Fashion Model Portfolio Photography West and East Sussex
The beauty of location photography is quite simply the fact that the world (or whatever environment you find yourself in) becomes your studio. This is far more interesting than always confining yourself or your subjects to a white room. It’s also the basis for many if not most forms of fashion photography and model portfolios. We can also create the look and feel of a studio pretty much anywhere if we want to, all we need is a plain wall and adequate light, be it natural or artificial. Then there is everything else …. the interesting parts of a client’s home or garden, a favourite walk, a beach or woodland. There are some limitations, such as the weather and any restrictions placed upon private property, but in most cases we can get around any potential obstacles.
Today’s outing was a treat for several reasons. Firstly, it was an opportunity to meet up with one of my favourite photographers, John Denton who has reached Master accreditation with the SWPP. John is a well-known photographer and creates many model portfolios as well as being a very experienced speaker and mentor for The Societies. And of course an opportunity to touch bases with the rest of the gang, including model Nikki Hafter. We found ourselves in an incredibly exclusive part of the world, a fabulous stretch of beach just east of Sandbanks in Dorset. Seeing John shoot is always inspiring, he shares his models so we can create our own images as well. These days are about experimentation and all of the best photographers I know regularly undertake practice sessions like this.
Learning is a never ending process when it comes to photography. Photography is such a demanding and varied medium that the learning curve will never cease and we should always strive to be better if photography is our business. Just because we have attained a good place in the industry doesn’t mean that we should sit back on our laurels. Earlier this year I gained the highest qualification currently attainable in the photography world (Fellowship of the BIPP and SWPP) but that makes no difference to my attitude to personal development. There may only be a handful of Fellows worldwide but I remember an occasion at The Societies Convention in London when I attended a notable seminar and I counted around half a dozen Fellows in the same room, all listening intently to the speaker. All photographers are different, and we can all learn from each other.
Back to the shoot. This followed a format which is fairly classic if one is shooting a model portfolio with a fashion bias, but is equally relevant to location portrait photography in general. During location photo shoots I aim to create a good range of photographs using different parts of the environment, including head shots through to wider contextual images. Lighting can vary from natural daylight, reflectors, through to multi-light setups using Elinchrom Quadra lights which are powerful but quite small and compact which makes them ideal for carrying around on location.
Modifiers included large softboxes, grids, and enormous parabolic umbrellas. Equally, the same concepts can be shot using speedlights, providing they are fairly powerful and the ambient light isn’t overwhelmingly strong. When using strobe in very bright daylight we are generally wanting to create a lighting ratio where the ambient light is a couple of stops lower than the strobe light hitting the subject. But that’s personal taste. Gaining this ratio can be challenging at times because cameras usually have a maximum sync speed of around 1/200 second which won’t be enough to cut down the daylight at wide to moderate apertures. Therefore to gain the ratio we need we might be looking at f16 or tighter. Here’s the difference between a shutter speed of 1/250 and 1/500:
Such small apertures require fairly powerful strobes in order to get enough light registering on our subject. As usual I had my little secret weapon with me, my Fujifilm X100, which has a leaf shutter so I’m not constrained by slow sync speeds. Hence being able to create the photographs above. I can therefore cut down the ambient light using my shutter, giving me far more leeway for the aperture, which in turn means I can conserve strobe power. However the X-100 is of course a fixed lens (35mm FOV) rangefinder type camera so you won’t have the luxury of changing your optics. Therefore I tend to use it for the wide shots. Other images were taken with my standard kit of Olympus OMD and Pana 35-100 f2.8.
Thank you to Nikki, John and the crew for a fantastic day.