Shooting Overhead Portraits: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey
Shooting Overhead Portraits: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey

In this video I get my camera as high as
I can to shoot some overhead portraits in my small studio. AdoramaTV presents ‘Take and Make Great Photography’ with Gavin Hoey. Hello, I’m Gavin Hoey and you’re
watching AdoramaTV, brought to you by Adorama, the camera store that has everything for us
photographers. Now in this video I’m going to try and get an unusual point of
view at least for my photography by shooting a model directly from above. Now, let’s be clear, if you’re only going to do a couple of shots, there’s nothing wrong with just grabbing a step ladder, climbing up and being very careful taking your pictures. But if you’re
going to do this for any period of time you’ve got to do something like a boom arm set up. That’s what I’m going to do. Let’s get the camera on here and go through how to set this up. I’m going to be using a boom arm for this shoot. Boom arms come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and designs. Whatever design you use, you have to think about
the safety of your gear and your model below. So at the moment you can see this
is fairly extended out but it’s not perfectly balanced so to make sure
everything stays safe, I’ve got a counterweight at one end, camera at the
other and I just slide it along the arm until it balances perfectly, even on its
unlocked downstate. Once you get to this point that’s great, that’s balanced, that’s safer. Let’s tighten everything up like that. I’ve also got another sand bag down the
bottom. That’s just a given, and if you want even more safety then you can have the
the leg pointing in the same direction as the boom arm. So, what about the camera? Well, I’m using my Olympus OM-D E-M5 II. On top is the flash point StreakLight trigger
and in my pocket is another one. It’s the same one, same channel, same group and I can use this to remote trigger the flash once I’m doing metering and that’s kind of
useful to have too, not essential but it helps. Now to see what’s going on I need
to be able to look from the camera point of view down and, of course, I can use the
the flippy foldy screen here and use live view to set that up but
I like to use a laptop so I’ve got my Microsoft Surface book and I’m going to
plug it into the USB cable. This is the one that comes with the Olympus cameras. Some cameras like Olympus have their own USB type socket
so it has to be their cable. The other end of the cable, it goes orange and the orange bit is a tether
tool’s USB repeater which means that as the signal goes down the long cable it
doesn’t lose quality or strength, meaning I don’t get any dropouts here I’m also
using the Olympus software which means that I will get not only a review of the
image when I take the pictures but way more usefully I’ll get to be able to
preview a live view from the actual camera itself so I can frame this all up,
get everything absolutely perfect and that just helps an awful lot when I’m
setting up the shot. Speaking of which, let’s get a model in and start doing some shooting. So once again I’m joined in the studio by Adrienne. Do you want to say hello and she’s going to be the model for this shoot so we’re going to use
Adrienne, we’re going to get her to lie down on the background like that I’ve already got
the camera setup. It’s all tethered, it’s ready to go. But there are a few things you need to
consider so let’s start with the background. Normally when I’m shooting I
would have a separation between the model and the background, that will allow
me to light the background separately. Clearly that’s not going to happen because the background is the floor and unless your model can levitate, there’s no way you
can actually light the floor separately to the model. So, think about your background choice, it
will matter. Next you’ve got to think about the lighting in general because you’ve probably got an idea of how you want to light a normal upright portrait but when you go
overhead you have to think everything is flipped over. So normally I’d light the light
from the front slightly above but above actually means further away. It means
higher, as in, away from the camera, where you are and that will give me above
lighting. Now, will that work for exposure? Well, the way to find out is to take a
meter reading. Let’s get my flash meter and I meter exactly the same as I
would if Adrienne was stood or sat up, so I get my
flash meter, I’ve got my spare remote trigger and I’m going to pop this underneath her chin with the little dome pointing back at the light I want to meter and I’m getting f11. That’s
perfect. The camera is already set to f11 that should give me correct exposure. Let’s take a test shot and see how that looks. OK so, Adrienne if you can look towards the camera for me. As you can see that looks fine, except we’ve got a lit side and a shady side,
which might be alright, but I think I would like to have a bit more even illumination. So to even things up I’m going to do what I wouldn’t normally do, get a second light and push some light in. Now I could put a second light sort of over here and just light the shady side but I’ve got a softbox on one
and a bare light on the other side. That’s going to give some weird hard shadows on one side but if you work in a small studio like I am here and you have white walls, well use those as an impromptu light modifier. By pointing my speed light
at the wall it’ll become much bigger, bounce in much softer light. Let’s just take a test shot like that and that fills in the shadows beautifully. So lighting
when you’ve got somebody lying down and you’re shooting overhead is no different
to any other sort of lighting, you just need to think that it’s slightly flipped. So let’s have a little think about posing because there’s loads of
different poses you can do but there’s a couple of things to consider. The first
one is where are you going to get your model to look? Now, normally we interact with the model
by having a camera in front of us and talking to the model but now the camera
is up high so you’ve got to remember to direct your model from the point of view
of the camera. Next thing to consider: gravity. Now, gravity has an effect, we know how
gravity works, it works on a downward direction, which is easy to guess what’s
going to happen when someone is sat or stood up. But the minute they lie down
gravity doesn’t play ball. Let me show you. OK, Adrienne, we’re just going to take a little picture. Have a look at the camera, and as you can see, gravity is not doing
what it should do. Adrienne’s hair is going everywhere apart from where gravity would normally
dictate it goes, which in itself is brilliant and half the point of doing
these overhead shots. However, if you want it to look like it’s more natural, you need
to think how does gravity work? So Adrienne, I’m going to come down and move your hair if that’s OK? So I’m just going to bring your hair a little bit tighter in towards your body and we’ll tuck that underneath like that and we’ll come around the other side and we’ll tuck that underneath like that. OK, if you lie back down, that’s great. I think they shot you can And when I take this shot you can see that now things seem to be working
much better. Now that’s great but everything has an effect, clothing, the
skin on your face can have a different effect with gravity, bear that in mind. OK so that’s some basic ideas. Let’s take some shots like this, see how it goes. So I’ve completely changed the background. We’ve gone for something much more interesting. We’ve got a whole bunch of books- forty books
down on the floor here that I’ve laid out in a nice sort of circular pattern and we’re going to get Adrienne to lie down right in the middle of that. Now, I was able to get
this all nice and laid out using the Live View feature and again being
tethered to my laptop, here, means that I can actually do that really easily and well
let’s just give this a whirl so, Adrienne, if you want to lie down right in the middle of that pile of books, see where those two are together. OK, so you’re going to need to come back towards me ever so slightly. Ok, keep coming, keep coming. That’s it, hold it right there. Fantastic. OK, now I haven’t moved the lights. They are exactly the
same, same exposure, same settings so if I take a test picture if you look at the
camera for me. OK, that looks pretty good. I’m kind of happy with that. OK let’s do a
shoot like this. Are you ready? Well, I think those pictures look absolutely amazing and while shooting overhead really does bring its own set
of unique problems, especially in a small studio, it really is worth the effort. Now, if you want to see more videos from
myself and the other amazing presenters right here on AdoramaTV, you know what you’ve got to do? You’ve got to click on the subscribe button. I’m Gavin Hoey,
thanks for watching.

