Posted on October 25, 2011 1:59 am Categorised in:

About a month ago I had the pleasure of working with a fun group of artists from the Movement of Kingz Entertainment group. Movement of Kingz is a fairly new outfit of R&B and hip-hop artists based out of Houston. Their main goal was to create a set of interesting portraits of 4 of their members for promotional use on their upcoming website as well as other promotional pieces.

Since I have been shooting a lot of portraits of hip-hop and rap artists lately, I decided to turn to my favorite source of inspiration for this type of work, RESPECT magazine. I was fortunate to pick up the premiere issue of RESPECT, the quarterly “photo journal of hip-hop culture”, about 2 years ago and have been glued to its pages ever since. The premiere issue itself, which features the works of photographers like Ben Watts, Barron Claiborne, and Clay Patrick McBride, is something that is constantly pulled out prior to shoots like these. You don’t even have to listen, like, or shoot music or musicians to appreciate the work within its pages. Check it out here:

iPhone4s image of Todd Spoth's desktop featuring 2 issues of RESPECT magazine

Snapshot of my desk featuring 2 issues of RESPECT magazine taken with the new iPhone 4s.

The shoot was booked at Houston Skyline Studio in the warehouse district of Houston. It’s a decently sized and moderately priced rental studio with a small cyc corner and a few other setups available for use. There was plenty of cold A/C, a sound system for playing music (a definite plus for working with portrait subjects) and a nice ramp that allowed us to pull the car right into the studio to unload.

The client wanted basic portraits on white of each member in a few different looks. After that, he gave me the artistic license to be creative and go from there. We started with the basic setup on white, and although the cyc corner was a bit small, we made it work and knocked out several looks for each artist.

After those were out of the way, we switched up the lighting and went for a more harsh look with one simple gridded light that created some deep shadows. With two looks accomplished, we were done with the white cyc corner and moved on to the black background. We were able to knock out several different looks on the simple black background including one where we utilized simply the modeling lights of the flash systems to be able to maintain a shallow depth of field. One of my favorite of the artists, C-Sharp, decided to smoke several times during the shoot which added another layer of interest and complexity to the images.

For the final setups we took advantage of two different textures that the studio space provided, the first being a corrugated steal wall and the second being the bare wood of the structure of the studio itself.

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to studio photography is space and the lack thereof in most cases. Having a space large enough to accompany several different backgrounds and/or sets that are all accessible without breaking down one to get to the other saves tons of time for the photographer and the client. In this case the entire team was fortunate to be working in a space that provided a multitude of different sets without having to do much work, which resulted in me being able to provide the client with the images they were expecting and then some within a limited amount of studio time.

I am very fortunate to be working with clients that hire me because they trust my creative vision and ultimately give me a lot of creative license to do what I feel represents the artists best. With that in mind, after I provided the simple looks on white that the client originally had in mind, I allowed myself to be a little more creative in the editing process of the remaining images and I am pleased with the results.

On the day of the shoot, my good (and very talented) friend, Anthony Oyedeji, of Vicious Films, was on hand producing a behind the scenes spot for the Movement of Kingz camp. The result of his efforts is below. Check it out to see me and the rest of the Movement of Kingz crew in action! Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page to check out a few edited selects from the shoot.

And now the edited selects from the shoot.