Yves Saint Laurent and Model Karen Mulder. Photo by: Helmut Newton
All three of these are fundamentals needed in fashion photography. Yet these are often missed or overlooked by new photographers in the field or those fresh out of school. I’ll never forget my first photography class, we were asked to to give a reason why we decided to pursue fashion photography. Many students couldn’t come up with a reason. The most common one was “oh fashion photography seems cool”, or “I get to shoot beautiful models and do whatever I want”. Needless to say after the first three weeks into our semester half the class dropped out after finding out that fashion photography isn’t all that meets the eye. A lot of hard work goes into making that ever so perfect image which master photographers make seem all too easy .
Photo by: Helmut Newton
To me it’s very important for young fashion photographers to be aware of the work of their predecessors and also study the impact that such work can have on our field today. Great artists and photographers often refer back to their mentors and famous images that helped shape their creative eye. Fashion is ever so changing and so is fashion photography, many new photographers I talk to give me blank stares when I mention names such as Horst P. Horst, Avedon or Newton. It always baffles me when young photographers don’t know the work of such masters and the fact that their work helped shape the very field we all want to work in. Avedon brought movement to the pages of fashion magazines which were so posed and stiff before he came along and Helmut, well, Helmut brought out the kink and free spirit in everyday fashion. Being knowledgeable about such work and photographers in my opinion helps greatly in shaping and molding a brand new photographer. After all, how can we move forward in a medium where everything has been done at least once already?
Photo by: Paolo Riversi
The historical aspect aside , fashion photographers should love fashion! Live it, love it, and dream about it. I mean why else would you want to be a fashion photographer? You can always find photographers such as Mario Testino and Patrick Demarchelier front row during fashion week. These photographers shoot countless fashion spreads and editorials, and they immerse themselves in every aspect of it and it shows in their work. Fashion photographers have to be aware of a lot of things; you’re photographing garments that need to grab the viewer’s attention, you need to know how to photograph them well and may even have to lend your eye in styling them to make an image. Even Paolo Roversi has occasionally styled his own editorials! Obviously, a strong background in fashion is a must for this. It’s not something I wish on anyone, but there will always be one of those days where you need a stylist and the only person that can come through is you, so you better know how to put an outfit together !
Mario Testino at Burberry Fashion Show. Photo by: Chris Jackson
The point I’m trying to make here is that many new and upcoming photographers seem to lack a strong background in the history of and passion for fashion photography and it shows in their work. How else are you supposed to stand out in an industry where anyone who has access to a camera pretty much calls themselves a photographer?
This post was written by William David Walsh who is a Fashion Photographer based in San Francisco.
“Words from the Trenches on Assisting a Fashion Photographer”
Here’s the facts: I’m super busy. I hit the ground running in 2012 and I’m still running. I spent 6 weeks in Los Angeles and shot 4 editorials, 2 commercials, collaborated with Dimitrios Papagiannis on 3 experimental films and even found time to shoot some personal work!! I have literally thrown myself back into my photography and it feels amazing! With upcoming work trips to Berlin and Brazil, this year is promising to be rather stellar! With all this said, though, I have to keep up with this blog! And that’s going to be a little difficult with all the work. So what do we do when we realize we’re going to have to switch up the game? We decide to expand the blog and invite guest writers to post about their experiences in the fashion photography business. You’ll hear from assistants, make up artists, agents and other young, aspiring fashion photographers about their journey’s in the industry. I promise to review each post and only provide the most interesting content. And of course, as my work becomes published, I will keep you updated on what the latest and greatest happenings are going down in my world. Along with a whole new re-design, The Fashion Photography Blog is going to continue to take you on the epic journey of what it’s like to be a fashion photographer but we’re going to take it the next level! So without further ado, I’d like to introduce our first guest writer. A person very near and dear to me because he is vital to my process. Tyler Mitchell has been my first assistant for over 2 years and I rely on him more than I rely on any other person in my life. Without a great assistant, I can’t do what I do as well as I do it. So now that I’ve introduced him-
Let’s hear what Tyler has to say about being an assistant to a fashion photographer:
