#BTS: Shooting for Billboard Magazine (Round 1) by Donte Brown

Photo taken with Canon 5D Mark IV

Photo taken with Canon 5D Mark IV

Shooting for Billboard for the first time was one of the highlights of my year. Not only because it was Big Boi but it’s been on my goal list for a LONG TIME. My first print was in Billboard magazine! You can only imagine the nerves I was feeling when I got hired for this assignment but I was determined to give it everything that I had.

Now…Let’s get down to the real reason I am writing this post.

I’ve always wanted to be open with everyone about what and how I photograph so I’ve decided to start a #BTS series showcasing it all. No secrets! Just lighting diagrams.




Lighting Guide

I am a huge fan of using one light. If I can get away from a shoot knowing I utilized only one it makes me feel like the legendary Patrick Demarchlier.

For this shot we set up the 60” Octabox with an Alien Bee 1600 and a black V-flat to add a shadow on the side. This is a basic yet very effective set up because it allows the subject more space to move around due to how wide the light reaches. It also gives a classic Rembrandt look with which I’m deeply in love with.

This was shot with the 70-200mm Sigma lens because that owl was huge and I don’t play birds my size.

Believe it or not! These photographs above were taken with the same light at the same exact frequency. I used the wireless Profoto B1 (shout out to my boy Ahmad Barber for the assist), the OCF Magnum Reflector, and the 24-70mm 2.8. Ahmad and I decided that it would be easier for the light to be handheld so I can move around without worrying about the c-stand getting in the way or the light staying in one place.

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Profoto: One of the reasons why I really love using Profoto is because of the quality of light that it produces, and it also regenerates at a faster rate.

Lenses: I also love shooting with the 24-70mm because I appreciate the barrel distortion it creates when you go in for a tighter shot. It always brings out an interesting image.

Here’s good example: Close up taken with the 24mm with natural light.

There it is! I really appreciate the support from the photo editors at Billboard for trusting me with this assignment. It was a great experience and it allowed me to see the potential within myself. Hopefully this blog will help do the same for you all that read it.

Remember to always believe in yourself and put your best foot forward. Hard work never goes unnoticed.

Check the article out here.

What's It Like Being in A Photo-Duo? by Donte Brown

Photo taken with Canon 5D Mark IV

Photo taken with Canon 5D Mark IV

I often get the question “What’s it like collaborating with another photographer?” especially because I’m sure photography is seen more as a solo sport. You have 1 camera, 1 person, and 1 or more models; so I can understand why the idea of a photography duo can be a bit confusing. I am not going to lie, a year or 2 ago I would not have been open to collaborating only for the reason that my work wasn’t really where it was supposed to be. I would want to pull my weight within the team.

How’d it start?

Ahmad and I always respected and loved each other’s work. Even though we had different photo styles, there was always this underlying connection between us and our photographs. It began with us assisting each other with shoots and learning one another’s process.

(Learning the process of your creative partner is ESSENTIAL, not only for what you can receive for yourself but you discover each other’s strengths.)

Discovering each other’s strengths allows you to create a solid foundation and trust when it comes to putting together sets, mood boards, and etc.


Meeting and hanging out weekly to discuss new ideas is how we began our process of putting photo shoots together. We listen and both huge fans of compromising so that we both are we able to get what we want out of a project. Most of the times we are already thinking on the same wavelength which makes everything a lot easier.

Drawing everything out on a mood board is how we articulate our ideas to show to a client. It helps outline the shoot as well so we don’t waste any time on set.

This is also the phase where we determine lighting and make sure we have time either a day before or before the shoot to test lighting and if we need to change anything.


This is the part that people are curious about the most. How do we shoot? Long story short! We take turns. We use only one camera, one trigger, and one laptop. We switch in and out when we either get an idea or get tired of shooting. All of that happens until we feel like we have that shot that we’re searching for!

Honestly, this duo is one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me this year. It’s great to have a friend that matches you creatively and is able to genuinely help you grow as an artist. If you’re looking into being a part of duo, trio, or whichever just remember that you have to be a team player and a great communicator. That’s what I’ve been learning.

ALSO, keep an eye out for an ABDM blog where we’ll go into more details on post production and other great things!

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