A lovely campaign called “Whoever You Want To Be” for private school Stonar that I photographed and composited together a while ago.
Tomorrow I have a location lifestyle shoot planned with a couple of models so I thought I’d give a glimpse on how I prepare for some of my shoots.
It can be surprising to some people just how much pre-production can go into even the smallest shoots especially if they are on location.
My shoot tomorrow has it’s own particular added elements that need careful preparation and close attention and that is because the backgrounds have already been captured several months before.
When I travel I often will go out capturing my chosen locations before dawn or dusk for the best light (depending on what I’m after).
If I have a choice I prefer dawn not because I love to get up at 4am (in the summer) but because there is less likely to be any tourists around especially in popular city locations.
Saying that having been a retoucher for 21 years I know some clever techniques to very simply remove people from images in post without the need for any stress while on location if needed.
My models will be captured either in my studio or as is more often the case outside in natural daylight and supplemented with lighting if required.
So for this shoot to be captured and be successfully blended realistically in post-production there are many things that need careful attention. Here are just a few of the basics.
The light quality
The surrounding elements and their colour
Camera angle (perspective)
Lens focal length (this can be tweaked a little)
As I said these are just a few things that I’m carefully looking at.
To help me with this I create a markup image for quick reference (shown below).
Here are a few samples from a previous shoot.
As you will see in the second picture in the bottom row if possible I’ll always take a snap of myself in the scene.
You have probably already guessed that this gives me a great reference when I shoot my models to how the light in the scene should be interacting on them even if it’s not a pretty picture!
So one question you may ask is why go to so much trouble why not shoot the models in situ like many photographers?
Well, I first should add I’m definitely not against doing it all in camera and often do however there is a multitude of reasons why it might not always be possible.
The main one is simply the logistics of getting models, stylist, makeup artist and the many other people that make up a production crew to a particular location at a certain time.
For me, it’s partly the above plus, of course, the substantial costs involved as some of these images are purely self-funded portfolio pieces so budgets can be naturally tight.
The other more personal reason is it enables me the luxury of more time to concentrate on capturing the changing light and various angles the locations has to offer with more flexibility.
It was interesting to read that Lord Litchfield towards the latter end of his career shot in a similar way.
As far as the post-production is concerned there is, of course, some work (and cost involved) pulling all the elements together but then how often these days does an image not have some retouching applied before being published? If planned and executed correctly the image can often come together remarkably quickly.
As I said above I’m quite happy working and doing it all in camera and have done so many times but for me working this way provides a flexible alternative providing it’s planned accordingly.
Location Lifestyle Portrait, Asur At Dawn
I’ve mentioned before that for 10 years I was fortunate enough to have a holiday home in Turkey.
On one trip while out shooting at dawn, I captured a location lifestyle portrait of this chap Asur Teber who was a security guard at one of the beachfront hotels in Gumbet.
He spoke no English but was more than willing for me to capture his picture, in fact, I eventually had to make my excuses to get back for my breakfast as he didn’t want me to stop !.
I arranged to send him a print as I always believe if people have given me their time and ask for a copy of the image it’s the very least I can do and always deliver on that.
Unfortunately, I mislaid his details so I decided to deliver the print the following year to the hotel he worked at.
I was told by the hotel that he no longer worked there, and he apparently lived in northern Turkey and they had no contact details.
I left the prints anyway in the hope they might one day find there a way to him.
Last week I finally got around to shooting some models to be able to complete several images I had captured from my latest trip to Greece.
Casting the right models for a shoot together with right styling is always something that needs careful consideration to work well.
On top of that because this image was a composite the actual photography needed very careful planning as lighting, light quality, perspective, colour amongst many other things all needs to come together for the final image to work seamlessly.
Even with all the best planning however the odd curve ball can still pop up. Despite preparation the night before one of the models shirts got a little creased on route to the shoot.
Normally this would not had been an issue except the studio iron decided to retire itself ! Fortunately I knew a digital solution and with the schedule being tight I decided this would be a better than have a delay acquiring another iron.
The background image was captured pre dawn and created from around 27 frames stitched together in post to allow for a more pleasing perspective with a 41mm lens and deliver a wider dynamic range.
I decided during the final stages of the composite to change the colour of the female models top from blue to a more contrasting orange to help draw the viewers eye to the models.
Having once owned a home in Turkey I was privileged to have visited the country many times over a ten year period.
This as you would expect also meant I got to make friends with some of the locals and those who worked in the area during the busy summer months.
Hedo was someone I always knew would be in the same place on the beach with the same big smile selling tourists water sports.
Last week I was in central London shooting for a new client Receipt Bank.
Receipt Bank provide revolutionary accountancy/bookkeeping software that helps automate tasks.
