Category Archives: Techniques

Covering photography tips, studio lighting set ups, new gear that is used in the studio.

Increasing creativity during a photoshoot

Increasing creativity

These shots are all from the same shoot with KatyCee, we shot 350 images during the 5 hour session, but covered so much ground and a variety of ideas and concepts that I thought it was worth sharing this diversity and explaining my approach to achieving it.

Short Bursts

When I shoot I tend to run with an idea for about 30-40 shots at most, after that I find you can end up being repetitive and not moving the idea forward. If the idea is going great, then I’ll let it run, however in most cases we will get some great images within the 30-40 shots and seeing as I will only use the best 2 or 3 images from each set there’s little point of carrying on once you have those. So we call a halt and then move onto another idea, this approach keeps both me and the model fresh, new props, new ideas and changes of lighting. Short bursts of creativity, action and ideas and then onto something else. This approach works for me and most models I’ve worked with feel the same, however like most things around creativity you will need to find what works for you.

20120708_JWT9658 20120708_JWT0046 20120708_JWT0022 20120708_JWT9885 20120708_JWT9796 20120708_JWT9985 20120708_JWT9922 20120708_JWT9769 KatyCee

A model’s viewpoint

Just to add a model’s viewpoint, if you do shoot long sets e.g. 150+ images per set and then swap onto something else, if your model is not inspired by the idea, then subconsciously they will know they have a long wait before moving onto something else. This won’t help their modelling or posing, so if you do short sharp bursts, if they are not keen then they know that very soon something else will come along.

Flogging a dead horse

I’ve often called a halt on ideas that sounded great until we actually started shooting and they turn out not to produce the fruit I was looking for. Rather than flogging a dead horse I’ll call a halt and move onto another idea. Often I’ll store those ideas and try them with another model or two. If they still stink and produce no fruit then I bin the idea completely. It is interesting that often a different model will produce a completely different outcome to the same initial idea, I often store up ideas specifically for a particular model who I know will do a wonderful job working with the idea.

Idea storage

I keep all my ideas on my iPhone, as soon as I get one, I add it to the Notes app on my phone including some detail and thoughts behind the pose. It can sit on the phone for many weeks before seeing the light of day. I’ll usually add to it over the coming weeks as the idea evolves and extra bits of information flood in. This works for me, I have about 50 ideas sitting on my phone waiting to be shot so I never worry about running out of things to do!


Underwater shots of nude models

I’ve always been fascinated how light and water interact, especially with reflections and shadow play on moving and rippling water. Some people get mesmerised by staring into a fire in the same way I get visual pleasure by the play of light on top of the water as well as underneath it.

I was fortunate to hire a holiday villa for a week with my wife and I took along a model for the week to photograph them, so a sort of working holiday if you like. I’d recently purchased two Nikon D7000’s with prime lenses, which I’d be using primarily for video work, but also for some stills work. I thought that whilst in Spain with the super clear light, warmer weather and sunshine it would be too good an opportunity to miss to take some underwater images and video footage of the model. My first challenge was to find a waterproof housing unit, and here I didn’t want to spend thousands on a high-end camera casing as I’d no intention of taking up scuba diving again and taking the camera down into the depths. I did want to take advantage of the prime lenses and quality of the Nikon equipment but ensure it kept dry and safe to a depth of about 6 feet, which was the depth of the pool we had in the villa. After a bit of research I located the SLR Camera Case from Aquapac costing £95 :

This product is submersible to a depth of 15 feet for up to 30 minutes, both depth and duration were well above what I had in mind so I ordered one. When it arrived I fitted my Nikon into it and tested it out in the bath to make sure it was okay. Being small and soft-formed it was easy to pack along with all my other gear on the flight across to Spain.

In use, it took a while to get used to handling the camera through the rubberised bag, it was like wearing heavy duty gardening gloves, in the end I used manual focus, a good depth of field and set the exposure manually before each session so I only had to press the shutter button. Framing was also a bit hit and miss, I was wearing prescription swimming googles so I could actually see underwater, but meant that looking through the camera’s viewfinder was tricky. In the end I got to pointing the camera at the model and working from there. My first couple of attempts with this technique meant I chopped off limbs, heads and even missed the model completely! However, with constant review and practise I got better and better with framing the model in the shot.

During the course of the week we shot stills and video footage in the pool and reviewed it afterwards, by day four we were really getting on well and getting some good repeatable results. It it impossible to communicate with your model underwater and as she was swimming widths of the pool it meant I could take 1 or 2 shots per width. So before each width we would discuss the pose, the depth, the camera position to make sure we each knew what to do.

Below I’ve included a selection of the better stills from the sessions in the pool shot during the week. I shot about 1200 stills and ended up with about 10 that I’m happy with, so not a good success ratio that’s for sure.  I’m still not sure whether I prefer the mono or colour versions best. What I do like very much indeed is the play of light on the model’s body, which was the main thing I was trying to capture with these images.

Studio Lighting Workshop – delegate’s results

In April I ran another one of my popular small group Studio Lighting Workshops and the four photographers really enjoyed the day – or at least that’s what they told me! Joceline Brooke-Hamilton was on hand to take care of the modelling skills which she always does with aplomb.

We ran through a number of different lighting setups, styles and techniques throughout the course of the day which included:

Single light setups

  • Hard light
  • Soft light
  • Grids
  • Constant light with fresnel lens
  • Studio Flash light
  • Use of reflectors
  • Flags and bounces
  • Ringflash

Two light setups

  • Indirect bounced light
  • Black bounces
  • Reflectors
  • Strip softboxes with egg box grids

Three light setups

  • Using coloured gels

I always undertake a number of review sessions throughout the day so we all get a change to look at our own work on a large screen, plus it’s a chance to look at each others. Most often we learn as much during the review sessions as we do whilst shooting, it’s also great opportunity to see how different we all are. It never ceases to surprise me that each person comes away with a different shot from what is an identical setup – creativity at its best!

Anyway, I’m sure you want to look at the images! Below are the images submitted by the delegates and I’m sure you’ll agree there are a wide range of styles and personal creativity in all the images supplied.