Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Going Viral

August Bradley’s personal project “99 Faces of Occupy Wall St.” was simple to execute and brought immediate media attention as it caught fire online


This Article Features Photo Zoom
"We would have to move from subject to subject," he explains, "so we had to be completely portable." He brought two assistants who carried a Broncolor Mobil A2L power pack and a MobiLED light. Bradley explains that they would have needed permits to set a light stand down so they needed a walking light source. "Without a backdrop, I massively blurred the background into an abstract tapestry," he says, "which ended up adding more richness and flavor than a backdrop. It also blurred the sides of each subject's head as it fell away, directing attention right to the eyes."


He says that the textures of the full-resolution images from the Hasselblad H3D that he was using are "so vivid, you feel you can reach out and touch it." Precise positioning of Broncolor strobes with small softboxes and grids produced the hard-edged, gritty look that he was going for. Bradley describes the look as a type of lighting that reads soft while actually being fairly hard.

"The sharpness reflects the real, factual nature of the subject matter," he continues, "in contrast to polished entertainment or fashion images we often see. The blue-green tones are on the opposite end of the color wheel from skin tones; opposite tones are pleasing together and create a more stark contrast so it further separated the faces from the environment. I also have different tones in the highlights and shadows, enhancing depth and contrast. I wanted to communicate the mood, which was heavy and dramatic."


His own reaction to the subjects varied widely from person to person, some of whom he agreed with and some of whom he did not. "That was not the point," he admits, "and I left my views out if it—both in sharing what I captured and in selecting whom to approach for the project. The overwhelming majority were incredibly sincere in their motives and dedication to the cause. I also wanted to include some police, but they weren't willing. The police were a big presence there. The periphery was lined with them. There were also a ton of photographers there, though not one of the photographers or videographers was lighting their subjects; my team was unusual in that sense."


 

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