I recently did a shoot with the famous Eddie Griffin! Eddie needed some promotion images. So I put together a Blog featuring my shoot with Eddie. Why the title of this blog? That’s the name of Eddie Griffin’s latest DVD comedy special release flying off shelves. www.eddiegriffin.com
Griffin co-starred opposite Malcolm Jamal in the successful sitcom, Malcolm & Eddie, branching out into roles in such films:
• 2007: Norbit alongside Eddie Murphy
• 2002: John Q with Denzel Washington earning him respect as a dramatic actor
• 2002: Undercover Brother his lead role as Anton Jackson Griffin most recently
• 2001: Double Take alongside Orlando Jones
Eddie Griffin has conquered not only the stage! He is currently listed on Comedy Central’s Top 100 Greatest Stand-ups of all time. In addition to his comedic skills, Griffin is also a gifted Dancer, Choreographer and Singer.
Eddie brought such a fun atmosphere and was very approachable which made this photo shoot one of the most exciting and memorable shoots I have ever had! What I admired the most was his readiness to collaborate on making these images the best they can be. He truly is a class act! You can also see more of his photo session at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Eddie-Griffin/73107530966
The shoot was a great success due in part to the proper planning and attention to all details of the shoot months beforehand.
All specifics were laid out and approved by Griffin’s manager, Ann Flagella. During this process, our team put together a series of sketches, diagramming our light schematics, props, backgrounds and wardrobe.
During this time we also planned on which lenses we would be using. When shooting celebrities, time becomes a huge part of the equation. We decided to use two Canon bodies equipped with a Tamron SP 90mm macro 2.8 on one, and a Tamron SP 70-200 2.8 on the second body. This helped to prevent any loss of time and attention, and keeping on schedule with Griffin’s shoot. In celebrity portraiture, all setups should be pre-lit, metered, white balanced, where the talent just walks in to the scene and you shoot away.
On high-end shoots, it’s always best to work with a stylist. Stylists Nataly and Marquita put together an amazing collection, pulling from Prada and Calvin Klein – just to name a few. With the notoriety of Eddie Griffin, it was quite easy for them to pull from many “high end” designers.
I did most of my research way before hand in regards to studying his facial analysis, personality and natural expressions which included a recent interview on the George Lopez show. This gave me an idea of the angles I wanted to shoot from.
POLISHED LOOK: This was a very polished commercial look for Griffin’s publicity shots. We chose to go with a classic Thunder Grey seamless to give these images a more versatile appeal. When I shoot celebrities, I like to start my setup with the background. I determine what the image use is for, and I build my light setup from that point. This setup starts as a classic portrait lighting setup but with a few added variations I might add.
LIGHTING: My Key Light was a Westcott Master Brush with the inner baffle in place. This diffuses the “hot spot” that might normally be on the face. I like to place this light right on my subjects face. No more than two feet away at times. I get a very nice soft wrap around light but still with some specularity. I added a one stop lavender Rosco gel to this main light which added a nice hint of color. It metered F8. The fill light was a large Westcott 60” White Satin Umbrella with Removeable Black Cover placed directly behind me for an open non-directional fill. This light metered at F5.6. For added fill under Griffin’s face, a silver reflector was added which also added that extra sparkle to the eyes. Another light with a 20 degree grid was placed behind my subject and to camera left as an accent light. This edge light created nice highlights alongside Griffin’s face. This light was one stop over the Key Light. A variation I played with was adding a 72”x72” Silver Scrim Jim (large reflector) on the opposite side of the accent light and used as more fill. I also added a strobe directly in front of the Scrim Jim which added an extra accent on that side of the face. This light was powered to a stop over the Key Light as well. This gave me the option of pulling in that large reflector and playing around with the highlights.
TIP: You can experiment by placing the light closer and high in front of the scrim. It follows the principle of Angle of Incidence / Angle of Reflection Rule. It gives you a different effect than placing the accent directly on the subject. Do not be scared to experiment. Just make sure it’s not on your subject’s dime.
For these types of shoots, you want to make sure the talent is the most important focus in the image; nonetheless, you still want to add some mood and energy to the shot. This was just the right balance.
At the end of the day, I had a nice collection from both cameras with completely different compositions. The Tamron SP 90mm gave me my standard shots, which is more on the three quarter side. Shots that are a must for publicity purposes. Jumping onto the Tamron SP 70-200mm kit, I was able to recompose shots more freely without leaving my spot. I also covered more intimate close-ups which can be used for commercial headshot purposes.
THE SHOT I STOLE.
On a last note: Eddie Griffin came in with his grandfather who was 100 years young. This man was a charmer full of life. This shot I want to share with you, was completely in the moment and had I asked for him to pose, would not have been the same. He sat on the chair waiting for Eddie to enter the room. In the meanwhile, he called my son over to share with him his viewpoints on having good character and how it can carry over to the stage. In his time, he managed Richard Pryor.
Thank God I had my 70-200mm lens. In just the right instance, I was able to record a moment in time that is very precious to me. It reminded me why I became a photographer in the first place.