photographer of dress showing movement

Commercial fashion shoot with Trendhood Royale

Commercial fashion shoot for Trendhood Royale

The creative team

We did this photo shoot in my studio in Kingston upon Thames. The creative team were; Yollanda Musa (model), Caroline from C Walé (hair and make up) and myself as the photographer. The dress was designed and made by Trendhood Royale.

We got through a lot on this shoot, and this post is just about the dress. This is a dress which Yollanda wore to one of the numerous award ceremonies that she keeps getting invited to.

Trendhood Royale – dress designer

Trendhood Royale is a new business that is starting to make a name for itself. I have copied this text from their facebook page;

“We are poised to delivering exceptional contemporary pieces to women looking to brighten up their wardrobes with vibrant colors, unique patterns and styles. Trendhood Royale fuses design,quality and utility in every of our pieces while celebrating african prints and western unique fabrics.TR pieces are timeless and classic which guarantees a perfect thing to wear and will last for years to come. We promise u ” an image to remember” always”.

The dress in these images was designed specifically for Yollanda’s first ever beauty pageant, Miss Pride of Africa UK, for the evening gown segment. The design was inspired by Disney princess gowns, because they didn’t want to go for a more typical pageant gown.

Yollanda Musa – model

Yollanda is “small but perfectly formed”. I have worked with Yollanda on a number of occasions now, and I have lost count of how many awards she has won (and been nominated for) in the few years that I have known her. She has enormous energy and seems to be everywhere. She is definitely one of the most professional models I have had the pleasure of working with.

C Walé hair and make up

Caroline from C Walé does hair to an exceptionally high standard, as you can see in my photo of Yollanda’s hair.

How to photograph the dress?

My aim was to show how the dress looks in movement, because the way it hangs and moves is very striking in real life. I decided to do this by freezing movement, and also by blurring the movement.

These images were shot in my photo studio against a red background, using (mainly) studio flash;

Freezing the image

Freezing the image is very straightforward for this speed of movement. I asked Yollanda to swirl the dress around, and it’s movement was frozen by the studio flash. I do not know the duration of these flashes, but they are a lot shorter than the time the shutter is open. So the dress is frozen in movement.

The key light was a reasonably large soft box with grid in front of her (camera left). The fairly subtle rim light was provided by a tall think softbox with grid behind her (camera right).

Each photo is different, and it is difficult to “position” the dress precisely. It is hit and miss, So it is just a matter of taking photos until you are sure you have captured what you want.

Blurring the dress

Any photograph that is captured using flash is effectively a superposition of two exposures. One is the exposure captured with however much ambient light is present, and the other is the exposure due to the flash.

So if a photographer wants a moving dress to appear blurred, he has to use a relatively slow shutter speed, and have sufficient ambient light on the moving part of the dress. I achieved this using an LED light panel that was aimed primarily downwards towards the bottom of Yollanda’s dress. The intensity of light given off is adjustable, and it has “barn doors” to help limit the spread of light. So by brining the light close to Yollanda, pointing it downwards, and using the barn doors, I was able to keep most of it’s light off Yollanda’s head. Some light was spilling onto Yollanda at head height, but I decided it was not enough to interfere with the effect I wished to create.

In addition to the LED light panel, I directed an additional flash, fitted with a beauty dish, towards Yollanda’s head. The trick is to balance the light intensity of both light sources. This can be done by trial and error, but it is much easier if the photographer uses a light meter to measure how much light is being given off. The photographer can adjust both lights to give the same amount of light , or different amounts of light if that is called for. Bear in mind that the amount of ambient light depends on the shutter speed, and you don’t need to worry about the shutter speed when measuring the intensity of light from the flash (because the burst of flash light is much shorter than the length of exposure).

So if you have a light meter, it is very straightforward balancing your light sources.

Another important thing to consider is the colour temperature of the two light sources. These should match reasonably well, unless you want them to be different for artistic reasons.

Would you like to hire me for commercial photography?

Go have a look at my contact page 🙂

commercial fashion shoot with Trendhood Royale, model Yollanda Musa, make up artist C Walé

F8, 1/200, iso 200

commercial fashion shoot with Trendhood Royale, model Yollanda Musa, make up artist C Walé

F8, 1/5, iso 200 (different lighting to the preceeding image)

commercial fashion shoot with Trendhood Royale, model Yollanda Musa, make up artist C Walé commercial fashion shoot with Trendhood Royale, model Yollanda Musa, make up artist C Walé commercial fashion shoot with Trendhood Royale, model Yollanda Musa, make up artist C Walé commercial fashion shoot with Trendhood Royale, model Yollanda Musa, make up artist C Walé commercial fashion shoot with Trendhood Royale, model Yollanda Musa, make up artist C Walé commercial fashion shoot with Trendhood Royale, model Yollanda Musa, make up and hair by C Walé

 

 

 

flour photo shoot, dance photography

Flour photo shoot and dance photography

Combining dance with flour and smoke

When to use flour or smoke in a photo shoot?

