Category Archives: Studio photo shoots

Smoke and Lights

cool composite photo. The boy was photographed in my studio and the football stadium was added later.

Adding a bit of jazz to a photoshoot using smoke and lights

Sometimes I add some smoke and lights to create really cool shots in my studio.

As a professional family photographer I often ask myself these two questions;

  1. What can I do that is new to my clients? I don’t mean something that has never been done photographically before; I mean something that my clients haven’t come across before – and their friends probably haven’t either.
  2. How can I make my photo shoots more enjoyable? Some people love being in photo shoots and will be happy with anything. But some people hate photo shoots (you know who you are). So my question is how can I make my photo shoots enjoyable, or at least interesting, for everyone?

Today I am writing about using smoke and lights to create cool images that are dramatic and unusual. They are also a lot of fun to make!

Mother and son photo shoot

I am primarily a family photographer, and recently a mother brought her 10 year old son to my studio for a photo shoot.

As is so often the case neither really knew what to expect, and both felt a bit self conscious in front of the camera to start with. However before long we all felt relaxed as we joked about, and snapped away. We started to enjoy ourselves.

I love photo shoots when there is a strong loving relationship between the various family members. And on this photo shoot, once we had larked about a bit and my clients felt relaxed, that warmth between them started appearing in the photos.

I started by photographing them separately and together in a conventional high key style (ie white background). Then I changed to a dark background for more photos.

After a bit of this we reached the “treat point”; the smoke machine came out, I re-arranged my lights, and we really started having some fun!

cool photo of boy taken in my studio
Simple and clean. The smoke has largely dissipated to leave a thin mist.
Cool photo of boy taken in the studio, using smoke and lights from behind.
Two speedlights provide lighting from behind. I have removed the light stands in Photoshop.
Cool photo of boy taken in the studio using a smoke machine to generate smoke, and using rear lighting
An advantage of using a camera with lots of pixels is that you can do tight crops and still have enough pixels to make large prints.
Cool photo of boy with smoke and lights from behind. He is showing some attitude.
Attitude.
very cool photo of boy showing lots of attitude!
More attitude!

In my experience pretty well everybody likes the drama that is created by rear lighting and smoke, and children in particular love it. One of the joys of living in the age of digital cameras is that you can give your clients a preview of the photos on the back of the camera. When they see the quality of the photos that are being captured, this provides positive feedback so they enjoy the photo shoot even more.

When shooting like this the photographer has options for what to leave in, and what to remove from the final edit. For example it might seem appropriate to leave the lights but remove their stands, to remove everything including the lights, or leave everything in the photo. It just depends on the artistic effect you want to create.

The smoke is a bit blue and this is what gives these photos a blue feel. But what happens if we add some red gels to the rear lights?

cool photo of boy using smoke and lights with red gels
Red gels over the lights. I made the lights themselves invisible in Photoshop.
photo of boy - cool use of smoke and lights with red gels
A tighter crop.

Compositing into a football stadium

While we were shooting I discovered the boy loves football. So while I was shooting him, and without telling him so it would come as a total surprise, I decided to put him in a football stadium!

photo of boy in tracksuit with cool backlighting
Two speedlights behind the model. I have removed the stands.

When a photographer creates a picture that is composed of two or more different photos it is called a composite. It is important that the photo taken in the studio matches the new background. In particular the lighting has to be consistent. I had this in mind when I was pressing the shutter. One also has to check that the angle of view and perspective match reasonably well. In this example I also had to make some small changes to variables like brightness, contrast, colour temperature and saturation.

Composite photo showing the boy in a football stadium.
I have removed the speedlights and replaced the background with a photo of a football stadium.

If you want to check out a master of cool composite photography have a look at the work of Joel Grimes.

And click this link if you want to see how much fun kids can have with a bubble photo shoot experience.

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beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

Yollanda Musa in black and white

10 reasons I love working with Yollanda Musa

Yollanda Musa is a young model based in Hertfordshire. I was lucky enough to meet Yolly several years ago at at PortraitX photo shoot, and we have worked together several times. I jokingly say she is my “photographic Muse, er…”

Very funny, what.

