Case study: office photos without the office

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Fifteen months into the pandemic and small businesses in all industries are still adjusting, shifting, and otherwise finding new ways to deliver for their clients in a changing environment, including us. We’ve been rough polling everyone who comes into our studio with a “so when is everyone at your office ditching their WFH pants and heading back to the office?” and the answers have been as varied as last month’s spring weather.

But it generally seems as more Chicagoans get vaccinated, we’re all slowly trickling back into our workspaces. And while we transition, we still need safe ways to gather, or refrain from gathering when it’s possible or necessary. And with the magic of photography, refraining from gathering is still very possible.

Enter, from stage left, this super fun case study. We were contacted by a local law firm where they always photograph their people in a light-filled hallway in their downtown office. BUT. Everyone is still working from home. So we put together a plan to get them photographed individually in the studio for safety, but still looking like they were photographed in their office hallway.

Step 1: one photographer went to their empty office and took tons of photos of their empty hallway, from multiple angles, since we wanted to get a slightly different background for each person.

Step 2: seeing where the light fell in the hallway, we designed a lighting setup that would mimic the natural light spilling in from the windows and bouncing around the hall, so the end result would look natural.

Step 3: we photographed each person with our custom lighting setup in front of a white background. Why white instead of green screen? Green screen is awesome, but white can work just as well and even better in cases where there’s a lot of light spill. With white, the light that spills onto the subject’s hair and clothing won’t have any traces of green in it. It works best if you know the new background image is going to be light in color, since the white spillage on the edges would look weird in front of a darker background.

Step 4: we chose an image of the hallway that would line up well for each person’s photo.

And then PRESTO CHANGE-O: we removed the white backdrop and added the image of the hallway for the final photo.

You’d never know this woman hasn’t actually stepped foot in her office hallway for a year.

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