This December and January have been the busiest for running portrait shoots for GoldenPlec and The Thin Air so far. I added Laoise to my list of shoots to do for The Thin Air's 18 for '18 features. We were to meet up on a Saturday evening in Dublin city centre, and try get a neon look for the shoot, inspired by her recent video for her recent single, Rich. I got to thinking about where had good neon lights or that colourful vibe at least. I took a stroll around the city trying to get ideas, with the focus being on a particular restaurant that has a very cool neon interior based on all the pictures I’d seen online, but I’d yet to visit it. They called me back late in the day, it turned out they wanted a hefty fee for us to do the shoot, so that was out of the question.
This setback left me wrecking my head in the last hour before we were to meet. We'd reluctantly agreed to meet at Grand Canal Dock to see about using the giant, red light poles that decorate the front area of Bord Gais Theatre. It was a chilly night, and I don’t like to use obvious locations if I can avoid it so it wasn’t ideal. Twenty minutes before I left my apartment a friend messaged me with a pic of a new enough bar on the quays, Riot. They had this neon sign that said ‘fuck what people think’. Laoise loved it. I stopped in to inquire on the way to meet her, and the guys had no problem to let us use the premises for the shoot. As luck would have it, the neon sign was downstairs, which wasn’t yet open for customers at that yime of the night, which gave us more privacy to work without being distracted.
All was going well, and then my Canon 430 EX-II decided it didn't want to participate. It wouldn’t turn off or let me adjust the settings. I used my Yongnuo 565 backup flash with a blue gel and shot it through my trusted softbox. I turned the lights of the room off to get the full effect of the neon glow. At times this made it difficult to focus on Laoise as she was completely in the dark. I'd focus at times by using the flashlight on my phone. Her friend helped out by holding a reflector so the blue flash would bounce back and light up the left side of her face that was getting cast in shadow.
I loved how these shots turned out. When we finished using the neon sign we tried a handful of snaps in a dimly lit corner room with a leather couch, and a lamp. I tried using a pink gel on the flash this time to mix things up. The writing on the wall was a bit too garish and the tight space in which to shoot wasn't as ideal as it looked from first impression, so we moved on.
We took a few more shots on the stage that was opposite the neon sign, where more neon-ish lights light the roof and changed colours every few seconds. I stood Laoise under a light in the ceiling, and put the bare flash with pink gel behind her for some rim light. Her eyes were cast in shadow so I had the reflector fill in some light to her face to overcome this. Thankfully, despite initial frustrations in getting the ideal location, it turned into a really cool shoot.