Flour makes a terrible mess, and I don’t use it in my studio for this reason. These photos were taken in my garden out back.

Smoke doesn’t make any mess, but it doesn’t have as strong a relationship with the dancer as flour does. Smoke seems “passive” while flour appears to be more dynamic. Both are somewhat unpredictable and difficult to control.

Smoke is more susceptible to the vicissitudes of the wind than flour.

Michelle Chaxs

Michelle is a self-taught dancer, and she was able to pull off leap after leap, as we tried to get “the perfect shot”. There is a lot of “luck” inolved in getting pleasing images, when one is working under such tight constraints. I mean limited space, wind, and not knowing exactly where the smoke or flour are going to go! It is a challenge.

Photography methods

I used three flash units to light Michelle.

Two were tall thin softboxes with grids, placed on either side of the model, and slightly behind her as viewed from the camera. These were to light Michelle’s body with rim lighting, from head to toe, even when she was leaping. They also functioned to light the flour and smoke from behind, which is a lot more dramatic than lighting it from the same side as the camera.

The third light was a beauty dish which was positioned to shine a flattering light on Michelle’s face. I had to get this up high, and it was on a boom arm, almost above Michelle’s head.

Booking me for your own flour photo shoot (or dance photography)

A flour photo shoot is like a standard photo shoot, except I charge an extra £20 to cover all the cleaning up I have to do after! There is no extra charge if you want smoke, or dance photography. Visit this page for details about my standard photo shoot.

flour photo shoot and dance photography in Kingston flour photo shoot and dance photography in Kingston flour photo shoot and dance photography in Kingston flour photo shoot and dance photography in Kingston

 

 

 

 

model experience photo shoot with an equestian theme

“Equine beauty” photo shoot

What is an “equine beauty” photo shoot?

An “equine beauty” photo shoot is a “model experience” photo shoot with a horse.

There isn’t really an accepted convention for what to call these photo shoots. One could call it a “model experience” photo shoot, or a “glamour shoot with a horse”. But I tend to call them “equine beauty” photo shoots. There is a risk people will think it is the horse that is meant to be beautiful. But of course all horses are beautiful!

But whatever you call this type of photo shoot, the aims are always as follows;

  1. To capture the young lady looking good
  2. To show the relationship between the young lady and her horse
  3. To show the horse looking good
  4. To do all this safely

The photos in this blog post were taken at the stables where the horse lives, in Sussex.

Equine photography

Equine photography needs special skills. Some photographers become specialists who only do equine photography. Many of these photographers are horse riders themselves, so they are immersed in the subject, and understand exactly what the client is likely to desire in the postures of their horses.

It is necessary to understand the conventions that govern whether the horse “looks good”. For example, it is considered very important that the horse’s ears are directed forwards, as in all the photos shown here. This often causes problems, because horses are “prey animals” and their ears are constantly reacting to noises that come to them from all directions. One can try making unexpected noises in order to attract the attention of the horse’s ears, but it seems most horses rapidly acclimatise to new sounds. Furthermore, there is always a risk that a nervous horse will be upset by unusual sounds.

Showing the relationship between the horse and “model”

Usually, but not always, the “model” will be the person who owns the horse. And because of the investment of time and money involved, and the importance of capturing good images, I always recommend hiring a professional make up artist for this kind of photo shoot.

Speaking in general, photographs that “tell a story” work well. One of the aims of this type of equine photography is to show the relationship that exists between the horse and (usually) it’s owner.

Many people who own and ride horses have photographs, but it is relatively unusual to get “glammed up” in order to have photographs taken of you with your horse! So this type of photo shoot becomes a special experience as well.

So we want the owner to be “glammed up” according to what they feel comfortable with, we want to capture the relationship between the owner and the horse, we want the horse to “look good”, and we want to do it all safely.

Health and safety

There are also significant health and safety concerns, because horses are very heavy and immensely stong animals. They can quite easily break the bones in your foot if they step on it for example. So one has to be careful. It is also wise for a photographer to check that his professional public liability insurance covers him to photograph horses.

equine beauty photo shoot; model experience photo shoot with a horse equine beauty photo shoot; model experience photo shoot with a horse equine beauty photo shoot; model experience photo shoot with a horse equine beauty photo shoot; model experience photo shoot with a horse equine beauty photo shoot; model experience photo shoot with a horse

 

Photography methods

The two photographs of the model against the sky were lit using battery powered studio flash. Actually I used the trusty Ilux Summit 600, which happens to be the type of unit I own.

All the other photographs were taken using only natural light.

Incidentally, some horses are totally happy with flash, but others are not happy. Horses vary a great deal in their personalities. Some horses are much more nervous than others, and even the appearance of a lighting modifier sitting atop a tall stand will spook some horese.

Personally I prefer to shoot horses using natural light. So it is important to position your subjects so the light upon them is flattering.

Would you like to hire me for a professional photos shoot?

