I recently shot for Nina Canacci. They are a high end couture prom gown designer. It was a three day shoot at 10 hours each day. We shot over 200 gowns with three models. I have never talked about stamina because it’s just something that a photographer must have and I assume all photographers have enough stamina to shoot for a long period of time. However the other day I was talking shop with a colleague of mine and he mentioned a friend of ours that would never be able to last 10 hours, never mind three days in a row. Now that is not a good thing. I mean let’s face it, any catalog shoot or advertising shoot is going to be a long day. There are exceptions of course but the majority of jobs are 8-10 hours.
In this video you can see how hard I work and I think most photographers do work hard. You can see my intensity. I have a game face and I make sure that game face is on from the moment I step on set to the wrap of the shoot. Photographers must have mental, emotional and physical stamina to execute a successful shoot. We are the leader. Everyone on that set looks up to us. If we show any sign of weakness or uncertainty, then we have just lost our shoot. The good news is we can get it back. Grab the bull and come out like a lion in the second half and I guarantee that you will get your set back.
For this shoot I walked on the set and the first thing I saw was racks and racks of gowns. Instead of letting that intimidate me, I remembered why I am in this business, and that is because I love women’s clothing and I love to capture the beauty and style of fashion. So I greeted everyone with a big smile and looked over the gowns and got to work on lighting the set. This was an easy set up. One 6 foot silver lined umbrella to create a soft shadow on the BG and two strobes to light my white BG. Some of the gowns were very light and were made to flow with the wind of a dancer. It is a models job to put on a dress or outfit and know what to do with it. It is the photographers job to know what the fabric is capable of and make sure the model is “working” the gown or outfit. In the video you will see examples of this.
So sit back and enjoy the video. I hope you have many questions that I will be happy to answer.
This is a behind the scenes video of a catalogue shoot I did for Nina Canacci couture prom gowns. We shot 250 gowns in three 10 hour days.
Ok so Day two of my private photography work shop with Kevin started off with looking over the images on my large monitor and critiquing when necessary. Kevin will admit he was amazed at how often I pointed out little things that could ruin a photo. For example, every single little tiny detail matters especially when it comes to the hands. Experienced models know how to place their hands and make them look soft and pretty as they use them to pop a collar or rest them on the hips or running them through their hair. However, an inexperienced model often develops the “claw” look. This is when she might pop her collar with her hand and grab it with her palm facing out and her fingers bent so that her hand resembles a claw. This is a major no no and so is palms facing camera. Now I know what you’re going to say. Sometimes you see models in magazines with their palms facing camera. Well so what ? Does that make it right ? No it doesn’t. I could open a Vogue and point out at least 20 mistakes that a model made in her shoot. My God I have seen hundreds. Don’t get into that way of thinking that just because you see it in a magazine then it’s ok. So I told Kevin that when a model gives you the claw, it’s your job to point it out and have her correct it. If you are shooting an experienced model it is still your job to point out a mistake and correct it.
Going over Kevin’s images I also pointed out things like the bottom of the shirt is folded up or a bracelet was sitting too far up on the arm or the bra strap was slightly showing. If you had a wardrobe stylist on the shoot it would be their job to watch for these things BUT he or she might miss it and it is YOUR responsibility when looking through your viewfinder to look at everything before you click that shutter. We also went over how he directed the model and he did a great job. Many photographers get intimidated by the model and are afraid to direct them. The reality is the model expects you to direct them and it is your job to direct them. Overall Kevin really nailed some great shots.
Next thing we did was talk about how to find jobs and market yourself to potential clients. I also went over how to approach agencies and obtain models for free test shoots. Putting together a team of make up and hair is another step in the process and I showed him how to establish a good solid team. By this time the make up artist and the model for the second day arrived. Again Kevin observed the make up artist and this time he told her how he would like the make up to look. He also used this time to get acquainted with the model which is a great time to break the ice.
