How to Make a Mobile Portrait Studio for Events: Burning Man

As a photographer, you never know when the perfect opportunity to take photograph is going to come around. You have to always be prepared for the unexpected. For a portrait photographer who is used to working with a full studio light setup, that can be very tricky. To make matters worse, when photographer Eric Schwabel wanted to photograph The Burning Man festival in 2010, he had to add sweltering temperatures and frequent dust storms to the equation. Schwabel’s remedy to the discouraging elements was to construct a suit to hold his two Profoto Pro-b2 kits and Pro-7 heads, in which Schwabel wore on his body while roaming the playa. You can see the rig and some of his stunning results here:

To weather proof his Mamiya 645 and DM28 digital back, Schwabel  took the advice of Mike Hedge who has dared bring a RED camera into the desert on more than one occasion. The secret to keeping out all the dust? Duct tape, lots of it. Every crack and crevice of the 645 was safely sealed up with tape. Once Schwabel was assured he could keep his equipment safe, it was time to suit up.

“The suit was two medium sized softboxes attached to a military frame pack using general photographic grip equipment (extension arms, knuckles, superclamps, etc). The lighting was two 1200 w/s battery powered strobe heads. There were two configurations: with the boxes straight in front of me, and the extra weight supported with a bicycle trailer that I was pushing, and the 2nd was straight up above my shoulders, which allowed me to get a lower angle. In this case, my assistant towed the bicycle trailer and batteries and I walked alongside.”

the mobile portrait studio

He was able to capture some truly stunning portraits from inside Burning Man:burning man portraitmobile portrait studio photostudio portrait outside

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