 

Model Experience photo shoot with C Walé Beauty

Photos from a “Model Experience photo shoot”

But what is a “Model Experience” photo shoot?

The aim is to give a client a complete “model experience”, but without the pressure to “perform” that a real model might have to deal with. I want your experience to be relaxing, memorable and enjoyable. You can even bring your own music (speakers are provided). In addition of course we will create some beautiful professional images.

Because I only book one “Model Experience” photo shoot per day, I am able to spend as much time as necessary to create some beautiful images. I don’t like watching the clock too much when I am shooting, and I would rather spend a little more time (if necessary) to capture something excellent. In general I allow up to three hours shooting time, but if things are going well, and we both want to continue, I won’t necessarily cut off the shoot until we are happy. You would be surprised how quickly three hours disappears if you are working with different looks, especially if the shoot is split between the studio and a location.

What if I don’t know “how to model”?

Most people aren’t born knowing how to be a good model. Don’t worry, because I will guide you if necessary.

All my photo shoots also include a pre-shoot consultation, during which we will explore what you want to get out of your shoot. We can call upon all my experience, and work in various styles. Have a look at the “Fashion Style” section (with it’s submenu) on my website for inspiration. You can also show me photos by other photographers at your consultation.

Make up by C Walé Beauty

“Model Experience” photo shoots make use of the skills of a professional make up artist. I work with several professional make up artists, all of whom I know and trust. The make up artist on this particular shoot was Caroline of C Walé BeautyIt is always a pleasure working with Caroline. She is a very reliable make up artist, who works wonders with make up and hair styling. She also has a facebook page here.

In this photo shoot, Caroline created a traditional Nigerian look. Twice. And it should be obvious that in this particular shoot, the model’s hair was not the focus of Caroline’s attention! I did not realise how much is involved in getting those head scarves to look really good.

Would you like to book me for your own “model experience” photo shoot?

If you would like to go through the “model experience”, have a look at my “booking a professional photo shoot” page.

Professional photo shoots make excellent and unusual gifts

Click on this link for a short “behind the scenes” video clip

model experience photo shoot, Ian Trayner photographer, C Walé Beauty

model experience photo shoot, Ian Trayner photographer, C Walé Beauty

model experience photo shoot, Ian Trayner photographer, C Walé Beauty

model experience photo shoot, Ian Trayner photographer, C Walé Beauty

 

model experience photo shoot, Ian Trayner photographer, C Walé Beauty model experience photo shoot, Ian Trayner photographer, C Walé Beauty model experience photo shoot, Ian Trayner photographer, C Walé Beauty

 

 

How to balance flash with tungsten lighting

How to use flash to supplement tungsten lighting?

I am writing this for keen amateur photographers who would like to take professional looking photos using a flash gun, or speedlight, indoors in a house that is lit with tungsten bulbs. I have “kept things simple”. Best I can.

Remember that the three dimensionality of the scene will be controlled by the shadows, just as much as by the light.

In my opinion there are three important things to consider;

  1. Getting your flash off the camera (ie “off camera flash”)
  2. Calculating the correct exposure
  3. Matching the colour balance of your flash to the ambient light from the tungsten lighting

Getting your flash off the camera

Why?
Because a photographer needs to control how the flash complements (or even compliments!) the ambient lighting in the room. Getting the flash off the camera allows you to point it in the direction you want, so you can control where the light falls, and how shadows are created on your model.

If you use a flash mounted on top of your camera, you have much less control over the spread of light. If you point the flash directly at your model, the lighting on him/her will be very flat and (probably) uninteresting. Alternatively you can bounce the flash off another surface, by pointing it’s head in that direction. Here you will be limited by the availability of suitable surfaces, and just how “suitable” they are! They may be coloured, and they may not be where you want them. More than likely, by the time the light bounces back to your model, it will have spread out and will no longer be “controlled”. As a compromise, if you don’t own a suitable light modifier available,  you can get someone to hold a white card for your flash to bounce off.

Will I need to use a lighting modifier on my flash?
That depends on the effect you want. A bare speedlight is a very small light source, so it makes hard shadows. If you want softer shadows, then you need to use an appropriate modifier. I am not getting into different speedlight modifiers here, but have listed the modifers I used in this shoot below. One thing a bare speedlight is good for, is keeping the area the light hits very small.

How can I control my specific brand of flash gun?
It is not the scope of this article to explain how to control whatever brand of flash or speedlight you are using. You need a method to trigger the flash, and  you will need to control the brightness of the flash. I am assuming you already know how to do these. If you don’t, you can find out in the relevant manuals, or finding online instructions.

How to calculate the correct exposure

If you are going to start using off camera flash often, I strongly recommend you invest in a light meter, because it will help enormously. If you don’t already have a light meter, you will have to adjust the brightness of your flash by trial and error. This isn’t so bad if you are only using one flash head, but it gets complicated if you are using several.

Experienced photographers already know what follows, but if it is new to you, it will indeed be very worth knowing!

