Corporate Portraits with the Cactus V6II Transmitter and RF60x Flash for Fujifilm
Had the opportunity to shoot some portraits for The Boston Consulting Group while their creative team was in Atlanta for a meeting. They wanted to achieve a couple of things with this shoot – to update their headshots from what was previously an inconsistent batch of photos, as well as to convey the personality of their employees. There was a pretty small window of time – an hour and a half – to capture three keepers for each of the 40 people on staff, so I had my work cut out for me.
I opted to go for a simple configuration since I didn't have a lot of time for set-up. Here's what I used:
The setup was small enough that I was able to walk to their office (conveniently located just a couple of blocks from my apartment) with just a couple of backpacks. I found a nice corner to work from where I had natural light coming in from large windows behind me in case I had problems with the flashes. However, I didn't have to rely on that backup plan as all my gear worked perfectly and I was getting good results with artificial light.
As a lens, the Fuji 60mm is perhaps the most underrated glass in the XF lineup. Yeah, it's slow to focus and doesn't have as wide of an aperture as the 56mm f/1.2, but at the price (got a mint copy in Japan for about $320) it's a steal, considering the quality images it renders. It's sharp wide open at f/2.4 and the bokeh is very pleasing, even with a busy background. In this context, focus speed wasn't an issue, but I've used it quite extensively for street photography and never had problems during the day. In low light, however, it does tend to hunt quite a bit and has a long focus throw, so it's not a fast manual focuser.
The Westcott Octabox sets up quickly, and at 26 inches it's wide enough to provide soft, even light for a medium close-up shot covering the subject's head and shoulders. I used the Cactus V6II to wirelessly trigger the RF60x flash, which in turn optically triggered the Yongnuo YN-560IV, acting as a fill light parallel to the softbox. The Cactus system is one of the few that supports High Speed Syncing (HSS) for Fujifilm and I took full advantage of it by shooting above the 1/180th top sync speed for the XT-1. I don't think I had a single misfire during this session. Having said that, I may switch to the Nissin Air system soon, as it supports HSS and TTL and has a much more user-friendly interface.
I would have liked more time to set up, but I had to work around a tight schedule. The staff was split up in groups of eight people and by the second group, I think hit my stride. Ended up taking around 8-10 shots of each person in a few simple poses to get good results. It helped that the staff took direction well and generally had good attitudes. I brought my wife Adrienne along to assist me and she really helped out expediting the process and making sure people were looking their best for the camera. Much to my delight, we got through everyone in just under the scheduled time of an hour and a half.
One issue that I had to correct in post was that the background light fixtures were turned off for a couple of the shots, as there was a video presentation being shown in the same room during the shoot. Also, I had to take portraits of one of the employees on a different day, as she was unable to attend the meeting, and the lights were turned off at that time too. Luckily, using radial filters in Adobe Lightroom, I was able to "turn the lights on" pretty easily. I replicated the look and the color of the lights and I was happy with the natural-looking results. Here's a before/after:
Overall it was a fun shoot, my clients were happy with the results and I look forward to working for The Boston Consulting Group again as they hire additional staff.
Feel free to contact me for your corporate shoot or for any of your photographic needs.