Ever see those ads for new camera gear in magazines and wonder how the images were made? If you have any of the latest photography magazines you'll see a Panasonic Lumix GH3, G6 ad featuring my work. Below I detail how the ad was shot, the inspiration, gear, capture and post. Enjoy!
In early April this year, Panasonic asked me to take put G6 and LF1 through their paces. Although they were both early prototype builds, they were none the less impressive. This was such a fun assignment and one that does not come along often enough! I had complete control over what I wanted to shoot and how I wanted to create the work.
Setup, Location and Talent
For this particular shoot, I decided that since the G6 was designed for beginners and enthusiasts I should photograph something that anyone can do as long as they had the Lumix G6 and the kit lens. Pretty simple set up wouldn't you say?
This assignment was shot on location in Miami's Wynwood district which is one of my favorite places to photograph in Miami. It's a hood full of beautiful murals by some of the world's best artists. Rich in color, I thought this would be a perfect place for a hybrid family photoshoot.
Since I wanted to keep this shoot real, I decided it would be best to work with non-professional talent. I asked my friends Darren and Bev if they would be willing to shoot with me and of course to bring their beautiful daughter Stella. They agreed so we set a date and time to shoot and that was it.
Having a real family be my "models" for this shoot meant that since they already had a deep connection, it would be easier to communicate warmth and love as opposed to directing professional talent to do so. I must add that if you do hire pro talent most of the time you don't need much direction but for this project Darren, Beverly and Stella were perfect.
A Hybrid Shoot Made Easy
Since I wanted the concept of this shoot be accessible to anyone with a Lumix camera I chose to shoot with natural light. I don't think the ad would work as well if I shot pro talent with a big crew and massive amounts of gear only to target the ad to those photographers that did not have those resources available. Also what enthusiast photographer would spend $800 on a camera then $20K on production only to make a hybrid shoot of their friends?
One of the best ways to get into shooting hybrid pieces is to use natural light. It's free, it's everywhere and if you need to change the look you can incorporate a reflector or two. I chose to shoot in the shade and to skip any reflectors.
The shoot itself was straightforward and simple. I would shoot some stills and shoot a video clip or two back to back with the same color looks I chose ahead of time. Having my G6 color palette chosen ahead of time meant that the camera was going to be doing the technical heavy lifting, allowing me to focus more on working with the family to get the best shots possible. By working with the family I mean working with Stella! LOL She was just adorable and very well behaved. That said, she still moved around quickly. Since I had my G6 setup in advance, when I wanted a different look for a shot or two, I could capture it efficiently and move on.
My G6 was setup with the 14-42 kit lens, full auto modes for the exposure and I also incorporated some Creative Filter effects that come built in the camera. Everything was shot in JPEG plus all the color and cropping were created in camera so that I would not have to be bogged down in post.
While shooting a hybrid piece might be simple when using a camera designed for it like the G6, it's the post that can be a real pain. If I'm going to be shooting hybrid pieces on a regular basis, I don't want to be spending my life in a post production cave. I don't think most people would either.
Out of habit, I used Lightroom to organize all the media. I find Lightroom to be very good at quickly pulling in media from different sources so that they can be organized quickly. The video clips were shot in AVCHD (.MTS) format which could be tricky to pull from the SD card but Lightroom finds the .MTS files no problem and adds them to the Lightroom library with ease.
Since I had already preprocessed my work in camera, there was no need for any additional color or contrast work in Lightroom. I was able to narrow down the picks of both still and motion files quickly.
Tip - When shooting video clips I always make sure to shoot a few seconds before and after the action so that I'm able to trim up the final clip to my exact needs in post. Lightroom has been able to trim up clips since version 4 which is what I used for this project.
Once I made my picks in Lightroom I exported everything in a web friendly format and imported the still + motion portraits and music into ProShow Web. If you are not familiar with ProShow Web, it's a cloud based editing system that takes all your media and auto edits everything for you. With ProShow Web you can use one of their many built in templates or make your own which I decided for this project would be best. I kept my edit to simple cuts and fades, nothing fancy for me here, I wanted the photography to be the focus, not the effects.
Note - The end titles and a couple of the square crop overlays were made in Photoshop however these effects can also be created with the new ProShow Web that's available now.
After I uploaded everything I chose the order in which the media would appear. This was a simple drag and drop process in browser which is similar to how you would organize a collection in Lightroom. That's it! I saved my ProShow project which kept everything backed up for me on the cloud and exported a final video which you can see in the following section.
There's also an edit I made with Premiere Pro CC which you can see here. In comparison, the Premiere edit took about 3 hours and the ProShow Web version took less than 1 hour.
Since I had already preprocessed my looks in camera, the hybrid photography was finished and using ProShow Web made the edit a breeze. If I had to manually do all my post on the color and the edit, this simple shoot would turn into a week long project. Making your tech do the heavy lifting is wonderful thing! If you have not tried preprocessing your work and using tools like ProShow Web I highly recommend it. It's easy, fun and lets you put the focus on what matters most - creating great work!