Kevin wanted to learn a bit of glamor photography so in this case the make up is going to be different as well as the hair and wardrobe. So we picked some outfits for our model to wear and we started to light for our first set up. I showed him how to incorporate flair into his images and also how to use smoke for a cool effect. I have a small fog machine that is great for this. This image shows the result from our first set up.
When looking at this image remember that flair is real and shot in camera, NOT done in post. As Kevin kept shooting he is constantly giving encouragement to the model, directing her expressions and poses and keeping that photographer to model connection flowing. One bad habit I had to break Kevin of was looking at the image on the LCD after every single shot. That is a surefire way to not create that connection and IF you have created that connection it will break it instantly. DO NOT LOOK AT YOUR LCD . I turn mine off after I know I’ve got my lighting set the way I want it. It’s no different than shooting your first few Polaroids and then shooting until your next set up. Kevin eventually took her off the stool and shot some fabulous poses in true glamor pin up style.
This image has it all, great expression, the wind blown hair, great make up, great styling, great lighting. It’s like cooking a stew, all the ingredients have to be there otherwise the stew won’t taste just right
This is another clothing change we did. Kevin went in tight on this shot and you can see how beautiful the make up and hair is as well as the edge light on HER left shoulder and arm. That strobe is doubling up as a back light for the smoke and to also provide a nice edge light. The model’s expression is really what makes this photo, all the other stuff just accents it and adds that special touch. It’s important to not over use the bells and whistles. By that I am talking about the edge light, the smoke etc. In any photograph you make, the expression is what will sell the photo to the viewer. To dig into the model’s soul and extract her inner most thoughts and capture them on film is the magic that happens when the photographer and model are in sync with each other. This cannot just happen. It takes many many shoots and much practice shooting with a variety of models to nail that skill. I provide you with the psychological tools to give you a head start and start creating beautiful images.
The second part of our day was spent learning how to shoot on location with reflectors and a speed light. Using the sun as your friend and combining it with a speed light can get you very nicely lit images. I also taught Kevin how to use the hi speed sync mode for his flash and also how to deal with the model who has to deal with the elements you encounter when shooting outdoors. If it is summer then you have heat. If it’s winter then you have cold to deal with. Models don’t have much fat on them and they can’t wear a heavy jacket. They still have to pretend they are in a fabulous mood even if it’s 40, 50 or 60 degrees outside. By the same token if it’s 100 degrees outside and they are tired and sweating, they can’t just pour a bucket of cold water over themselves. So you the photographer must make her feel like she is doing just fine and keep her interested and excited all the while making sure your technical details are correct as you watch the sun go down faster than a speeding bullet lol. Not as easy as it sounds. This is one of Kevin’s images from that outdoor session.
This was shot with the model facing the sun. How did she keep her eyes open and not squint ? I held a 60 inch white convertible umbrella up to scrim the sun. Kevin also used his flash to add some snap to the shot. By using the high speed sync mode he was also able to hold the blue in the sky behind her. By this time it was getting breezy and cold. The model doesn’t show it at all. Kevin did a great job talking to her and keeping her focused.
The shoot finally ended and we went back to go over the images. Kevin learned a great deal of information, more than I shared with you here of course and had a great time. He was a pleasure to work with and a wonderful person.
This is where the photography workshop takes place. I show you how to set up an in home photography studio with very little expense. It’s also a huge write off ! If you would like to know more about my private one on one photography workshops please call or email me email@example.com. You may also view testimonials and information about my private one on one fashion photography workshops here.
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I love to shoot fashion. There are so many reasons why. I love the couture clothing, I love to photograph women and I also love to create a mood. One of my favorite techniques to create mood in an image is to use a fog machine. You can pick one up for about $25. In these photos I used a medium soft box as my main light and placed it camera left. To light the fog I placed a strobe behind her and off camera. My assistant ran the fog machine off camera right. The back light was about 2 stops brighter than my main. You have to tell your model to be in character all the time and to NOT look back at the machine. The fog dissipates rather quickly and it’s difficult to get just the right pattern of fog so it doesn’t look like it is being shot out in a stream. My assistant used a piece of cardboard to blow the fog around and “shape” it so it looks the way it does.
