Portrait Session at Miovision

It's a little dangerous to ask a photography enthusiast to take a break from their day job and shoot staff portraits. When Scott from People Ops at Miovision asked, I immediately started recalling the Henry's Portrait Perfect Workshop with Lindsay Adler that I attended a few months ago (right) and I got excited. I love my day job, but I got to bring my camera to work and take photos. That's like telling a kid that they can play Xbox in math class.

Not sure if I could get some of the guys and girls at work to wear fascinators or flower hats and pose like Fredau, but I could probably use some existing video lighting equipment to take some good shots.

Challenge accepted.

The Lighting and Room Set-up

What I had to work with was a conference room that could be darkened by venetian blinds and two continuous light soft boxes.

Scott standing between two soft boxes. One softbox was set to 50% intensity, the other at 100% to get a small amount of "Rembrant Nose" in the portrait.

The biggest challenge to the whole shoot was the paint job behind the Miovision sign. A while back, we trademarked "Rethink Traffic" which replaced "Technologies" under our wordmark. Hit by certain light, you can see where drywall fix was done.

One of the softboxes that Miovision already owned for doing product tutorial videos.

The Shoot

I originally thought I would shoot off a tripod, but I'm short and most people are taller than me. That meant I had to be far more flexible with camera angles in order to capture the entire subject from the chest-up, the Miovision sign, and not too much of the white ceiling. It took some experimenting, but I eventually found the right spot to stand to get the best angle.

Account Executive Paul O'Shea was in early that day, so I stole him away from crushing deals to be my lighting and composition model. To get the shot to look natural and casual, I used an office chair as a prop. Thanks for being my guinea pig, Paul!


Le Tigre

Blue Steel

Lightroom Editing

After the photoshoot, I needed to go into Lightroom to remove the visible imperfections in the paint job that the lights caught, and darken the black wall to a true black. The other fixes that were required were to hide the traffic technician persona cut-out on the wall, and the white ceiling. 

I used a combination of gradient filters for the straight edges of the photo, and the adjustment brush to darken the black around my subject. Below you can see two photos of Corey - one RAW photo before edits, the other after adjustments were made.*

Before Adjustment
Notice the arm of the cut-out on the wall? Notice the ceiling above Corey's head? Notice the dull contrast and colours? All of this is fixed with some minor adjustments in Lightroom.

After Adjustment
The ceiling is now hidden and so is the arm of the wall cut-out. I also adjusted a few other elements of the photo to bring out skin tones and add an overall polish to the photograph.

Portrait Samples

I've gone on to shoot 3-4 more portrait sessions with new and existing staff. It's always a lot of fun, at least for me. It's also a great learning experience for me to not just practice the technical science of taking a photo, but the soft interpersonal skills that get people comfortable in front of the camera.

I have a brand new appreciation for event photographers that can capture brides on their big day, the expression of people laughing at a social event, or the perfect picture of a newborn.

Below are more samples of portraits shot at Miovision.

*Note for the non-photographer:

RAW photos are different than the JPEGs that your point-and-shoot camera will take. RAWs are essentially digital negatives. They are large files that preserve much more of the shadow, highlight, and colour information so that the photo can be edited in a software like Adobe Lightroom. SooC (straight-out-of-the-camera) photos will seem a little dull, but you can bring them to life with very small adjustments.