Last week I had the pleasure of doing another shoot for Grace Model Management. I’ve done 2 shoots for them before, and both times I’ve got some awesome images for my portfolio, so when they emailed me to ask to do another shoot, I figured that it would be a great idea.
Also, I’d just (finally) brought a speedlite that I really wanted to use for a shoot.
I brought the speedlite so that I could challenge myself with using flash in my outdoor work. I came to this decision after sitting down, looking at my portfolio and really considering what it is that I like about my work. Also, I went through my photography “inspiration folder” to figure out what kind of images I’m drawn to and what it is that interests me.
Having looked through my portfolio, these images of mine really stood out to me:
Edith @ Grace Model Management
Considering them, I really thought that they all have quite dramatic lighting, or, at least, there is something about the lighting that adds to the image. One thing I love is drama, and, as every one knows, shadows always add drama, so I considered how I could make my work a bit more dramatic and buying a flashgun seemed like a great idea.
Another thing I wanted to think about in relation to my work is the technical aspect. I love watching videos and researching new lighting setups. I really miss shooting in the studio, and, as I don’t have the money to hire out studios, I’ve been thinking about how to utilize the great outdoors to create images that look like they have been shot in a studio.
Anyway, getting onto the shoot:
I was in London about two weeks ago for a shoot for a client, and it happened to be in Moorgate. Luckily I got there a lot earlier than expected so I took the time to wander about. I’d never been to Moorgate before but I was sure glad I did! I found some awesome locations to shoot, and I knew that as soon as I had the chance, that I wanted to come back and shoot:
Initial Location scouting images.
The photo shoot with Filip went very smoothly, as he was very comfortable in front of the camera.
I decided to start off with a few quick test shots and then I decided to get out my flashgun and figue out how it works.
I’d brought a TTL wire for the camera, but it proved to be way too short for my liking, so after a few frames of shooting TTL, I decided to stop and use the ambient light for the rest of the shoot. This proved vital; I knew that I wanted to shoot more with the flashgun but there would be plenty of time for that; for now I just wanted to make sure that it worked!
Here is the only “final” image I shot with the flash:
Although I like it, I’m aware that it’s not perfect; the flashgun should be raised higher so that the left hand side of Filip’s neck is in shadow, rather than there being such an odd looking shadow. Also, I realized that the tripod I was using was not high enough for my liking, so I know that I have to buy a “proper” flashgun stand!
After shooting with the flash, I knew that I really wanted to continue shooting images that weren’t flat and evenly lit so we took a wander around, trying to find small quiet backstreets that would give us:
a) a quiet and mostly deserted place to shoot. Sometimes model’s can find public spaces intimidating, especially if they haven’t had a lot of experience.
b) the kind of lighting I was after. I was looking for a thin alleyway that had a solid ceiling with a wide doorway, so that I could position Filip in a spot where the ambient light filters in. By shooting in a place with a ceiling, it meant that some light would be blocked, creating shadows that I could control by asking Filip to move. Also, this allowed me to think about shooting different looks and how I could maximize the time we had shooting by trying out different lighting techniques.
After shooting these two images, we took another wander (the whole shoot was quite a constant wander, of the best kind) and found another interesting location where the light filtered in from one direction. Havig shot mainly headshots for the last few images, I thought that this would be ample opportunity to shoot some full length shots, which are very much required in a model’s portfolio! Also, I really liked directional lighting in this location, as it allowed for a much more dramatic image than I could have shot in the middle of the street. I also paid very careful attention to the background, which was already quite dark, and I knew that shooting against this would add more of a variety to the images. I shot most of these images in this location in black and white, because I knew that was I was going to edit the images:
We then decided to shoot another image literally 3 steps away from the last location and we ended up shooting this image:
As you can see, the image is vastly different in mood and atmosphere. With a little post production, this image has more of a vintage feel, and the split lighting adds a good contrast to Filip’s face.
It’s super important to be aware as a photographer about how you can use the environment. Look around you in all directions and see the world in shapes, textures and patterns. What will happen if you position your model in front of a textured wall and shoot with a wide aperture? How will this different from shooting below the model and using the sky as the backdrop? What kind of mood will each location add to the image. Do you want a dark background because the model is wearing something bright? Or perhaps your model is wearing black and you want to shoot in front of black wall so that you can pick out details of the clothes using rim lights. The location can really help or hinder an image!
Filip and I then ended up in front of this really cool building (after wandering again), which was a community centre for young adults. I really like the oldness of the location, and the fact that it was full of texture. Also, there was a lot of space for me to back up and shoot, so I knew thart I could get a decent full length image of Filip here. I asked him to sit down on the steps, as I was aware I hadn’t shot any images of him sitting down (variation!). I also like the composition that the door gave to image, which, for me, balanced out the frame:
Just as I was about to go, I noticed this wall, that I’d been standing perpendicular to, and I knew that I wanted to shoot here. Because the wall had a lot of different textures, I asked Filip to put his black jacket on, so that it would separate him from the texture. I had originally intended to shoot this image in black and white, but when I put the image into photoshop, I noticed that Filip’s hair merged too much with the darker stones, which was sorted by editing the image in colour:
After shooting here, we ended up wandering around Liverpool Street, trying to find a backstreet where I could shoot something a little more dramatic. We ended up in a really thin alleyway, which was perfect for what I had in mind, especially when I saw some dark green shutters.
I knew that these shutters would be really easy to turn to black in photoshop, and, as light was only filtering in from above this little alleyway, that the light would hit Filip in an interesting way, almost giving a studio like effect that could be accomplished with snoots. I was aware that this image would end up being quite dark and contrasted, but I thought that it would make a great variation on all of the other images we’d shot so far:
All in all, I had a great time shooting Filip, as it really gave me a chance to experiment with ambient light to create different moods and lighting patterns. Also, I got to test out my flashgun (which I’ll totally be using a lot more of!) and I got to create images for Filip’s portfolio!
If you have any questions or comments about my shoot, or to ask about how I did anything, just ask!