I am going to put down in black and white 10 reasons why I love shooting Yollanda.

1. This is a soft look. Yollanda’s hair has been tied in a traditional style by Cheynie Majik Fingas.beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

2. One of the things I love about photographing people is that very small changes create different images. They show the same thing slightly differently. And then we interpret what we see. Usually quite unconsiously.
beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

3. A simple elegant profile.
beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

4.
beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

5. Now Yolly has been given a new hair style and stronger make up (by @paintedbyrupz). She was wearing her puffer jacket for warmth when not in front of the camera, and I decided to include the jacket for some shots. So here she is with the jacket and a subtle smile…beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

6. And here she is without the jacket looking serious.beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

7.beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

8.beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

9.beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

10. Well toned body! Just right for athletic modelling.beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

11. Yes… I figured it would be hard keeping the number of reasons to just ten!beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

The creative team

I can recommend the model, the make up artist and the hair stylist for professional work.

The model is Yollanda Musa.

The hair stylist was Cheynie Majik Fingas.

Eyelashes were by lolo lashes whom I have not met (the lashes were done earlier). But I did notice how good they are without anyone having to point them out to me! Whatever magic this is, it looks like Yolly’s own eyelashes, as opposed to large lashes above natural lashes, which sometimes gives me problems in post production. These lashes were perfect.

Make up was by Rupam Patel @paintedbyrupz. Rupam will have every right to throttle me if I don’t include a colour photo that shows the quality of her work!

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actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames

Peter Revel Walsh – actor head shots and portraits

Peter Revel Walsh is a character actor, model and voice over artist with over 20 years experience in the industry. He came to my studio in Kingston upon Thames for some actor head shots and portraits.

I think everyone will agree Peter has a very distinctive look!

My primary aim was to capture some great actor head shots. My secondary aim was to capture a range of “more interesting portraits”. I wanted to take advantage of a variety of lighting styles to either “smooth” Peter’s look to make him more cuddly, or to make him look “less civilised”. We even used a wind machine.actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames

 

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actor head shot for Kevin Mangar

Actor Head Shots for Kevin Mangar

Actor head shots for character and variety

Kevin Mangar asked me to take some actor head shots (and also some other photos, but I will talk about those another day).  Some of the resulting images are conventional actor head shots, while others are more “portraits”.

Kevin Mangar often lands roles as villains. Do you think he looks the part?

Well do you, punk?

Curiously, immediately after writing the above sentence I googled “Kevin Mangar” and discovered he played a character called “Eastwood” in the film The Take Down.  What an extraordinary co-incidence! (For people who don’t know “well do you punk” is an iconic line spoken by Harry Callaghan, played by Clint Eastwood in his “Dirty Harry” movies. Look at this clip and then this clip).

According to film buff website IMDb Kevin Mangar is also known for roles in Spider Man 2: Another World and Redcon-1.

What is an “actor head shot”?

Actor head shots are intended to give casting directors an idea of what an actor or actress looks like. However Kevin and I didn’t want to just limit ourselves to conventional actor head shots. So Kevin played some roles, and I fiddled with my lights.

Lighting for head shots and portraits

One light

Here are five “head shots”. In the first, I lit Kevin’s head with a single key light located directly above the camera’s line of sight. You can see the reflection of the key light in Kevin’s eyes. The flash was modified by a gridded white beauty dish. Just the one light (technically this kind of lighting is called “butterfly lighting” because the shadow beneath the nose might look a bit like a butterfly. Allegedly.

very simple actor head shot

Three lights

In the next photo the key light is exactly the same, but I have added two additional lights, one on each side of Kevin’s head.  The photographer has to be quite careful where s/he places these lights in order to create the desired effect. I was using two tall slim soft boxes fitted with grids.

Actor head shot of actor Kevin Mangar

Two lights

Kevin’s third “head shot” shows what happens when the key light is turned off, and the two lights on either side are on. This isn’t really an “actor head shot” at all, because you can’t see the detail of Kevin’s face. But the image makes a very atmospheric portrait nevertheless. I think you will agree this lighting creates a sinister mood? So, not really an “actor head shot” but definitely a “portrait”.

sinister portrait of actor Kevin Mangar

Two different lights

For the fourth head shot in this series I moved the key light to one side, a bit higher than Kevin’s head. It is still modified using the same white gridded beauty dish. I have also moved one of the tall gridded softboxes further back behind Kevin, and brought it’s brightness down. These are the only two lights on Kevin in this photo.

