I recently had the delight of photographing Brandon Bryant, the man behind the illustrious men's fashion blog Wall Street Paper. Brandon and his blog have been featured on GQ's "Agents of Style" and he is an Instagram influencer, with over 61K followers on his Wall Street Paper page. After a friend of a friend put us in touch and he saw my work, Brandon was excited to shoot with me. Through building his blog and Instagram network, Brandon has focused primarily on street style fashion. Looking to step up his imagery, Brandon was on the lookout for a photographer more experienced in shooting in the studio, so I was a great fit.
I was traveling to the studio by myself from Brooklyn to NoHo via the subway, so I needed to travel light. Well, that was the idea, anyways, but things turned out differently when I started packing. I ended up with my camera backpack and my lighting bag carrying a full camera and lens kit, laptop, 6' octa, umbrella, two studio strobes, one speedlight, three light stands, a 4' roll of seamless, power cords, and a handful of A-clamps, in all totaling probably more than a hundred pounds. (Note to self: Buy a rolling light kit bag) It's a lighter kit than I usually shoot with, but still, not that pleasant to cary for the subway commute.
For the lighting setup I kept things consistent through the entire shoot, and it was a remarkably simple lighting setup. One 6' octa camera left, and one strobe firing into a medium umbrella directly overhead. The studio was rather small, so getting any lights behind would have been difficult if not entirely out of the question. Also due to the limited space, the white walls reflected a huge amount of spilled light back into the set, reducing some of the contrast I wanted from the light. To eliminate this I brought in two black v-flats from the studio and placed them just out of frame to cut any stray light and bring back that contrast and direction to the light. I regret not taking a few more behind-the-scenes photos of the setup, but here's one of JeShaune, a friend of Brandon's who was helping out on the shoot, standing in for some shots.
I recently had a reader of the blog ask me about my lens choices, and this shoot was an excellent example of a trend I've been noticing in my own work recently: shooting with my old 50mm f/1.8D. My go-to lens for years has been the big and expensive ($2,000+) Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8. While it's a fantastic portrait and photojournalism lens and absolutely perfect for headshots, I've been pushing myself to shoot wider than I usually do. In tight spaces like the studio we were in, a 50mm lens keeps things with a fairly normal perspective without the distortion of a 35mm lens, but still is wide enough to shoot mid- or even full-length portraits in a relatively small space. One of the things I'm trying to work on in my work is to shoot more wide shots, and this lens choice is representative of that. Ironically, some of my best work lately has been shot on this lens, which you can pick up for $130, while my fancy lenses that cost over fifteen times as much stay packed away in my camera bag.
We shot three or four outfits with a few changes in the seamless to give a diversity of looks without changing up the lighting. Brandon really knows his fashion and put together some really sharp outfits.
Feel free to ask any questions about the shoot in the comments below, and share your thoughts on the photos!