About technique and more.

A quick tip on using strobes on location

I think one of the most asked questions is about using strobes on location.
How to mix the ambient with the strobes?

In essence it’s really simple.
There is one thing you have to remember.

The aperture is the strobe
The shutter speed is the ambient (constant) light

If you remember this you can start to play.
When you set the strobes for example for an aperture of F11 and you se the final result and you want a bit more ambient light…. just lower your shutterspeed. Now there is one slight problem with this…. Going down is easy (letting in more ambient light), going up… well that’s a different story. In essence most systems and cameras are limited to a max shutterspeed with strobes of 1/125-1/200. Some cameras will claim 1/250 but this is often with speedlights, not the bigger strobes.

Now there are solutions for this.
Mainly HSS (High Speed Sync) and HS (Hyper Sync).
HSS uses a strobes that literally strobes, and this makes it possible to shoot up to the max shutterspeed of your camera.
HS uses a very slow strobe (often 1/500-1/600) and after adjusting the trigger timing you could in essence shoot up to a pretty high shutterspeed.

For me personally HSS is the best choice.
First of all because you can meter it with the newer light meters (Sekonic 858 for example) but also because the hit in performance isn’t that much. With HS the main problem is that the faster you shoot (shutterspeed) the more power you lose, meaning you could end up at f32 on ISO100 1/125 down to f2.8 ISO800 on 1/2000 (these numbers are not real but examples, it varies hugely). This means that HSS is pretty much predictable and HS is a bit of…. well know your gear and you can guess it pretty well.

Now don’t expect HSS to be just as powerfull as non HSS.
This is where a lot of people get dissapointed, you lose a LOT of power when using HSS, but… the benefit is being able to shoot outside on 1/8000 f2.8 ISO100 for example which can give you freaky and awesome results.

But even with these techniques the rule stays…. aperture is strobe (don’t touch this, unless you also change the strobes output) and shutterspeed makes it brighter or darker outside while your subject keeps the same exposure.

How to set it up
In the past it was pretty easy when you used a lightmeter, but it wasn’t always spot on.
What you did was use a spotmeter and aim for the darkest area you want detail, now add 4 stops to that number and you know how to setup your strobe. When shooting that part will now barely have detail, but you can get it back in Lightroom or Capture One.

Now I said the past…
That’s right, because now a days you can do it much easier in fact.
Use your EVF.
Set the camera for the desired ISO (100) and shutterspeed (I would advise 1/60) now just start dialing in your aperture until you see what you like through the EVF, remember that F stop and set your strobe to match it. Now you will have a properly lit subject and the background will look like you wanted in the EVF.

So why that 1/60?
Well easy. If you decide later on you want the sky darker… just go to 1/125
If you decide it has to be lighter you can still drop down to 1/25 for example depending how steady you are.
It also helps in countries like mine to counteract some of the variation of the available light, we always have a lot of clouds and they will make the ambient jump around a bit.

I hope this helps you guys out?
If you want way more in depth information about using strobes on location check my tutorials on www.frankdoorhof.com/videos
Or subscribe to our YouTube channel on www.youtube.com/frankdoorhof 

Watch out what you sign… or at least think about it.

During our lifetime we sign several contracts.
We buy a new house, insurance, energy etc. everything is bound by contracts. And let me make 100% clear that I strongly feel for the use of contracts. However, this blog post is not without reason.

Let’s look at the model industry.
Let’s make it really simple.
We have 2 kinds of models.

Freelance and agency models
I don’t think I have to explain the difference, but let’s do it anyway. Freelance models are their own boss, they can book whatever they want, they earn all the money and that’s it. Agency models are represented by an agency.

And this is where it gets tricky….
What does the agency do exactly?
In a perfect world the agency makes you rich and in the process also earns money… in reality, it’s a bit different of course. Only a very very small percentage of models will actually earn a living from modelling and build a career.