Now if you look at the photo on the left you will notice an edge light on her cheek. That is coming from the back light that is illuminating the fog. So in essence you can kill to birds with one stone. It’s actually a very challenging shoot. If you get a model in that is inexperienced she will want to always look back at the fog machine because she is so in awe of it, why I have no idea, but I go crazy because the fog will be perfect and the model will decide to make sure it looks perfect and will look back and I miss the shot. Oy vey ! lol So reinforce to your model to stay in character and DON’T LOOK BACK at the friggin machine ! Sara, the model in these photos is an experienced model so I didn’t have to remind her to not look back.
Yes these images were retouched. The model’s skin was smoothed and of course contrast, levels etc., the standard stuff was done. My lighting however, was just how you see it. And that’s really all there is to it. A two light set up and that’s it. Please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions, comment whether you like it or don’t. You won’t hurt my feelings.
You can learn how to shoot like this and much more by taking my private one on one photography work shop.
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When I am shooting a fashion assignment I am disciplined to the point where I only shoot the amount of images I feel I need to capture my vision or the client’s vision. There is absolutely no reason to shoot until you fill a card, which these days could mean 400 or more images per card. I’ve heard of some photographers who will shoot a thousand images for a portfolio shoot! That is pathetic! You know what that translates to? A VERY insecure photographer who has no idea what he or she is doing and has no vision. The photographer doesn’t have a plan, can’t see his vision unless he shoots it. Doesn’t know his technical skills or communication skills. It could be any of these or all of them that is causing this long drawn out shoot as a result from over shooting.
I used to work in the movie industry behind the camera. On episodes where we had an inexperienced director we knew the days were going to go in to overtime which was good in a way because more often than not we would go into triple over time……..big paychecks. But for the production company that meant over budget and the main reason was because the director would over shoot by thousands and thousands of feet of film, which also led to the obvious major over time for the crew ! It’s no different for a still photo shoot.
Many photographers are shocked when I tell them the size of my CF card I use most often is 2 GB. That’s because with my 5DMark 2 shooting at 100ISO I get about 72 – 76 frames which gives me two different clothing changes. When I was shooting 35mm film we got 36 frames per roll. At the end of that roll you had to reload. Now let me also say that if I am shooting an editorial or an ad campaign I use the same small cards and also have much larger ones on hand just in case the client wants to see more.
For this post I will use a portfolio shoot as the main example. So a model would come to me and back then we charged per roll. And one roll equaled one look. After the first look / 36 frames we moved to the second look and so on. If you as a photographer couldn’t capture that great one shot the model needed in 36 frames you had to use another roll at your own expense! You couldn’t tell the model she had to pay extra because she was paying per roll and it was just expected that you got the shot after one roll. Everyone worked that way. All photographers worked this way. If she bought a 3-roll shoot that meant we shot 3 looks and no more. If at the end she wanted an extra look she had to pay my fee for an extra roll. It was that simple! So someone please tell me why it should be any different now that we are shooting digital. Just because we have the technology to shoot a thousand frames for a portfolio shoot does not mean we should. Who wants to sit at the computer all day and night editing out the bad shots? I sure don’t. My place is behind the camera, NOT in front of a computer. Sure there are certain little things I need to do in the computer, however, I wanna be shooting more of the time than sitting at the computer.
I personally feel that many many many photographers of this new generation have not only lost discipline, they haven’t even learned it! If the shot doesn’t look right then don’t hit the shutter button! Simple! If the model isn’t giving you what you want, then you stop, pull her aside and have a short heart to heart just like a catcher does with his pitcher in a baseball game. The catcher doesn’t let his pitcher just keep throwing pitch after pitch with the same or worse results. Do you see the comparison? You don’t just keep shooting and hoping for the model to read your mind as she gets more tired and frustrated. You use your people skills that you are supposed to possess and constantly fine tune just as you are constantly fine-tuning your photography skills.