So you’re fresh out of school or you’re trying to change your job, and you want to get into fashion photography. Where do you even begin? For a lot of people, working as an assistant is the best way to get a peek into the industry and learn the standards and etiquette that are required in order to succeed in this industry. In fact, from my own experience, I strongly recommend that anyone who is serious about trying to shoot fashion needs to start by assisting. I feel like I have learned in a couple years what would have taken a lifetime on my own. Rest assured, there are plenty of hungry kids who already know this and who are out hunting for every job they can get. Getting assisting jobs, though, is not as easy as it would seem. The reality is that there are jobs out there, but there are also a lot of talented people looking for them. The majority of photographers that are working consistently already have a team with a 1st assistant, digital tech, and maybe a studio manager and an intern or two, and then they hire other assistants from lists of people that they have met or that come recommended from someone that they trust. As much as assisting is a fun job, it is hard work and at times you can be responsible for tasks that are vital to the shoot. This makes it hard to break into working as an assistant, because photographers want to know that you’re not going to mess up. They also want to know that you will know how to use the gear properly, safely, and quickly. Working as an intern for a little while is a good way to meet people, and to see everything else that goes into running a photography business, and although you probably won’t be that involved in the actual lighting, you will get to see a crew work together and pick up things that will help you later on.
Do’s and Dont’s
If you decide that you want to try to find work as an assistant, be it freelancing around or trying to get yourself into a full-time 1st position, there are a few things that you need to do, and not do. Most of it you will figure out on your own, and that’s how it has to be because that’s how the rest of us ended up where we are. We love what we do and we study it and think about it every day. If you don’t love what you’re doing, you probably won’t get hired back.
The first thing that will most likely happen if you are lucky enough to get in touch with someone when they are looking to expand or replace someone is you will go meet them. Sometimes they will want to see a resume but you most likely sent this when you contacted them in the first place. And when you created your resume, you definitely kept it on one page, because people who will click off your site in 3 seconds if it doesn’t load certainly don’t want to read your life story when they’ve never even met you.
Hopefully, you also have some relevant experience from interning, or you know some equipment/cameras/software from school or your own gear that you can list, and if you’ve been freelancing you can list some photographer’s you have worked with. If you have looked at capture one twice, don’t say you know it. If you’ve never set up a superboom or an octabank or bi-tubes, don’t lie about it, but make sure that you’re eager to learn and when you do get on set, pay attention to everything you see more experienced people doing.
Stealing a Photographers Contacts
Another very serious “don’t” that I want to go over is that you are not ever on set to promote yourself. If you work with a certain photographer enough, you may get comfortable enough that they will give you a contact, but it is never something you should go after on your own while working for someone else. We had a second assistant in LA, who came on set and was more or less doing a good job, and at the end of the day he was nowhere to be found. As it turns out, he was showing his book to the stylist and the client. Guess who got a talking to, and their phone number changed to “do not answer”? This is very, very important. You are there to help the photographer in any way possible. While you get to learn form your job, it is never OK to approach anyone on set in regards to your work unless suggested or approved by the photographer. And if you like your job I’d try and wait a little while before asking, as it is a tight, competitive industry and some people will be more open to sharing their contacts than others.
“You Have to Really Want it”
I guess what I’m getting at is that there’s a lot that goes into assisting, but it’s an extremely valuable opportunity to anyone trying to come up in the photography industry. If you move to a city and are trying to get a job, don’t be surprised if it takes a while. You have to really want it. We get people asking to assist or intern all the time, but the reality is.that we have a crew of people that we use and trust that is usually deep enough to cover our needs, and as long as those people are available, it’s going to be extremely hard to get in. That’s just how the industry is. There are a lot of talented and hungry people so you have to make yourself stand out. There is also something to be said for simply getting along really well with a photographer. If you both like being around each other everything is easier. The more you can educate yourself on the trends of your specific piece of the industry, and get yourself up to date on a lot of different gear, the better chance you have of getting called back and getting regular work from someone. Same goes for your actions on set… you should be anticipating what the photographer or next assistant is going to need, be ready to problem solve if something goes wrong, and most importantly you can’t stress out or start throwing attitude around. If you start doing that, there’s a huge chance you’ll never get called back. There is always something to be done, and don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t know where to start.
