon 5D was a 16-35mm f/2.8 lens set at 35mm. Because the composition had to be precise, and the exposure needed to be 1/15 second at f/2.8 at ISO 100 to match the available light, a tripod was necessary. A slight camera tilt was employed to add a sense of motion and dramatic effect. Thanks to visualizing the image ahead of time the picture took less than five minutes with the subject to produce.

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