Client Spotlight Vincent Dixon
Making Every Minute Count
reposted from PhaseOne.com
Learn the story of how photographer Vincent Dixon teamed up with the Mimi Foundation to capture the joyous first reactions of cancer patients having gone through special makeovers.
Commercial photographer Vincent Dixon’s career has been shaped by his curiosity, passionate humanistic concerns and love for travel and storytelling. He describes his work as based in ‘street photography,’ with a desire to achieve spontaneity even in the most deliberately staged projects. His portfolio ranges from exciting commercial shoots to rich personal travelogues featuring work reminiscent of Edward S. Curtis’s iconic Native American portraits.
With his background, Vincent was the perfect photographer for the “If Only For a Second” Project sponsored by the Mimi Foundation, which Vincent says was, “the most amazing experience of joy and emotion.”
The Mimi Foundation is an organization helping people who are dealing with cancer by, amongst others things, providing wigs and makeup. In June of 2013 , the organization, in collaboration with Leo Burnett France, invited 20 cancer patients to participate in the adventure of a makeover. The results are captured in this film.
Vincent explained how he got involved and how the project unfolded.
“Xavier Beauregard, the ECD at Leo Burnett Paris shared his upcoming project for Mimi with me, and I was immediately on board. It was simply amazing. Transforming. The heart of the project was to capture the moment the subjects saw their makeover for the first time. While they were in the studio being made up we covered the mirrors so that the subjects didn’t see themselves. Then, we shot through a 2-way mirror so that we could record the exact moment when they first saw themselves. That moment of sheer happiness when they were able to forget their troubles and be surprised, amazed, laugh and have fun.
“To shoot through a two-way mirror, we had to build a cabin to hide the camera setup from the light, but let us see through the mirror. At first, we thought we’d have a curtain fall back from the mirror in front of them, but after awhile, we realized it worked better to have them close their eyes so we could focus on the moment when they opened them.”
“The contrast was incredible — we were capturing someone bursting into joy.”
“Over four days, we did 20 portraits — so we shot five people per day. It would take approximately two hours for hair and makeup; the photos took about five minutes. I was shooting with a Hasselblad body, the Phase One IQ180 digital back and a 120mm lens. I prefer to shoot with medium format system, and I rely upon Capture One Pro software.
Why Capture One Pro?
“I had started using Capture One Pro in about 2010, because it’s simply the best software available for shooting tethered. I use Lightroom as an editor and database. But Capture One Pro is indispensible if you’re shooting with pro cameras and also Nikons or Canons and want to shoot tethered. Also with a tech camera like the Alpa, the LLC is second to none. With each version of Capture One Pro there is incredible new functionality. It’s such a deep piece of software. Really fantastic.”
“Before 2010, I was shooting with the Hasselblad software, but it was just not stable. So I switched to Capture One and also to the Phase One P65+ — in fact, I owned two of those & they were great. Now the IQ series is even better. I tend to shoot fast and hard, so I need equipment that can keep up with that pace of shooting. I find that the IQ180 back is really well designed. What’s most important to me is the stability of the entire system. I essentially moved to the Phase One backs so that I could use Capture One because it is really solid software.
“What’s also great about Capture One Pro is that I can use it with Nikons and Canons as well as with the Phase One backs. Within the professional market, every digital tech knows Capture One Pro. Its usability and productivity are essential to my work. And the bottom line: the image quality is there.
“While you’re shooting, you’re trying to capture the raw image, well exposed, in focus, backing up where expected. Afterwards it’s great how you can correct for lens, distortion, etc., but on the shoot itself, it’s helpful to be able to check the focus and do in two rather than 10 seconds. On commercial shoots, there is simply no time to waste….
“For example, I recently worked on an assignment for Adidas in Argentina shooting Leo Messi & other Argentinian players, we had 30 minutes to do large five setups. In some ways, the quality of most cameras these days is a given, so more and more it comes down to software stability.”
“I use the Sessions option in Capture One Pro because I’ll send a full set of the shoot to the retouchers, and sometimes the client also wants a full set of the raw; it’s easier and important to have two or three backups simultaneously.
“One of the features I really appreciate is the Overlays. It’s extremely useful because it helps you compose the photo according to the layout — for example, we can set the lighting so the shadows appear where the text is going to be. It doesn’t affect the pixels of the final image, but allows better composition for the image with text in it; you have a more natural composition. When you’re shooting for both print and digital, you’ve got to cover every format. We have a folder of overlays for all these contingencies — Internet banners and tall ones for sidebars in a newspaper. Again, checking with overlays just contributes to the overall productivity.
“I also use an Alpa plate camera with lens movements, when I’m using a wide angle lens the LLC feature in Capture One Pro is a great as it allows me create a profile for the color shifts caused by the lens movement. That correction is important because when the light hits the digital sensor at an angle it causes strange color shifts which you cannot correct with a simple gray card. Also the profiles for most cameras are in there. It’s really useful in extracting extra details.
“At the end of the shoot, there are different options for processing. And here’s a feature I really appreciate : say we have to leave quickly after the shoot. I can close Capture One Pro and then restart the processing later — it takes off from where it was paused. I don’t know of any other software that does this. It’s critical for me because I can have more than 800 files in lots of different folders after any given shoot.
“Some people say you can get all you need with 24 or 36 megapixels. In my case that’s not true. I tend to shoot big scenes with lots of detail, quiet often with wide angle lens, I need the distortion at the edge of the frame without moving the camera and zooming in to keep everything in correct perspective. Also many times there are very different formats that have to be cropped from the same image. Much of my work goes through a lot of post production and I find that the medium format files hold up way better than the smaller ones. There is a difference, they look more natural. On a simple photo you won’t notice the difference perhaps. But the final prints of Mimi, for example, were so very large. When you came up close you could see the quality. You have more of an analogue effect.
“When you read reviews of medium format cameras, you can see that the reviewers don’t use the cameras the way commercial photographers use them. On commercial shoots we have to take lots of pictures under high pressure. I’d like to see a review that’s done with that in mind. Really the software is as important as anything else in the system. It has to work. Reviews don’t get that. They’re testing under ideal conditions. In contrast, we shoot fast; we’re really checking for focus, exposure, and then move to do a lot in a short amount of time. Pixel peeping is so much less important than the integration of back and software.
“Really the software is as important as anything else in the system. It has to work.”
“Buying a medium format camera is a big investment. I’ve had the opportunity to shoot with most of all the other systems out there, and I have to say that the difference between full frame and medium format is very real.