You can consider a photograph that is taken using flash as a superposition of two independent exposures

One exposure is that due to the ambient light, and this exposure is controlled by the aperture and shutter speed (and whatever iso you are using).

The other exposure is due to the flash, and the shutter speed is irrelevant. This is because the shutter is open longer than the duration of the flash.

Caveat – If the shutter speed is too fast you may get an underexposed band down one side of your photo. Many cameras allow a shutter speed in the region of 1/250s when you use off camera flash in this manner, although much faster shutter speeds can be used if the flash gun is mounted on top of your camera. But I am not getting into that here.

Start by setting the exposure on your camera for the ambient light

The first thing I will decide is what aperture I want to use for the style of image I want to create. Usually this decision is made according to the depth of field I want (the larger the aperture, the shallower the depth of field). If this aperture obliges me to use an unrealistic shutter speed, I will adjust the iso appropriately, and maybe use a tripod (I often use a tripod anyway).

Most rooms have several sources of ambient light, and I will consider what lights to switch on, or even move, if appropriate. If there are windows and it is daytime, one can add light from the windows too, but I am not considering that now, because this blog is about matching flash to tungsten lights.

Should I use a light meter to decide how to expose for ambient lighting?
If the amount of light is fairly uniform in a room, I might measure it using a light meter.

But if the light is not uniform, I usually use my camera to help decide what exposure settings to use. That is to say, with my camera already set to the aperture (and iso) I have decided to use, I switch it to full manual control. Now I will take a few shots and adjust the shutter speed until the camera records the room the way I want it to appear in the final image. I use the image on the back of the camera, and the histogram, to guide me. In this particular scene, it was important to show that the standard light was on, but not so bright that it overwhelmed the images.

At this point I am not using the flash at all, but experience gives me a pretty good idea how the addition of flash will change the image. This is affected by which light modifier I have decided to use. You will acquire this experience with practice.

If your subject is stationary, you can use any shutter speed that gives you a sharp image. If you are using a tripod, that can be quite long. If you are holding the camera by hand, it will depend on the focal length of the lens you are using, the steadiness of your hand, and whether you have any kind of stabilisation built into your lens or camera body.

Now that your camera is set to full manual control, with iso, aperture and shutter speed selected, it is time to add your flash.

Adding the flash

Oops! Actually this is when we add the model
This is when the photographer really starts taking control of the final image.  Decisions must be  made. The photographer has to decide what kind of light s/he wants. How hard? How soft? Where will the flash be positioned? What will be it’s direction? How much does the photographer want the light to spread? And so on… This is not the place to get distracted by most of the decisions that must be made in portrait photography!

The only setting we need to concern ourselves with now is “how bright do we want the flash”? The brightness can be adjusted empirically of course. But if you have a light meter, the job becomes fast and easy. All you have to do is measure the amount of light (in F stops) at the tip of the model’s nose, and adjust the power from the flash until you get the F stop you want.

This will usually be the F stop to which you have set your camera, or slightly brighter. Remember that we have adjusted the ambient exposure to give a slightly dark room (see images 2 to 4). But there is no “right” or “wrong” here. This is one of the decisions a photographer makes according to the end result that is desired, and you are free to make adjustments along the way if you are surprised by the results you get.

Using these images as examples
I wanted a fairly “soft” look for my photo of the model leaning against the white pillar (image 1). I did not want much contrast, and I wanted only a gradual transition of brightness  across my model’s face. A photographer might choose this approach if s/he wants to minimise the signs of ageing on a lady’s face, for example. In this example, I set the flash to give just one stop brighter than ambient at the model’s nose. For this image I used a 36″ DMLS modifier from Damian McGillicuddy, fitted with the “vertical slit” front diffuser. You can guage the position of the light relative to the model’s face by the shadows on her face, and the position of the highlight in her eye. I would have raised the light source higher, but I was prevented by a low ceiling in this room. In fact there is significant bouncing of the flash off the ceiling, which contributes to the relatively even spread of light across our model.

In the other three images (images 2-4), I wanted the room to be a bit darker than the model. This is because I wanted the photos to be about her, rather than the room, and I wanted it to obvious that the standard lamp is on. So I used a smaller softbox; the 19″ DMLS modifier from Damian McGillicuddy, fitted with the front diffuser. It was actually quite fiddly getting the lighting just right, so the model is nicely lit, and the standard lamp is obviously turned on. In a situation like this I would have been grateful for a small softbox with a grid. Another option would have been to add a gobo, to further restrict the spread of light, but this wasn’t necessary.

For images 2-4, the flash is giving F4 at the model’s face, and this is approximately 2 stops brighter than ambient light at the models face (obviously the amount of ambient light varies in different regions of the room).

Once you have set up your flash to give the correct amount of light on your model’s face,  you can easily adjust the overall effect by changing the shutter speed. This will make the background darker or lighter, at your “artistic whim”. Just to be clear – changing the shutter speed will NOT affect the exposure due to the flash, but it WILL have a significant affect over the background.

