Bohm & Marrazzo Bring Digital To Kids And Pets; Shooting Indoors And Out Requires A Flexible Approach
Twenty years in business together, the team of Bohm-Marrazzo (Montclair, New
comes well equipped to tackle the challenge of photographing kids and animals
for their advertising clients. Experience has taught them to incorporate these
highly animated subjects into the picture to make an even more impactful statement
about a product, service, or institution and appeal to the consumer on a more
personal level. They've developed this into a niche market, even though
they continue to photograph people and products without these lively "accessories."
Being a well-equipped studio means many things when it comes to photographing children, pets, and quasi-wild animals. Aside from having honed an understanding of what makes kids and animals tick, they've fine-tuned the techniques that go into successfully capturing telling moments with their subjects--something their advertising clients appreciate with repeated business. And part of that success revolves around choosing the best gear for the job.
Tools Suited To The Task
When Linda Bohm and Gerard Marrazzo shot film, they worked with a Hasselblad 553ELX and Canon EOS-1N, as well as a Sinar 4x5 and 8x10. The view cameras come to the fore when the subject is strictly still life and small product. After moving into digital, a Kodak Pro back replaced the film backs, and was itself replaced by a Leaf Valeo 22, for their existing Hasselblad and Sinar cameras. To support these various cameras in the studio they employ both Gitzo and Foba tripods, as well as Foba camera stands. The heads used are Manfrotto 3D and Foba ball heads.
A Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II replaced the 1N, and will soon be supplanted by the Mark III. The Canon comes to the fore when shooting kids and animals in the studio, but especially outdoors and on location. For the Canon, the 24-105mm IS replaces a 24-70mm (both L-series), but the 70-200mm f/2.8L continues to dominate. "We'll use the Canon because kids and animals are always moving, and it's just easier with this camera's more responsive autofocusing system," Marrazzo points out. Having said that, there are no hard and fast rules as to which camera, Hasselblad or Canon, dominates in every situation. Many factors come into play. As Bohm remarks, "If the image is not going that large, we can deal with the 16-megapixel capture of the Canon."
Color Management Is Of Vital Importance
We can't overlook the workstations in this Macintosh-based studio. They have three Quad-Core G5s; seven computers in total. The monitor used for critical color work is a high-end EIZO, which they calibrate using GretagMacbeth's Eye-One Pro. They print on an Epson 4800 with an ImagePrint RIP. And they have an extensive back-up system involving various RAID drives, storing onto Kodak archival DVDs and other external hard drives.
Marrazzo adds: "I feel that the closer we can get during capture, the less work we have to do in the end, and that also leads to better results overall." With the Leaf back, they use the Leaf software's color-balancing tool and shoot a gray card once they have the final lighting setup. For the Canon they'll take a color temperature reading with a Broncolor color meter and input that Kelvin temperature into the camera. Given the variety of reflectors and related light modifiers that affect color temperature, the color meter is in constant use, along with a Macbeth ColorChecker.
And one thing is practically a given, tethering the camera to a computer, whether on location or in the studio. They feel it produces a more inviting environment and facilitates on-site review of the images with the client. They will also use a webcam for clients who can't make it to a shoot. Clients log in to a secure URL to watch and art direct as if they were on set.
What Light Through Yonder Window...?
When it comes to lighting, Broncolor often takes center stage in their 3200-square-foot studio (a mix of 3200 and 1600 ws packs) and on location, but a legacy light from the past, a Lucifero Window Light, continues to hold its own. "We use this Italian-made light a lot for portraiture," notes Marrazzo. "It's a large softbox, with a metallic reflecting surface, and it produces an unusually nice light." They keep the last remaining replacement flash tube safely tucked away. When that goes, so does the Lucifero. We should add that lights are triggered remotely using a PocketWizard.