Setting the mood of the shoot starts long before your subjects and clients enter the studio. I believe it's essential to have the right atmosphere and energy in the studio, room or location where you are shooting and I do everything I can to stack the odds in my favor. One thing I do on most of my shoots is to send my female subjects flowers with a little note saying, "here's to a great shoot"! When possible, I try to have the flowers waiting in the hair and makeup room when they walk into studio since this is where they will spend the largest part of the morning before the shoot.
As my subject are in hair and makeup my crew has the perfect music, mixed just for the shoot playing throughout the day. There is music for the pre-shoot while everyone is having their coffee and breakfast and then there is music for the actual shoot. Both are very different and sets the tone for the day and fills the studio or space with my energy.
The images here are from a shoot a few years ago with Taye Diggs and Michael Michele and were shot for a cover story. As always I had multiple cameras on the set. My assistants put together several sets and tested each while my subjects were in hair and makeup. As I shot I had my reference material close by so I could guide my subjects throughout the shoot. I've known Michael since the 80's back when she was a model and I was a photo assistant. I've known Taye since my first book when I interviewed and photographed him for Sepia Dreams, so it was a reunion of sorts to work with them again. Both are great people with charming personalities so it made for a great day.
I shot with different light setups throughout the day for different looks for the cover and inside story of the magazine. The cover was shot with strobe, but the inside images I wanted a looser feel so I decided to shoot with HMI lights and hand hold a lighter camera for a more spontaneous look. At times it's great to have the camera on a tripod but if I want more freedom I'll hand hold the camera and use lights that give me freedom of movement as well.
Always Dream Big!