This shoot was undertaken for the Advertising Photography Brief.
Preparation for the shoot.
There was an interim deadline of the 13th February for review of taken images, in the end for scheduling reasons the shoot occurred on the 12th, so was to the wire and whilst sometimes unavoidable tight deadlines undoubtedly add to the pressure to produce results.
In considering the output required I decided on a studio shoot as I felt for a first brief it gave me more control than an unknown location and also the opportunity to try a number of different approaches / image styles by changing the props being used. So having booked the studio I then booked the model and there was various e-mail correspondence to describe the brief, the outfits and style of shoot required.
As part of my research I had collected images of shoe / leg poses which I had on my IPAD and could show the model as in reviewing the research to meet the pin up aspect of the shoot, emphasise the shoes / legs of the model along with her tattoos. Accordingly I had decided I wanted to have some photographs of her in lingerie to emphasise these aspects. I made sure Nikki would be comfortable with this as well as shots featuring the 50’s style swing dresses Nikki was providing. Research Images can be viewed here.
For the swing dress shots I had decided to use a bookcase as a background filled with examples of Bunny Pumpkin Boutique shoes along with some retro props such as vintage cameras and flat irons which I happened to have. There is also a 56lb weight at the bottom to provide some stability as the free standing bookcase could easily topple over posing a hazard to anyone in the studio but particularly Nikki.
For the poses to display the models legs / shoes I acquired a cheap second hand high backed chair that required some refurbishment from a junk shop. I re-glued / tightened the joints and then it was kindly painted by my wife along with a matching small stool as I wanted Nikki to be able to raise a shoe off the ground.
I had introduced the MUA and Model by email in advance of the shoot in order that they could discuss styles for the shoot understanding that the model might want to know more about the stylist. I was slightly surprised and apprehensive therefore to get a suggestion on the day that she bring her own stylist and also was it all right to bring someone with her. I declined the first and agreed to the second thinking that a chaperone wasn’t a bad idea but if the accompanying person proved disruptive – I was assuming a partner – they would have to leave the shoot.
All in a all there was a significant preparation / transportation effort required for the shoot day, delivery of the props including the bookcase, collection of the shoes and set up of the studio. As a result I felt the decision to use the studio was correct as there would have been even more variables on location.
The model, Nikki, turned up promptly at 2pm and was duly delivered to Leah the MUA. Nikki arrived with make up in place so the main focus was hair although Leah diplomatically enhanced the make up to make it more in-line with the objective of the shoot in terms of colour and style.
I was slightly surprised by the 2.5 hours it took in make-up but the result was worth the wait and Nikki had also brought some great outfits that I felt perfectly matched the theme. Whilst Nikki was in make up I prepared the lighting and props starting with the bookcase as it was the most complex to stage and arrange the items to be displayed.
For lighting I used 2 of my own speedlights to light the background as they are smaller and more discrete than the full sized studio lights, with a beauty dish as the primary light on the model and a large soft box to provide fill light into the bookcase.
I used my own radio triggers to fire the first speedlight and the optical sensors on the main lights then triggered them. I had decided to start with the dresses with the intention that, hopefully, Nikki would be more comfortable in my presence and we could move onto the lingerie shots. It must after all be a challenging experience to travel to a strange location and meet a stranger who is going to photograph you wearing very little. Again I think the location helped give her confidence that all was bona fide and every one behaved extremely professionally e.g. ensuring she had some privacy whilst changing outfits.
Nikki had in fact two people with her a female friend and indeed the expected partner. Have to say her partner was commendably silent throughout the shoot but helped move props and the friend provided useful input on colour choices for outfits / shoes and helped Nikki dress.
As a model Nikki proved excellent, needing little direction to provide a range of poses on cue. I was giving feedback as the shoot progressed and showed some of the images we were achieving. Nikki was as pleased as I was at the quality of images being achieved and again I think this helped her confidence that although, from her perspective, it was a student project the results would be more than satisfactory.
We then moved through a range of poses with bookcase prop, her on her own, holding the shoes, extra shoes on the chair and so forth and then we moved onto the lingerie shoots where the intention was to highlight her tattoos as well as the shoes. I was slightly concerned that these shots in particular would lose the focus on the shoes but I had also purchased a cocktail waitress tray as a prop so that we could try some poses where the shoes are being “served up”. Personally I think these are amongst the most effective images in meeting the brief of being pin up style, featuring the tattoos whilst retaining the shoes as a focal point.
A gallery of more of the images taken can be seen here : Bunny Pumpkin Boutique password “Nikki”
Overall I felt this was an extremely successful shoot both in terms of meeting the brief and the quality of images achieved. I took around a 140 shots and apart from a few duds where the lighting failed to trigger virtually all are usable.
The key factors I feel contributed to achieving this outcome:
- having a clear vision of what I wanted to achieve in terms of style of image
- researching the topic and collecting sample images
- communicating my vision to the other participants
- providing a variety of suitable props combined with general pre-planning of the shoot.
- removing variable factor of a location
- working with people with a similarly professional attitude and ability in terms of wanting a quality result as myself. My sincere thanks to model Nikki and MUA Leah for their invaluable contribution.
What could be improved:
- have a check-list of shots to be taken, as although I was very happy with what was achieved I missed some shots I had planned e.g. Nikki’s legs in the air in front of the bookcase as per composite below. I also forgot to get her to sign a model release on the day – despite having prepared it and put it on the table. Doh ! Having a check-list would have avoided this.