Elite Skin & Beauty

Corporate headshots are incredibly valuable for customer facing businesses. Canon 1DX, 70-200 2.8l
Treatment in progress. Canon 1DX, 24-70 f2.8

I had an interesting video to shoot last week at a skin & beauty business in Newport, Shropshire. This was a case of doubling up with both stills and video – all the rumours about men not being able to multi task effectively are actually quite true (I read that with a mixture of relief and disappointment in Psychology Today I think), so this needs very careful planning to manage the workflow because still photography, whether it’s portraits, commercial, food or events, and video are very different things. For a commercial shoot like this I like to use big softboxes and my trusty Elinchrom Ranger RX (although I’m starting to use my Elinchrom ELB400 setup more now because of portability, I find it a bit of a faff putting it all together to be honest and I happen to like my Ranger setup although it’s heavy).
So big softboxes obviously work fine for stills, they smooth the skin and give me a lot of flexibility, but for video the lights have to be swapped out with big LED panels – so the workflow is shoot stills, change lights, shoot video – move on to next shot and reverse the process, so shoot video, change lights, shoot stills. You have to concentrate all the time because there’s different styles that come into play and you actually have to be a lot more careful with video because any errors are time consuming to change in post production.  The other problem is that lighting for video has to be quite powerful, so the lights are blindingly bright. I always tell people to look away when I switch them on!

For this video I used a Canon 1D Mark IV on a gimbal mount so I could get some nice movement into the footage, with 50mm F1.2 and 100mm macro lenses. One of the problems with using a gimbal is that it’s very sensitive and has to be carefully balanced – they’re amazing to use when setup properly and the footage is really stable, but of course the downside is that every lens change means that the rig needs to be reconfigured. Because of the range of shots I didn’t have enough time to keep changing the setup, so the 50mm stayed on for the majority of the time. Focus pulls to transition the focus is also impossible with a gimbal, so needs some setup on the camera to get the desired effect.

So as usual I found it fascinating because I’ve never been inside a beauty business before and this one (Elite Skin & Beauty) has incredibly modern equipment operated by highly skilled staff. Over the course of three hours I watched through my viewfinder as needles were carefully inserted into our models for facial treatment and lasers were deployed for hair removal. It’s interesting that men are as interested in treatments as women – even young ones so there’s a really wide range of customers. I had a great chat with the mother and daughter business partnership ahead of the shoot about how they wanted the content, which is time really well spent because it gives me a good opportunity to have a think about how best to present the final images. Knowing what the end requirement is means that the shots can be produced specifically to meet the need – in this case the images and video are content for their web site.