Do you have any ongoing relationships with people whom you’ve known since kindergarten? It’s pretty awesome to see someone go from being a munchkin eating crayons to being a CEO at Crayola.
David “Dee-1” Augustine is one of those people I’ve known since we were 5 years old. We went to Elementary, High School and College together, and now he’s becoming a famous rapper. He is one of the musicians who is building his career from the ground up, unlike, say Soulja Boy, who had one stupid hit and has seen his career melt away like a snowball in Louisiana. Dee-1 is incredible, his wordplay is unlike anything I’ve ever seen come out of New Orleans, and I believe he’s destined for stardom.
I was surprised he hadn’t had any real professional photographs done, but I saw that as an opportunity to help both of us out in our careers. I asked if he’d like to do a photo shoot, and he agreed.
The concept I developed for the photos was simple: Dee-1 is from New Orleans, and he frequently mentions that in his songs, so I wanted the cityscape as a backdrop. Finding a good spot, however, turned out to be much more difficult than coming up with the idea. I biked around downtown New Orleans, going to the top floor of every buidling I could, and trying to find a secret stairway to heaven – er, the roof. Thanks to all the wonderful lawyers in our country (who are just looking out for my safety, umm, yeah…) to do a photoshoot on the roof of most buildings, you need a $2,000,000 insurance policy.
Long story short, all that biking paid off, and I found a great location (free of charge and no insurance required). I highly recommend parking garages if you’re looking for a photo shoot location.
For the shoot day, we waited for clear skies and went out around dusk. For most of the shots, I used 3 Nikon speedlights and under-exposed the ambient light by about a stop in order to make David pop a bit. I used 1 shoot-through umbrella, and the others were bare. To trigger the flashes, I use the incredible Yongnuo flash triggers ($75 for the transmitter and 3 recievers!) which have never failed me. The light setup varied throughout the shoot, with the only constant being the umbrella flash staying up and to the side of the subject. I used the bare bulbs as rims and as backlights to mix things up. I learned one valuable lesson: watch out for shadows on people’s face when they have long hair! Dee’s dreads casted a shadow on his face a few times, ruining otherwise awesome shots.
All in all, the photos came out great and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing them on the cover of XXL!