I remember that it was quite fiddly adjusting the variables so you can see the standard light is on. It was necessary not to swamp it’s light with light from the flash. So the brightness and spread of the flash had to be controlled quite precisely, and balanced with how the shutter speed affected the background.

Matching the colour of flash to household tungsten light bulbs

Speedlights have a colour temperature (white balance) that is similar to daylight, while tungsten bulbs are very yellow by comparison (especially as “seen” by a camera). Therefore one needs to make the light from the speedlight more “yellow”. This is easily achieved by fitting a CTO (colour temperature orange) filter (or “gel”) over the flash head. Many speedlights come with a rudimentary set of coloured gels, and if they don’t, coloured gels can be bought.

 

off camera flash - balancing with tungsten lighting

Image 1, taken at F4, 1/125. iso 800

off camera flash - balancing with tungsten lighting

Image 2, F4, 1/60, iso 800

off camera flash - balancing with tungsten lighting

Image 3, F4.5, 1/60, iso 800

balancing flash with tungsten lighting on a location photo shoot

Image 4, F4.5 1/80, iso 800

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Technical photographic information

All four of these photos were created usinga single off-camera flash (speedlight) to supplement the ambient light in the room, which was provided by standard household (tungsten) bulbs.

These are the light modifiers I used. Unfortunately they are no longer being sold, although Lesley McGillicuddy told me that Elinchrom may start selling the 19″ modifier at some point in the future.

19 inch DMLS modifier designed by Damian McGillicuddy (I recommend this link if you are want to learn more about using off-camera flash on location, and using coloured gels over the flash).

36 inch DMLS modifier designed by Damian McGillicuddy

Useful links

An instructive article by Damian McGillicuddy, in which he describes using his 19 inch DMLS light modifier, and also coloured gels on speedlights.

An article about using CTO gels, written by Jared Platt.

Would you like to hire me for a professional photo shoot?

Then please visit the “booking a professional photo shoot” page on my website.

 

commercial fashion photo shoot in Kingston upon Thames

Commercial fashion photo shoot in Kingston

Commercial fashion photo shoot for Mimi Florence Designs

Mimi Florence Designs is run by a gifted mother of three beautiful kids. She loves to crochet and make jewellery. Each item is custom made for the client. We set up a commercial fashion photo shoot to provide high quality images for her.

Personally I would describe designs from Mimi Florence as “extremely flattering for ladies who have lots of self confidence”. I mean particularly women who feel good about their bodies.

But look at my images from the photo shoot, and judge for yourself.

Commercial fashion photo shoot for Mimi Florence Designs, photography by Ian Trayner Commercial fashion photo shoot for Mimi Florence Designs, photography by Ian Trayner Commercial fashion photo shoot for Mimi Florence Designs, photography by Ian Trayner Commercial fashion photo shoot for Mimi Florence Designs, photography by Ian Trayner Commercial fashion photo shoot for Mimi Florence Designs, photography by Ian Trayner Commercial fashion photo shoot for Mimi Florence Designs, photography by Ian Trayner

 

 

Commercial fashion photo shoot for Mimi Florence Designs, photography by Ian TraynerCommercial fashion photo shoot for Mimi Florence Designs, photography by Ian Trayner

Commercial fashion photo shoot for Mimi Florence Designs, photography by Ian TraynerCommercial fashion photo shoot for Mimi Florence Designs, photography by Ian Trayner

Technical info about setting up this commercial fashion photo shoot

Shooting high key in the studio

For the high key shots I used pretty standard high key lighting. I used two flash heads for lighting the white background, one on each side. These were each fitted with a tall slim softboxes. For the key light I used a 1m deep octaganol softbox with grid. I angled the key light with care so that it gave (a) flattering directional light on the models and (b) a good spread of light on the ground at their feet.

Yollanda’s hair obliged me to move the key light to the “less convenient” side of my studio, that is to say the right hand side, looking at the model from the camera. This side is less convenient solely because of the shape of my studio, and there is less room for putting lights on the right than on the left. If I had not done this, I would have been struggling with a shadow on Yollanda’s face from her hair (because her hair has a parting on her left, which is the right as you look at her from the camera).

Shooting outdoors using natural light

When we went outdoors I used only natural light. The location is the garden at the back of my photo studio in Kingston upon Thames. If you look at the very last photo, Michelle’s eyes are looking more or less in the direction of the sun, which was already quite low in the sky. Michelle is the model with slightly wavy hair, who is wearing the pink top. The models were sitting in dappled shade under a tree. Because sometimes the sun threw displeasing bright patches of light on the models, I had an assistant (actually it was Venus, the make up artist) hold up a semi-translucent screen between the sun and the models.

Also, because I needed more light coming onto the models from camera left, I had another assistant hold up a large white reflective screen (by large, I mean something like 6 feet by 4 feet). This threw just the right amount of light back onto the models faces. This combination gave a very pleasing natural light effect. Unless you were an experienced photographer, you probably wouldn’t notice that the ambient light had been “modified”.

