I was hired to shoot a group of 10 executives at a luxury kitchen appliances company in Burlingame. The intent was to stage an area in the warehouse that would subtly showcase some of their products but mostly be about the people. To make it more engaging, we wanted to show some interaction between the people. Not challenging, except for the fact that in order to get the best lighting for each person, I had to shoot each person individually without anyone else in the frame! I worked with branding expert Krista (Personify) on this project – she spearheaded the concept and layout of the shot, which we referred to day-of, getting the actual setup quite close to the mockup (thankfully!). After Christal Caladio (Artistry by Cristal) polished each individual's hair and makeup, I photographed them in one of the positions we'd outlined (or two or three). The camera was on a taped-down tripod and the lighting was dialed in, so (in theory) it would be pretty easy to pick the best shots of each person and merge them all in photoshop.
The tricky part is the depth of field wasn't great enough to get every person in focus as some were closer to the camera than others, so I had some pretty tedious masking in photoshop at the end of the day. Plus, awkward overlaps became apparent once others were brought into the scene as separate layers, giving me fewer options to use than I wanted to have.
In the end, the composite came together with just the right amount of "fake" interaction, and it really does look like it was shot in one frame. Crazy the amount of work that went into this one shot (which is intended to be used as a double-truck magazine spread ad), but it went really smoothly thanks to Krista's excellent mockup and the client's willingness to move things around as needed. Getting everything right on set is WAY better than "oh, you can just fix that in photoshop right?"