In this special Photographer Spotlight we sat down with New York based photographer Michel Leroy to discuss photography, how he captured dancers in Grand Central and Central Park, and what is on his shopping list this holiday season.
Bio: Michel Leroy is a New York based entertainment and advertising photographer with a produced style that captures an authentic connection to real personalities. From celebrity chefs to weekend bikers, the images reveal a level of comfort and vitality shared amongst friends. Repeatedly, corporate clients including The Food Network, Adidas, Nike, Intel, Lenovo, GE, Pfizer, Bayer and L’Oreal have trusted Michel to connect their brands to customers through images with insight and humanity. His editorial work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The New York Times, People Magazine and The Times (UK).I would describe my style of photography as…
I’m a New York based entertainment and advertising photographer with a natural looking portrait style that captures an authentic connection to real personalities.
My dream gig would be…
This is a tough question because I have enjoyed the opportunity to travel the world for magazines and bands with the common goal of photographing the people that define our time. That’s pretty dreamy. As for a single dream gig, it would be to shoot portraits of people of every age from a newborn to a centenarian in a single year: 100 Portraits
My favorite piece of gear is…
I have two, my new favorite is the Fujifilm X-T2 I got in September. It’s both retro and modern with a combination of manual exposure knobs and features like built-in WiFi. My other favorite is the Manfrotto 190. I’ve carried that tripod from mountain tops to beaches and every place in between. One word – reliable.
My favorite piece of Tether Tools gear is…
That is easy, the high-visibility orange TetherPro USB cables. Someone asked me the other day how often I tether… I had to stop and think of a time when I wasn’t tethering… 2006 maybe. I shoot tethered 95% of the time and I rely on Tether Tools every day.
What’s on your photography gear shopping list?
I got to test some production models of the new Bowens XMT 500 Pro Traveler Monolights and I can’t wait to get a set of these for my location kit. Christmas is coming!
The best advice I can offer a fellow photographer would be…
Grit matters. You have to be really good at what you do, to me that is a given if you expect to compete in a profession filled with talented people. Failure is part of success so you have to stick with it if you want to get better and stand out. Malcom Gladwell had a great piece in The New Yorker years ago called Late Bloomers that I will go back and read whenever I need a little advice myself. You can find it online, it’s a great read.
Grand Central Terminal and Central Park Shoot
Can you describe the concept behind this shot?
The concept was to put the new PhaseOne XF camera system firmware update to the test in the real world with features like in-camera control of Profoto B1/B2 monolights, TTL, Rear Curtain Sync and High Speed Sync. Fundamentally all of these new features are about speed, reliability and ease of use so I picked a subject that challenged all of those assumptions: dancers, in motion on location.
What was your biggest challenge shooting on location?
In New York City the biggest challenge is other people, especially when you are shooting in a place as public as Grand Central or Central Park. The crew and talent are professionals and we all know our way around a set but when the public is part of the equation everybody has to be alert. To us it’s work, to other people it’s a novelty or a nuisance and probably both.
What lighting did you use to achieve this shot?
Light is everything to me. It’s not the goal but the foundation upon which my best portraits come to life. In this case the entire shoot was done with battery powered Profoto B1 monolights to freeze the action of the dancers and wardrobe in action.
What type of compositing/post-processing was involved, what tools do you use?
My background is photojournalism so I try my very best to get the shot in-camera. If you have ever done your own retouching then you know it’s usually easier to address it on location rather than try to “fix it in post”. I shoot RAW so my digital workflow always includes CaptureOne and Photoshop. I’m also a huge fan of the Nik Collection plugins for Photoshop and now they are free.
Central Park Shoot