Shooting Lions In Manchester.

A couple of weeks ago I was commissioned to shoot Manchester band Let’s Be Lions for their new website. As usual for a band shoot I am emailed a very specific brief and a detailed mood board which has been painstakingly crafted over several months by the band who are completely focused on their corporate agenda.
No that is not at all how it goes down here in Manchester – I got a call the day before saying “Yeah we need some pictures – you know something vibey and nothing too cheesy. Tomorrow.” Ok guys let me just check I’ve got your brief straight here just so I’m not missing anything and I completely fulfill every aspect of it.
– Vibey
– Not Cheesy
– Tomorrow
Obviously with such specific instructions you would have to be a moron not to know what was required at this point, but just to be on the safe side I thought I might home in on some more detail, “Are you looking to do the shoot indoors or outdoors?”

“Hey man whatever you think is best – probably depends on the weather.”


Just when I thought, Sven, you’ve had your brief don’t push your luck, a revelation comes out of nowhere:

“Definitely no hats”

Nightmage gig?! Nope. This is my favorite type of work – I love an open brief. What is really being said (I like to tell myself) is, we trust you to come up with something. This is where the fun starts.  Hit the jump to see the rest of the pictures, write up and of course all the geeky lighting stuff.

There have been a couple of lighting ideas I have wanted to try out for a while now and this seemed to be the time to put them into action – which I will go into later. I kind of wanted to do a round the table type of shot as its quite a natural position for the band to be in and I thought would get them feeling comfortable. As it turned out the guys were up for a it and had a sense of humour which always helps. We moved on to the stairs and I balanced the light with the daylight coming through the door at the top of the stairs and fired of a few rounds and then moved to the bar for a kind of portrait shot of Sam the lead singer with the band still in the shot. We wrapped it up with a beer in the pub next door and that was that. A great bunch of guys – their next gig is at Indigo this Friday but their gig on the 28th of this month at the deaf institute should not be missed!

Geeky Lighting Stuff:

One of the problems with shooting a group shot is getting an even light on everyone – this is particularly true when they are sat in a tight semi circle, as in the main picture of this post, because the light has to come from ‘inside’ the circle in order to shed light on the faces within the group. You can’t put a softbox on either side because all that will do is light the backs of their heads. You can’t really put a soft box behind and above you because a) it will light the people closest to you in the semi circle to much and the ones in the back not enough and b) the light will be coming from pretty much the same direction as you are shooting from so it will look flat and boring. The only option left is then to have a bare bulb somewhere in the middle of the semi circle and just above and out of the shot. But still there is a problem! The light is too hard throwing hard shadows across the subjects face. Well, this is where ‘The Orb’ comes in. I noticed the other day in calumet a light attachment for profoto lights (studio lights that are ridiculously expensive that I want) called the Profoto Proglobe. Have a look at it. It looks so simple but it does something very cool. It takes the bare-bulb light source and makes it BIGGER. Thus the light is softer when it hits the subjects face. Ok it is not as big as a large softbox but it is a lot bigger than a bare-bulb flash or a strobe with a sto-fen attached. For your information I did not fork out £383.99 for the proglobe but rather I used a light I bought from Ikea with a bare-bulb vivitar I have and held it all together with a manfrotto superclamp on the end of a light stand which the bands manager kindly held over the band. See the picture of it on the right. If anyone wants to see a more detailed shot of how I put it together just let me know in the comments.

So, that was the key light sorted, after that I had an umberella camera left and right to give me a bit of fill and a flash with a sto-fen on a bench behind the guys to provide a bit of light on the wall behind. Done! For the other shots I used a reflective ‘softbox’ umbrella which I am going to do a separate blog on because I use it all the time and has some key advantages I want to talk about.

Comments are closed.