January 29, 2018

BTS: Making Light Out of Nothing at All

Client: UPMC Susquehanna
Agency: The David Henry Agency
Art Director: David Fink
Hair & Makeup: Sara Hayton



The call came in September of last year that we’d be heading out to Williamsport, Pennsylvania to make a series of portraits of real patients and their families.  This was my second time working with UPMC Susquehanna and the 344th(ish) time that I would be working alongside David Fink.  He conveyed to me that the goal would be to capture a wide variety of images to be used on the web as well as in various print pieces and on billboards.  The shoot would take place in mid October over the course of three days on location in the patient’s homes as well as at the UPMC campus.

Our first setup was at the home of our subject, Kristen. These images of Kristen needed to be “bright” and convey a positive outlook on the future.  We’d be going for that “late afternoon sun on a crisp fall day” type of shot.  As luck would have it, it rained in the days leading up to the shoot but tapered off the morning of.  That’s not to say we were given that beautiful fall day though.  The sky was gray and flat, the ground was wet, and it continued to drizzle on and off with temperatures peaking in the low 50’s.

Setting The Scene:

The shot of Kristen relaxing on her back porch (above in header) was lit with two Profoto B1’s and the Profoto Deep White Umbrella – Extra Large (65″).  The main light was set camera right about 7 feet off the ground with the umbrella. This light filled in the scene with a big soft glow and the white house and overhang kicked enough light back onto the opposite side of her face.

Behind Kristen and to the left, set just out of frame was a second B1 with no modifier sitting about 12 feet above the ground.  This light is responsible for that “late afternoon sun” falling across her back as well as on some plants in the background.

Here’s the setup with the umbrella removed

Bare Bulb B1 up in the trees

Pull back of the shoot

With the main shot solidified I was asked to make a few additional outdoor portraits of Kristen.  The exact use had not yet been decided but the idea was to somehow layer text over background.  When creating image libraries for campaigns as this one, it is not uncommon to be asked to shoot really wide and leave lots of room around the subject.  It’s a different way of thinking and framing in camera but leaves many options for the graphic designer.  Without moving any gear, I was able to rotate around to my left,  stand Kristen up and grab a second shot with an entirely different background.


Pull back of the shot

Final artwork from the second shot.

You can see some more images and read all about Kristen’s battle with cervical cancer here.

Tech Notes:






  • Uncle Eddie January 30, 2018

    Way to go David@!!!

  • Yasmeen Anderson January 30, 2018

    Great info. Thanks for sharing this BTS setup. Very helpful.

  • Neil van Niekerk February 3, 2018

    It’s always good to see the behind the scenes footage, as well as the thought-process. Thank you.

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