Maximize time management with the use of artful digital manipulation.

com•pos•ite kəm-pŏz′ĭt - noun, a thing made up of several parts or elements.  However, in commercial photography it should be defined as a photo that uses technology to solve scheduling and location problems.  In my experience getting a group of people in the same place, at the same time, ready to take a photograph is not a simple nor painless pursuit. Conflicting personal schedules, unexpected business or personal emergencies, environmental issues at the shoot location. All these can make an executive or staff shoot a nightmare to stage, and take up a massive amount of unproductive time.  And the higher up the corporate ladder the subjects are, the more difficult it becomes to synchronize availability.

This is where composites become a super-tool in overcoming these all-too-common hurdles. Instead of arranging every subject within the same frame at the same time, I often shoot a static background and separate shots of the individual subjects required within the photograph. I often do the subject shots in front of a solid color background. I can even shoot people in multiple locations, such as in a corporate office in San Francisco, the lab in San Jose or elsewhere in Silicon Valley. Or even at their residence in Walnut Creek. Then, in photoshop I mask out the individual subject’s image and copy them into the group and in front of the background. And while this sounds easy, if the light source, direction and brightness are not closely matched and managed the composite looks amateurish – not up to the level needed for corporate or business photography. That is why I pay particular attention to this, taking a set of photographs of each subject and of the background, and carefully inspecting the final lighting and perspective to make the image believable. 

Even the subjects in the image above have to be matched. Despite the fact that the client chose the effect of a pure white background for this group shot, the lighting, angle of view and size of each subject have to make sense to the subconscious “eye” of the viewer.  AND…..

Composites work for single subjects as well. I often shoot a series of portraits in front of a backdrop under controlled lighting - a very quick process. Then later I walk around the location shooting slightly blurry background scenes with existing lighting. These images are then composited with the portraits to show the subject in their individual work environment. The trick here is to light the subjects as though they were caught with beautiful natural light while matching the background color and contrast with the the subject to make a believable image. If you’re photographing people in the real location environmental portraits like this take a lot of time to figure out the location and light. Sometimes that’s necessary to convey the information you want to convey. But when that isn’t critical it’s so much quicker, easier, nicer looking and not subject to environmental issues not under our control, such as weather. No scheduling and rescheduling needed to produce an impactful shot with exactly what the customer wanted for their business. 

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