Keep Yourself Busy
The last thing that I want to say about this crazy process of becoming a photographer is that you have to remember to shoot for yourself. Its easy to keep yourself busy just trying to keep money in your bank to eat, and to forget to shoot. Even though you might be working around photography almost every day, if you aren’t actually shooting something for yourself you are just getting rusty. Most likely, even though you think your photos are cool or you did well in school, you don’t really have a book yet. It takes time shooting good stuff and bad stuff to try to figure out your style, so use this time that you have working a side job or assisting to shoot for yourself. My roommates were a Godsend for this. I live with three photographers from the college I went to and a writer. Ian (the writer) recently started a magazine, which is a huge project, but I hopped right on it because its a chance to force myself onto a schedule of shooting for myself. With everyone working together on projects like RELAPSE mag, we are able to really push each other do do more, and do it better. I think thats why we get the jobs that we do, and why we’re generally lucky enough to have the life we have. We didn’t get handed a loft in SOHO, we didn’t get into fashion to sleep with models, we didn’t get into photography for cameras. The fact that we are all clear in what we want, and love every second of donating our blood sweat and tears into our art, makes us both better assistants, and better photographers. Good luck, keep it real.
One dispute that seems to come up for me, over the years that I’ve been a fashion photographer, is the treatment of the models. Or better still, what to do with a model who isn’t giving you what you need. So here’s the dilemma: you cast a girl who you think fits the look you’re going for on a particular shoot. You organize the team, putting together the best hair stylist, make up artist and stylist for the job. You rent or find the location. You go over and over the details with your team before you even get to the set. You leave no stone unturned: all the details are complete. You’re finally ready to shoot and the girl just won’t emote. You’re playing her iPod, everyone is happy to be there and in a creative mood, food has been offered and eaten. And the girl just won’t give it up! What do you do?
I have a dear friend in the industry who has been doing this as long as I have and he and I have completely opposite viewpoints on this. I won’t say he’s famous for being a “screamer” but he’s one of these photographers that will definitely get angry with the model if she isn’t emoting or giving him what he needs to get the shot. He’s been known to make the models cry or have them walk off set to call their agents. His take is that he’s put all this work in to the shoot to create exactly what he wants and if the model isn’t emoting, the shoot is a waste. I agree with that….it is a waste if the girl just stands there or if the girl is giving you those Model 101 poses. It is totally frustrating and debilitating.
My viewpoint on the subject is this:
If she ain’t got it, she ain’t gonna’ get it. At least not in the 6 hour time frame I need her to be “on”. And maybe because I’m a woman and I’m against berating other women, I just can’t find it in me to be a jerk and start yelling at the model. I feel like the reason why she really can’t emote is because she’s shy or insecure in the first place and screaming at her isn’t going to do anything positive for her already low self esteem. To make the shoot more interesting, I’ll end up moving around the girl myself and shooting at angles that add interest and don’t necessarily need her to emote that strongly. Or, if I have to, I will take her aside and make sure she feels comfortable because maybe someone along the way in production (like the make up artist or the hair stylist) did or said something that upset her so I’ll clear that up so hopefully we can move past it. But when all possible reasons why the girl isn’t emoting have been checked off and she still won’t move, I basically walk away with a shoot that wasn’t all I was expecting. And sometimes I’ll admit, the shoot is a wash. At least in my opinion.
