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Joey L. Creates Indoor Blizzard For Unique Portraits

One guy in our industry that continually impresses me with his execution of beautiful environmental portraits is Joey L. One concept he has been wanting to shoot for sometime is some portraits of "artic explorers" but rather than fight with the elements of the weather he pulled it all off in studio. Read on to learn how it was done and what equipment was used.

While Joey L. is known for being the kind of photographer that loves to be out in the environment shooting portraits of people in their habitats - for this series he also had with him a class of 20 student photographers as well as a film team documenting the whole event. This shoot was part of his creativeLIVE course and as such, rather than pull everyone out into blizzard conditions, Joey L. created blizzard conditions inside. The snow was created using an American Dj Snow Flurry Snow Machine which sends out soap suds that resemble snow flurries. In order to make the effect look as real as possible he had the soap suds cover a wide area both behind and in front of the subject (even up to the edge of the camera) in order to show depth in the flurries.

Fstoppers Joey L Terra Clark Blizzard

Another special effect used was a haze machine. He used this machine to create a haze that would create a more real environment and even be enhanced by the backlights creating an effect like a sun caught in the middle of blizzard conditions.

The lights Joey L. used included a 74" Elinchrom Octabank fitted to a Profoto head and pack. He then used two white beauty dishes as backlights and finally two white umbrellas turned onto the painted backdrop.

Fstoppers Joey L Lighting Setup

Joey L. shot a few different subjects in the environment. On the third subject they decided to add some "ice" to the face and some snow particles to the jacket to give it even more realism.

Fstoppers Joey L Indoor Blizzard Shot

On his blog Joey L. explained "Photographing this in front of a live audience was a daunting task. Sometimes things don’t look as good as you envision them at first. You have to tweak and tweak and teak until you finally achieve what you set out to do. I think the most interesting parts of the shoot to the students of the workshop were actually where I failed at first, and overcame the mistakes step by step. Since I had a clear vision of the final image in my head, full control over the set, and knew what each light was doing, it was very easy to progress from the messy test shots and create the image I had imagined."

Watch this one minute video from the shoot to see all the effects and lighting come together.

I really dig the results of this shoot and hats off to Joey L. for pulling it off in front of live cameras and a group of students. To read more about this shoot and see additional behind the scenes photographs definitely check out Joey L's blog post. If you would like to see the entire shoot along with lots more instruction by Joey L you can download the entire creativeLIVE course directly from their website. 

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Preston Kanak's picture

Joey really has a great style and way of dealing with models/crew.

Zach Sutton's picture

Everytime I go to Joey L's blog I say "That clever bastard..."

Tobias Solem's picture

Imagine Joey in 20 years from now. A photography TITAN.

Andrew Griswold's picture

Can't wait!

GDub's picture

OK. So... there's no there there.

Igor Butskhrikidze's picture

title pic is massive!

Mr Blah's picture

More posts like this. Less women who can't swallow.

Bob Bell's picture

These are awesome. And +1 for what Tobias says.

Sandra's picture

Love this idea how to get the snow look inside. Joey does such a great job.

Marwan's picture


Adam Sund's picture

Any takes on why he's using ND filters for this?

stanrogers's picture

It lets him use studio strobes with wide-open apertures (to minimize depth of field) while having room to effectively play with power levels to achieve the contrast he wants. You can only turn the flash power and camera ISO settings down so far before you bottom out, leaving distance as the only control you have. Unfortunately, distance changes the quality of the light (for a given modifier) as much as it changes the quantity.

Adam Sund's picture

All right. I can see how that makes sense, but I kinda thought the 80mm would be sufficient to create the low depth of field we see in the images. I've experienced poor ND filters to create an unintended but great looking haze in the images - perhaps he was doing the same thing here :)

Andrew Griswold's picture

Anyone catch what his settings were for this? With an ND filter attached and I would imagine he is shooting at around 2.8 for the depth and a decently fast shutter as he is holding the camera in hand.

Alex Masters's picture

No ND filter. And his settings are: ISO 50 1/125s f/5.6. P65+ (60.5MP) w/ 80mm Sekor D.

Alex Masters's picture

He's not. That's a Lee bellows lens hood.

Adam Sund's picture

but thats for holding filters right? Are you saying he was just using that in case he needed filters, which wasn't the case here?

Alex Masters's picture

It's possible to be used with filters, yes - but it's also possible to use filters without the bellows hood.

In this case, he's using it for/as a lens hood. Whether or not he was or is going to use filters is irrelevant - the bellows hood has it's own purpose.

Adam Cross's picture

remember there is fake snow blowing around - it's something extra to help keep the front lens element nice and dry, maybe.

Felipe_Paredes's picture

winter is coming

Michael Murphy's picture

he never ceases to amaze me. DAMN YOU JOEY L.! lol.

Andrew Griswold's picture

This kid is sick! I watched that whole series he did with CreativeLive and it was just perfect! Seriously a huge inpsiration to me and continues to amaze! His work with the Killing Lincoln was amazing if you havent seen it yet check it out here