66 thoughts on “Shooting Overhead Portraits: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey”

  1. Lá Bí says:

    why u dont make videos for such a long time. So miss u :v

  2. juan lozano says:

    As always great video.

  3. Hernan Restrepo says:

    Incredible pictures, it's always a joy to watch Gavin Hoey work. Any idea what tether program he uses on this demonstration?

  4. Richard James Milne says:

    Word: Amazing!!

  5. David Daniel says:

    As always, wonderful work and very inspiring. Thank you for all that you do Gavin.

  6. Roger Gallant says:

    Great video!

  7. safeharbor7 says:

    I have learned a wealth of information from you through the years Gavin, both in photography and in photoshop. I have come a long way thanks to you. Just wanted to say thank you… Thumbs up as always…

  8. Lyoubomir Katzarov says:

    They do look pretty good. And I really like what the vignetting is doing to the last shot.

  9. Lucas Medina D'Abate says:

    What a great bunch of pictures!

  10. Andy Leah says:

    Hi, great tutorial. I was wondering what software is used for the PC tether?

  11. GAproductions says:

    would a single long USB cord work as well without drop out?

  12. An Vo says:

    Always happy when there is a new video from you, Gavin. This is another great one. Thank you. 🙂

  13. Iman Boer says:

    always inspired … thank you

  14. PrivateSnips says:

    Thanks Gavin – interesting idea!

  15. Desmond L says:

    Love Gavin. I"m GaGa for Gavin's Tuts!!!Lol love his tutorials Adorama please keep having Gavin make them. Thanks

  16. vishwas mp says:

    Wow! Gavin the book background pictures are really amazing … Great video loved it.

  17. wunna lynn william says:

    Great Explaination !!!
    i confuse about that how to shot like this a long time

  18. Gewglesux says:

    Gavin Nice one!!! Thanks for the upload…

  19. Hamayak Hakopian says:

    Awesome work .

  20. Ricardo Abriz Romero says:

    Nice!! i love this portraits

  21. Angela Seguna says:

    Thank you Gavin …love it 🙂

  22. sickhcivc says:

    first 😀

  23. pscully1969 says:

    Nice one! I like the addition of the open books. By the way, was that boom pole the Flashpoint speed pod?

  24. Carlos Sanchez says:

    Awesome¡ Great to watch Gavin's videos! 🙂

  25. Zechariah Blackburn says:

    You're so fun Gavin! 🙂 Good job on the video.

  26. RC Val says:

    I'm a big fan of Mr. Hoey, his videos are always great to watch.

