April 29, 2013
Today I figured I would share a little green screen artistry. For the record, I don’t like green screen. I think it looks fake. Top-notch visual effects artists in big-budget Hollywood movies should be the only people who mess with it. In still photography, I’m of the opinion that if you’re just using it to take someone’s photo so you can swap out the background, why not just take their photo in front of the background you want in the first place?
(Dismounts high horse) I do occasionally get a request for taking someone’s headshot in front of a green screen so a post-production artist can lay in a logo or some other stock image background later. Here’s a photo that I took in front of a chroma key background (“green screen”) for someone to swap out with a different background later. The trick is to light the green background evenly so it’s all the same color, and to light the subject separately and far enough away from the background so very little of the green color reflects back and spills onto their hair or clothes. That’s when you get that fake-looking green edge around them that just looks so incredibly cheesy.
In these photos I swapped out the background myself, using a stock image of a brick wall, which I distorted and blurred a bit so it had more perspective and looked a little more realistic. Turning it to black and white made it look just a little more believable. But still cheesy.
Beware: these images are a lot cheesier than my usual work. This post is just for special effects nerds to find interesting.
April 22, 2013
I suddenly realized that Organic Headshots has a birthday this month. Eight years ago, in April of 2005, I started Organic Headshots to take natural-looking headshots and portraits of professionals and entertainers. Some of you may already know the story, but I’ll tell it again…
Picture it: Lakeview, Chicago, IL. (And yes, I’m telling this story like Sophia tells stories on “The Golden Girls.”) The year was 2005. I was working a 9-to-5 job in marketing and had graduated college just 2 years before. I was young. I was restless. I was hungry for creative freedom and for pizza. One of my roommates and I built a darkroom in a storage room in the basement of the 3-flat we were renting and I was spending most of my post-day-job evenings developing film, making prints, and spilling fixer all over my overalls.
Another roommate of mine was an actress and needed a headshot for an audition. “You’re taking photos- can you take a quick headshot for me?” she asks. I do some research on what makes a good headshot- lighting, framing, etc.- and we walk around outside on a sunny summer day taking some photos. I develop the film, print an 8×10, and we right her name in Sharpie at the bottom of the photo. She takes it to the audition and is cast as Tina in “Tony and Tina’s Wedding.” And then we had some pizza.
Soon her colleagues started coming to me for acting headshots and comedy troupe photos, and Organic Headshots was born. I used the name “Organic” because I was cooking up the photos in my basement on black and white film, and I figured it was like a small-town farmer growing tomatoes in his backyard. I thought I was being clever.
In celebration of Organic Headshots’s birthday, I thought I would share some of the first photos to come out of that darkroom. Ah, memories…