By the way this is also good practice for when you do shoot that ad campaign and HOPEFULLY the client, art director, creative director are not all sitting around getting bored, frustrated and wishing they hadn’t hired you because they’ve realized that each image they saw in your portfolio came about from shoots like this where you had to shoot thousands of images to get a few usable ones! Portfolio shoots and creative tests are great for training your eye and fine tuning your skills for that day when you do get that big ad campaign and you run your set like a five star general with confidence pouring out of your ears and you are directing your model or models and shooting efficiently, shooting only the amount of images you need because you KNOW when you have gotten that shot you need to satisfy your client.
I had a model friend who told me that for a large ad campaign he was shot by Horst P Horst. All the lighting was done, set dressing, make up etc. it was time to shoot. The model gets on his mark, strikes a pose, Horst shoots two frames and says “That’s a wrap!” And everyone started to wrap as usual thinking nothing more. That’s because Horst was confident, the client knew it and trusted him. If Horst says he got it, then he got it. In the end no one knows how many or how few shots it took to get that campaign shot. In the end what matters is if you kept your shoot on budget, didn’t stress the model, pleased the client and have a fun relaxed shoot. This can only happen when you are a disciplined photographer, who does not over shoot, spray and pray and lose control.
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I am going to Nashville June 10th to shoot country singer Hannah Bethel for her up coming EP release and some promo photos. While I am there I have scheduled a fashion / glamor workshop. The workshop will be a full two days and I will cover my shooting styles and lighting styles as well as how to direct and work with a professional make up artist and how to direct models. I will also be covering business practices. The two day workshop will be just like my two day workshop I conduct out here in Los Angeles.
This one is a little different in that I am going to be in Nashville and I am accepting six photographers and offering a much lower discounted price of $650 for two full days. The normal rate is $1,650 for two days for a private workshop. With a small group of six photographers it will be just the right number so that there aren’t too many so you can fully grasp my techniques and have my full attention.
Day one we will be covering studio lighting for fashion and glamor.
Day two will cover how to light outdoors, especially in difficult lighting conditions. With the use of different lighting tools like a speed light on camera, to reflectors to using actual strobes and scrims, I will show you that you don’t have to wait until the “golden hour” to make great photographs.
There will be food and drink as well as a whole lotta southern fun ! You can get more information and sign up on this workshop page and you can get the full details of what I cover in my two day photography workshops that normally run $1,650.00 here.
Yes that’s right. I shot this fashion swimwear campaign with just my Canon 580 EX II and a 5 foot tall reflector to fill in some shadows on the opposite side of the model. I went with this set up because it’s light weight and portable and that flash packs a punch ! With the tide coming in and my assistant and I getting splashed alot with water, having a heavy Profoto portable pack would have been cumbersome and just one big pain literally lol.
The model was a trooper ! Lisa Peake from L.A. Models did a terrific job as the cold and damp weather set in. At this point the photographer and first assistant need to work fast and work smart. There is no room for error. As I’m shooting I’m already thinking of my next shot, call it multitasking . The sun is going down so fast that if you are not sure of your equipment you will lose that shot and the model will get frustrated and that is when you have lost the momentum and you don’t want that to happen. Oh and let’s not forget the client standing right in back of you barking off suggestions and of course the client knows everything about photography ! Shooting a real fashion job is not as easy as it looks. We often look at the final photo and have no idea what was going on at the shoot, what kinds of pressure the photographer was faced with and how many different people and situations he or she had to deal with.
So just don’t forget about that. Being a successful fashion photographer takes MUCH more talent than pushing a shutter button and shooting a couple of photos of a pretty girl in a studio where it’s just you, the model and the make up artist. Learn the gear, take time to understand what your model is going through at the shoot, learn how to deal with pushy clients that won’t shut up and take it from there. You will be surprised at what you can achieve when you take the time to really learn what happens at a professional photo shoot.
