Quick Tip - Press line & Sundance - Why you need flash and power

Shooting events such as a film premiere, you will have to account for a lot of variables; Your Position, Lens Choice, TIming, etc etc. And Lighting.

If you are relying on the ambient light only you may be stuck with candle like wall accent lights, fluorescent tube panels or maybe nothing at all?

- My Solution & Tools Uses -

Using an on camera speedlight, power pack with plenty of energy for really short recycle times. I use the built-in diffuser from the speedlight and leave the white flag down. I toss the flash facing forward (direct flash I know…) and time my shots to the attention of the talent making their way through the line.

Taking multiple shots in order to get that keeper you definitely have a ratio of 1:5 or 1:10 in getting your shot in focus and not having the other flashes around you over exposing your shot.

For example: Let’s take my shooting actor Clara Rugaard from the Australian film ‘I AM Mother’ and her entrance and solo pictures at the premiere at the Eccles Theater. This particular set with the one final “keeper” I probably took 6 shots.

Shot 1: Under Exposed - Flash Didn’t Fire


Shot 2: Over Exposed my flash an other flashes fired at the same time.


Shot 3: Perfect exposure, expression caught


Shot 4: Caught the sync speed at a bad time, only partially lit.


And then again, shots 5, 6 had similar issues and were eventually discarded along with shots 1 and 2. Then you would get another “keeper” after that, and repeat and repeat.

That is why it is very important to plan, know what composition you can get etc. test your flash, have a person stand in before the talent gets there! … Grab the publicist grab another photographer, anyone. Then when the talent arrives, above all be polite, don’t yell, ask for attention, ask for a direction for them to put the attention, multiple shots. 1,2,3,4,5,6 “To your left please” …1,2,3,4,5 “One more time, thank you for coming out” 1,2,3,4,5. Etc Etc…

Tips: Don’t let the shutters just go off in silence, if you are not saying anything, if your fellow photographers are not saying anything, say something. Compliment a smile, say something about their outfit etc. No matter who it is, they’ve probably put thought into themselves, or hired a designer for some aspect of their ensemble.

That’s it

Pretty much everything else is not something you can copy, you can watch, learn etc. But if you talk verbatim how another photographer is talking that is weird, if you approach every subject the same way, that might not work. If you take a direct approach, if you are working with a group, if you are getting frustrated. That will come through and people will know, just like if you are having a conversation with an acquaintance, and they are upset, you can tell!

Let yourself have fun, get your shots but above all be nice, be fun, let your subjects gain that confidence for the 5 minutes you have them. Yes they are professionals, but maybe they are much more shy in person than you think.

“Final Shot” with light edits, sharpening and color adjustments in Lightroom

Clara Rugaard - At the premiere of ‘I Am Mother’ at Sundance Film Festival.

Clara Rugaard - At the premiere of ‘I Am Mother’ at Sundance Film Festival.

Did you learn anything? Have any tips of your own? Leave a comment and reach out on social media!

Did you make it out to the festival? - Please share your experience below!




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Studio Group Portraits - Behind the Shot

Recent clients including a married couple and a mother-in-law stop into the studio for some portraits... Group, couple and individual shots.

Here's how I went about capturing them.


One of the "final" pics.

One of the "final" pics.

1. Before the shoot...

Now my studio space being of a modest size, but surrounded in white walls and a large window I decide to put my subjects on a bench at first for some comfortable sit down portraits. The bench is located about 8-10 inches away from the white wall acting as the background.


The next step, position my lighting.

Now, you definitely can do natural lighting (there are some final shots with just that) but I wanted some really nice and evenly lit portraits at least at first. I want them to have that clean white background. I take my large 60" Photek Umbrella with diffusion and place it opposite of the window and facing slightly away from the subjects as to feather the light and allow bounce around the room for that even look.

Now with that placed I look to fill in the slight shadows left. I use the small section of wall in between the window and the background wall to bounce a small speedlight source, making it much larger and softer than a plain head on shot from the speedlight. 

In this first shot, I have the speedlight positioned and take a test shot... I notice that the size of the bounce is not as big as it could be, I reposition the head and aim it up slightly for much more coverage.

Screenshot from Adobe Lightroom to help illustrate the spread of light using the highlights alert function. Notice how the red spotlight is much bigger with just a slight aim difference.

The Shoot...

After greeting my subjects, offering them a water, ask if the heat is ok (Shot in December)... I approach this group shot as I would a larger event like a wedding party. Start with everyone, then branch off into groups as no one likes to be the first victim and you can also group people back together after they are more warmed up so to speak.

I have this giant white bench normally used as my waiting, bag, purse holder. I use this as a easy first shot telling them just act like they are on a park bench of sorts, relaxed, no pressure, and I show them the results of the first few shots.

Next up...

I take the husband away and grab some shots of the mother/daughter. (Always be conscientious of your clients comfort level, I had this group next to give the mother a rest as she was elderly.)

Same lighting, I just move slightly closer and zoom in from around 45-50mm to about 60-65mm.

Working with families, non professionals etc etc, you will have things occur like breaking eye contact with the camera, fading attention and people will look at each other. Let em! It's all good and you will get some sweet moments in between. I will say that a quick "ok, eyes on me" will work once or twice but don't badger your subject, and also do not be silent Just let the mood flow, redirect as needed and give feedback. When you see something you like, a pose, a moment, say "oh that", "yes I like that" something small and positive. 

Next Up...

I grab my other model and swap him in. I give my cushion office chair to the mother and have her sit on camera right.

