Saturday, September 25, 2010

Trash The Idea

I can't recall when, but at some point I wanted to photograph a "Trash The Dress" session.  I was looking on-line to find a used Bridal Gown on e-bay, but the prices for the style of dress I wanted the model to wear were in the hundreds of dollars.  No thanks.  Seriously, why hang on to a dress that you know neither your daughter nor your future daughter-in-law will wear.  I guess if your marriage doesn't last you can always wear it for your next wedding.

Luckily my friend Teresa had a vintage wedding dress that she said I could use and "trash."  I contacted one of my fave models, Nikki, and also Angel (Make-Up Artist and Hair Stylist) to see if they would collaborate, which they both agreed.  I originally wanted to shoot in the Kern River, which is near my house,  and about shin deep with running water, and nicely overgrown.  However, as the shoot date approached the river began drying up and the look wasn't what I wanted.  I then decided to shoot at the abandoned warehouse where we shot with Robert, Joe and Kirsti back in August.

The day of the shoot, everything went well and Angel did an excellent job with Nikki's Hair and Make-up.  He even modified the veil, which came out really cool.  I'm glad he agreed to work with me.  We arrived at the site at 5:00 PM, but as we pulled up we all noticed new No Trespassing signs had been posted on all entrances.  DARN!!!  I recently got a traffic ticket and I really didn't want another ticket, especially for trespassing, so we decide we would stick to the exterior of the buildings, which really didn't fit my vision.

I also brought my Olympus PEN E-PL1 camera to test it out and take some Behind-The-Scenes (BTS) video.  We all set-up our gear and began firing off shots, moving from one place to another, but I just wasn't feeling the shoot.  The dress really wasn't working for me, so we pressed on until Nikki asked if she could put on her new White dress she bought.  We played more with some lights, but and got some interesting images, however; I just didn't feel like I captured any of my original vision.  As an aside, I kept telling Nikki that if Darnah was here, I probably would have gotten the shots.

We wrapped up as the sun set and we managed to squeeze of some cute shots of Haydn, Nikki's little girl, and some decent white dress images, too.  I still felt let down by the shoot.

So what did I learn?
Have a backup plan of images I want to capture - I was so transfixed on specific looks that I most likely missed some opportunities  for some killer shots.

What's on the schedule?  I  have a shoot in October with an "Agency-Signed" Model and then a shoot with Kelsey scheduled when we visit State College.  Both should be fun and rewarding.  Aside from shoots, I'll just take them one at a time and "That's A Wrap!!!"

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sheila's Walkabout

Those of you who follow my blog know that I hit another phase of uninspired shooting in May, especially with the Bakersfield heat, playing the role of Art Director, and the drama that seems to affect the local "models."

Back at the end of June, I received a Private Message on Model Mayhem from an Australian Model/Make-up Artist asking if I would be interested in working with her when she came to the States this Summer.  Her name is Darnah and she said that she read my entire "About Me" section on Model Mayhem, which, at the end, states "P.S. If you read this far down, then "Heck Yeah!!! I'll work with You!!!" So I figured if Darnah did make it to the States, that either I wouldn't be available, or I'd still be stuck in my rut and I would cancel our shoot.

On Aug. 18, I received another e-mail from Darnah saying she was in Pismo and ready to "collab."  I waited to respond since I really didn't have a need to go to the Coast, but then as fate would have it, I had to visit one of our large Doctor offices in Pismo Beach.  I messaged Darnah and we were set to "collab" even though I still didn't feel like shooting.  Leading up to the evening of the shoot I still didn't feel creative or have the desire to shoot, but I made a promise to Darnah and I had to follow through on my commitment.  As an aside the weather in Pismo is usually 30 degrees cooler than Bakersfield, but sunny.  On the day of our shoot the sun never broke through so we would be working in very diffused and boring light.

I arrived at Darnah's beach house and was greeted by her.  The first thing I noticed were her piercing blue eyes and her high cheek bones.  Hmmm... a model who looks like, well, a model.  For you gentlemen, her Australian accent is really cool, too.  I asked to do a test shoot by her window and after chimping at the LCD I got that urge to shoot.  IMHO, Darnah is a cross between Christy Turlington and Evangeline Lilly, but with blue eyes.

Darnah showed me her wardrobe and we decided on a trench coat, a black slip and black heels.  Bingo!!! We grabbed our gear and headed off to the pier to shoot in the fog.  I used only one light, my SB-900 with a 1/4 CTO Gel, my combi-boom, and my 33" brolly.  These are definitely my favorite Outdoor pictures in a long time, aside from the image with Kirsti at the abandoned warehouse.

We shot for about an hour and then agreed to head back to my hotel room to shoot a "White Sheets" session and other "implied" images. BTW, Darnah has a friend who joined us at the hotel so get your minds out of the gutter.

For a majority of the shots in the hotel room I used my SB-900 in the Brolly and a reflector.  The settings I tend to use are +1.0 E/V on the SB-900 and -0.3 E/V to - 0.7 E/V on the D700 and shoot at 1/60 shutter.  I leave the speedlights on TTL mode, but shoot in Manual.  The first two shots I posted at the top of this entry were done with the SB-900 as the key and a bare flash SB-600 at +2.0 E/V as the accent light pointed at the camera to create lens flare.

We shot some Clamshell, and Rembrandt lighting styles using my 70mm - 200mm f/2.8G lens along with some Available light stuff using my 50mm f/1.8D Prime Lens.  One cool thing to do is ask the model or MUA bring a blow dryer, if possible.  The simulated wind in the image above was created with a hair dryer.

We shot until real late and I even filled up an 8 GB memory card and had to replace my battery, which was a first for me.  After the shoot I felt inspired again.  This was the first time in a year that I worked with a model that did not require any posing instruction and I was given the opportunity to focus on composing and shooting.  So why a "mixed blessing?"  Working with Darnah helped me out of my rut and has sparked some creative ideas, the downside is that she has raised the bar on what a model needs to bring to the table when we "collab."

Darnah leaves in October, so I'm hoping we get to shoot once more before she goes Down Under.  Oh, thanks Brian for helping out and playing Down Under by Men At Work on your iPhone and Matt for being the "Best Boy" during the shoot.

A big thank you to Darnah for taking a chance and working with me and making this a true win-win situation which is the reason Model Mayhem was created.  Have a safe trip back to Aussie Land, "Where the Women Glow and the Men Plunder."

September I have a "Trash the Dress" shoot with my Junkyard Jane model Nikki, so stay tuned and "That's A Wrap!!!"