  27. RS says:

    If her teachers asks her, have you been studying she can show him this picture.
    Great video, good ideas, thanks for sharing

  28. Esteban Cee says:

    Brilliant as usual, love that you come up with new ways to look at and photograph things

  29. giladvalkor says:

    Nice Video, Kinda missed the Photoshop Editing on this one that you always do at the end of your Videos though.  Subscribed  a little over a week ago and been going through and watching all your videos.  They're all Great.  Loved them all so far.

  30. Ean Grace says:

    That is so fun to do, i love how Gavin Hoey explain things! i'm his fan when the first time i saw his creativity !

  31. Łukasz Dyłka says:

    The best in Adorama! Thanks for inspiration!

  32. Joe Jackson says:

    Another wonderful video Gavin. Cheers..

  33. Lee Parsons says:

    Do Adorama operate in the UK? I see Gavin uses a lot of things specific to Adorama.

  34. Vijith Vj says:

    Wow Gavin ….

  35. Somasundaram G says:

    nice one..:)

  36. Ives Faye says:

    As usual nice tutorial again.

  37. Paweł Mazurek says:

    You could've shown the entire process including Photoshop post production.

  38. John Skiggs says:

    That's a wonderful exercise in lateral thinking., thank you Gavin, I learned a lot, "definitely subscribed" 😉 cheers

  39. Mr Bolbachan says:


  40. J P says:

    Awesome video Gavin, thank you!

  41. SurfingwithBen says:

    Great work. Thanks for the video.

  42. LR says:

    Furthermore you´re a great professor, each your videos inspires me.

  43. Fatih Ozturk says:

    you are the man :))

  44. Bancika's DIY Guitar Stuff says:

    loved the idea with books

  45. TOGAS LEÓN DE ORO says:

    sencillamente fenomenal

  46. Paul Moadibe says:

    where do you get all those fantastic ideas ?! I think I'll try it… with a cat lying on a pile of books ! maybe on his back… 🙂

  47. Rodrigo João Mélo says:

    One of my favorite videos! Great results!

  48. miguel sanchez says:

    Saludos Gavin.
    Eres un gran fotografo. un abrazo desde España

  49. rouk says:

    this is great !!!

  50. Patrick McCowie says:

    great video gavin but wow, what a lot of kit for n overhead shoot, most people couldn't afford all that stuff !!

  51. This is Jo says:

    I think my budget only stretches to a ladder!

  52. Laura Squeff says:

    Gavin, it's always a pleasure to watch your videos! I have one question: the only way I'm able to work with both a speedlite and a studio flash, is to use the speedlite as master. I've tried to make the speedlite obey the studio flash before but it didn't work. What are the exact settings of the camera and of the speedlite to make it work as a studio flash's slave?

  53. Charrese Monique says:

    You're inspiring! Thank you for all you share! God bless you! 😊

  54. René Fosdal says:

    Gavin always makes it look easy – very interesting video. I will definitely experiment with this😊

  55. glennskitchen says:

    Hi Gavin, I may be 50 years old but your videos always make me feel warm inside. Thanks for all the joy and education you provide.

  56. Deny Caron says:

    bonjour, quel est votre logiciel pour visionner et déclencher l'appareil depuis votre PC, merci

  57. Kris Bochenek says:

    Did you rob the local church to get all these books? Anyways I love all your videos!! You are the man!

  58. Studio Ant says:

    Brillant Job Mr Gavin thnx for all these informations and your creativeness

  59. isabella davis says:

    Always such precise information Gavin thanks for answering our questions before we can even think of them in our minds…great tutorials as always

  60. Alisha Jennings says:

    This is a great video 👍🏻

  61. John Cheong says:

    Great video as usual and a pretty cool idea. I have a long adjustable boom in my studio – the head can be rotated and swivelled using two handles at the other end. I sometimes use it for lights but have also mounted a camera on it before. When I've got a model below the camera or light, I try to be extra careful. A DSLR can cause a significant amount of damage when it falls and heaven forbid it's a model below. I use a Peak Design wrist strap which I simply hook around the boom so if the camera, for whatever reason, falls off the mount, it will still be hung up on the boom and won't crash to the ground. A normal neckstrap should do exactly the same job but if you have the same sort of adjustable boom, make sure the strap is secure but not tight otherwise you can't adjust the position and angle of the camera.

  62. Michael Ryan says:

    Love the books. Very creative. Great video. Thanks.

  63. Bob Bruyn says:

    Nice on Gavin! Was just contemplating a shoot like this and now I know how 🙂 Great idea with the books!

  64. Whitney Welshimer says:

    This is great – thank you! Also the model is the sweetest. <3

  65. Matityahu Neriya says:

    I just can't stop watching Gavin's videos! Thank you for such a positive and informative content! It's pure joy!

  66. SIGNO Fotografía says:

    Beautiful model and theme ! Hugs from Argentina !

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