Editor’s Note: The MPEX Learning Studio is proud to present an evening with the artists, Spencer Lookabaugh and Angela Smith. Click here to register for the free open house, Friday, March 18th to hear the artists talk about the work and the process of getting these large format portraits produced.
Written by Spencer Lookabaugh
Through November of 2015 to March 2016 I have been creating a series of portraits of the speakers of the 2016 TEDxOhioStateUniversity conference. Portraiture is a way for me to connect with other people. Everyone that I photograph is different. Hearing a little about them and seeing the way that they interact with the camera is always intriguing. This is exactly what makes portrait series’ interesting. A collection of portraits that share a similar visual style will always interest me because of the way the individual subjects look or act in front of the camera. This is something that I’ll touch on more a little later.
I want to explain the reasoning for this project. In October, Angela Smith and myself decided to work together on a photo series. While I’ve dabbled in just about every genre of photography, portraiture has always been my passion. From the start, we knew that we would do a portrait series and print them large. As we brainstormed a lot of ideas came to mind. Individuals promoting positive change and progress for humanity were the subjects that we settled on. As we searched for ways to find potential subjects, TEDxOhioStateUniversity was mentioned to me. I was fortunate enough to get an email and we contacted them. This turned out to be the perfect avenue for our project.
For two months we worked with the TEDxOhioStateUniversity to plan our shoot schedule and plan the initial exhibition at the TEDx conference. The scheduling proved to be the most difficult part of our entire project. Each speaker was asked to meet with a coach from the TEDx organization to refine their speech/performance. Through a long process of communicating with 2-3 individuals per speaker, we were able to schedule shoots throughout January and February. At almost every session I set up our portable studio in a few minutes and created their portrait. Shooting no more than 60 frames in 10-15 minutes, these sessions were relatively simple.
Using a Westcott 7’ parabolic umbrella, an LP180R, and the Phottix Odin triggering system, my setup was reliable, effective and compact. All of this equipment (stands included) fit into my Lumopro 48” light bag that I used to transport the mobile studio around the Ohio State campus.
Through the beginning of the year, we created 15 portraits of these speakers, later adding a 16th after the conference. Once the images were edited, we took them to the printer. Using the Epson SureColor P7000 24″ Large-Format Inkjet PrinterP7000 printer at Midwest Photo Exchange, we printed the images on 24” rolls of Ilford Smooth Pearl paper. The dynamic range and tone afforded by this paper brought these gorgeous files from my Nikon D800 and MPEX Rental Department’s Mamiya Leaf Credo 60 to life. As they were slowly coming out the printer, it felt like all of the work had payed off and that it was coming together.
Once all of the prints were finished, they were mounted to foam core using spray mount. The foam core was trimmed for a clean, frameless look. The 15 prints were on display at the 2016 TEDxOhioStateUniversity conference on March 5th.
These prints will be on display for their final time on March 18th at the MPEX Learning Studio.