In follow-up to the Our Pros | Your Photos portrait critique with Sigma Pro Kevin Ames I was given a chance to put what I learned to test at the American Photo Model Shoot in New York City last month. Here I could take the advice Kevin gave me and put it to practical use. How could I turn this opportunity down?
Now, I am not new to the APMS–I’d first heard about it a year ago, and attended the event back on May. I knew the format of this event, but this time it was different. This time I had Kevin’s advice in mind as I worked each angle at the different model stages.
What I love about the APMS is that you are immersed in an environment of professional photographers who are there to help you build your skills and your portfolio. You have a wide resources of models to work with. And best of all, you’re in a studio setting, with continuous lights, back drops, and props. It’s not just new and emerging pros either! One of many photographers that I spoke too has been shooting for 30 years, yet he has mostly worked on landscape photography and is just venturing into portraits.
The models are awesome and take direction well. But more than that, they even encourage the photographers to give directions and recognize that the attendees come to APMS with different skill and experience levels and offer great advice for working together. After all, the photographers are there building their portfolio.
The pros working the APMS events are great. Every time they are changing a lighting setup, they ask the photographers if they’d like a certain type of set up. It forces photographers to think about what kind of lighting setting they want. At times you can even see the pros themselves trying out a new lighting idea to see how well it works. This is a place where everyone is credited for having a unique vision, and wanting to try something new.
I took over 500 pictures over the course of the day! Sigma wasn’t kidding when they ask photographers to bring plenty of memory cards and batteries. If you plan on attending–be prepared!
One thing to note for future attendees: it sometimes feels like the models are A-list celebrities, and photographers feel like paparazzi, as some studio setups can be very crowded at times. But don’t think of this as a bad thing! As a photographer you need to learn how to use the limited space and obstacles you face in the course of a shoot.
You are forced to learn to take the best pictures from different angles. And each station has a different lighting set up. Now if you want to be a pro photographer, you need to learn how to use your camera on manual settings, which forces you to change your setting based on your environment.
Kevin gave me many great pieces of advice throughout the day including to always make eye contact with the models. Now with 10 photographers shooting one model at the same time this makes it tough–but Kevin also tipped me to making sure I got the models’ names before the start of the shoot, so I could more easily catch their eyes, and ears, to better have them work with me.
Another great tip from Kevin, which he first told me about during our critique session, was how to make a model look relaxed. Saying the letter “A” gives a very relaxed expression. Here are few examples where you can see this in action.
I’ve always loved the idea of painting with light. I wish I could do this more. Here is a picture that I took so far is my favorite from the whole shoot, shallow depth of field and all.
Another tip Kevin mention to me, which I honestly never knew about was post-production vignetting. This was a new term to me, I’ve seen it before, but I never knew what it was called or how useful it is. On the following image, vignetting helped me keep the model from blending into the back ground.
Vignetting also helped keep two models acting as a couple, be the center of attention.
In addition to the tips I took to the show from Kevin’s portfolio review, all the pros on hand at APMS gave out a lot great advice, too. For example, there were great lighting tips on how also using reflectors can help improve an image.
Or how setting the lights in a certain way to give a more dramatic feel.
Kevin also got me thinking me about experimenting with images–for example, cropping for stronger compositions. Some of the images here were cropped which, I think, helped the images a lot.
Overall, it was amazing to have the chance to put the tips from Sigma Pro Kevin Ames to practical use during this great American Photo Model Shoot sponsored by Sigma Corporation of America!
And I would also like to extend a heartfelt “thank you” to the Sigma “Angels” for handing out Sigma lenses for the photographers to use.
And a big thank you for all the models!
I look forward to working with Sigma, and everyone else part of this event again!
And before I finish this blog, I want to take this time to thank Sigma, Jack Howard, Kevin Ames, and of course, American Photo Model Shoot. Without you guys I wouldn’t have this great opportunity today!
Thank you for this experience!
Join us for the 2011 American Photo Model Shoot. There are only four cities left! Sign up now!
- San Francisco, CA – November 5th
- Washington DC – November 12th
- Orlando, FL – December 3rd
- Los Angeles, CA – December 10th