The below article is from photographer Matthew Coughlin, an editorial and advertising photographer based in Pensacola, Florida who travels to specialize in studio and environmental portraiture. Follow Matthew online at www.matthewcoughlin.com and on Instagram at @matthewcoughlin.
We thank Matthew for pulling back the curtain on his latest shoot and contributing to the Insight + Inspiration Series: Commercial Photography guide!
Deandre Ayton is an extremely athletic and agile 7-foot basketball player, which is rare. Most players that tall can’t move like he can. SLAM Magazine approached me with the concept of their “Future Issue” which was a very simple, clean black seamless background. They had a t-shirt that read “The Future” to convey what Deandre will be in the NBA.
SLAM wanted his charisma and a huge personality to be what shows in the photo while showing off the t-shirt. Deandre had so much energy and took direction extremely well, so after we nailed our shots we had hoped to get, we had some fun and had him tear through the paper for some more images.
All of the lighting gear I used was from Paul C. Buff. Our cover shot setup was 6 lights which were the Einstein 640s each equipped with a CyberSync Transceiver. We ran the lights off of AC power to get a faster recycle time. I always start with my fill light for my ambient exposure on the shadows, for this, I used the Buff 60” Octa. I also used 2 lights for my key source because Deandre was so tall.
My top key light was the Buff 48” Octa and stacked below that was the 64” Soft Silver PLM. My 2 edge lights on the left and right behind Deandre were 60” Strip Boxes. And last but not least, I used a small 36” behind and above the seamless background for a hair light. One of the new tools I have started using is the Paul C. Buff CyberSense slider remote. I use 2 of them on my shoots so I can control up to 8 lights independently. And on camera sits the Paul C. Buff CyberSync Trigger Transmitter 2. For this shoot, I used the Canon 5DS with the 24-70 f/2.8 L glass.
I ALWAYS shoot tethered when I can. Using Tether Tools hardware along with Capture One software is my go to. Tethering allows me visually see my images captured straight to my MacBook Pro on a 15” screen for review as opposed to trying to look at the little LCD on the back of a camera. Tethering also gives me the peace of mind knowing that what I’m shooting is backing up to a secondary hard drive. The editor of the magazine was on site for the shoot, so it allowed him to get a live feed of what I was capturing and allowed him to have input, that way we could easily collaborate on our ideas. Tethering to software like Capture One gives you so much more control over your images and allows you to have a preset applied to the RAW files as they come into the system.
I used the Tether Table Aero for my laptop and portable hard drive to sit on which gives me the peace of mind that my equipment is safe. Having fast TetherPro USB cables from Tether Tools that have great length allows me to move around freely and not be confined right next to my capture station. Probably the smallest and most overlooked piece of equipment is the little JerkStopper Camera Support that keeps my tether cable from pulling out of the USB port on my camera. That piece of gear is a lifesaver. I can’t tell you how many times I’d accidentally disconnect my camera before I had this. That just slows down a shoot and can really affect your rapport with your subject while shooting because you have to stop shooting to reconnect your cable back to your system.
I’m based in Pensacola, FL but the shoot was in Phoenix, AZ. When the assignment came in, I weighed my options of renting gear or bringing gear. Using my airline rewards program, I determined I was able to check a couple bags for free, so I decided to bring my own lighting gear. I brought along two of my light kits. Each light kit is a Pelican 1560 Case consisting of 4 Paul C Buff Einstein 640ws Strobes, their respective power plugs, 2 Vagabond Batteries with mounting Brackets, 4 Cyber Sync Transceivers, 1 CyberSync Trigger Transmitter, 1 CyberSense Slider Remote, 5 PocketWizard Plus III Transceivers, and an assortment of gels. These lighting cases were checked on the plane. My camera bag which is a LowePro Pro Runner RL x450 AW II was my carry on. In it, I brought a Canon 5DS Body, Canon 5D MKIII body, Canon 24-70 f/2.8 L lens, Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L lens, Canon 16-35 f/2.8 L lens, and Canon 50 f/1.2 L lens.
For tethering and other gear, I used a 15” MacBook Pro, 10.5” iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, an assortment of USB and Thunderbolt cables, Tether Tools 15′ TetherPro USB 3.0 to Micro-B cable, and Tether Tools 15’ TetherPro USB 2.0 to Mini-B 5-Pin. I also checked my lighting modifiers in a Samsonite Sportlab Hardside Golf Travel Case. My lighting modifiers were all Paul C Buff brand. 60” Octa, 48” Octa, two 60” Strips, 36” Strip, 65” PLM.
I rented my grip gear from REEL Men in Phoenix which consisted of 8 C-Stands with Arms, Riser Beefy Baby Stand, Medium Roller and twelve 20lb sand bags. I rented a Chevy Tahoe so I was able to load all the rental grip gear along with my cases easily into the vehicle. We shot at the Ability360 gym in Phoenix. We were very fortunate to be able to park right behind the gym where we could load in and load out without having to go through the main entrance. A big thank you to Jakob Owens of Buffnerds for shooting a great behind the scenes video for SLAM Magazine.