A preliminary calendar of upcoming 2014 Photography Workshops is now available. I tried to place them every 4th Sunday of each month. Themes and details will be filled in soon, but have a look for now.
”Photography! Acquiring the knowledge and tools to express your artistic vision.”
– Wayne Paulo
One of the things my mentor, Tracy Hicks, taught me in his workshops was that almost anything can make a backdrop: it’s all in the way you use it. So, when a private student showed up with a bunch of camouflage gear for the model, including a camo netting that he wanted to implement as a background, we had to figure out what worked.
I had never worked with the stuff before and wasn’t sure of it’s reflective properties, how to take advantage of the see-through nature of it, etc. The shot above was one of many different outfits we tried on the model.
The hat and t-shirt were part of the branding for a drilling company my student worked for and he wanted to include them into the shoot for possible use in a company calendar. The model, Briana Barela, styled the t-shirt with cuts using some scissors. The sunglasses were her own. The only things I wasn’t totally happy with was the blue fingernail polish she was sporting those days. I figured that if I really wanted to that it could be ‘fixed’ in Photoshop.
We proceeded to rig a black cloth backdrop, and then clamp the camo netting in front of it. I wasn’t sure if we’d need to separate the netting from the cloth, or could leave it resting against it. As it turned out, just resting against it was enough.
In the original tests we lit the model, but left the backdrop unlit. It turned out that there just wasn’t enough light to make it interesting. We wanted things to ‘Pop!’ I put an Alien Bee 400 on a backdrop stand and inserted a green gel into the gel holder. It took a bit of of adjusting to get the right distance and intensity with the backdrop light, but it wasn’t long before we were getting shots like that above.
Although the shot looked pretty good straight out of the camera (SOOC), a vignette effect was added in Lightroom to help frame the model. A 36″ Octabox, two 36″ strip boxes (gridded), and a 22″ beauty dish were used on the other lights.
In the words of one model:
(My version may be modified and/or out of date.
Please Read the original & updated posting by Model Rachel Jay, with examples of her own work, on her site here: http://racheljay.wordpress.com/2008/10/15/the-home-studio/)
There are some models who say a photographer who has a home studio is creepy, unprofessional, and is one to be wary of. There are even some who say that a photographer who has an actual studio (as in one separate from his place of residence) is far more legit, safer, and more professional. The reasoning is often, “I don’t want to be alone with a stranger in his house”. What’s even more mindblowing is when people say things like, “a home studio is fine as long as there’s backdrops, lights and other expensive-looking stuff, it can even be in the basement… but just shooting out of the living room with none of that is creepy!”.
And to all that I say: BULLSHIT! Why?
Studio rental can be expensive. Not everyone can afford to rent space to shoot in (especially right now). And why should someone who has the space available in their home/apartment be forced to fork out more dough to rent more space? They shouldn’t. Renting space doesn’t automatically make someone a pro… it makes them someone who can rent space.
Space is space. If there’s room for a backdrop and lights to be set up, there’s room to shoot. Heck, a lot of the time, you don’t need the backdrop and lights to get a beautiful shot–a space lit well with natural light can create amazing images. And sometimes, the lack of space and the uniqueness of it might force the model and photographer to get creative, which can result in some great stuff as well.
When did expensive equipment and a “legit-looking” place start meaning that the person who owns it all is safe and professional? Spending a lot of money on something doesn’t automatically buy that person talent as well, so why would it eliminate their creep factor or make them conduct themselves in a professional manor? It wouldn’t.
So, home studio versus rented space…
What’s the big deal where someone shoots? Models (especially those building their portfolios) should be more concerned with portfolio quality, professional conduct, and communication skills than where the photographer shoots his/her pictures.
If a model is insecure with being alone with the photographer, even after she’s checked references, she has a couple options. She could make sure it’s ok to bring a MUA (or ask the photographer if he has one he works with often), and book one. She could ask the photographer to meet ahead of time, at a place like Starbucks. Or she could just not shoot with that photographer.
I installed Easy Release from http://www.applicationgap.com awhile back while it was in it’s infancy. The latest update allows for custom logo’s, custom releases, etc. You can bring up a release, add the model’s photo, have her, you, and a witness sign it on the iPhone, and have it send you and the model a PDF version of the release. See the screencap below of a sample release.
Of course, they explain it better:
Easy Release by ApplicationGap replaces inconvenient paper release forms with a slick, streamlined application designed by professional photographers for professional photographers. Easy Release lets you collect all the data and signatures you need right on your iPhone, then mails a PDF and JPEG of the release right to you. Easy Release uses industry-standard and proven legal language that is accepted by the world’s leading stock photo companies, like Getty Images and ALAMY. Plus, Easy Release supports 12 different languages, so you can get the release you need, no matter who, or where you are shooting.
Next to ‘Do you need someone to hold the lights?’, the question I most often hear in regards to my photography is ‘How do you that?’.
How do you get that vignette effect?
How do you get the models skin that smooth?
What is that material you are using for the background? How did you get it that color?
Those are just a few of the most commonest questions I get asked every time I post a new photo online. It never fails; a few minutes after posting a new photo, I get a chat window popping up, or an email, or just a comment on the photo itself.
And, the truth is, at one time, I had those same questions. I’ve been shooting for over twenty years. And I had experience shooting models. But, one day I saw a persons work that just blew my stuff out of the water! And I had to know how to do it! Luckily this person put on his own workshops. I not only signed up for two of his workshops, I travelled many hours to get to them.
I invested in myself. I knew that by making a small investment in myself, I was avoiding the long term trail-and-error method of trying to figure out how to do this…and how to do it right. I mean, how many times can you get a model to commit some time, at her own expense, just so you can experiment with getting it right? Not only is she going to get perturbed, but you’re going to look incompetent with all the fiddling of the lights, chimping at results, readjusting lights, changing backgrounds, etc.
So, I invested in the workshops at almost $300 each time. And that’s just for the workshop. That’s not counting the 3 hour drive to Houston, or the 5 hour drive to Dallas, hotel rooms, meals, gas, etc. I think I figured out that each weekend cost me an average of $500.
Then, I came home from each and ordered more gear; lights, booms, backgrounds, softboxes and grids. I already had a plethora of lights and such, but I wasn’t absolutely confident in how to use them, or what other gear I should invest in to create the results I desired. And this is one of the things that those workshops solved.
So, ask yourself these few questions:
1. Do I want to improve my confidence in photographing models?
2. Do I want to improve my confidence in using my lighting system?
3. Do I want to know what equipment I need in order to create those images that will stand out from competition?
4. Do I want to learn using real, live models, creating images that you can add to your portfolio immediately?
If you said yes to any of those questions, do yourself a favor and invest in yourself. Save yourself from wasting time and money on trail-and-error, and learn it quickly and inexpensively. Sign up for one of our glamour photography lighting workshops at: iPhotoWorkshops.com