US Marine Portrait Shoot

Today was my USMC Portrait shoot with Pvt. Caleb Frazee. Pre-production for this shoot began several months ago. There were a few snags along the way, but it finally culminated with 9hrs of shooting and 4hrs of editing. It was a good shoot overall, the full story with more images inside...

For this shoot, I wanted to use a humvee as part of my background in the desert shots. I called all the military vehicle clubs, and military vehicle suppliers for movies, I could get a line on in Arizona. But after about a month of trying, I came up short. I was a little disappointed, but still excited for the shoot.

Call time for this shoot was 4am. I wanted some early morning sunrise flare for a few shots, and with sunrise being around 5am, I wanted to be set-up and shooting by then. The location I chose for my desert was the east side of the San Tan Mountains, in Queen Creek, AZ. These mountains are steep, rugged, and look more like Afghanistan than Arizona. It was exactly the kind of non-descript location I wanted.

My lighting was pretty simple and straight-forward today. All shots were 2 light setups. Both Norman 400b's. The kicker was just the 400b head with reflector, and the main light was mostly just a shoot through umbrella. Working without an assistant today, simplicity was my goal. Even with just the two lights, the early morning sun was easily overpowered, giving me the flexibility for a wide range of lighting arrangements and compositions.

The shot above was part of the last set of images before we wrapped the San Tan location. The goal was a headshot through a bush for a real poignant image with a lot of context. I originally shot the first few frames with just the ambient lighting, but wasn't satisfied with the results. I decided to try some monster lighting, and with several different variations, I was very happy with the outcome.

In that particular image, the light was kind of rough, and uneven, which isn't the case for the rest of the set, but for some reason I'm kinda drawn into the feeling it gives.

After several hours at San Tan, we finally wrapped it there, and head to the studio for the dress uniform shots. I was able to get my hands on a HUGE (think 6' x 10') American flag to use as my background. I knew right away that I wanted the flag backlit, and couldn't be happier with the look. I shot Caleb in several different dress uniforms, most notably his dress blues, which I have always loved the way they photograph.

With one of my lights tied up as a background light, my main light bounced between a reflector, umbrella, and beauty dish depending upon the shots. Some shots included a silver reflector for fill, as well. I shot tethered to my laptop for this portion, we were shooting at a pretty relaxed pace, so it wasn't a hindrance to the flow whatsoever, and I do enjoy utilizing that option when it's appropriate.

It was a great shoot, I have a handful of images I'm very happy with, and despite a few bumps in the road, no problems appeared that we were unable to resolve.

**UPDATE: Second post with more pics HERE**


  1. these look so great, I love the shot with the green foliage, it almost looks like it blends onto his face, like its drawn on an his eye catches the light,its brilliant.


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