Intro by Skip Cohen
There are so many aspects to this post that make me want to share it with you.
Let's start with Levi Sim, a talented photographer who I met several years ago, primarily through social media and a few phone calls. Since then he's become a good friend. He's spoken at a couple of conferences; is always putting together a photo walk; redefines the meaning of the word "networking" and in general is proof that hyper-active kids grow up and get jobs!
This post covers all of those topics starting with taking Profoto's new B1 out for a major test drive...actually several drives. It's an amazing piece of gear and Levi along with new and old members of his network put it to the test.
From Wikipedia.org: "Craic" (/ʔkræk/ krak), or "crack", is a term for news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation, particularly prominent in Ireland.
Ever have a day when everything goes well and you just have fun? That was Sunday during WPPI for me. It started with a text from Skip inviting me to meet him at the Profoto booth on the trade show floor where everyone was working hard to get their booths setup for the next day's show. Amidst all the fork lifts and crates and workmen, Skip introduced me to Mark (President of Profoto US) and Cliff who handed me a backpack, gave me some simple instructions for use and sent me out to the desert.
The backpack carried two B1 off camera flashes, remote triggers, a monopod, and I grabbed a beauty dish on the way out of the booth. I had to hurry because there was a herd of photographers, models, and a hundred thousand dollar car waiting for me. My plan was to make some great pictures of a Tesla Model S and use the B1's to help light it, maybe bring some stunning models into the frame, and have a great time shooting with friends. It went well, and the B1 made it so easy to shoot that I ended up with more than I bargained for.
My new friend, Eden, is the local sales manager for Tesla Motors, and she was good enough to let us capture images of this fine vehicle. If you haven't heard of Tesla, you gotta do a little Google and get excited—they are the future of transportation. I lit this with one B1 behind the car, one inside the car, and one speedlight off to the right of camera for a little lift on the wheel.
I was shooting with several photographers, including Tyler and Rachael Austin, who were also running around capturing great images before the daylight failed, like this one:
I use strobes all the time, both studio sized mono-blocks and speedlights, and I often take my strobes out doors with a battery pack, which eventually give results similar to what the B1's give. However, the B1's have no cords going to battery packs, and the modifiers fit on and off so easily that it makes setup and moving really simple and fast, which is liberating. They take all the work away and just leave the fun and with a quality of light that's unmatched.
Marty and Cindy Quinn, Jewels and Jeff Gray, and Beverlee Barthel were all out shooting with me, and we'd made several different setups, and we moved pretty quickly. We'd photographed the car, we'd photographed Rachael (in an incredible dress from Lindsey Adler's new collection from Dream Shoot Rentals), and we still had plenty of battery power, so I photographed Marty and Cindy, too.
And then there was still time and power, so I wrangled Eden in front of the lens, as well. For Eden's portrait and the Quinns', I brought the light in close with the beauty dish attached and added a sock diffuser to the front. It was a pleasant surprise to be find the right spot for the reflection of the dish in the hood ornament, too.
By the time we'd finished the portraits, it was quite chilly and Marty was dying to drive the Model S, so we headed back to town. The afternoon had been a great success and I was ready to go the BayPhoto/Canon party at Hakkasan. Boy, did I have a great surprise ahead of me.
BayPhoto had asked me and three other photographers from the Photographers Adventure Club to shoot during the party, that they'd then share with attendees. Well, Nick Pappagallos Jr., Cusi Taylor, and Scott Alack are much better event photographers than I am (see those party pictures here), so after a few minutes of event images, I ran back to my room, grabbed the B1 backpack, the beauty dish and a small light stand, and I boogied back to the party where I set up a portrait booth in one corner. This was really only possible because the B1 doesn't have any cords and it's so well balanced that even the lightweight stand worked fine.
I've got an ongoing project making portraits in the style of the portrait Albert Watson made for Steve Jobs. In fact, it's the mainstay of my photography business, and I love doing it. During the party I photographed 80 people and there was a line around the room! Here are a few of the portraits we made:
Unfortunately, the club kicked us out at 10:00 to let the public in. So, I quickly struck the booth and invited anyone else to join me downstairs in a few minutes to do it again. I set up in an alcove of the MGM and we made a few more portraits. Again, it was so simple to setup—much easier even than using speedlights.
As you can see, we had a fun time, and then decided to go get some dinner. What do you know, but we ran into a few more people willing to make a portrait, so I popped up the booth once again near Wolfgang Puck's place
Are you getting the idea that it was easy to do this, setting up and striking over and over? In the past I've had ideas about making portraits in this guerrilla manner, but I've been daunted by the prospect of hauling things and setting up and breaking down. I don't know if you've ever shot in Vegas before, but casinos can be pretty unwelcoming toward photographers staking a claim. But this was so fast that no one even had a chance to approach me!
Well, we had a nice dinner, and it was late, and I was heading across the street toward my hotel when I found myself walking next to three slightly unruly Irishmen. They had converged on Vegas from Ireland and Australia for a stag party and were just walking back to grab something from their room before getting back to the club. Well, we talked on the way, and they, too, agreed to make a portrait with me. So I set up right there on the porch next to the Valet and made portraits for Jason, Gibbons (the engaged one), and Gary.
As I was finishing up, the fellas tried to pay me (always a nice gesture, to be sure), but I told them that tonight I was just having fun, not working. "Money makes it work; let's just have fun." That's when Gary turned to the others and said, "You hear that, boys? He's just in it for the craic!"
"The craic was ninety" and it's all thanks to my fellow photographers plus Skip, Profoto, and Tesla Motors Las Vegas. Follow this link to see all the portraits I made during WPPI.