Do you think that you need expensive and elaborate equipment in addition to hair and makeup stylists, wardrobe specialists, photo assistants, location scouts, a motor home portable studio, and more to take successful photographs? Well, rest easy, because you do not. I know, because I have been photographing models and non-models for decades. There have been many, many times when there was only the person being photographed and me, the photographer, at the photo shoot. The words “photo shoot” can be an exaggerated expression, too. It implies all the many personnel listed above when photographing an ad campaign, a fashion editorial, or a beauty product, to name a few. That is when all the extra personnel are not extra at all, but essential – the very core of the photo itself.
Keep Your Skills Sharp
In the photo above, the subject, a young lady, was not an experienced model. She was interested in simply having her photograph taken by a professional so that she could have a nice photo. As a professional photographer, I am always interested in keeping my skills sharp. I knew that we could get sweet results with little effort. Many of my favorite photos were taken with only the model and myself present. Photo sessions are often the most creative, intimate, and subtle forms of expression and communication. It is similar for many photographers, and it certainly is so for most of my photographer friends who I have spoken to about this. It is akin to a musician writing and creating music, or a chef designing and preparing cuisine. It is the method by which the artist connects, interacts and expresses.
Learn Ten Photography Points
- use the equipment that you have, knowing it is enough
- photograph your friends and family and practice frequently
- with a woman, simple eyeliner and lipstick is all you really need
- you can wet the hair to slick it down to create a casually enticing look
- be aware of the condition of the light in the sky
- if there are moving clouds, you must be aware of the f-stop changes
- keep it as simple as possible by using consistent lighting
- there is only one sun – i.e., one light source – think about that – it illuminates everything
- noon light is very strong and will create challenges
- strive to capture the subject’s “goodness” in the image
Compensate for Changing Light Conditions
We went to my favorite location for a photo shoot: the beach. It was later in the afternoon, and the light was flat, as it was overcast. Which is just fine with me. When there is an overcast sky, with off white, expansive clouds, it diffuses light from the sun and distributes it evenly upon the subject, the ground, and everything. It is a constant light, too, which enables the photographer to take a light reading, with predictable and steady light. This is different than, for example, a bright sun at noon, where the light may seem attractive to the untrained eye, but it will create difficulties. Light which is too bright causes squinting. Squinting is unattractive and detracts from the overall beauty of both the model and the final product. Also, if you are taking photographs during noon light, and there are the kinds of clouds which come and go, the lighting will have different strengths and looks. You will need to adjust your light reading to accurately compensate for the loss and addition of light. Of course, you can utilize a diffusion screen – which is held between the light and the model. That is assuming you have someone to hold it for you – which you do not, if you are alone.
Hair, Eyeliner, Mascara: Basics
In order to make the look just a little more interesting, the model dunked her hair in the ocean and slicked it back – with her hands. That was the extent of the hair styling. She put on a little eyeliner and mascara – herself. Which took all of about one minute. I asked her to put her hands on either side of the blue shirt and look directly at the camera. I was using a Nikon 24-70 mm zoom lens, at full zoom, at about f4. Like many of my photos, this was taken with Fuji transparency film. The same exact results can be made with digital equipment, and it can be made quicker and easier, as you can observe the quality and content of the image as you shoot, and adjust as you like. As usual, I encourage you to learn how to use a light meter. More knowledge will empower you, particularly in lighting. The final result is a truly beautiful, simple, honest and penetrating photograph. The model’s presence, heart, and beauty can be felt. Use natural light, be spontaneous, go outside and photograph your friends and family. Practice does make perfect.