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


Carmichael Productions, Inc. & Company Headshots for Distinctive Branding

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This last week we were really pleased to have Beryl Stafford the president of Boulder’s own successful and growing energy bar company Bobo Oat Bars booked in for a portrait session for herself and her key staff people. Bobo Bars is a classic American small business success story. Beryl has created a uniquely healthy snack bar and she’s gearing up to add an additional shift! We offer group discounts to companies bringing in four or more individuals. Our distinctive portrait approach shows off your “human resources” in a consistent framework that speaks volumes about your attention to important details. Fundamentally it says you value your people highly. The experience of having a professional portrait taken is truly unique at my in-house studio. This old stone front structure is a Boulder Historical Landmark that we’ve renovated into a 21st century home built to a LEEDs Platinum Certification. With a certified HERS rating of 12 and a 10K solar array on the roofs, the house is virtually at net zero energy consumption. When you enter the house you find yourself in my photography gallery of fine art landscapes. Among the pieces hanging is a recently shot 76″x40″ panorama of the West Face of the Third and 2nd Flatiron.

At the back of the home is a customed designed 1,000 square foot studio with twelve foot ceilings. There is a comfortable make-up cove at the entrance to the studio. The lighting units are low amperage, continuous K5600 HMIs. These lamps are low on heat and with the ceiling fans going they are very comfortable to be photographed under. The extensive lighting control and grip paraphernalia are state of the art Matthews Studio Equipment. I have a number of personal favorite lighting setups dialed in at my studio to create my signature portrait look. I shoot tethered to a computer for instantaneous feedback. I typically shoot around 150 images per setting. To edit the images we set down at a two-screen Apple desktop configuration and via Lightroom 4 we compare and contrast the selections of images, making a final pick very fluid and easy. My retouching is literally world class.

Please take a look at the Portrait section of my website for more examples of my work sometimes referred to as Head Shots. Whatever you want to call them, my goal is to capture the personality of my subject. I shoot close ups because I find the human face fascinating and you know what they say about the eyes being the window to the soul. The entire process here is set up to capture unique and flattering images of my clients that will serve them well in all their professional and social media endeavors. I like to think our efforts are about boosting commerce and we’ve established a forum here that is geared to make that objective a fun and positive experience.

Ciao, Bob Carmichael