Portraits: Justin Waters
Last year in one of my favorite promo sessions, I headed to sunny Miami’s South Beach to photograph electronic music producer Justin Waters. Justin flew me to shoot a set of promotional images for a new press kit he was putting together and we shot over the course of two days on the South Beach pier. With perfect weather, a great subject and beautiful South Beach as a backdrop, this is one shoot that I loved working on.
From what started out as nothing more than a Google search by Justin turned into the type of gig I never would have thought possible when I was just starting out in smoky basement dives as a music photographer. As a music photographer, this shoot was one of my personal highlights of 2011.
Before the shoot, Justin and I brainstormed about the look and the treatment for his promotional photos. As I do for all my clients, I asked Justin to pick example images that captured a look, lighting treatment, or anything else that appealed to him – both in my own work and any other portraits he could find.
From there, we had a general range of looks that we could reference while still improvising as we shot. This type of referencing is something I always recommend, as it gives some concrete examples of what the clientscan expect and also to which they can respond.
Going into the shoot, the weather looked pretty good, but with party cloudy conditions off and on throughout the two-day shoot. To cut down on the heat of the day and minimize harsh, midday sun, we shot in the late afternoon, between a roughly 3PM to 7PM window both days.
- Nikon D3
Lighting Equipment Used:
- Elinchrom Quadra Ranger
- Elinchrom Portalite 40 x 40 cm Softbox
- RQ Ringflash PRO
For this shoot, I used the Elinchrom Quadra Ranger lighting system, which proved to be excellent for the on-location and mobile nature of this session. If you haven’t already, you can read my review of the Elinchrom Quadra system over at FlashRAW.com.
The main question going into the shoot was whether or not the Quadras would be up for the kind of sun-killing effects we wanted for Justin, and to this I can fully say that the 400ws Quadras did an awesome job.
The power of the Quadras was more than enough to shoot at f/8 and still dial in around 6-7 stops of neutral density using the Singh-Ray Vari-ND filter.
One part of the Quadra system that really surprised me was the 40cm Portalite softbox, which proved to be small but mighty, and worked out beautifully for these single-subject portraits.
The above photo and setup shot should give you a good idea of the kind of portability of the Quadra setup, which was small enough to carry around in a small backpack both afternoons we shot.
For me, the best part about this shoot was working with an artist like Justin who was open to anything and everything, and who came into the shoot with a lot of enthusiasm. And of course, it doesn’t hurt to snowbird it down to a beautiful location like Miami in March, either.
Big shout out to Mikayla Davis and Zack Huges for assisting on this shoot, and of course Justin, who was a great subject. We had a blast. You can check out some of Justin’s recent tracks here – if you’re a DJ, get on this guy.
Deranged (Original Mix):
Test the Waters (Episode 2):
End of Days:
Coldplay, Paradise (Justin Water’s Remix):
My Camera DSLR and Lenses for Concert Photography
I use two of the Nikon D800 for the majority of my work. High resolution, excellent high ISO in a robust but still compact body.
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8:
For most gigs, the 24-70mm is my go-to lens. Exceptional image quality at wide apertures and super-functional range.
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR:
A perfect pair to the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, I can basically shoot any job with the midrange and this lens. Superb image quality.
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8:
Ultra-wide perspective, ridiculously sharp even wide open at f/2.8. I love using this lens up-close and personal, where it excels.