When I shoot fashion editorials for magazines, I am shooting a series of images to tell a story. In 6-10 […]
Earlier this year I took an expedition into the giant sand dunes outside of Dubai to shoot a fashion editorial for Zink Magazine. This was a shoot I had been anticipating for quite sometime, as it was the type of work I always dreamed of shooting. I would be in an exotic location with an incredible team on my side, beautiful model, and freedom to create striking images. It truly was a dream shoot made into a reality.
On the first day of shooting we took the vehicles deep into the dunes, passing camels and leaving the nearest town and signs of life far behind. As we approach the gathering of dunes I was amazed as they towered like mountains above the SUVs. Seeing the model first stand into front of the dunes, she appeared like a speck before their grand size.
As a portrait and wedding photographer, you have got a lot to think about and have a lot of responsibility. You must consider exposure, composition, lighting, lens choice, flattering the subject and posing. On an engagement session or wedding you are capturing one of the most important days of a person’s life. Now, add on top of that you may have a very limited time to capture these images! It is a lot to think about!
When I was first photographing couples, it seemed overwhelming to manage all of these things AND to remember a wide range of poses. I always wanted to capture a variety for use in the album, or in a guest book, or a wall cluster, or simply to give the couples a variety to choose from. When the time came for me to photograph the couple and I only had a few minutes to do so, I seemed to only be able to remember 2 or 3 different poses! I tried to remember 10 or 15 poses, and they never seemed to ‘stick’ especially when I was under pressure.
As a photographer, I am definitely a problem solver. I must solve endless problems including lighting, posing, and flattering my subject. One way to become a better problem solver is to understand the tools available to us, most importantly, our cameras.
When photographing people and portraits, it is important to understand how your camera and lenses see. When looking through the lens, how does your camera interpret the environment and your subject different than what you perceive with the naked eye? Whether posing and shooting fashion, family portraits or head shots, understanding this makes a profound impact on the final results.
This February I was invited to join the fast-paced and inspirational conference called Seniors Ignite. The conference, this year hosted outside of Las Vegas, focused specifically on senior portrait photography and all elements involved– lighting, posing, business, inspiration and more! The event helps elevate senior portrait photography through lecture by those leading the industry and also a great deal of hands-on shooting through their senior model program.
High school seniors around the country can apply to be part of the program through their host studio, and a limited number are selected to come to the event and be photographed in fashion-editorial style shoots at the annual conference.
Our job as portrait photographers is often to flatter our subjects and help them look their best. There are so many elements that can go into this equation; lighting, posing, expression, focal length, camera angle and more. There is a lot to consider, so sometimes it is useful to train our eyes to see certain undesirable visual elements so we can weed them out.
I have both a creative and analytical mind. I do not like absolutes. I do no like rules. I do, however, appreciate guidelines that help give us photographers a better understanding of how to use our art to communicate. I’d have to side with Pablo Picasso on this one; “’Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.’”
This month I was invited by Sigma to test out their brand new Sigma 24-105mm F4 lens and to shoot a series of bridal images to demonstrate the versatility of the lens. I decided to put together a fashion-influenced bridal shoot in a stunning location and with the help of my incredible talented creative team. Once I had put together striking visual elements, I would then test all features of the lens that would be important to me as a working photographer.
For several years I photographed weddings, and all the challenges that come with them. I realized very quickly that the last thing I wanted to worry about was my gear. I had to focus on the posing, the lighting, keeping everyone happy, my extremely long shot-list, and much more. I needed to know my gear was reliable and would help me get those must-have moments. When I started I didn’t have a second shooter or assistant; I was the one-woman band expected to make every shot count.
When your job is to flatter your portrait subjects, you need as many tools in your photographic toolbox as possible so you are prepared for any features, and any ‘flaws’.
I think it is important to mention that I am not judging people’s appearance. As a fashion photographer, I often get to photograph what society considers “ideal” forms of beauty. What I notice time and time again, however, is that certain models’ “flaws” are what make them unique and memorable. In fact, there are several supermodels with so-called flaws like gapped-teeth, unusual noses, and more.
What matters is not what society says is ‘perfect’ but instead how your subjects perceives themselves. You want them to feel confident, attractive and proud of the images you provide them. You want to help them reduce anything they are self-conscious about and help their expression glow in their images.