A photographic image with a model is the most challenging photo session ever. It takes at least three, preferably four, people at a minimum. Take my word for it.
Below are two sets of recent photos, one the "money shot" followed by the "behind the scenes" reality.
Money Shot #1
Now a behind the scenes revelation. We had five people working; the model, photographer, stylist/lighting, gaffer and documentary photographer. The day we took the photos was less than ideal as it was very windy, and getting windier, but we wanted to be outside with natural light. We had to make it work! Everyone had already scheduled the four hour time slot.
We were all fussing over the model. Even so much as one hair out of place looks terrible in a photo. I must have put a ton of hairspray on the model's hair. The jewelry photos are filled with warm glowing sunlight, but in fact, we were all freezing including the model.
The photographer is leaning in to check exposure up close so the camera is not tricked by reflected light.
Below, two people (me and Ace Shelander) are both holding panels to bounce the light (indicated by white lines and arrows) on to the model. I am using a flexible hoop that is metallic on one side and white on the other. Ace has white foam core.
Photo by Alyssa Endo.
We also had two mirrors (outside of the camera's view) bouncing light into the eaves above the model. This showered the model from above with beautiful soft white light. On the ground, below the model, are large sheets of white foam core bouncing light up into the eaves of the house.
Photo by Alyssa Endo.
The light bounced from the foam core is very white, soft and subtle. This is why it works so well - no harsh shadows, just warm glowing light. Of course, because the sun keeps moving, you have to frequently move the mirrors and bounce cards to maintain the light.
Bouncing light is not for the lighthearted. The entire movie, Revolutionary Road, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet was filmed in a small Connecticut house. They constructed huge bounce cards to push soft white light from outside into a small house. (left photos)
To maintain the consistent feel of natural light outside the Connecticut house, giant 12' x 12' ultrabounce reflectors and large muslin sheets were arranged to bouce light into the scene.
Photo Credit: Alyssa Endo
Everything counts for a great shot. So much can go wrong when using a model. Above, the shirt is too wrinkled. We are are all looking at the angles of the model, the bracelet, the slightest angle of the hand, her fingers, wrist, arm, body, clothing and jewelry. We tried to fix the shirt in the photo below.
Photo Credit: Alyssa Endo
The photographer, stylist, and gaffer are all responsible for spotting problems.
Money Shot #2
I am using this amazing shot (above) for an outdoor billboard.
Below, check out the reality.
I had two jobs during this shoot, bouncing light on to the model, while trying to "see" what the camera sees. The photographer only gets to look through the camera. The stylist and the assistants need to see what is going on around the model and the camera. What is happening with the light? Everything counts when doing a shoot with the model.
Money Shot #3
In the above image of jewelry by emiko oye, the model glows serenely. The necklace looks fantastic! The reality was a lot less polished, until we got it right.
Below, you can see how we were meticulously and precisely placing the necklace. Every link of the chain had to lay just right....or it looked terrible. We spent a lot of time, while the entire crew waited, trying to fix the necklace chain just right - so many shots were rejected because of the chain not laying right.
The model doesn't look too happy, the light is shining in her eyes.
Photo by Alyssa Endo
Here I am are taping the necklace to the back of the model with masking tape because it needed to lay a little higher on her chest. The light is glowing....but in fact we were freezing (which is why the model is wearing sweat pants). It was getting more windy by the minute. The model had to stand in the shade while we bounced sunlight into the photo and into the model's eyes. The model can't let any of this show.
Money Shot #4
Look closely at the photo above, the bracelet looks like it is poking the model.We have to see this during the shoot and fix it.
We used a white sheet as the background. I ironed the sheet which we stretched and thumbtacked to the house, but it still had wrinkles. Next time I am going to try a sheet of white laminate.
The fabulous shot below.
Did you wonder why the model is not standing in the sun? If the model stood in the sun, the lighting would be too harsh with strong shadows. Soft, diffuse, and glowing light is one of the secrets to success.
There are a number of things you need for a photo shoot that don't cost much, but help lead to success. Stay tuned for the next post.