There are lots of different types of photo shoots that you can do. Even in main categories there are sub groupings. In fashion photography there is commercial, catalog, couture, and editorial as examples. The differences between the styles are subtle but real. I have been working on trying to identify and know the differences. I think I now know what makes up editorial. If I am correct editorial is where you are shooting a theme or story. I had a chance to do a shoot recently with a model I had never worked with before and we did editorial style. We did several different themes through the afternoon. The first was leprechaun. Sadie is so sweet and it comes through in the photos. It was so fun to shoot and felt so artistic. Over the course of the afternoon we also did sexy leprechaun, 50's swimsuit pinup, Easter themed, and finally 80's glam rock.
One of the signs of a really awesome model is someone that can break out of what they normally do and stretch artistically. Sadie is so sweet. Her personality fit the pinup and the Easter themes so well. Then we got to glam rock. This was quite a stretch from her regular personality. But she was able to dig deep and find that attitude to get the shot. She went from sweet to intense with a fierceness that was incredible.
When I was setting up for the glam rock shots I wanted to try to get something in the setup that would be edgy. I wanted to have a set that would look like she was on stage. So I put three strobes at the back of the studio shining right into the camera. The goal was to get them to flare out in the lens to give that stage look. Normally it is a bad thing to have lens flare, but this is an example of where breaking the rules works for the shot. This first shot is basically right out of the camera. When I got it to the computer I realized that I really needed the fog machine that I wanted but had not gotten yet. The image is still a bit too clean for the edginess that I was going for.
Ultimately I went with an edit that changed and somewhat muted the image along with sharpening the edges a fair amount. I liked how it came out. But at the same time I learned from it. I regularly tell students that to learn your photography you need to shoot and shoot and then evaluate what you did and shoot some more.
So the first thing I saw was I wish I had more strobes along the back. I would have liked more of a row of strobes for more intensity to the stage lights. I might also color some of them too. I guess I need to shoot both and see which I like better.
Second, I wrote Sadie as I was editing and said how much better I thought it would look with a fog machine. Also, I think that although her outfit was awesome, it was missing one thing, fishnet stockings. It is that attention to the little details that will make the difference between good and great. I am so happy that Sadie said she would be up to redoing the glam rock shots again. So I am fog machine shopping, and also looking for some more good strobes for the back of the studio for the shoot.
Shooting in a studio is fun partly because you have total control over lighting and the environment. However, you also have the challenge of backgrounds in the studio. How can you get new backgrounds to shoot against constantly without spending an arm and a leg? That is the big challenge. You can purchase cloth of canvas or muslin backdrops. But those tend to cost quite a bit of money, and they are bulky and hard to store without serious issues of wrinkles. This is especially true of ones that are hand painted to look fancy. Some companies, like Lastolite, have some awesome choices. Lastolite has a collapsible reversible system that looks awesome
. But the panels are smallish at 5 x 7 feet and run $300 each. Ouch! So I started to think there had to be a better solution.
I had recently seen on CreativeLive photographers making solid color backdrops using foam core boards. Those are the boards that are foam in the center and foil on the two sides. Then one day I was walking through a home improvement store getting some stuff for the house and as I walked by the wallpaper the proverbial lightbulb went off for an idea. What about using that same foam core board and putting wallpaper on it. So I got one 1/2" 4 by 8 sheet ($8.99) and two different rolls of wallpaper that happened to be on sale for $14.99 each, and a can of spray glue. Now one side of the board is brick and the other is a fancy "Victorian looking" wall. The boards are stiff but they are also lightweight.
Katie and I went into the studio to try out the new backgrounds and, as you can see they worked really well. Not only do they look awesome for a smooth solid background, they also butt up against the side wall really nicely in the studio. And I get two different 4 by 8 backgrounds for only around $50 instead of $300. Oh I have wallpaper left too, so I am planning on getting another foam core and doing it up the same. That way I can put the two boards together side by side to get an 8 by 8 wall. Stick them together and clamp them with an A clamp and we are good to go. I am thinking I might need to put a really small L bracket top and bottom to clamp with, and will just have to maybe do a bit of clean up if they show in the photo.
One other thing that we came up with when shooting that day. I had some mirrors that had gotten left in the studio when we took the space over. In a moment of artistic inspiration we decided to start using them for background too. We were able to get some interesting added depth to shots, and more wonderful artistic expression. I also have used the mirrors recently for "reflectors" for light on the opposite side of a strobe. They work really well, although they are a little heavy and hard to maneuver. The lightweight reflectors tend to be better usually.
As you look at these photos take a close look at the lighting. Along with the simple and inexpensive backgrounds, we also used very simple lighting. All these shots were done with a single strobe. That is right, these are all one light photos. Beyond testing the new backgrounds, my other goal during this shoot was to work with just a single light and see what I could get out of it. This made the light setup very easy. I am thinking that in future shoots like this I want to use a reflector along with the light to soften the shadow side just a touch. But I love the intense textures of the shadows and light on Katie. She is really good at finding either a very intense or vulnerable look, and the single light really helps bring that out.
So give the background idea a try, and experiment with single light setups too.