I like pushing my personal boundaries as a photographer. Last week's portrait sessions at Harley Davidson of Dothan was one of those times. A friend asked me to donate my services for charity in support of the Christian Motorcyclists Association. For a few bucks, someone could get a portrait with with their motorcycle. All proceeds went to CMA's faith-based community work.
A huge Thank You to Falon and all the people at Harley Davidson of Dothan/Holland Motorsports for all the help getting the space to do the photoshoot. Thanks to CMA for helping with set-up, tear-down, moving and wiping down bikes.
The set-up ended up being a significant challenge. An outdoor shoot would have been out of the question. It was HOT, and there wasn't a really good location outside where backdrop and light came together. Holland Motorsports graciously allowed us to use their storage bay, and with a few modifications, it all worked out.
Essentially, I had to set up a temporary photo studio on-site. I'd done this before on a smaller scale, but nothing on this big. The backdrop had to be large enough for person and motorcycle. It took me about an hour for set up, and I was surprised how well it turned out, but I had three significant challenges: Light, floor and backdrop.
I only had limited control over light, but I was pleased with the results. We couldn't turn off all the lights, and there was some "warm light" leakage from skylights, but overall it worked out well. Really well, actually. However, the floor presented more of a problem, and opportunity, in this area than I had expected.
The bright blue floor, complete with paintings of sea-life, presented a challenge for both light and safety. I had brought black floor cloths to cover the floor, but they proved to be too slippery on the smooth surface and had to be initially abandoned. Fortuneatly, CMA brougt in black floor mats that held my drop cloths in place. However, in a few shots I actually used the blue floor to reflect light to accentuate blue motorcycle paint on a few bikes. That worked out well.
I needed a wider backdrop, which forced me to stay tight on the motorcycles. This wasn't a big deal, as it just forced me into a different photography style, which actually worked better than my original concept. I quickly realized the motorcycle shouldn't' be the focus, the riders should be the focus. The bike is an extension of the rider, not the other way around.
One of my dreams is to design a mobile photo studio, and this event went a long way in testing some of those concepts.
I learned a lot of lessons at this photoshoot, and had a great time. If you're interested in a portrait session with your motorcycle or vehicle (or any portrait session), contact me to schedule a mini-session.
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