Three Photoshoots for a Special Model

July 27, 2014  •  1 Comment




Three Photoshoots for a Special Model (and her harp)





My goal when photographing people is to capture their personality in still photos.  Often, it takes more than one image.  Sometimes I do more than one photoshoot, but it's not often that I do three photoshoots with the same model within a few months.  In this case, the model was something special and it took three shoots for me to feel like I had captured her complex personality.  Even then, there was something missing, which gave me a push to expand my limited video skills.  So this blog post is the first one that includes a short video clip.  After you view it, please leave a comment and tell me if you feel it added to the overall experience.


Her model name is elflilly and I found her on a well known website where photographers and models meet.  She was just getting into modeling and wanted some nice photos for her portfolio.   We started with a simple studio photoshoot.  I was immediately impressed with her unusual combination of sophistication, womanly curves and a sharp intellect.  Definitely not the norm for models in her age range!


Here are some photos from our first shoot.  I used my typical studio setup of four Alien Bees.  These two images were captured with my trusty Canon 85mm F/1.8 on the 5D3.







As regular readers know, I love to do urban outdoor shoots in downtown Portland, so it was an easy choice for the next shoot with Elflilly.  The exact spots where I shoot vary with the weather and the time of day.  I prefer to use the natural light and that means timing is critical.  The first photos were taken on the East bank of the Willamette River.  This one shows the Hawthorne bridge in the background.  I have been experimenting with HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography and this seemed like a good spot for it.  That's why the colors and tones have a somewhat impressionistic look. 




The cloudy morning skies were slowly clearing, which meant that I'd need to keep the sky out of the photos to avoid the ugly white sky look.  This stairway made a great stage for several shots.  I used the 85mm lens at F/2 in order to blur the background.  The white sky acted like a gigantic softbox as long as the model was facing South as she is in the first image.  In the second, she is facing North and you can see that her face is not as well lit.



At this point the sun was starting to come out and the harsh light drove us into the shadows.  The following image shows how you sometimes find white reflectors in the environment that supplement the overhead light.




Searching for more shaded areas, I decided to make use of this ancient bridge support, which gives a bit of a grungy, industrial look.


After getting to know Elflilly during the first two photoshoots, I realized that her harp is a big part of her life.  She wanted to get some photos of herself looking sexy with her harp, so a third shoot was scheduled in my studio.  I started with the white background for a high key look.  I haven't photographed a harpist before and had fun figuring out the best poses and lighting.  You have to watch out for the shadow cast by the harp on the model's body.



After several poses on the white background, it was time to change the mood and go for the black.




By this time, Elflilly had actually played short pieces on the harp several times, enough for me to discover that she really is quite talented.  Music is something that still photos can't capture, so we agreed to shoot some video.  I'm a still photographer, not a videographer, so please excuse the amateur quality.  I shot this with my Canon 7D, which is my backup camera, using the internal microphone and a big softbox with compact fluorescent bulbs for lighting.  The 5D3 is technically a better video camera, but since the clip was only intended to be posted on the net, I didn't think the extra image quality would be visible.




After this shoot, I have promised myself that I will work hard to improve my video skills.  Perhaps you will be seeing more videos in this blog!


Excellent work. Love the detailed explanations.
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