More often than not, if it’s a job, I don’t have the final say on the model choice. And while I can tell the client what’s happening, that the girl isn’t moving or emoting, at the end of the day, the client doesn’t really want to hear it they just want results. I try to keep the set lively and happy and positive and pull out what I can from the girl. I’m fairly good at it at this point. But I don’t scream and yell and reduce the model to tears.
But I know other photographers that do. While I thought I was taking the higher ground by not being a “screamer”, you can see by the short video from our Fashion Photography Exposed DVD when I interview modeling agent James Charles from Photogenics that he doesn’t necessarily agree with me. He thinks that the girls need to be trained and taught that when they are on set with a photographer they need to give that photographer what they’re looking for. So by all means, you gotta’ do what you need to do, to get the shot.
I know that not all of you are working with professional models yet and that the new faces or girls from sites like Model Mayhem can be extra challenging because they too are starting out and may not “know” what emoting even is or how to do it.
So here are some “tricks” you can try to get the new
girls to open up and start emoting for you:
One is to ask them if they want to hear a particular kind of music. Ask them if they brought their own iPod or iPhone with their iTunes on it so they can hear the kind of music they like listening to. Music is a great motivator to get people “moving” and happy. It’s a mood elevator. And I use it often to get everyone to loosen up and start enjoying themselves. After all, this job is really supposed to be fun, right?
Work with People who are Easy Going
Another thing I try to do, and I’m not always in a position to do it, but I try to hire make up, hair and stylists that are relatively easy going and fun to work with. A Diva hair stylist can intimidate a new model like you wouldn’t believe. That won’t help your cause, so try to work with non-Diva-esque people.
Another trick is humour. Everybody loves to laugh. So try to get the model to laugh. That will help loosen her up. And lastly, SHOW her what you want. Get up there on the cyc or on the seamless and show her where to put her legs or what expression you’d like her to give. If you feel awkward showing her yourself, gather your mood board or have some pictures on hand so you can show her, “This is what I’m looking for, smile (or frown or wink or snarl) like this girl”. Having a reference point will often set them on the right path.
I thought it would be interesting to get your feedback. What do you guys think? Are there any “screamers’ out there that get good results from that? Or do you take the more passive role like myself? What are your thoughts. Let’s keep this age old debate going!! I want to hear from you guys now, how you handle a model who isn’t emoting or moving and let us know some tricks you’ve used in the past that might help other readers get through this dilemma.
“Shooting in the Persian Gulf on a Yacht”
When I wrote that on my Facebook on the morning of my shoot, a good friend of mine who’s also in the industry commented: “Wow, your life certainly doesn’t suck!” The thing is, these shoots are what we work so hard for so long to obtain! And what a perfect day it was for our Chanel shoot! Blue skies, crystal seas and a crew that was both talented and fun, this was one of my favorite shoots this past year! Oh and did I mention Chanel? If you know me at all, you know how much J’aime Chanel!
Sally, the fashion editor for Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, was totally on point with the styling for this shoot! Must be that impeccable taste she has that makes me adore her so much! She put together the pieces and accessorized them in a pure and simple manner which just read EXQUISITE. And our gorgeous model, Iga, was the perfect muse for this editorial, possessing both beauty and intelligence. Well poised, charming and articulate, she was everything a “Chanel” girl represents! We had 9 people on a fairly small yacht, so logistically we had to pick our angles and shots carefully. Clothing was kept in the master bedroom suite, equipment was stored in the dining/living area and I had to position myself securely while shooting some of the shots so I wouldn’t fall overboard! While I don’t care about taking a splash in the Persian Gulf, there is no way I’m going to take a camera overboard with me. So given the difficulties in shooting on a small yacht while racing across the Persian Gulf proved complicated, this is another lesson in how team effort is so important to pulling a shoot off successfully. The boat was rocking and sea sickness was seeming to become contagious. I got what felt like heat stroke at one point and had to sit down in between shots. But the team pulled through! Someone held me while I shot ( I can’t even remember who, now, but I remember someone holding my legs while I was shooting Iga on the bow of the yacht ). Tyler was racing back and forth between where I was shooting and the equipment to grab a filter or a different sized reflector so he grew some sea legs on this shoot! I don’t think he even fell! Kudo’s to Tyler!! Whoever was in sight and could manage to get to the model while the boat was racing, was helping out with the shoot. It was a perfect collaboration! Chanel had two girls from the Paris office who not only brought Parisian chocolate, they jumped in and helped with the shoot.
