I thought I’d share with you the photography set up and BTS stills and video for my shoot with Lewis Black.

(And In case you missed it, the full photo feature and story of Lewis Black for his play “One Slight Hitch” at ACT Theatre can be found on PhotoSister.com HERE.)

The requests from ACT Theatre, The Seattle Times, King 5’s Evening Magazine, and New Day Northwest were for images of Lewis solo, on the streets of Seattle featuring the city, with the theatre’s sign visible and also a clean set with actors Marianne Owen and Kimberley Sustad.  Documenting the rehearsal for 15-30 minutes was also on the list of needs.

That’s a big list and I was given an hour to set up, an hour for the white backdrop set with Lewis and two actors, 30 minutes for the street shots, 15 minute break, then another 30 minutes in the rehearsal room.

To communicate with the PR manager, marketing team, photography team and to maximize set up time, we worked off diagrams for the interior backdrop set (see below example).  I also did a full location scout for exterior shots a few days before, working with angles to ensure proper portrait cropping with theatre signage in the background.

(Just one of the image diagrams I used created at Strobox.com. Graphics by lighting master Don Gianatti.)


After the set up, I did test shots with my “Dream Team” John CornicelloKate Hailey, and Jenn Repp, with different lenses and exposures to dial in:

   Lewis Black photo shoot with John Cornicello, Kate Hailey and Jenn Repp by (c) LaRae Lobdell

As soon as the test shots were taken, the actors walked in and a few more test shots were taken to expose for the white dress Kimberley Sustad was wearing for the shoot.

A few minutes later Lewis Black entered the room.  After asking how his radio interview on The Bob Rivers Show went and ensured he was properly caffeinated and ready, I asked him to stand behind the two actors.

And I’m just going to add what I was going through in my mind at that moment:

I was totally freaked out.

I mean, over the last 14 years I’ve shot hundreds of weddings under high pressure and countless individual portraits and family shoots, but this one had a different kind of pressure.  It was a controlled environment with over a dozen people that I was in charge of  mentally, emotionally and physically directing with a delicate dance of technical and creative communications, while adding in interpersonal relationship skills to ensure everyone was at ease, and enjoying the process.  All the while coming up with a final product that represented the brands of a celebrity, a theatre and multiple press.

Butterflies doesn’t even begin to explain it.

But, having been a part of large production sets for creativeLIVE has taught me a lot.  I trusted and relied on the talents of my team and myself. Once I hit that first shutter, my eyes opened, my heart relaxed, and my creative and communication instincts turned on.  I directed and clicked away.

Image by Kate Hailey


Images by Mark Siano 


And I began to have FUN.

Image by Kate Hailey
Classic shooting with my DSLR Nikon D700 alongside iPhonography master John Cornicello


To end the interior set, Kate Hailey was kind enough to take a great portrait of me and Lewis together.  Thank you Kate!

Lewis Black and LaRae Lobdell photo by (c) Kate Hailey

Image by Kate Hailey


After almost an hour, we wrapped the interior shoot and broke down the set.  I gave Lewis a 15 minute break and re-geared up for the exterior shots.

You can see here how I work with my Nikon SB-800 flash with the Westcott Micro Apollo off camera.  Really simple and effective set up for exterior shooting that can be done with an assistant or alone.


My interior shots of Lewis in the rehearsal were taken with all natural and ambient light.  I kept to the sidelines, quiet and respectable as the playwright, director, and actors  worked on communicating their scenes.



Images featured in The Seattle Times:


Images featured on King 5’s Evening Magazine with Kim Holcomb:


Images featured on New Day Northwest with Margaret Larson.:


Go see Lewis Black’s “One Slight Hitch” at ACT – A Contemporary Theatre

Catch “One Slight Hitch” at ACT Theatre in Seattle, June 8th – July 8th, 2012.

Life in suburban Cincinnati circa 1981 is good for Doc and Delia Coleman on the morning they plan to throw their eldest daughter the lavish wedding they never had, until her ex shows up and begins to wreak glorious havoc on all of their plans. A zany, door-slamming farce from seriously funny man Black, One Slight Hitch delivers a riotous and strangely romantic ride through the deconstruction of one family’s equilibrium.

Note: Lewis Black is the playwright. He wrote the funny play. The playwright does not appear in the show.



Photography details


Nikon D700

Lens White Backdrop:
Lens: Nikon 85mm 1.8
Aperture: f/10 – Shutter: 1/250 – ISO: 200
Lens: Nikon 50mm 1.4
Aperture: f/10 – Shutter: 1/250 – ISO: 200

Lens Outside:
Lens: Nikon 85mm 1.8
Aperture: f/8 – Shutter: 1/250 – ISO: 400
Lens: Nikon 60mm 2.8
Aperture: f/8 – Shutter: 1/250 – ISO: 400

Lighting White Backdrop:
Speedotron Pack 805 and 2x Heads 202VF with 2x 20 grids
Westcott 43″ Octtagonal Aplollo Orb
Medium size Photek 46” softlighter
Pocket Wizard MultiMAX

Lewis solo: 3rd head speedotron force moonlight 11” reflector 35 degree grid
Nikon SB-800 straight onto the backdrop

Lighting Outside:
ONE Nikon SB-800 flash with the Westcott Micro Apollo off camera.


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