Quarantine Tabletop Portraits with Gilmar Smith
Words and Photos by Gilmar Smith
I have been in quarantine with my kids at home since March 12th. I have been balancing homeschooling, entertaining the kids, cleaning, cooking and doing laundry way more often than ever, and still working full time on my business.
Photography has always been my emotional outlet. I love escaping to my garage, setting up my gear, and taking a few self portraits. It doesn't just entertain me, but it is also a great way to practice and experiment with my craft.
I am going to walk you through my process shooting these few self-portraits, but please don't get caught up in the gear. You don't need all of this to take amazing self-portraits. You just need your dining table, your camera, artificial or natural light (whatever it is available to you), and a remote trigger. Or if you can trigger your camera using your phone, even better.
The first rule about taking self-portraits is having fun. At first, it feels a little uncomfortable to be on this side of the camera, but don't let that feeling get in the way. One of the best techniques I practice is making up a character in my head. If I am playing somebody else, posing comes a lot easier, and somehow I don't feel self-conscious. Another great tip is using props. Props set the mood and add the element of storytelling.
In this self-portrait session, I used three different props; Toilet paper (of course), an oversized dice, and an oversize Casino chip.
For this set, I used three lights. An Elinchrom ELC-125 right behind me to light up the background, an Elinchrom ELC-500 overhead as hair light, and Elinchrom ELC-500 on camera left with a deep Octa modifier as the key light.
I sat my Platypod max with the Platyball and camera at the edge of the table, and shot the pictures using the self-timer on the camera app on my phone.
One of the things I love the most about taking these tabletop images with a Platypod is that the camera is so closeby it makes me feel I have a connection with it. Feeling that connection makes posing a little bit easier.
After taking a bunch of images, these are the three (see below) I picked to edit. You can check out the behind-the-scenes shots as well. Enjoy!