Above: Here’s the final image. Click on it so you can see it larger (it makes it much more epic). 

Now, you’ll notice I didn’t see “the” recipe — I said “a” recipe (because there are many), but this is one I use again and again, in lots of different situations, that’s surprisingly quick and easy to pull off. But first, a behind-the-scenes shot (below).

Above: Here’s a behind-the-scenes shot. My camera is down low on a Gitzo tripod with the legs splayed out wide about as far as they can go. I’m shooting tethered into the laptop you see beside me — going straight into Lightroom. I think that’s Brad with some serious hip action way off to the left. Dang hippie.

There are three ingredients in this recipe:

(1) A super wide angle lens
The wider the better (here I’m using a Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 wide angle zoom, and I’m at 16mm). If you’re shooting a full frame camera, this is one of those times where its full-frameness pays off because your wide angle lens are wider. If you’re shooting a crop sensor camera, a 24-70mm won’t get you wide enough, even at 24mm — you’re going to need something wider, like a 10mm or a 12mm wide angle (but not a fisheye). Think “super wide.”

(2) You need to get down really low 
Really super low (like you see me above). I’m not quite comfortable with lying down to get the ‘epic’ look, so I’m using a tripod with the legs splayed way out, but this getting low part is incredibly important to creating the bigness of the shot. Once you’re down low, it’s really important to get the floor in front of you in the shot — it’s key to the bigness of the look. Also, if you can include the ceiling and the floor in the same shot, it really takes it over the top.

(3) You need a great location
I know that kind of seems like it goes without saying, but if you try this technique and your shot doesn’t look “epic” you have to ask yourself if you’re shooting in a location that is really interesting. I was shooting yesterday on the front porch of a beautiful gothic church and I did this technique and it just looked great (but I actually just put the camera right on the floor — tilted it up on my camera strap, and took a blind shot to start, and just tweaked the position a little. It looked great. Ya know why? It was the right technique WITH the right location.

So really, if you’re already shooting at a great location, it’s really just two steps.

Above: Here’s the flip side behind-the-scenes shot, but this was taken a few minutes before I realized I wasn’t getting low enough to make the shot look really epic, so after this was taken we took my laptop off my tripod stand, and I used that tripod. Off in the distance is my team (Hendricke doing make-up and Lexi doing hair, Brad and Julio and Lynn helping on the set and Kalebra doing all the art direction and styling). 

Anyway, next time you find yourself shooting in a great location, try going for the big ‘epic’ look by using these two steps: (1) Use a super-wide angle lens, and (2) get down really low, almost to the floor, and include lots of the floor, and ideally the roof, in the shot.

Hope you find this recipe helpful, and here’s wishing you an ‘epic’ weekend with lots of amazing locations. :)

All my best,

-Scott