Senior Portraits with MagBox Pro 36" Strip Boxes

While out on a shoot with my daughter, Elin, I had the MagMod video team come along and capture some behind-the-scenes video. Watch that video below. 



Like most shoots I will usually start out by using ambient light and creating lots of what we tend to call “natural light” photos. I like to prep my flashes ahead of time though and have them ready, and on hand so I can use them whenever needed.




As you’ll see, there are times when I use flashes to create an entirely different look, and other times just to enhance the photo a little. 


One of my favorite modifiers for these types of shoots is the MagBox Pro 36” Strip. As my light source, I am using 2 AD200’s for most of the shots, and toward the end of the night, I pulled out an AD400 because I needed a third light.



One of the reasons I love using flashes, even in natural light-looking situations is because of the catch lights you can create in the eyes. These catchlights help the eyes pop and come alive.




Look at the images below and see the one with and without catch lights to see the difference between them. It’s a small change, but one that I think makes a difference.




As you can see in these shots, you can’t even tell that a flash was used except for the catch light, because I had the flashes at a very low power.


In fact, they were at 1/64th power which isn’t enough to change the exposure on her face, but enough to show the reflection of the light in her eyes.



For this next set I decided after shooting a beautiful natural light shot of Elin I decided to try and use my flash to make it look as if it was nighttime.



It was fun going through the process of pulling in my Strip box nice and close, turning up the flash power, dialing down my aperture as small as it would go and boosting the shutter speed, but in the end, I think I enjoyed the natural light shot a little better. Fun having both shots though and they are so different though shot in the same place at the same time.


During the next set, I noticed a little bit of light on the edge of her face and thought it would be nice to enhance that even further. So I moved the Strip box to the side and behind her just a little bit. I kept the flash power low. The intent here was not to change the shot, but just to enhance what I was already seeing there.



Next, I saw the sun bouncing off the sidewalk. I thought if I had her sit down there, I could actually make it look as if we were shooting inside of a white wall studio.



Of course, it was very bright behind her, so I had to bring in a flash to put some light on her while overexposing the background and making it entirely white. The only flashes used were the 2 AD200’s in the MagBox Pro 36” Strip. The light behind her was simply the overexposed sunlight bouncing off the cement.




My daughter plays for the Varsity soccer team in high school so of course, we wanted to get some shots of her in her soccer uniform as well. So we headed down to some local soccer fields. I first started with a look I drew inspiration from the Sports Illustrated covers I remember seeing when I was younger.



To achieve this look, I put two MagBox Pro 36" Strip boxes on either side of Elin. What you will notice is that where she stands in between the Strip boxes that light will either light her face up entirely or create shadows down the center of her face. It is just small adjustments of her moving forward or backward to get that light falling exactly as you want it.








With this lighting setup in place, I also had her look toward one of the Strip boxes and used the other one as a rim light behind her. I like to call this Cigar light since it is the same setup I use when photographing people smoking cigars at weddings.




I then decided to bring a 3rd light in behind her and put a red gel on it since her high school colors are red. I love the ability to stack the MagMod Pro Gels to get the exact color I need. After shooting this I felt like I needed to see more of the color, so I had a friend spray some Atmosphere Aerosol in the air and then took the photos.






By doing this, the red gel shows up much more as if I were shooting through smoke. Because it’s outside, it will dissipate quickly so be sure you are ready to go before you spray it so you can get the shot right away.




Finally, to wrap up the evening I had Elin fire a couple of shots into the goal and got down low to create some cool action shots. I wanted to show off that amazing sunset behind her as well, so I continued using the Strip Boxes in a cross-light setup.




One tip when shooting these is to press the button just a fraction of a second before you think you need to capture the action. When shooting with flash sometimes, you only have one shot before you have to let your flash recycle. Depends on the power of course. But if you snap just a fraction of a second before the “impact” occurs you can typically nail it.


Hopefully, you enjoyed learning more about this senior shoot, and you were able to pick up a few ideas you can use on your next shoot.

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