Voilá……….the pictures tell the story of team effort, perfect collaboration and with a little bit of resourcefulness and a lot of pitching in with no ego and attitude, any shoot can be accomplished! Thanks to everybody who participated in this shoot. I shot the whole story on the Nikon D3 with the 85mm lens. tje 50mm and the 24mm. We used a ND filter and a polarizing filter to get rid of the flare from the bright reflections off the very white yacht and the sun lit sea. We used a lens hood as well to keep the flare off the lenses. We used reflectors on some shots and we mixed flash with natural light on other shots. Shutter speeds ranged between 200 sec to 640 sec keeping the F stop around F8.
All Images © Melissa Rodwell Photography | 2011
After an incredible Twitter Frenzy, we have our winner ! It was a very close race, but after tallying all the votes, our winner is Reikko Navarro, who I might add here, won by a mere 1 vote on Twitter. Congratulations, Reikko! We’ll be sending out your DVD to you right away! Thanks to all 8 photographers who participated in the contest. I honestly loved everyone’s photograph and to me, you’re all winners!
Some other important news: Due to an overwhelming demand we’ve decided to make our DVD available as a digital download! We understand that some of you don’t want to deal with waiting for shipping. In fact, what we’ve heard more often than not, is that some of you don’t even want to have to wait at all! Since I aim to please, now you can watch Fashion Photography EXPOSED instantly!
Okay I have a Launch Party to get ready for tonight (if you’re in NYC, come drink and be merry with us at Home Sweet Home in NYC) and a 10 page editorial to prep for next week. Theme of the shoot: Blood. Oh yeah. You know I’m totally excited about this particular shoot! Stay Chill. Peace out! xoxo
Wow! I have to say, there were some really outstanding submissions for the Fashion Photography Exposed DVD contest tweeted to me this past week. So, first off, a BIG thanks to everybody who participated in the contest and especially to those who even joined twitter for the first time just to submit your photograph. It was amazing to see everyone jump on this contest and tweet their work to me!
I have spent the last day trying to narrow down the list of great photos to just one single shot and I’m having the toughest time. But I keep reminding myself that there can only be ONE winner. And the winner’s name is Nicola Taylor from the UK. I love the ethereal, surreal feeling with Nicola’s shot and it depicts the element of “Air” very well. It has a very occult feel in my opinion and I love Occult-Lore. It reminded me of a Gothic story, very dreamy and sensual with a “Neverland” feel. Great job, Nicola! You had some tough competition but your shot really stood out for me.
BUT! Wait, I’m not done yet!
Because I had such a tough time choosing a winner I wanted to give the runners-up 1 more chance to score a copy of the FP Exposed DVD. So I have rounded up my top 8 selections and we’re going to let you, the readers here at the FP Blog, decide on the second winner! Same idea except obviously the second DVD is the second one off the press, not the first. But I will sign it and ship it off to you, no matter where you live.
How to Vote:
Choose your favorite photo below and click on the “TWEET” BUTTON TO VOTE!
Alternatively, you can tweet the # of the photo you would like to vote for example “#3″ and the hashtag text “#FPDVDContest @FPblog” via your twitter page. So your final tweet would look something like “I Vote for #1 Fabio Gloor in the #FPDVDContest @FPblog”
- Please only 1 Vote Per Twitter Account! So only tweet us 1 time!!!
- Re-tweets from friends DO COUNT AS VOTES!!!