The creative team behind this photo shoot

Photographer: Ian Trayner
Models: Yollanda Musa and Michelle Chaxs
Make up: Venus (search instagram for @_makeupby_vee_)
Designer: Mimi Florence Designs

family photo shoot, photography in Kingston

Family photo shoot in Kingston upon Thames

Would you like your family photo shoot in the studio, or on location?

Why not both?

All my photo shoots, whether they are a family photo shoot, a commercial shoot, or a fashion shoot, are custom designed for my clients.

“Emma’s Diary”

I am primarily a baby and family photographer, and I work in association with “Emma’s Diary“. That means I have special offers for customers who come from Emma’s Diary. It also means I can enter photos of their babies into the “Baby of the Month” competition that is run in association with Emma’s Diary. Each month 5 lucky parents receive £100 Mothercare vouchers, and there is a rather more substantial prize of £5,000 at the end of each year, for the “Baby of the Year”.

Recently I did a photo shoot with a young family who came to me via Emma’s Diary, and they wanted to enter their baby into the “Baby of the Month” competition.

Bespoke family photography

Everyone who books me for a photo shoot is entitled to a “pre-shoot consultation”. This is when I talk through the photo shoot with my client. We talk about what style of photography to use, and what they want to end up with at the end of their photo shoot.These consultations are best done face to face in my photo studio. However (not surprisingly) most pregnant mums, or new mums, prefer to do it over the phone. We can also exchange images by e-mail.

(Many clients don’t really know what they want to end up with, so one of my roles is to talk through the various options).

So… mum and I discussed how to approach this “baby photo shoot”. Very quickly this turned into a “family photo shoot plus baby”.  And shortly after that, it became a “location photo shoot” as well as a “studio photo shoot”. Not bad progress for just a few minutes of chatting.

I love having the luxury of being able to  design my photo shoots in a bespoke manner for individual clients. I am also able to give my customers the time they need to capture the images they want.

Shooting on location

We drove to a location just a few minutes from my studio. The result is some beautiful images of a very photogenic family, in a photogenic location, with a very, very cute baby (he has the most amazing eyes).

Would you like to hire me for your family photo shoot?

Click this link to find out about booking your own  “professional photo shoot“.
family photo shoot on location in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey family photo shoot on location in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey family photo shoot on location in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey family photo shoot on location in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey family photo shoot on location in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey family photo shoot on location in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

 

 Health and safety…

I hope you might be amused by this photoshop trickery

family photo shoot in my studio in Kingston upon Thames, Surreyfamily photo shoot in my studio in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

flour photo shoot in Kingston upon Thames

Flour photo shoot in Kingston upon Thames

Why do a flour photo shoot outdoors?

Flour photo shoots make a LOT of mess! Originally I invited model and performance artist Katie Berns to do this photo shoot in my studio, which is in Kingston upon Thames. But after doing a bit of research I realised just how much mess it was going to make! So I changed my plan, and we did the flour photo shoot in the garden. This was very easy to arrange, because the studio opens directly onto the garden through some wide doors.

The day after we did this flour photo shoot, there was a lot of flour in the garden, and because it had got damp, it was sticking quite stubbornly to plants and other things. All my clothes pegs got flour stuck all over them. There are still signs of the flour now as I write these words, three months after we did the flour shoot.

What made this flour photo shoot so challenging?

What made this particular flour photo shoot really challenging was the extreme cold. We did the shoot in early March, and it was VERY cold by (South East) British standards. Although it was above freezing, it was only above freezing by a few degrees, and the air was damp. It felt extremely cold even to me, and I was fully dressed. Poor old Katie – I was seriously worried about her wellbeing. But she was extremely professional, and totally dedicated to capturing some stunning images.

It was also threatening to rain the whole evening, but fortunately the rain held off – all except a few small drops. If it had rained hard, we would have abandoned the flour part of the photo shoot. (We also did some ballet and dance photography in the studio, earlier in the day, before it got dark).

When Katie got too cold, she put on my thick fluffy dressing gown and headed indoors to warm up and stop shivering. She was very brave, and I was very impressed by her professionalism and fortitude. I have to add that she could have stopped at any time.

How to do a flour photo shoot

From a technical point of view a flour photo shoot is very straightforward. You don’t need a particularly high shutter speed. I was using 1/200s, so there aren’t any problems with syncing a studio flash.

As with any other photo shoot, the photographer will arrange the lighting according to the image you wish to create. The flour in flour photo shoots is usually lit from behind, against a dark background. But this is just a matter of taste. I think when the background is dark, or black, the contrast of the white flour against the dark background is extreme, so this tends to give dramatic images. My personal preference was to avoid putting a powerful light on my model from the front. I wanted to have sufficient light to see Katie, but I wanted most of the impact of the images to be from the light on the flour, and the rim lighting along the sides of Katie’s body – and through her hair.

