Category Archives: Location photo shoots

Hollywood lighting for photographers

Hollywood lighting for drama and a cinematic look

What is Hollywood Lighting?

“Hollywood lighting” is an expression photographers use to describe the cinematic style of lighting that was used in the “good old days” of classic black and white films, and “film noir”.

I think it comes down to controlling light and shadow – both being equally important. The lighting is very stylish, and tends towards a steep tonal curve (ie deep blacks and bright whites).

I like watching films like “Casablanca” and “The Third Man” for see inspirational Hollywood lighting.

It is my personal view that any photographer who cares about the quality of his or her work should constantly be on the lookout for inspiration. It is not a question of “copying”, but trying to emulate a style that you have seen. There is a lot to be learnt by looking at the work of others.

Lighting for film versus lighting for still photography

Film (and video) requires continuous lighting – obviously!

But because still photographers capture still images, so we have a luxury of choice. We can opt for continuous lighting or flash. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and there is a large choice of technologies available.

Some photographers who want to specialise in “Hollywood lighting” invest heavily in specialist lighting. But most phtoographers who wants to emulate this style will probably want to use equipment they already own.

I am going to describe a method whereby a photographer who uses studio flash can emulate Hollywood lighting very simply. The trick is to use reflective dishes fitted with grids. Incidentally, this is one of the very first things I learned from Damian McGillicuddy, to whom I owe a debt of gratitude. I have learnt a great deal over the years from this thoroughly decent chap.

Using grids to emulate fresnel lighting

In the classic days of black and white Hollywood films, fresnel lenses (pronounced fray-nel) were often used to control the spread of light. Fresnel lenses act by collimating light produced by a bulb. Let me explain that; light spreads out in all directions from a bulb, but if the emitted light goes through a lens that makes the light rays travel parallel to each other, that is collimated light.

A grid performs a very similar effect. It doesn’t achieve it by changing the direction of the light, but by restricting the amount it can spread out. It does this by forcing the light through small tubes – the grid. Grids vary – some restrict the spread of light much more than others.

The models in these photos were lit using a 21cm Elinchrom refector dish fitted with a grid. If you aren’t a professional photographer and you follow that link, you will probably be surprised by how much these things cost; “that much for just that?” But grids are not that easy to manufacture. Still, the cost is a small fraction of what you have to pay for proper fresnel ligthing systems.

“Classic” black and white photography

It wasn’t just film studios that used “Hollywood lighting”. Many portrait photographers have used, and even specialised, in this style of lighting. A quick Google search will pull out many examples.

That is so cool! I just did a Google search to verify my last sentence, and was delighted to see six of my own images appear in the search results. Result!

Hollywood lighting, Yulia Volosnikova, Luke Clampitt, location photo shoot

Luke Clampitt and Yulia Volosnikova as Hollywood stars

Hollywood lighting, Yulia Volosnikova, beauty photography

Yulia Volosnikova transformed into Hollywood star by Hollywood lighting

Hollywood lighting, Yulia Volosnikova, beauty photography

“Hollywood star” Yulia Volosnikova

Using Hollywood Lighting to sculpt faces

Because Hollywood lighting is collimated – at least to a degree – it is very “hard”. That means it creates relatively hard edges to shadows. This lighting flatter thin faces, but can be very unflattering to people who have round faces.

Furthermore, because Hollywood lighting is conducive to area of strong shadow, it can help an experienced photographer flatter certain types of subjects.

Consider the image of Yulia Volosnikova (above). I have deliberately shot her as a “Hollywood star”. Let us briefly look at the important points;

1. I have used a main key light on her face to flatter. The position of the light source relative to the model is critical. Notice the strong catch lights in Yulia’s eyes, and consider how they contribute to the image. The main key light was an Ilux Summit 600 fitted with an Elinchrom 21cm dish plus grid.

2. There is a rim light coming from behind Yulia, to the right as we look at her. This defines her left should, and also her right cheek, neck and throat. The position of this light also is critical. (By “critical” I do not mean there is only one exactly correct position, but rather that small changes in position cause major changes in the effect the light has on the model). this light was provided by a speedlight.

3. While I was shooting this series of images, in this location, I also had a fill light pointing at the model, behind the photographer’s right shoulder. This light was turned off for this particular image. The intensity of the fill light can be adjusted to change the darkness of the shadows.

4. One of the nice things about modern digital cameras is you can inspect the photographs you have just taken on the back of your camera. Looking at Yulia’s images, I decided I need to shine more light on her hair, from both sides. I acheived this using two more speedlights, one on each side of Yulia’s head. It was important that the light from these did not spread out and ruin the shadows elsewhere on Yulia. I found I could achieve this simply by using the speedlights withour any lighting modifiers.

