Use the photo studio for what it is worth; it provides an open, neutral space over
which you have total control. Instead of being limited to what the celebrity's environment provides as a compositional element, you create a setting for the celebrity. This setting can be a simple background of seamless paper, or it can be a constructed environment.
A simple studio background of seamless white paper can give an open look to the composition, while a black background will enclose, isolate, and hide the celebrity. The corresponding lighting can be open and broad, enforcing the impression of honesty and good values, or it can be one- sided and narrow, showing only part of the subject and bringing into play a dark, hidden side. A background can also include its own design elements. You can use a painted or a fabric backdrop, for example. A well thought-out background, however, should enhance the portrait and not be a separate or overwhelming entity. The background can add insight into who the celebrity may be, or it can be neutral in that regard, but it should always be part of the total composition.
In New York, a more complex use of the photo studio is to incorporate sets into the photograph. This is one of the most important reasons to use a photo studio. Sets can range from simple flats to frill-scale constructions and can be used as an abstract design or to duplicate a room or even a farm. More visually elaborate sets are used in advertising, where the budget can sustain the cost of such a production. With portraits, sets are usually simple constructions-perhaps
just a wall and a platform.
The idea of a photo studio set is to add something to your concept that two-dimensional seamless or fabric backdrops lack. A set creates a three-dimensional aspect. Again, the set must be incorporated into your overall concept and not detract from it by becoming overwhelming. It is key to remember that the celebrity is still the most important product and the set is subordinate. We should never become enthralled with our handy work as carpenters. The set is just another tool of the photo studio, as are the lights, camera, and film; all perform a
function, a means to an end. The end result is the portrait of a person, and not a reflection of your wonderful photo set.