Same settings, same focal lengths basically. Now my subjects have been together for years and they are totally comfortable with each other, I guide them a tad with some standing position choices and let them have at it, only mentioning when to repeat a certain something.

*Note: These images, two of them are "cut off". Absolutely and my fault, i was chimping (not recommended all the time) and looking a images on the screen, then has this cute moment and I raised and shot and just cropped out the full shot. I keep them though because it still works, there is a great mood there. 

Next and last for this post I take some single images. This type of shoot is tricky because I am not a great poser (hehe... Poser)... But I do love it when my subjects are calm and comfortable. I grab some stools then, one tall and one short, I have them pick and position themselves. This serving the purpose of getting them in a position where in their head naturally comes forward giving emphasis on the face and two it gives a natural placement for the hands.

Same Light, same settings, I zoom in and out for the best composition ranging from 40-55mm.

Take Aways...

Editing was very light, only some highlight correction, lens correction, slight cropping and a bit of sharpening.

Gear Used

Canon 5D Mark IV

Canon 24-70 f/2.8 II

Flashpoint R2 Pro Remote Trigger

Xplor 600 Monolight

Photek 60" Umbrella

Yongnuo YN600EX-RT Speedlight

Impact C-Stand with Arm

Sand Bags!

And if you are interested in purchasing any of these, please follow the links here, it will help me out Thanks!


Now, have any questions? Feedback? Hit me up! 

Either in the comments,  email me at Logan@.Lmsorenson.net or find me social media! @Lmsorenson

Until then...

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Portrait of a Sixth Grader - Behind the shot

Recently I had the opportunity to take some portraits of a creative and stylish young lady, a sixth grader. He mom and I picked a date and time, I had them come to my new studio space and here is some information on how my mind works before, during and after a shoot.

Portrait of a Sixth Grader

Portrait of a Sixth Grader

1. The Space 

Now, the space available to shoot in is a smaller studio space with hard floors, white walls and one big window. 

We pick the wall just next to the window and decide to shoot with ambient light since it is sunny and strobe lighting is not really needed.

2. TheShoot

Now how do you interact with the subject? How do you interact with any subject?

Make the subject feel comfortable, confident.

Now, my subject being a sixth grader, there isn't much on the table that we can talk about. But wait, her mother said she picked out her outfit, picked out her hat, that she loves hats. So... I tell her that I really like her hat! Her face lights up, she is grateful that I said something, I look back and forth between her and her mother asking about themselves, their interests. And when there is a lull in the conversation, I take a shot.

Now, the trouble with any shoot, any interaction really. How to make the interaction flow, how to avoid pauses, avoid the awkwardness to creep in. As I will be the first to admit, I am not the best at this, I am not. I try... But I am bad, but here are a few tips and I used some in this shoot.

a. Relate to your model or subject. Now with my subject being a sixth grader there isn't too much under the sun that we can relate to but, I did remember her mother saying that she picked out her own outfit for the shoot, picked out each piece including her hat and that she loves hats. So I took that, I was honest and I told her that I really liked her hat... Boom! Her face lights up enough to know that she will be good with a few shots. I add on to that by saying that colors she picked really look cool against the white walls of the studio. And we take some more shots.


b. Talk to your subject, ask them about themselves and keep it going. I took the small breaks from changing settings, using the tripod, adjust my feet and I asked my model and her mother about themselves. I was able to find out that in fact she was a 6th grade student at a local school (which I had not known until then), that her mother is a teacher at a school that was known to me ever since I was little. I learned that she is an only child, she is creative, she loves creating things and she has been practicing posing in the mirror at home before the shoot! 

She was sitting in my chair as we took a break and I saw from the corner of my eye that she was doing this simple, cool, super relaxed pose. I told her to wheel herself over and we were going to do that again.

She was sitting in my chair as we took a break and I saw from the corner of my eye that she was doing this simple, cool, super relaxed pose. I told her to wheel herself over and we were going to do that again.

c. Encourage your subject! Is there a look, a pose a face that caught your eye? Say something! "Oh what you did just there"..."That thing you did with the hat"..."How you put your arm there"... Giving this feedback is not only nice to hear from their perspective but is great for you because it will reinforce the looks you are going for, they will grow from that and learn as the shoot goes. Makes it better for everyone.

Silly face 2 of 3 in the quick series for best faces.

Silly face 2 of 3 in the quick series for best faces.

d. You can be silly. No saying this has two parts to it. One, you do not want to be a clown, a character you are not and just make the shoot zany. Two, you do want to keep relating to your model. You are no longer asking them about themselves... But with a quick "Ok... Let's try some silly faces" and telling them to pick there best 3 silly faces, it can lighten the mood just for a sec, gets them to open up and you can get some great informal shots from it. 

Close up

Close up

3. Really it all comes down to relations... Interactions... We all have them everyday with strangers and friends alike. This is no different except two things; that you are both trying to ease this new person to you that stranger in their day, and while also trying to be creative, to bring them into your artistic headspace and try to create something without it being a completely cerebral one sided experience. And it is hard, we have to practice, we have to have an idea of what we want and find a way to get there.

That being said, every client is different, every subject is different, whether it is a professional, amature... A team with three days of prep or one man operation with a half hour shoot as in this case. You adapt, you be yourself and you get it done.

What do you think? - Is there anything special you do during a photoshoot?

Shout it out in the comments, hit me up on Instagram, Facebook... Tweet me and lets keep the conversation going.

Until then...

Thank You For Looking!

If you are in need of a Photographer


or (801) 455-9957


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