For some reason, the guys at Dream Row wrote a big article about me. They are good friends of mine and doing a really cool thing. They offer resources for people trying to make it in the entertainment industry. If you want to know about my bumpy road in fashion photography, check out the write-up here.
This weekend I had the pleasure of sharing my knowledge with another attendee of my private workshop. On the second day we went out of the studio to learn how to light at any time of day with minimal gear.
So I attach my favorite speed light, the Canon 580EXII, to the hot shoe of my Canon 5D Mark II.
It was a sunny day under a blue sky scattered with big white puffy clouds and a beautiful model sitting on a white country wood fence.
So I proceed to show Jeff, my workshop attendee, how to set up the 580EXII in order to capture the beauty of our fashion model while still maintaining details in the blue sky, puffy clouds and green grass. The model was facing the harsh sun so I had Jeff scrim her with a 60 inch shoot through umbrella. I then set the flash to ETTL and high speed sync mode, dialed up the flash exposure 3 whole stops and zoomed the flash head to 105mm. I was standing about 8 feet from the model with an 85mm lens on the camera.
Now this is the awesome part! I then set my shutter speed to 1/1250th of a second! My fstop was 4.5 and my ISO was 200. I shot away and this was the beautiful result even under a mid day sun. I LOVE this flash!
The possibilities are endless. The high speed sync mode is my favorite feature. I now am not limited to syncing at only 1/250th of a second! I can capture details in my background and control my contrast by using a very fast shutter speed.
Now, my only warning is have a good amount of double A batteries or use an external battery like a Quantum Turbo 2×2. Also very important is that you can’t shoot fast because you will end up blowing up the flash because of all the power your asking it to pump out by pushing it 3 full stops and zooming the flash head to it’s max at 105mm. Which is another great feature. Being able to zoom the flash head from 24mm all the way to 105mm gives the photographer so much control and room to play with.
The Canon 580EXII is one piece of gear that is always in my bag.
This is a very popular beauty photo of mine that everyone asks how I lit and how I got the cool looking catch lights. I want to clarify a couple things first though. Catch lights are the reflection one sees in the pupil of the eye of the actual light modifier that the photographer uses. How a photographer creates those catch lights is based upon which light modifier he or she uses.
So catch lights can be in the form of an umbrella, a soft box, a beauty dish, a Mola reflector , a bare bulb, a Photoflex or Westcott reflector etc. And it is where you place those light modifiers that determine where you see the catch light / reflection of your light modifier. Ok so with that said here is the photo that demonstrates my use of a small umbrella and a round 36″ silver Photoflex reflector.
In this next photo I show you the close up of the eyes so you can actually see the metal splines of the umbrella on top of the pupil and the round silver reflector on the bottom of the pupil.
I created a lighting diagram for you. In this beauty lighting diagram the background paper is gray in color. The model is about 9 feet from the background. The strobe that is behind the model is facing the back of her hair and is placed 3 feet away from the model and is one and a half stops brighter than the main light. The ratio will vary depending on the lightness or darkness of the hair color. The strobe is on a stand and the same height as the model’s head.
The umbrella I am using is a Westcott 32″ white satin with the black backing left on it. I place it right in front of the model and above eye level as you can see in the catch light. It’s about 4 feet away from the model. I am standing right under it.
The silver Photoflex umbrella is placed on a Westcott reflector arm at breast level and I angle it until I like the amount of fill. This is subjective to each photographer.
Be sure to click the images so you can see them much larger. Lighting techniques like this are part of what I teach in my private photography workshops. We learn one on one as you watch me set up the lighting , shoot and direct the model. Then it is your turn to shoot and direct the model. Hands on experience is vital to learning. I welcome your comments, questions and thoughts.