The brief was pretty open to interpretation and required me to capture corporate portraits of around 80 staff members at their London headquarters with the business portraits being suitable for website use and profile pictures for sites such as LinkedIn.
After viewing some snaps of the office space and chatting with Stuart the Creative Director we decided to utilise the corporate orange coloured couch in reception for the shots.
Stuart also wanted to capture some fun shots to hang in the office wall at the same time.
I suggested I create some Polaroid-style images complete with authentic light flares commonly associated with the instant prints which I felt would add to the fun element requested.
The shoot went well despite an issue towards the end when we had one flash unit go down but this was quickly rectified and I did not let it interfere with the flow of the shoot.
A few weeks ago I produced a mature travel lifestyle photoshoot Mature Travel In The Pesky Sun.
Following on from this I decided to capture another travel shoot this time with a younger more upbeat concept.
My models Tristan & Robyn were in their early twenties and quickly built a great rapport. On all the shoots I do my aim is to not only get the brief nailed (and some) while making the production as fun as possible. This was especially true on this shoot, in fact, my pre-shoot chat was simply let’s have fun!
Tristan & Robyn built a great rapport very quickly and my job was made much easier as a result. This really underlines the importance of having the right models that not only look the part but have the right personalities.
Mature Travel In The Pesky Sun
This mature travel lifestyle shoot was something I had planned for a while but my workload and that of Jerry and Annabel my models seemed to hinder things.
My fab studio base at The Monks Yard was also a factor as the site was moving a short distance to a larger and even more beautiful location at Horton Manor.
The image assets I planned to create were to be composite images (backgrounds and the models captured separately) so ideally, I wanted to shoot in natural soft light and add the sunlight where I needed it with my own lighting for complete control.
I did say I didn’t want any rain but the fabulous sunlight we received on the shoot day was also unwanted (yep no pleasing me) so shade was required to get the lighting as I needed….but no problem.
Shooting images this way can solve many problems one being the costs and logistics for the client taking a large crew and models abroad for long shoots.
It’s not that I’m against jetting off and shooting models in situ I have shot this way for many years it’s simply about providing alternative solutions and getting the images the client needs.
I have to admit I do love the freedom shooting this way provides me with both creatively and being able to move quickly from location to location without the logistics of moving so many people.
Being in a beautiful country and heading out (often on my own) at dawn to capture backgrounds for a lifestyle concept I have is wonderful.
Capturing the model images to blend into the location images requires some pre-planning to match not only the lighting and perspective but several other factors too for the image to work seamlessly.
For this reason and the fact I enjoy the process, I always like to shoot all my own image elements needed but occasionally I have no choice as with the cruise ship images here to use stock shots.
Isn’t compositing cheating?
I do admit to having moved the bay of Bodrum and surrounding mountains a few feet for better composition in one image many years ago but then the image was a personal shot and not used to sell a visit to Turkey.
There’s definitely a responsibility to be truthful when shooting to sell a holiday location and you always have to consider that on every image created this way as it’s easy to seek perfection.
The locations you see here are as I captured them with nothing removed from the scene…honest!
Video Production Services. Repurposing Images With The Parallax 3D Technique
I’m always looking to be able to offer clients more bang for their buck especially when budgets are tight.
Repurposing existing stills into 3D engaging video (actually 2.5D to be precise) clips is one way to offer more value and provide engaging content for a website and social media channels.
Best results are always to be had by planning with the end result in mind and shooting with the following Parallax technique is no exception.
However, it’s still possible to take an existing image and produce some incredible results.
The first sample below was captured for my client Mimecast and is a fairly straightforward still image from a business lifestyle production shot on location in London.
With a little post-production and 3D rendering, it was possible to repurpose the image into a simple and eye-catching image asset.
This image was a little more involved and shot with the Parallax technique in mind which allowed a little more scope for creating some depth and motion.
Again this one lent itself perfectly to a Parallax effect keep an eye out for a couple of subtle movements towards the end of the movie.
You can view more motion work here
A few weeks leading into Christmas assignment work quietened down enough to catch up on some long overdue personal work.
Shooting a summer themed Travel Lifestyle in December is not ideal for summer clad models for obvious reasons but needs must.
I prefer when compositing images of natural daylight lit scenes to use daylight as my main source if possible and add any other strobe lighting to this.
In short, if I need to replicate daylight on my subject to match a scene then I use daylight rather than try and recreate it in a warm cosy studio!
Great for the integrity of the image not so great if your a model being asked to pretend it’s 32 degrees and it’s actually minus 2 and wearing a slinky evening dress.
Needless to say, I worked quickly (in my thermals) to avoid too much discomfort for her.
I have to say Lilliana my model did not moan once and was fabulous to work with and I think the final images work beautifully.
Have a great Christmas everyone.