I'm putting some of the finishing touches on The Shipwreck, a new shot for my portfolio. I was lucky to have Mark Holthusen in the studio with me to give me some pointers. Mark works a lot in the studio and he points out how nice it is to have the time and control to do what you need to do. When you have that much control over all the stages of the photograph you can really take your time and be proud of what you create.
Most of the work I do is shot on location, and in my internship with Mark we've been discussing the process of composite shooting within the studio. When I had my internship with Erik Almas we discussed the pros and cons of studio-for-composite shooting and it seemed like something that I wanted to steer clear from for a while, but now that I've sort of learned where and when it's a good thing it's become something that I'm pretty excited about. Basically the cons are feet. When you shoot in the studio the feet never really match the ground.
Ways to avoid this? 1) Use the studio for shots where you don't see the feet. 2) Bring whatever the ground is in the shot to the studio (grass, sand, etc). 3) Be really good at retouching and have the feet be a small element in the frame and hope it doesn't get on the cover of a magazine.
In my experiences shooting outside I always shot the person on the ground they were going to be composited into. This way you don't cut out their feet but rather a big space around them. Then you have all kinds of room to blend and no ones the wiser.
Pros to shooting in studio? Lots.
Really the biggest advantage of shooting in the studio is time. I spend a lot of time and effort trying to get a crew on top of a mountain at sun down. Think how nice it will be when I can just go off on my own and scout and shoot locations and then go to the studio to shoot the subjects. Of course it's just another thing to harness, you really have to be careful when doing so much compositing, you don't want that stuff to look fake. There's nothing quite like shooting everything in camera, but it's nice to know your limits, as well as the limits to what will look acceptable. An appropriate step in determining when and where to use the different step is knowing how to do it all. Once you know how to do it any which way, then you can choose the most appropriate method to achieve the means.