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Tip : The most simple location can be awesome

Often I hear photographers complain about the lack of great locations…
I always tell them “the best locations are in your head, and often right in front of you”.
Somehow it sometimes seems that if there isn’t a great location the creativity is gone, or is it just that……

In my opinion every location is great to photograph, but I often do look for certain extras like contrast, grunge (rough) and color, OR the lack of it. The more rough the better in all honesty, on the other hand something really static and modern can also be awesome, as you can see there is always something if you WANT to see it.

As I joke I sometimes say “put on your photographers eyes and hunt, don’t look for opportunities but try to find uses for what you see” this is a different mindset but often helps a lot.

Now if you add a little bit of styling to it (or a lot like in this case) you’re on the way to a great shot.
These shots were done during a workshop in Manchester with Nadine, a very simple light setup with one Elinchrom beauty dish with grid straight at Nadine. The wall didn’t look like much but I loved it, and seeing the responses from the attendees as soon as the images came in… they did too.

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Nadine June 8th 2016 Manchester  0289

Tip : should I actually see the eyes?

When you work with a model you often hear…. “it’s all in the eyes”
And although I often agree with this I also strongly believe that sometimes a pose can be SO much more powerful when you don’t see they eyes, in fact think about so many horror, SF movies or comics when you cover up someones eyes the attention of the viewer immediately goes to the pose and the expression/gesture in that pose.

Take for example these shots I did during a recent Cosplay shoot, as you can see you hardly see the eyes in two of these shots, and to be honest the less I see the eyes the more powerful the shot becomes…. of course I shot it with the intend to let the pose do the “talking” but when you have a model that can show a very powerful pose it’s often much cooler and more threatening/moody to just leave the eyes out.

In the first shot I went for the motion and action.
The second shot only shows a “hint” of the eyes and with the third one it’s all about the pose.
So the next shoot you do… try to do something with(out) the eyes 😀

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Cosplay May 29  2016 32617

Tip : Strong backlighting

In the 70’s they knew….
Using strong backlighting can be cool, it creates cool lens flares and it really spices up a shot, I won’t say that after the 70’s the photography went south and flat but in all honesty I sometimes am stunned by the questions I get during workshops about lens flare and backlighting, so I thought it would be cool to write a small blogpost about them.

Whenever I post an image with a strong backlight people ask me for the filter I used?
Now don’t get me wrong I do use filters… I love DxO filmpack and Alien Skin Exposure for tinting my images and I use a LOT of MacPhun intensify to spice up the pop of my images, but the lens flares are in 99% of the cases 100% real.

The shot on top we shot during last weeks workshop with iris and is just a strobe right behind our model without any modifier.
If you meter in front of the model (in this case pointing towards the camera) the exposure on her face will be correct, in fact it’s the scatter light from the studio lighting her face. This is also the cool thing about using an incident light meter (A sekonic in my case), if you hold it in front of the area you want correctly exposed you will get a proper exposure. Now it’s up to you to determine the look you want. In this case I only used one light so it COULD be that the backlight is way too strong, you can than do a few things. You can feather the light (turn it away from the model), or move it to the side of the model so not all light is hitting her (when using a reflector), or (when using a bare strobe) move it further back, or use a reflector in the front, all these techniques will do one thing, lower the contrast between the backlighting and front light.

In essence it looks like a very easy setup, but if you just throw in your lighting you will probably fail, or need a lot of Ps work, so make sure to meter correctly.
If you want to learn techniques about metering, check out our video on the light meter via Video downloads

When you want to do these kind of shots make sure to practice a lot with a mannequin or doll before doing it live with a model.

Some more samples where I used strong(er) backlighting from the sun and strobes.

 

Want more in-depth tips and techniques?
Check out my book “Mastering the model shoot” or get one of my instructional videos via Direct video downloads

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Nadine Maart 2016 Imaging days Brussel Sony RETOUCH 0002

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Adding some spice with masks

One of the things I love to do is play with masks.
You could make the joke that it saves on retouching, or it even makes an ugly model look great, but (although all true) in essence for me it’s also the fact that you don’t see any facial expressions, so believe it or not it’s actually MUCH harder to pull off a good shot.

As human beings we are triggered by expressions, emotions (like laughing, smiling, being sad etc) and when you take these away the whole shot can become very “static”, and this is what you actually do with a mask. Now it’s up to YOU to create something interesting.

This weekend was the first time Iris was our model for a workshop, I did a testshoot with her of course but this was her first real “in front of the camera during a workshop” day. I always leave a lot of freedom to the models to think of something cool during the workshops, Iris and Liselotte came up with the following idea… and I loved it.

We often visit flea-markets (for our comics addiction and) to buy some cool stuff for our photoshoots, flea-markets and secondhand stores are actually goldmines for photographers and stylists, often you can get great deals on awesome props. When they are selling gas masks I’m always interested, somehow I just love the story they tell but also the look they give a model, you can combine them with dresses (in this case an awesome Sinister dress) but also with nudes (if you shoot them) and …. well it’s the kind of accessory that CAN work always, but it can also completely destroy a shot, so be careful and think about what you’re doing.

Lighting wise I used one simple lightbulb, no reflectors, no strobes, just a 100W bare bulb.
Here are some of the results.
Also see the difference the BW conversion makes, I always have difficulty choosing so I included both 😀

 

Want more in-depth tips and techniques?
Check out my book “Mastering the model shoot” or get one of my instructional videos via Direct video downloads

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Iris May 10  2016 1912

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Iris May 10  2016 1932

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Iris May 10  2016 2231