Actor head shot of actor Kevin Mangar

Three lights

Next I threw some light onto the black background, making it grey. The purpose of this is to make Kevin’s outline more visible. I call this Kevin’s “Patrick Stewart” picture.

actor head shot of actor Kevin Mangar

I call this Kevin’s “Patrick Stewart” photo. I assume both actors will find this flattering…

A softer look

As I wrote above, Kevin Mangar often gets typecast as villains. He does a “hard man look” very well. But why don’t we bring out his softer side too?

Kevin Mangar - actor head shot Kevin Mangar - actor head shot Kevin Mangar - actor head shot Kevin Mangar - actor head shot Kevin Mangar - actor head shot

Photoshop post production

Just in case anyone is interested;

Photoshop editing was kept to a minimum.  I made a small number of global adjustments to  basic variables like colour balance, the tone curve, clarity, and maybe one or two other of the sliders that adjust the entire image. I also did a very small amount of eye brightening – very subtle. Otherwise Kevin’s head shots and portraits are as the camera captured them.

Acknowledgement

I thank Kevin Mangar for asking me to take these actor head shots, portraits and other photos (I may write about some of the others later).

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bubble photo shoot for children

“Bubble Photo Shoot Experience” for Children in Kingston

Fun bubble photo shoot for children

“Bring shy kids out of their bubble”

Loads of fun for kids in a bubble photo shoot!

My studio in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, provides a fun packed “bubble photo shoot experience” for children. Do you have a camera shy child? Would you like photos of your child playing naturally and care-free?

Bubble photo shoots provide a safe environment for your kids to let their hair down and have some fun while getting their photos taken.

Why book a bubble photo shoot?

These days cameras are ubiquitous. Every mobile phone has a camera. So what can a professional photographer with his own studio offer that a mobile phone can’t?

I would argue quite a lot.

And one thing my studio in Kingston offers is a fun packed “bubble photo shoot experience”. It isn’t just about getting photos at the end, it is also about the experience. If you want photos of your child playing happily, your child needs to be happy and relaxed in front of the camera.

Why not book today? Find out what a professional photographer can do with a dark background, studio flash and a bubble machine? At the end of your shoot we can even add some smoke! (The smoke isn’t really smoke, it is some kind of mist that comes out of a machine, and is meant to be totally safe. The manufacturers state it will not trigger asthma attacks, for example).

Why not make a party of it?

Bubble photo shoots tend to be quite dynamic, and they usually work best if your child brings a friend. Sometimes it works well if a parent is willing to get into the picture! The photos in this blog post show two twins in party dresses playing with the bubbles.

If you want to make a party of it, my studio in Kingston can accommodate a maximum of four children with two accompanying adults. We can plan your childrens’ photo shoot in detail in your pre-shoot consultation (the booking fee includes a pre-shoot consultation).

Do you want some serious photos too?

No worries. During your pre-shoot consultation we can discuss the best way to mix your photo shoot to get some serious photos too. Please note if you are inviting several of your child’s friends it is probably best to book a separate session for the serious photos.

How do I book my bubble photo shoot?

Click here for information about booking your personalised photo shoot experience.

fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

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photo shoot for Rosemary Lloyd, Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019

Photo shoot for Rosemary Lloyd, Miss Pure United Kingdom

Rosemary Lloyd is Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019

Rosemary Lloyd is already “Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019”. But she jetted off to the USA to compete in the “Miss Pure International” pageant.

Rosemary won 8 awards at the “Miss Pure International” pageant!

Rosemary Lloyd has just returned from the United States where she was competing in the “Miss Pure International 2019” pageant, where she won a total of 8 awards;

  1. Miss Congeniality
  2. Academic winner
  3. Print model
  4. Crowned to serve Essay
  5. Be the impact project
  6. Creative writing
  7. Artwork
  8. International Queen 2nd runner up

Knowing Rosemary some of these awards didn’t surprise me. For example “Miss Congeniality”. You can get a good taste of Rosemary’s nature if you watch the video clips she posts on her facebook page.

