What I Bring To The Boulder Portrait Party

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So, there is always a curiosity about who is going to come through the front door; but whoever they are, it’s my job to give them a first class experience and portrait. Let’s face it; having your picture taken can be somewhat intimidating. Ultimately my goal is to create a fun tone for the photography session and discover the best look for my client.  It is their brand and I want that brand to stand out in our visual culture.

Making them comfortable is the first step and that starts with an interesting environment. I like to think that begins at the front gate of my home/custom studio in North Boulder.  I’m very fortunate to live in a Boulder Landmark home.  On top of that, it is a home that we renovated to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification.  It is one of 7 such homes in Boulder with fifty-four in the state.  You can see the creation of this house through my film on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/101043238 – As you enter the house you come into a gallery of my award-winning landscapes (bobcarmichael.com/landscapes).

Over a glass of water, we talk about what the person wants to communicate with their images and which wardrobe is going to best communicate it.  Once the styling decisions and makeup are set we enter the studio and start the process of taking the photographs.

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In my custom 1,000 sq. foot studio, I have a portrait stage that has a comfortable sitting stool and a professional portrait table.  I shoot tethered to a computer screen so everyone knows what we are getting.  I use Hollywood style continuous lights so there are no strobes going off. My camera is a Nikon Flagship brand and I use a portrait prime lens with a trade secret portrait filter. My experience with lighting and my extensive Hollywood grip equipment all contribute to the client sitting confidently and ready for their “Close Up”.

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Once the lighting scheme is adjusted to the particular client we can start doing the search for looks and expressions that communicate what they are about.  One of the real joys of photography for me is discovering aspects of client’s looks that even they are sometimes not aware of.  It is something of a revelation to discover in a persons face their beauty and by that, I don’t necessarily mean classic glamour but rather their spirit.  Sometimes people will come in and truly not know how “beautiful” they are.  When I can show them that, it honestly is a profound experience.

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It comes down to having a discerning eye and I’ve tried diligently to train my eye through decades of actual industry experience as well as through a never-ending search for visual reference. I’ve had my eye to a either a still or motion picture camera since high school and that is now 50 years.  I started in my journalism class shooting for the yearbook and student papers, that eventually took me to make my first 16mm films as I graduated from college.  I was lucky enough to get hired as a staff director/cameraman job at NFL FILMS, and then pursued a career in Los Angeles TV, National Commercial Spot directing and feature film production, earning an Academy Award nomination and an Emmy along the way.  I have a wide range of interests photographically that include action sports, music, event coverage, product shot and landscapes. All these factor into my awareness about the people’s faces and of course their eyes (you know the expression). I’m a member of the DGA and International Cinematographers Guild, along with the American Photographic Artists.

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My experience in studying acting under Milton Katselas at the Beverly Hills Play House in Los Angeles really helped me look deeper into finding truth in acting and in life in general. My son Jesse and his music mates starting in 8th grade led me on another visual path of shooting music performance for their band Maroon 5. So I guess, the point of this little blog is to say, I’m not your typical portrait photographer. I have worked under some great directors and directors of photography and I have learned from them. My experience as a director and cameraman translates into interesting headshots because I’m curious about my clients and look at each session as an exercise in self-discovery. My entire studio system is set up to do that.

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Acknowledging the humor and intensity of the portrait session allows my clients to enjoy a very positive exploration of themselves.  Music wise, we have a great sound system that plays any type of music as the session unfolds. I want my client to know they are in good hands and that the entire situation can be really engaging and fun. At the end of the session, we immediately edit down to the precise images that they choose to advance their endeavors and careers.  I’m happy to be a part of it all. -Bob

Ready for your Close UP?

Contact us here: 303-955-7065


A Day in My Studio


So recently I had a day where I had a trio of clients in that represented an interesting variety of photographic challenges. Fundamentally, I look at my portrait work very much like I do when I’m making a documentary, wanting to discover the real character of my subject. My approach to that goal is to keep things relaxed and real. The first up was a very professional and obviously international woman named Brigette Furst of the Real Estate firm 8Z. Brigette had great features and obvious sophistication. There is always a bit of apprehension coming into a new environment and having your portrait taken. The easiest way to ameliorate that perfectly normal reaction is to be gracious and to present a very professional environment to achieve maximum results. We have that here in my home/studio that is built around photography. It is a novel experience to enter a Boulder Landmark Home and realize that it is also one of the most energy efficient homes in America. Good talking points abound. Once we build a bit of a rapport and makeup and wardrobe are approved the next step is taking the stage and dialing in the perfect lighting scheme for the client including the right backdrop, and then the process of light shaping. Pandora allows us to pinpoint their musical taste and after a number of lighting tests, we start the capture. Usually, I shoot about a 100 images as I explore the landscapes of the subject’s face and expressions. We get in the grove by finding out the clients best side and relaxing into the shoot, encouraging self-expression and confidence. I think of us as an impromptu team working together. We succeeded in capturing images of her that reflected her good taste and international style. The results were very positive and the client had fun.

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The next session in my studio was one of my oldest buddies going back to our days playing football at CU in the late 1960’s. Joel Ripmaster, the founder of Colorado Landmark Realtors, was not only a football teammate at CU but he was also my fraternity “god-father.” He was a Junior when I was a freshman. He was a great guy, and mature beyond his years. He literally showed me the ropes. So while I was photographing him, he grew a bit quiet and then said … “I was thinking as you were taking the pictures just how long we’ve known each and it’s just amazing that here we taking these portraits.” Joel has sold our family three houses over the years and I’ve photographed his daughter’s wedding and as well as most of his staff. I gave him a hug and said… “I love you too Joel.” It was a moving acknowledgment of our very long history together and I’m proud to be one of his go-to guys photographically. We are just about to release a video of the renovation of this Landmarked home that Joel sold us. Landmark Realty is one of the sponsors of the video. Joel recognizes that fresh corporate and personal branding is really a key in today’s market. Having a professional portrait says you know it is important to cover all the bases. It says you care. So here are the shots of Mr. Ripmaster.

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Finally, at the end of the day and in a bit of a time crunch due to the 6 PM graduation of my son-in-law Matt Lappe´with an MBA from the Colorado Business School, along with his undergraduate degree from Stanford along with ANOTHER master’s degree from Stanford … damn, how impressive is that? And he is now the CEO of ACE, a nonprofit that is dedicated to teaching high school kids climate awareness. On top of that, he and my very accomplished and sweet daughter Annie are having a baby in September. Evelyn Carol Lappe´- the first name is Matt’s mother and the second is my mother, both remembered through this new child. And yes, I’m pretty excited about being her grandfather. I digress, so the next fellow runs a company called The Satori Edge.

His name is Colin Chapman he is a principle A/V consultant at a cutting-edge Colorado Company for Sound and Vision in businesses and homes. The first thing I knew about Colin was that he was very sharp knowledgeable both sound and music. He’s a sound engineer, remixer and creator of sound design. On top of that, he’s a sought-after club DJ with gigs around the country. Take a listen to Colin AKA satori -c and you’ll see the dimensions of his creativity. I wanted to capture that. I wanted to create an image that reflected his native intelligence and depth. I kept moving the lights to get them out of his very wide angle glasses and then with my time running out to make both of our next meetings, I just turned off my fill light and put up a 4×4 muslin bounce and BOOM there it was. I got up on one of my ladders and shot dramatically down on him. In a matter of moments, I captured a lot of his character. It was a great end to a challenging day. And so it goes. I hope my small contributions to these entrepreneurs serves them well.

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