Tips + Techniques

Illuminating Group Portraits with Klara G at Stockholm's Royal Dramatic Theatre [RF Video of the Week]

January 15, 2016

By RF Staff

The historic Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, Sweden, hosts some of the world's most illustrious productions, but this winter, Klara G took the main stage to shoot a promotional "Christmas card" for its ongoing play, "Fanny and Alexander," a piece originally written and directed by the legendary Ingmar Bergman. The promo consisted of a group portrait, with the whole "family" of actors in full makeup and costume.

Klara had an hour to get the shot, which sounds like forever if you're used to the quicker run-and-gun assignments, but those rarely call for directing a large group of people in a venue with funky lighting. The Swedish fashion, beauty, still life and portrait photographer made sure she tapped into a few different prep strategies at her disposal to ensure she was making the most of her time with the actors: using a white balance card and a light meter, plus bringing a few helping hands to adjust equipment and act as test subjects before the official shoot.

"Shooting group portraits on location is challenging—you never, ever have enough time," Klara says. "To me, it all boils down to getting the most out of the persons in front of the camera in as short amount of time as possible. My solution to that is to have a wide and even main light that allows me to forget about the flash and focus on the human element."

This is where her gear came in to play: two D1 monolights and a Deep White XL Umbrella with a diffuser from Profoto. The umbrella ensured a soft, even light that spread widely and covered all angles, so she didn't have to worry about someone shifting their positioning, tilting their head, or messing up the shot — luckily these were actors in character, so they knew exactly what to do.

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