First model photography

January 02, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

My first model shoot went smooth and I had great fun in the process. I discovered a few things that came naturally to me and a few things that I wasn't prepared for at the time but will know for next time. I have never done a model shoot before but I felt that I wanted to give it a go and experience it first hand.

 

The gear

 

I didn't want to take too much but at the same time I was wondering what would happen if I forgot to bring something. I ended up with my D300, my 17-50mm lens, my 70-200 and my 50mm prime lens. For some variation I also included my 11-16mm (which I did not end up using)

 

The model

 

I got Susanna to model for me in Boston at the park. She is not a professional model nor has she done something similar before so it felt great that we could learn from each other. She got to get pictures for free and I got to learn something new and so we both were happy. Susanna had brought a few outfits to change into but since we had to be in a public place with no changing room we could only do the shoot with one outfit. She modelled them before we headed to the park and together we picked the white dress. I believe it suited her great. My wife was kind enough to come along as an assistant since I needed someone to hold the reflector and made it feel a lot more professional.

We headed to the park around 4.30pm and I knew I had about 2 hours of sunlight left. It was a good thing as Susanna was really nervous and it showed during the first shots. These were of course not useable but I kept talking to her in between shots and she started to get used to the situation and her poses became less stiff.  Getting the model more relaxed is key to improving the picture. Here I had Susanna sit down as part of the shoot and it made her relax a lot more

I tried to direct her poses and I feel this is an area I would like to examine in more depth. Definitely a spot I need to improve a lot more on. I found this video which I think helps a lot so check it out if you are interested (his other videos are also very good). I did however try and direct her expressions and she responded very well and gave me some nice shots. Telling jokes while shooting is not easy when you have to think about your settings but you can't beat a genuine smile

Processing

 

I have to admit that the processing is a necessary art when photographing a model. I followed a particular formula and played with the settings to smoothen skin and blush her lips a little. You can see how this is done here. For the lips I just added another mask as for the skin and used red colour to paint the lips. Then I adjusted the opacity accordingly. You don't have to do this but it is an easy and quick way to gets rid of blemishes as no skin is perfect in my experience. Too fake I hear you say but then again magazines do that all the time. I think in my photos I would redo the retouching a little to leave more definition as the smoothing softened up some of her characteristics. However this will depend on how many imperfections you want to hide. Personal preference.

 

Final thoughts

 

Some things that I picked up from this experience:

  • Relax your model -  natural smiles take you half way there.
  • Bring some hairpins or ask your model to bring some -  I didn't think about that but as the wind became stronger a lot of pictures had strands flying all over her face
  • Shoot with a variety of lenses -  things become very interesting at different focal lengths. Don't conform with what is "standard".
  • Scout the location -  If you are using the location as your background in your pictures then you want to know what angles work the best and what lighting. 
  • Don't be all business - Having my wife talk to Susanna gave me valuable time to play with the settings but I also talked to her a lot and made jokes were possible to keep that smile going. On that note....
  • Do some silly shots - I finished the shoot with some casual silly shots. These did not serve much purpose for the portfolio but it kept the morale high all the way to the end and made the shoot memorable Silly but who cares when you are having fun

 

 

 

 


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