Now it gets more tricky and sometimes frustrating.
An agency should promote their models, actively offer the model to clients and of course, make sure the portfolio of the model is up to date and accurate. Some agencies are great at this and are often very very picky in which models they take in. Some agencies, however, are not.

In this case, use your common sense
How many models are on their site?
How many clients do they list on their site?
Do they charge money for a test shoot or registration?
Feel free to ask the agency for an overview of what the other models have done, a good agency will be proud of this and show you what they did for their models. A model agency is there to earn money let’s make that clear, nobody does this because they like you, they do it for the hard cash, and there is nothing wrong with this. We all have to eat.

Now, why is this all so important?
Well, there is “small” thing a lot of people don’t realize.
When you sign a contract for 2 years, you are legally bound to this contract, and that can have both severe consequences as well as benefits.

Now, this is my own experience.
I won’t mention any names, and let me make 100% clear I don’t actually blame the agency, but it did motivate me to write this blog post.

We recently did some test shoots with several models and one of these models looked interesting. Very cool girl and although very inexperienced I did see potential and wanted to give the girl a chance. So far so good. However, this did change pretty fast. It seems the model was signed to a model agency, and her contract actually forbids her to do any kind of work without the agency….

Please reread that last sentence
When you sign for “most” agencies they are very strict in this and a lot of models don’t realize this. When you sign for an agency there is a huge chance that in your contract it states that you can’t do anything without their approval (read they want a percentage or even forbid you to do it). This can be pretty awkward to be honest. A few years ago I helped a friend out for her end exam and her friend was a signed model with an international career (one of the girls that did earn a living by modelling), In essence my friend wanted to shoot a fake fashion campaign to use for her end exam and ask her model friend to do it and me to shoot it. In essence, I could not mention the model was in my studio, I could never use the images and my friend had to sign a contract together with me in which we agreed that this was 100% secret and that the slides used for her exam would never ever appear anywhere else… sounds extreme? yeah well…. it was but I also understand it.

Now when you think about it, it’s pretty weird, right?
Why can’t you just help out a friend?
Well… the model agency invested in this model, it’s the face of that agency and the clients she worked for, if she would do a photoshoot with an amateur and that would appear online her face value is decreased. You might argue that I’m not an amateur… but let’s be honest… where do you put that limit? Who decides what will hurt the investment of the agency and what will help.

Back to the test shoots
I know I can offer the models a kickass portfolio, loads of experience, help them out with their growth and in short make them a better model that can be marketed better. An agency can have a huge benefit from this. In this case, however, we were confronted with a pretty stiff response. She can do workshops but I have to guarantee that no images by me or my students will ever be used commercially….. this for me means the end of the road.

All the attendees of my workshops sign a contract in which they state that they will not use the images commercially, but they will post on social media, use them in their portfolio etc. And for me the story is a bit more complicated, I’m an ambassador for several brands like Sony, Hensel, BenQ, Xrite, Rogue etc. and these companies use my images for the promotion of my work…. and this is a bit where the agency and I had a discussion point.

In my opinion, I can guarantee (well at least I have a contract) that my students will not use the images commercially, but I can’t and will not forbid them to post them online, it’s part of the workshop and it’s their right to show the work they created. In my own situation, it’s absolutely unthinkable that I would even consider not using the images. Imagine shooting a great image with awesome styling where everything clicks and I can’t use that image to promote my work… and reread that last sentence.

When Sony or another firm uses my images it’s not to promote one of their products with the face of that model, but it’s the promotion of their ambassador who uses their products. Now I don’t know how this is arranged by law in every country (any lawyers out there?) but I see that as something completely different. On the other hand, I do understand that if for example model X is shown in an add for Sony it’s difficult for the agency to use her to promote Nikon….. on the other hand….. it’s not about the model it’s about the ambassador…

As mentioned before I’m not attacking the agency, far from.
I understand their viewpoint, although in this case it differs from mine and will mean that I will not give this model a chance.

