The EG conference is the touchstone for innovators in just about every field, and each year, the conference invites thought-provoking minds to educate, dispel myths, amaze and inspire. Having covered the TED conference for years, portrait photographer Asa Mathat was asked by Richard Saul Wurman to start shooting for EG almost 8 years ago. For the 2014 edition, Asa was keen on pushing the boundaries. We sat down with the forward-thinking photographer to get his thoughts on his first experience shooting living portraits using Cinemagraph Pro for Mac.
1. Describe your approach entering this shoot. How did you decide on your creative?
After looking at the software, the vertical 16:9 ratio, I was sorta pinned to a certain look, one that I am used to when creating portraits. Yet the additional vertical area was a little challenging. This is why I decided to use a mirror, it allowed useful area to play with above and below, plus it allowed Flixel’s Cinemagraph Pro to freeze the reflection from moving. This made for some very interesting and surprising results.
2. How efficient was Cinemagraph Pro for Mac from a post-production standpoint?
I was pleasantly surprised at how efficient the software was. The learning curve took no time. The software was intuitive enough that I could focus on being creative and not worry about any technical issues. From a workflow perspective, the process was very smooth. We were able to shoot, remove the SD card, load it onto our MacBook Pro and edit the files all while the client watched, very entertained, allocating just about 3-5 minutes per person.
3. How did you go about directing your subjects? How did they react to this new style of photography?
Some people say that directing is a big strength of mine so it came easily and naturally. The fact that I was shooting handsfree for the first time and looking at the shots through a monitor (camera on tripod) all while talking was new but a lot more freeing. Obviously, the subjects needed to adjust to this new style of shooting where certain situations required absolute stillness. All in all, everyone was excited and pleased with the outcome.
4. What gear and lighting did you use for this shoot?
Panasonic supplied me with the GH3 and GH4, with the GH3 working perfectly and in our hands most of the time. As for lighting, video was new territory to me and I grabbed anything that plugged in, an LED work lamp from Home Depot, a 25 year old tungsten TotaLite and a new 40 inch constant fluorescent ring light.
5. What challenges did you encounter shooting living photos?
Being new to video capture, with all those colour temperatures we had a lot of less than elegant mixing but Cinemagraph Pro allowed us to use its custom filters at times when it needed a fix. I learned that I best to have gels if I were going to try that again.
6. What tips would you like to share on capturing living photos?
Try to combine as many creative ideas as possible, for example to have more stationary people with their shadow moving behind them was its own theme. Also, I wanted to try some work with a really slow shutter speed with a lot of stationary objects nearby. Exploring your creativity is the key. Don’t limit yourself and don’t be afraid to wander in unchartered territory!
7. Would you recommend Flixel for event based photography?
Oh yes, this could make a lot of money with the right team and workflow, something so easy and with such big laughs for all that awaited their turn.
8. This being your first experience shooting flixels – how would you use living photos in your work moving forward?
I can see this not only as a marketing teaser for my work but I would love to incorporate these into a short movie, taking 6 second clips and grouping them together. I think of the amazing street scenes you would have, so amazing and so different!
Thank you Asa!