How I Got the Shot: Tommy Reynolds

Posted by: on Apr 30, 2020

Tommy Reynolds is a UK-based travel and portrait photographer. Follow his Instagram at @tommyreynolds89 or visit his website.

What was the concept of the shoot? What setup and lighting did you use to get the shot?

Can someone take my portrait from across the Internet while adhering to social distancing? A question Steven Butler-Mattin (featured in this project) and I wondered, especially during this lockdown here in the UK where I’m based. I’m always looking for my next personal project, and this seemed like the perfect challenge given the situation.

That’s where the program Zoom comes in. Zoom is being used all over the world at the moment to help families and friends stay in touch with their loved ones by making online video calls (myself included). Not only can Zoom let you make video calls, but it also allows you to share your screen AND give your caller permission to use your own cursor. The next hurdle was connecting the camera to my computer so the caller can see precisely what the camera is seeing. This was actually the easiest part as most, if not all, camera manufacturers have their own software to allow you to remote access the controls of the camera including shutter speed, ISO, aperture, white balance etc. and of course, capturing the image itself.

Photo Credit: Tommy Reynolds

For this project, we used a Panasonic GH5 and their own LUMIX Tether software to control the camera. The tether cable used was a TetherPro USB 3.0 to USB-C.

I’m a Canon DSLR shooter by trade, but the reason we used a mirrorless camera instead of a DSLR is because we wanted to use strobes. Mirrorless cameras have a feature called ‘live view boost’ which allows the photographer to set their settings (in this case for strobes), underexpose the ambient and not have a black screen in their live view. Whereas DSLRs are not equipped with this feature and had we exposed for strobes, we would just have had a black screen. This would have meant the photographer wouldn’t have been able to frame their shot at all. If this where a natural light shoot then yes, it would have been perfect. But as a studio photographer, I wanted to give the chosen photographers the ability to have access to all of my strobes. My wonderful sister Cassie was on hand to film BTS content but also on hand for the photographers if they needed any modifiers moved or swapped out, so I didn’t have to get up every 5 seconds.

Lastly, make sure you have a good internet connection for this to work as smooth as possible. For this, I plugged an internet cable straight into my laptop in case the WIFI dropped out.

Instead of just approaching 1 photographer, I contacted 5 different portrait photographers to take part in this personal project whom all have their own, unique style. I gave each photographer a list of all my modifiers and strobes I own and asked each of them to come up with 1 or 2 different lighting setups. The beauty of flash, and the reason why I love using flash, is it allows you to totally change the look and feel of the environment you’re in, no matter how small the room is. In this case, we were working with my little home studio, which is approximately 3.5m x 2m.

Photo Credit: Aaron Anderson

How did shooting tethered help you achieve the shot you wanted?

Due to this particular setup, a tether cable was imperative to making this whole project work. Without the cable, the photographers wouldn’t be able to have a feed to what the camera was seeing so they wouldn’t have been able to frame their shot at all. Once the shot is taken, the image pops up on screen which is still being ‘screen shared’ to the photographers, so there were able to see how the shots came out and make adjustments until they were happy. Once the shoot was over, I sent over their RAW images, so they still had the control of editing their images in their own, unique style. I shoot tethered all the time in my work, so I knew I could rely on TetherTools’ superb build quality. I still own a USB 2 cable f which I still use for my Canon DSLR, which shows no sign of fraying or failing!

What was the logistics and/or gear needed to achieve this shot?

TetherPro USB 3.0 to USB-C

Panasonic LUMIX GH5

12-35mm f/2.8 lens

35-100mm f/2.8 lens

LUMIX Tether or your own cameras manufacture control utility software 

‘Zoom app’ for screen sharing and handing permission to the video caller to use your own cursor

Who was involved, and how did they play a part in the shoot?

My sister Cassie was assisting when a photographer needed for example strobes tweaking, modifiers moving etc. and was also filming an angle for the BTS video on my compact camera.

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