In summary; the above photo of Yulia was captured using FOUR lights;
(a) main key light
(b) rim light
(c and d) two speedlights on either side of her head.

Sultry “Hollywood starlet” Serena

PortraitX, Hollywood lighting, Samantha Akasha Beck, film noir

PortraitX organiser and guru Samantha Akasha Beck, photographed in “film noir” style

Hollywood lighting, film noir, Yulia Volosnikova

“Hollywood star” Yulia Volosnikova with “Magician and Illusionist” Marcus Phoenix Godfrey



Yulia Volosnikova, make up by Rhian Gillah
Serena Fox (black silky dress), make up by Jade Memphis Hunt
Samantha Akasha Beck (filing cabinet), I think did her own make up
Luke Clampitt
Marcus Phoenix Godfrey (magician)

I am grateful to Empress Design and Print for the location, and PortraitX for organising the shoot.

One to one photo tutoring

Are you a budding photographer who would like to get some personal one to one tuition on a PortraitX photo shoot? If you are then contact me.

Behind the scenes (BTS) video

Video captured and edited by Matt Tress of Shinzou Media

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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.

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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

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.


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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“.
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 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

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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.
maternity photo shoot in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey maternity photo shoot in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey maternity photo shoot in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey maternity photo shoot in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey maternity photo shoot in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey maternity photo shoot in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey maternity photo shoot in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

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).

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Rihanna, photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, Viya La Belle, Ian Trayner, fashion shoot

“Rihanna-inspired photo shoot”

Rihanna-inspired photo shoot

Recently I had the pleasure of working on two fashion photo shoots with Yollanda Musa. This was really good luck for me, because not only is Yollanda an excellent model, but she was perfect for a “Rihanna-inspired photo shoot” that I have been planning.

The aim was to shoot a petite, pretty, and very feminine young lady, totally “holding her own” in a macho environment. The location we used for the shoot was a factory/warehouse. Although the factory is very busy during the week, parts of it are very dirty and have a semi-derelict appearance. This made it a perfect location for our photo shoot.

Yollanda’s character was inpired by a role that Rihanna plays in a film called “Battleship“, in which the US Navy defeats alien invaders. Rihanna plays a weapons expert who is… petite, pretty, and very feminine. But she totally holds her own with the “big boys” in an extremely macho environment. Later in the shoot we have smoke and action!

Make up by Viya La Belle

Yollanda asked an excellent make up artist, Viya La Belle, if she wanted to work with us on our Rihanna-inspired photo shoot. And she did an excellent job. In due course I will upload more posts from this photo shoot, but In this first post I have included a “behind the scenes” photo of Viya La Belle making some adjustments to the make up. Please note that Yollanda is standing on a wooden palette in this photo, and that makes Viya look shorter than she is! In all fairness I should make it clear that Viya span most of her make up magic in a much nicer, cleaner, and more comfortable place!

I have also posted two close ups that show the quality of Viya’s make up.

Photography methods

In due course I will be uploading more posts about this photo shoot, which went extremely well. Later we used smoke and action! But in the meantime please enjoy these images.

I was using a mix of Nikon speedlights, and portable battery powered studio flash (made by Ilux). I triggered the flash heads using wireless radio transmitters. Lighting modifiers were mainly softboxes and small reflector dishes (approx 21cm diameter). The cool blue backgrounds were acheived by setting the camera to “tungsten white balance” and putting coloured gels over the flash heads, to make the light they emitted appear “white” to the camera.

Rihanna-inspired photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, Ian Trayner

Rihanna-inspired photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, Ian Trayner

Viya La Belle fine tuning her make up

Rihanna-inspired photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, Ian Trayner Rihanna-inspired photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, Ian Trayner Rihanna-inspired photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, Ian Trayner Rihanna-inspired photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, Ian Trayner iantrayner_yollandamusa_rihanna-inspired__dsc3268Rihanna-inspired photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, Ian Trayner Rihanna-inspired photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, Ian Trayner


Model: Yollanda Musa (she is wearing her own clothes)
Make up: Viya La Belle
Assistants: Martin Brown and Steve Brown

Behind the scenes

These “behind the scenes” photos were taken by Martin Brown, and I am very grateful to him for allowing me to share them with you.

Martin Brown, Yollanda Musa, Ian Trayner, Viya La Belle, fashion photo shoot, RihannaMartin Brown, Yollanda Musa, Ian Trayner, Viya La Belle, fashion photo shoot, Rihanna Martin Brown, Yollanda Musa, Ian Trayner, Viya La Belle, fashion photo shoot, Rihanna Martin Brown, Yollanda Musa, Ian Trayner, Viya La Belle, fashion photo shoot, Rihanna

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