When I was researching how to do a flour photo shoot, I discovered there are quite a lot of descriptions available on the web (now there’s a surprise!) I am not the first photographer to do flour shoots by a long chalk.  If you go online you can find images similar to these. However next time I intend to add a bit more photographic creativity!

Because I wanted a dark background, it made sense to do the flour photo shoot after dark. Next day my neighbour said he had wondered why there was so much lightening during the night, but no thunder!

Is it possible to hire me to do your very own flour photo shoot?

Absolutely. This would be a “standard photo shoot”, so visit this page to see my rates.

flour photo shoot in Kingston upon Thames, photography by Ian Trayner, model is Katie Berns

Flour photo shoot with Katie Berns performing amazingly in freezing cold and damp conditions

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Technical information

F8, ISO 400, 1/200s

I used three studio flash heads. It doesn’t matter which ones you use, but I had the luxury of using three Ilux 600 Summit heads. These are 600 Watt flash heads, and they are battery powered, so they are fully portable. I bought mine from Photomart, and rather annoyingly, they have come down a lot in price since I bought mine!

The flour was lit from both sides behind Katie. This had the effect of putting bright lighting on the flour,  and they also cast a beautiful rim light on Katie Berns’s body. The modifiers on these lights probably aren’t critical, as long as you can control the spread of light. I was lucky because I could use a tall thin soft box with grid on both sides.

I also had a fill light in front of Katie, near the camera. I don’t remember the ratio of the fill light to the rear lights, but the rear lights were significantly brighter than the fill light. In a situation like this, I would recommend experimenting with the lighting ratios to see what pleases you most.

My recommendations if you want to do your own flour photo shoot

  1. Do it outdoors if you possibly can! If you have to do it indoors, be aware that you will have a fine dust of flour covering everything, and a thick pile of flour on the floor. And be aware that flour gets very sticky when it gets damp, so I recommend cleaning it up as soon as possible after the shoot!
  2. Think about the set. Do you want it dark? Will it be necessary to do the shoot after dark? If you are not sure, test it. Although we did this shoot after dark, I don’t think that will be necessary if you have some powerful flash heads. It may even be possible to make use of the sun, if there is direct sunlight (best from behind the model I think).
  3. Have a look at flour photos on the web, and then try to add your own thing. For example I found this youtube video quite interesting;
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcSZaPXHSJ0
  4. Avoid throwing flour directly into your model’s face! Check that she (or he) doesn’t have any reactions to dust, or flour. Don’t let your model freeze to death if you are working outdoors. Ho ho.
maternity photo shoot in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Maternity photo shoot in Kingston, Surrey

Maternity photo shoot in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

This maternity photo shoot was the result of a personal recommendation. My services were  recommended to Rathees and Priya, by Tripti Kaur.  Tripti did Priya’s hair and make up for her wedding.

It is always nice to be recommended!

Tripti must have done a good job of recommending me as a photographer.  Rathees and Priya live in the Midlands, yet they were willing to drive to my studio in Kingston upon Thames for their maternity photo shoot. This is quite a serious committment for a pregnant mum, and I made sure we discussed what Priya would do if her baby arrived early while she was down here. Fortunately everything went smoothly.

To tell the truth, I suspect they also drove the distance because they knew and trusted Tripti as a make up artist.

Make up by Tripti Kaur

I have worked with Tripti a number of times, and she works mostly with Asian brides. My photos may not do full justice to Tripti’s hair styling, because in order to complete the shoot before darkness fell, we went out on location before doing the studio part of the photo shoot. That means the wind got at Priya’s hair before I took the serious studio shots. Aaargh! Never mind… Still looks good though.

Can I do a maternity photo shoot on location and in the studio?

Yes, of course I can. I can do your maternity photo shoot entirely in the studio, or on location, or both. I am a bespoke photographer, and I custom design my photo shoots for my clients. For more information check out my website for the types of photo shoots I offer.

As soon as Tripti had finished working her make up magic, we headed out to our first locationfor. I wanted to take some natural looking shots. But with the sun low in the sky I decided to add some more dramatic photos, with the sun in the frame.

After taking photos at our first location, we headed back to the studio for a change of dress. Then we headed out to our second location. The sun was setting as we arrived, but I took advantage of the night sky to provide a nice background for some atmospheric photos.

After the sun had set, we drove back to my studio for the studio shots, plus one more change of outfit.

Love and attention

This particular maternity photo shoot will be memorable for me because Priya and Rathees are such nice people, and together they make a very, very charming couple. I was touched by the love, the care, and the consideration that is evident as Rathees looks after his wife.  At times like this I feel very privileged to be admitted into such a close circle so I can make a photographic record of these special times, and these special relationships. It is a real honour, and it is lovely to be trusted to this job.

After the photo shoot

I had to wait quite a few weeks before Priya and Rathees could drive down to KIngston upon Thames, for their viewing in my studio. I was delighted to meet little Janvi, who is an exceptionally beautiful baby girl. Priya also brought me some cake from the “Baby Shower” for me! Although Rathees and Priya are clients, and I have a professional relationship with them, I feel I have made some new friends in the Midlands.

