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Editorial Photography: Peggy Bakker, Third World Bazaar for BOOM!


Part 5 of 6

Dave and I went to see Peggy on a particularly rainy day. I hadn’t been to her expansive barn in Manotick before, but I did have an idea in my head of how I wanted a light and airy image taken from a high vantage showing the depth of the location. My dreams, as usual, didn’t actually turn out to be reality, as the space is floor to ceiling stuff and product from dozens or hundreds of different nations. The heavy rainfall axed any chance I had of natural light streaming in from the windows and skylights that did exist, so we’d be working in the dark – again.

I made the decision to shoot this exclusively with speedlights and leave my larger powered strobes in the trunk. Without any particularly large light sources, a smaller, more “spot” nature of the light would suit the space. We spent over an hour tweaking a setup as the staff recieved and stacked crates of foreign carvings. We unscrewed a spotlight that was giving the lens flare, and struggled with booming a softbox and shooting it through a diffuser to create flattering soft, but square, light on Peggy. I used a 50mm f/1.4 lens to blur out all but our subject and meticulously used a panoramic bracket to create a long horizontal shot, but that’s not the image we used, because even taking it I knew it wasn’t as strong as my previous 24mm portraits had been.

Realizing I had spent almost 2 hours producing a piece of crap, I quickly changed gears looking for a less cluttered space, something more intimate. The space I chose had a skyligh above it casting a cool hue down from the cloudy sky. I set up a stool where I saw the lines of the location leading to the subject, we set up a Lastolite Ezybox with a grid on a boom arm, CTS’d it (and a bit more for warmth). I had a speedlight in the back, high, and pointing in at the wall, also CTS’d to fill in the Cuban section of the store with the orange light the spots would normally provide. I then used a small umbrella, also boomed, behind the camera at left with a blue gel and angled down to mimic the colour my eyes saw coming from that skylight. We set up and shot this piece in under 30 minutes, and it was the one that ran.

Sometimes your best ideas aren’t your best at all, sometimes they’re not even good. Often you can figure that out before you even start and it sucks when you carry something all the way through – just because you worked hard on it, doesn’t mean it’s any good. Being able to recognize this and move on quickly is important too. I still had to deliver to my client, and it’s important that *we* are happy with our work whenever possible too. In this case, with a little extra effort and time, we accomplished that.

You can see it bigger on Flickr.

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