- The photo with the most votes, WINS!!
VOTING ENDS IN 48 HOURS ON FRIDAY DECEMBER 9TH @ MIDNIGHT EST!!
WE WILL ANNOUNCE THE WINNER THE FOLLOWING DAY ON SATURDAY DECEMBER 10TH
So here are our 8 runner ups:
#1 – Fabio Gloor – Tweet
#2 – Katie Eleanor – Tweet
#3 – Yohanes Mangitung – Tweet
#4 – Nicole Kotrbova – Tweet
#5 – James Broadhurst – Tweet
#6 – Reikko Navarro – Tweet
#7 – Jalil Marvin – Tweet
#8 – Amy Lynn – Tweet
We are proud to announce that our DVD is now officially available to purchase!! A very special thank you to all of you who have pre-ordered!! Your DVD was shipped out today and should be in your hands very soon! The pre-order response was overwhelming! It was very touching to see so many pre-orders come in right from the very first night I announced it. How rewarding it is to see so many people interested in what I’ve produced and what I have to say!
So as a special thank you we are offering up the very first DVD hot off the press. The “Test” DVD. The prototype, as it were. I have signed it in silver pen to keep the aesthetics and it’s going to go to one lucky winner in the following contest! Yes, you’re going to have to work for it, if you want it. Isn’t that what I’ve been trying to say about this industry? If you want it you’re gonna’ have to work for it!
So here are the details:
You need to send me ONE photograph, not two or three or ten, but ONE photograph depicting one of the 4 elements: Earth, Air, Fire or Water. This is an assignment just like you’d get from a client. It can ONLY be a fashion or beauty image. It can be an image you already took or you can go out and shoot it and send it to me. But it must convey one of the above mentioned elements and it should be a strong image!!
(CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED!)
Entering is Easy:
1. All you have to do to enter is tweet 1 picture @FPblog and use the hashtag #FPDVDContest
You could follow me as well, but that part is optional
2. Like an assignment from any client, there is a deadline so you have 1 week from today on: December 7th 2011 8am EST
3. At that time I will announce the winner of the contest, post their picture, and they will be sent the DVD directly from us here in NYC!
So you have ONE week to send me that ONE killer shot to win ONE phenomenal DVD!
4 Models. 3 Huskies. 7 Assistants. Clothing, Make-up, Hair, Prop Stylist and a New Camera System. This shoot was just screaming to be filmed for a BTS on our DVD! That’s when we contacted Jay Espinal who came out to shoot for us on my Fall Fashion Shoot for Kurv Magazine. Check out the teaser video above to get an inside look at a segment from the DVD and read the full story below to see what my thoughts are about shooting with the new PhaseOne IQ!!
When I’m given an assignment for a magazine and there is a lot of freedom to shoot “what I want”, I always want to shoot something epic. It’s my chance to show what I can create. Of course, epic can translate into lots of prep, a fair share of headache, and with headaches come a bit of drama. So I sort of expect that the bigger the production, the more complicated. However, the more prepared I am, the less headaches and drama develop. And that’s what I have come to learn over the years: Preparation is KEY to pulling off any size shoot, but especially the bigger ones.
This shoot for Kurv was no exception. In the months leading up to the shoot, I had been pulling Asian models as references for inspiration. At the same time, I was looking at a lot more documentary photography rather than fashion. Thus was born the idea of merging the two themes together: an Asian model story shot more documentary style. Casting took less than a week. Hair, make up and stylist were booked in a day. I found a studio large enough for our big set (I also hired a prop stylist) and a bank of windows to one side (I wanted available light to one side). Root Studios in Brooklyn, NY was our studio for the day of this shoot. We love them AND their cappuccino machine!
