Projects: Giving #Youthworkers an Identity

I have had the privilege on two occasions to shoot for my friend, @proyouthworker and his team [1]. This project was a win-win from the start. First of all I have a lot of respect for the work they do with the youth in our area. Anyone willing to invest that much of themselves into someone else is a hero in my eyes. The second win was that I was given the freedom to take the creative direction any place I wanted. To top it off, the entire “cast” brought great ideas and energy to the project.

The biggest challenge that they have as youthworkers is explaining what is that they do. In the world of Monday-Friday, 9-5, most people don’t seem to grasp alternative models of work. For someone like a youthworker who needs to fundraise for their own support, this can be a huge obstacle. One that can make the actual youthwork look like the easy part sometimes. This is where I came in to the picture. They required a series of images that worked for them as individuals and their own identities (blogs, twitter, etc), but still retained enough cohesiveness for the team as a whole.

There are two lighting scenarios in play here.

The first is in dingy alley. We chose a time of day that would keep the alley in shade. That allowed me to use speedlights to light the subjects, and still get a good amount of light fall off so the shadows stayed murky. We were after a really gritty look here, which was further enhanced in post. I used a two light scheme with reflective umbrellas positioned at camera right and camera left.

The second scenario was a little tricky. We were shooting in a car junk yard and hadn’t anticipated actually being able to get into one of the cars in such (relatively) good condition. I ended up using a 20″ beauty dish in and around the car. I am sure glad I packed the dish when I left home that morning. Inside the car its small size was ideal to position and light the interior of the car and the subjects. For the driver’s seat shots it was positioned to camera right. It was a fairly bright day, so I used the sun as best I could for some sidelighting to add structure. Our position was fixed by the location of the car itself. The other cars around it made maneuvering a challenge. I have really grown to love the light from a beauty dish. The quality and softness of the light are fantastic to make anyone look great, and the fall-off ensures you don’t have light going everywhere.

These youthworkers have got a lot of mileage out of these shots. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with them. With some recent additions to the team the prep work for a 3rd go around are in the works. I’ll share the plan and results once we are done.

[1] If you want to read more about these youthworkers click on these links to their sites:,,

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