My schedule had me back at the San Francisco Improv Festival (www.sfimprovfestival.com) shooting performer portraits on Saturday. The headliners for the night were the husband and wife duo of Stephanie Weir (MADtv, Modern Family, Weeds) and Robert Dassie (Community, HBO’s Funny or Die), collectively known as WeirDass.
I had some back-and-forth communication with them about doing their portrait that evening. As it turned out, they weren’t available during the early evening hour that I planned to shoot with my Improvisors portrait set-up (a complex and very technical lighting design, featured in my last blog post). However, they would be available for a few minutes upon arrival, just before they went backstage to warm up for their 10pm show. This timing wouldn’t allow me to do my original planned lighting set-up. To add to the challenge, I wouldn’t have my assistant with me during that time frame.
Being an improvisor myself, I improvised. I went to my studio and concocted a simple lighting set-up that could be packed up into one small case, as an alternative to my more complex lighting (which packs into five cases!). After a quick studio test using myself as a subject, everything got broken down. Into the case it went, then into the car and over the Bay Bridge to the Eureka Theater.
My plan was to shoot in an emergency exit corridor just outside the Eureka. Upon arrival the mid-show crowds immediately signaled to me that the corridor would not work. So I improvised again and took my battery-powered lighting kit outside the theater and began searching for interesting alternative backgrounds. I found a cool tiled wall just in time to circle back and find Stephanie and Robert arriving at the theater. They were nice enough to agree to my outdoor shoot concept, so I set up in 4 minutes flat, made some portraits for about another 4-5 minutes in the brisk evening air, and then sent them on their way with my thanks.
Here are the results of that quick portrait session:
After the shoot, I packed up my gear and slipped into the theater in time to see an opening act and then watch WeirDass take the stage. They were phenomenal! Great people, great portrait subjects, and great performers. If you ever get a chance, go see them live!