Timing is everything and right before we shot, PhaseOne reached out to me. They asked me if I would be interested in shooting with some of their cameras on my next shoot. Are you kidding? I use PhaseOne when I shoot for Ralph Lauren ( the p45+) and I love the camera! So I was more than agreeable to have them come out for the day with their cameras. They brought the 645 DF, the p45+, the p30+ and the IQ180. I settled on the IQ180 and shot it at 20 megapixels because I felt that I didn’t “need” that many pixels and I wanted a faster recycling time. What are the Pros of this camera: Well, for one, I loved the user friendliness of it. The touch screen sensor was a lot like an iPhone! Easy to navigate (because we’re so used to it). Read: Totally cool! The camera had that “old school” feel to it: big, hefty and simple, with only a handful of buttons so you won’t get confused or accidentally push one, having to refer to some on-line manual or the actual manual to trouble shoot your way back to square one. You know I like my “work horse” cameras. One of the biggest reasons I love NIKON so much. More pluses to the PhaseOne: because of the bigger sensor it has a larger dynamic range, which is just a plus that medium format cameras have over 35mm. And the depth of field shrinks which is something else I value. I like blurred backgrounds but being able to control the focus on my subjects (models). So with the PhaseOne, I can shoot at 5.6, ensuring my model stays sharp but the background will blur. NICE. The Cons: Yep. You know what the ONLY con is. The price. It’s a big investment in your gear. And not only is the initial outlay for the camera expensive but you’re probably going to have to update your current computer that you’re using to upload your images to, because the file sizes are so big. Which means you also are probably going to have to buy a couple of additional hard drives to store your raws on. And don’t forget a better fire wire. So as you can see, the add ons are going to become endless. And that just jacks up the cost even more.
However, if you are looking for a medium format camera, in my opinion PhaseOne is the way to go. You can go a less expensive and pick up a digital back to use on your existing Mamiya camera. Which is the route I’ll probably go. When I was in LA shooting for Nike, I bought myself a Mamiya RZ Pro II. Throw on a PhaseOne back, and you have yourself a great medium format digital camera. And of course, when you’re not shooting digital, you’re shooting film on that beautiful camera.
Check out the teaser from this shoot. The full extended version is on the Fashion Photography EXPOSED DVD. It was an incredible day, a stress-free shoot and the results were fab!
All Images © 2011 Melissa Rodwell Photography
Fashion Photography EXPOSED – The DVD!
We’ve kept it under wraps for over a year. But now the secret is finally out! If you haven’t heard by now, we are releasing the first full blown educational fashion photography DVD ever made! We have pulled out all the stops to leave no stone unturned, no question unanswered. And I am honestly very pleased with the results!! Initially we wanted to base the format of the DVD loosely around what I teach at my workshops: a chance for photographers to work on a real fashion shoot with top models and professional hair stylists, make up artists and fashion stylists. And that’s great for a seminar when you’re in the room with me so I can show you what a difference it makes when you work with a pro team. But then we took a look at the bigger picture and realized that the real challenges that most young or up and coming fashion photographers face is inside knowledge on how to break into the industry. On Fashion Photography Exposed, I show you how to produce better fashion shoots with better lighting and then I show you the importance of promoting yourself and your business so you can compete in a very competitive and unpredictable industry. There is so much that the DVD offers but I’m not going to go into all of the specifics here in this post. You can find out all the information about it on the Fashion Photography Exposed DVD website.
What I will say is that we take you on a journey and I’m with you every step of the way. For over 3 hours, you get a completely honest inside look at the elusive “club” that the fashion photography industry truly is. This DVD is not only for education, it’s for inspiration. While we go into a lot of technical information, I emphasize that the most important component needed to being a fashion photographer is the love and passion for it.
Putting together a 3 hour film is a ton of work! But you know what? I am incredibly grateful to my readers on this blog and to my fans. For the past 3 years that I have had the Fashion Photography Blog, I have received thousands of emails from people all over the world and you all have touched my heart immensely. So this is my gift for you.