Conclusion
As mentioned before I understand the agencies that try to protect their investment, in this case however the model never got an assignment or any form of payment. In my (maybe simple) idea it would benefit both the agency as the model to let her work for me. I can give her a lot of experience, up to date portfolio and chances to meet clients. In other words, when I would need models for a trade show I would work with the agency, and when I book her for workshops my images can be used in her portfolio.

As it is now the model has to wait until her contract is over. In that period it could very well be that she gets some high paying assignments and never thinks about me again, but it can also mean she will be literally on the bench, out of the game for a year and after that year I found new models and don’t have room for her anymore.

In essence, it doesn’t hurt my business in any way, it’s a simple fact of a test shoot I wasted and up to the next model. For the model this is, however, a little disaster, she doesn’t earn money and misses a great opportunity.

So the only reason I wrote this blog post is as advice to all models out there that want to get signed by an agency, watch out what you sign and realize the consequences. Some agencies are very cool with this and we work with several models that are also signed, they can keep the money from the workshops and the agency uses my images, if a student of mine wants to hire the model they do it via the agency and done. All parties benefit, publications I score as ambassador are added to the model’s card and make her value actually increase.

So before you sign something discuss this and have it added to your contract.
If an agency doesn’t get you any assignments don’t be afraid to ask them what you can do to market yourself better, and if it looks like there is no progress ask them to end the contract. This last part will probably be a problem, because in essence for your contract period whatever you do yourself to get a job has to be run through that agency, so some agencies will just register 100 models and hope that they will do the work and earn money that way. And some agencies invest a ton of time and money in their models and work their asses off to get you work.

Be smart before you sign and be 100% aware of your limitations and chances.
A good agency can get you assignments that you can never do on your own, a bad agency only benefits from you if you do all the work yourself and only take your money. Making the right decision is very difficult.

So what to do?
An agency that asks a fee for registration and photoshoot is a big point of attention.
A good agency doesn’t hire you if they don’t see benefits, so they will invest in you, often this is calculated back from assignments, so you do pay for the agency but via assignments, this is pretty normal although not all agencies do this.

An agency that just signs you easily should let all alarms go off.
Don’t be mad at me, but there are thousands of pretty girls out there, probably with better sizes and more experience so why would they hire you? Don’t be afraid to ask them why? and if you offered yourself to them, ask them why they think that you make a chance.

If you sign a contract for 1-2 years in model land this is almost a lifetime, if you do it right you can earn money, see the world, have great assignments, if you do ok you have some cool assignments and fun, if you do it wrong… you end up with 1-2 years out of the game.

Use common sense and bring someone that understands contracts.

 

Disclaimer
This blog post is 100% my own opinion.
This blog post is not aimed at one person or agency, although inspired by the works of several agencies I had dealings with in the past and present both negative and positive.

I’m 100% aware of the fact that if someone has a contract they are legally bound by that contract, I also believe that most agencies will have the best intentions with their models, and this blog post is not an attack but a hopeful wakeup call for models that want to be signed….. if you are a 100% top model find an agency as fast as possible they can really help you, if you just like modelling and love to do fun stuff go to an agency that will give you some freedom.

Thanks for reading.
And as always, leave comments below, hit that like button because we really like that and be friendly to each other.

 

The best place to shoot amazing images

One of my favorite places to shoot images must be flea markets.

First off you can find amazing cool stuff for your photography or music or whatever you collect. But you can also often find the most interesting people like this cool lady. She was lovely and fun .

#fleamarkets #streetphotography #weirdpeople #fstoppers #strangepeople

Feel free to add your favorite shots.

Tip : Don’t be afraid to leave the lights on/in

Often we try to get the lights out of the frame as much as possible or in locations where they are easily cloned out.
However sometimes it can be incredibly cool to just leave them in…..

 

You can see the complete tutorial at https://youtu.be/5zEjLyY634I