I had chance to make some pictures of the people that perform with Freedom Valley Center of the Arts this weekend. I do a few of these types of things a year. It is a little different than the photography I do the rest of the time. I needed to find a setup that works with whatever gets placed in the scene, yet one I don't think is too boring. Afterall, I need to look through a few hundred frames on the backend.
I have based my setup on 1 key light, with no fill. I like to create some shadows on the other side of my light. I'll then either light up a white background with two lights. Or, if I am using a grey background I will use one light to provide a spot light on it, and use a second light as a rim for the subject. Both are pretty simple, but seem to work. At least it isn't cross-lit, which is what you see so often quick mass-shoots like this.
With the performers I generally ask them to pick a pose from their routine or training that they like and is easy for them to hold. When I saw this through the viewfinder it looked pretty perfect, it fit in with a theme running through the production, it was simple, the main light was mostly right... The final picture was already in my head, black and white, I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like, but ...
But-- the setup I was using, the white background setup I described above --wouldn't allow me to make it. Fortunately she allowed me to kill the background lights and make another. This is pretty close to what I would have done if I was just making one picture, instead of one of 60 or so more people.
Every time I am seriously photographing something, whether it be completely personal, or a very interactive customized session with a small number of people, or even in the midst of a mass assembly-line style shoot -- I look to to make one image that is for me, something that reminds me why I pick up a camera in the first place. This is the one from this weekend. A few more examples from other "assembly-style" shoots are here, here, , and here.