I’m not selling you on any camera gear or equipment on this DVD. I am not sponsored by anyone. You don’t need a lot of expensive gear to take great photographs. In fact, I’m going to talk you out of going out and spending a fortune on gear. What you need to take great photographs is a real passion for fashion and an undying love for taking even better pictures, every time you shoot! And this DVD speaks loudly to those of you who have that love and passion. So come into my world as a working fashion photographer and see how this all works!!
My first Harper’s shoot from my recent trip to Dubai
Last month I was in Dubai where I shot for Harper’s Bazaar Arabia again. In two weeks I shot 4 editorials and an additional “What Bazaar is Wearing” feature as well. Working with fashion editor Sally Matthews is always a treat because she’s not only a very cool girl, she’s got a great eye for fashion and we have very similar tastes. My first shoot with Sally was a “Gothic Abaya” editorial. An abaya, which literally means “cloak”, is a loose over-garment, like a robe that is worn by some women in the Islamic world. I think it’s a common misconception here in the West to think that the traditional clothing worn by the Muslim women are simple, rather plain or ordinary looking. Well, that’s just not the case and we set about in this shoot to convey the message that some of the traditional clothing worn by women in Saudi Arabia is quite beautiful and often times, very glamourous.
Sally has the great ability to find exotic locations that haven’t been shot in before in Dubai. And so we found ourselves in a resort located about 30 minutes outside of Dubai. The area was more dense in greenery than most Dubai hot spots, which is what Sally wanted because she was looking to do a very Goth-like, forest story with the Abayas. I had the good fortune to work with the talented Kate Goodwin, who had just flown in from London the night before to do the hair and make up. And our model was the gorgeous Masha who was an absolute delight to work with. Tall, thin, gorgeous and man, she could move! We had a grip of equipment with us but ended up using reflectors for most of the day. Dubai is pretty bright, even in a dense garden or tree-lined area. I mean, after all, it is in a desert! So additional flash in the outdoors would have taken the story in a totally different direction. I made the decision to use the natural light and add reflectors when needed to bounce in some even fill. Dubai not only is pretty bright, in September it was very hot. Temperatures were up in the 100 degrees Farenheit!! We had to take mini breaks in between shots because it was too hot to move on quickly to the next shot. But even given these small obstacles, we were able to pull off the 8 page spread with absolute no problems. That’s pretty much due to working with a professional team that pulls together to make the best possible shoot against any and all odds! And that’s why I love working with Sally and make up artist Kate. They jump in and help out and there’s no ego or drama. So important when you’ve got elements against you (sun, rain, heat, mosquitos, etc.) and time restraints (8 pages in 5 hours or you go in to paying overtime).
I had every lens in the kit on this shoot, but ending up using the 85mm and the 50mm throughout the day. We changed lenses in the air-conditioned house and guess what obstacle we had to deal with when going outside where the temperature was 100 F? Yep, the lenses fogged up. So any filters had to be taken off quickly, the lenses had to be wiped off carefully, filters had to be put back on and then the shots needed to be shot quickly because the model was going to faint, running in that heat! Although Masha didn’t complain once! In fact, she was ready and willing to go longer with each shot because she loves doing what she does and she is indeed a real trouper!
Shooting on location has it’s obstacles. Shooting on location in Dubai definitely wasn’t easy but the moral of the story is when you have a great team that works together instead of against each other, you end up with a great shoot and a feeling of accomplishment. As we rode home in the early evening light, exhausted from the sun and rush to get all shots done and done well, we all had a smile on our faces because we knew we had accomplished it! And that to me is a great feeling and something I sort of “live for” as a photographer.
I have more editorials to blog about and those will be coming up shortly here on the blog. I also want to give you all a heads up. In response to a ton of emails and requests, I will be doing workshops again next year in 2012. I will have 4 next year. A Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall Fashion Photography 2 Day Workshop. I’m working out the details now and will post it along with a link to order the tickets coming up very soon. The first one will most likely be in January and it will be held in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. So look out for that if you’re one of the people who is interested in attending. Happy Shooting!!