I pride myself on finding out what my clients want, and then helping them get that. This is why all my photo shoots, maternity or otherwise, are designed for each client. Rathees and Priya asked me if I could include a small number of their own photos in the album I designed. These photos were taken by family friends at the “baby shower” they had in their home before Janvi was born. At times like this I am willing to include a few photos like this, as long as there are just a few of them. In my eyes the album is more important than my vanity as a photographer, and I understand why it is nice for new parents to want a single record of such a special time.

Would you like to hire me for a maternity, baby or family photo shoot?

Do you like the photographs on my website?  Would you like me to capture special images of your family and loved ones? Click here if you are thinking of booking me for a maternity photo shoot or any other kind of family photo shoot.
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Technical photography stuff

When I shoot on location, I always ask myself; “where is the light coming from?” “what is the nature of the light”, “how am I going to use the light that is available?”, and “am I going to complement it with my own lighting?”

Shooting with the sun in frame, a photographer needs to reduce the apparent brightness of the sun. As always, the options for controlling the exposure are the ISO, the shutter speed, and the aperture. However, depending on the flash system you are using it may not be possible to use a shutter speed faster than perhaps in the region of 1/250 of a second or so.

The shot with the sun in the background was taken using the flash on full power. The ISO was 100, the shutter speed was 1/200s, and the aperture was F20. In addition the lens had a 3 stop neutral density (ND)  filter that cuts the amount of light entering the camera by 7/8th (Ie it only lets 1/8th of the light through).

creative fashion shoot with Linda Blissett

Creative Fashion Shoot with Designer Linda Blissett and team

Creative Fashion Shoot with Linda Blissett, Cerys Wrigley-Moss, Karen Messam and Teresa Opiala

This creative fashion shoot was inspired by a series of photographs taken by Lindsay Adler.

The Aim

I wanted my model to wear red, or possibly red and black, against a red background. Her make up would have to match, and I wanted to add movement into some of the images.

The Creative Team

For a fashion shoot like this it is important to have a good team. The first thing I did was invite Linda Blissett to come on board as the clothing designer and stylist.  I have admired Linda’s style for a long time, and I realised that some of her designs would be ideal for this project. I was also eager to meet her, because she has always been very friendly on the phone, and chatting online.

I was delighted when Linda agreed, and once she was on board everything became very easy for me. That is because Linda invited the rest of the team without me having to do anything. Brilliant!

Designer and clothing stylist: Linda Blissett
Model: Cerys Wrigley-Moss
Make up: Karen Messam
Hair stylist: Teresa Anna Opiala

I am happy to say the team worked brilliantly well together, and I have to give a lot of credit to Cerys’s mum Karen Wrigley-Moss too, because she came along and her help was invaluable.

Linda and I chose the garment we felt was most suitable, and we gave Karen Messam and Teresa Opiala free reign to interpret the brief in their own way.

creative fashion shoot with Ian Trayner, Linda Blissett, Cerys Wrigley-Moss, Karen Messam and Teresa Opiala creative fashion shoot with Ian Trayner, Linda Blissett, Cerys Wrigley-Moss, Karen Messam and Teresa Opiala creative fashion shoot with Ian Trayner, Linda Blissett, Cerys Wrigley-Moss, Karen Messam and Teresa Opiala creative fashion shoot with Ian Trayner, Linda Blissett, Cerys Wrigley-Moss, Karen Messam and Teresa Opiala creative fashion shoot with Ian Trayner, Linda Blissett, Cerys Wrigley-Moss, Karen Messam and Teresa Opiala creative fashion shoot with Ian Trayner, Linda Blissett, Cerys Wrigley-Moss, Karen Messam and Teresa Opiala creative fashion shoot with Ian Trayner, Linda Blissett, Cerys Wrigley-Moss, Karen Messam and Teresa Opiala

Photography Methods

This creative fashion shoot was done in my photo studio in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey.

The red background is a paper roll, lit evenly using two studio flash heads, one on either side. These heads were each fitted with a 140x30cm soft box. In some shots, two people, standing at either side, waved a lightweight red cloth up and down. I added some patterns and textures to some of the other images in post production. You may notice I added the appearance of shadows from a tree in one image too.

The face of the model, Cerys Wrigley-Moss, is illuminated using a beauty dish fitted with a grid, and her lower body is illuminated with an LED light panel. The latter provides a continuous light source that is adjustable, and has the same (or very nearly the same) colour temperature as the studio flash heads (ie if the white balance on the camera is set to “flash”, the light from the LED appears to be white too).

What this means, is that the photographercan have some areas of the image blurred (due to movement of the model) while other areas are sharp (due to the speed of the flash). This is accomplished using a slow shutter speed. Finding the best speed is a matter of trial and error, and will depend on the effect the photographer wants to create. In some of the above images, Cerys’s lower body is blurred due to her moving, while her face and head remains sharp.

I also added a speedlight above Cerys’s head to give some highlights to her hair.