I was more surprised by the “Crowned to serve” essay, because I happen to know that Rosemary is dyslexic. When I asked Rosemary about this I made a new discovery – Rosemary is a published poet!

I don’t want to write a lot about Rosemary here. Anyone who is interested can easily find interviews with Rosemary Lloyd on the internet.

Rosemary Lloyd’s photo shoot

Rosemary needed some photos for the Miss Pure pageant. I took these photos in my studio last February (2019) but they have been under embargo until recently.Photo shoot for Rosemary Lloyd, Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019 Photo shoot for Rosemary Lloyd, Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019 Photo shoot for Rosemary Lloyd, Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019 Photo shoot for Rosemary Lloyd, Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019 Photo shoot for Rosemary Lloyd, Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019 Photo shoot for Rosemary Lloyd, Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019

The creative team on this photo shoot

Rosemary Lloyd did her own make up.

The designer is Forever Devine.

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Commercial swimwear photo shoot

Commercial swimwear photo shoot

Swimwear photo shoot – Afrokini bikini

Our model for this swimwear photo shoot is the beautiful black model Yollanda Musa. She is wearing the “Gugu” style bikini made by swimwear brand “Afrokini“. Afrokini uses African-inspired colours and designs in it’s swimsuits. Hence it was very appropriate to use a black model for this swimwear photo shoot. I have worked with Yollanda Musa several times, and we have a very good professional working relationship.

Make up colour coordination

Make up was by Chesmi Rodrigo. We decided to coordinate the colour of Yollanda’s make up with the mauve colour on her bikini.Make up by Chesmi Rodrigo, photography by Ian Trayner in Kingston, model is Yollanda Musa

Bikini photo shoot for catalogue and promotion

This swimwear photo shoot was done in my studio in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey. The aim was to start by taking fairly “standard” catalogue photographs of a beautiful black model wearing the bikini. And once we had these photos “in the bag”, to capture some more dramatic photographs for promotional purposes.

Shooting a black model in a bikini against a “white” background

I wanted to start by taking fairly standard catalogue style photos against a white background.  However Afrokini already has photos of a model wearing this bikini against a bright white background, and I did not want to repeat those. Therefore, although I used a plain white background in my studio, it appears darker because I did not shine light directly on it. When you use a white background in a photo studio, the degree of darkening is readily controlled by how much light you shine on it in the studio. The darkness of the white background can also be adjusted later in post production, ie on the computer using Photoshop. As a matter of fact I have increased the vignetting in the first photograph below in Photoshop.Beautiful black model Yollanda Musa wearing bikini "Gugu" from Afrokini. Commercial swimwear photo shoot. Photograph by Ian Trayner in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

How to use light to flatter the female body

I wanted to light my model in a way that is flattering to her body. Yollanda Musa is blessed with a very beautiful body (and face), and I wanted to really show her off. This is something I would naturally do with any client (commercial or private) who hires me for a beauty photo shoot, or a model experience photo shoot.

One of my specialities is lighting the human form to make it look good.

Notice how I have emphasised the beauty of Yollanda’s body by creating highlights and shadows that show her natural three dimensional shape.

Lighting with studio flash

For these first “black model in a bikini” photos (against the white background) I used two studio flash units;

The main (key) light was provided by a gridded soft box to the left of Yollanda (as you look at her) and slightly above her head height. I wanted the light source to be slightly higher than Yollanda’s head, but I also wanted it to shine into her eyes. As a general rule, you want a model’s eyes to be well lit for beauty photography.  Yollanda’s eyes are clearly visible, with a bright highlight. Notice how the highlights and shadows from this key light flatter Yollanda’s body. The soft box was relatively small, and was fitted with a grid. Thus the light is relatively directional. This also avoids excessive spill of light onto the white background.

The second light was a studio flash fitted with a tall gridded soft box. It was positioned behind Yollanda and to the right (as you look at the model). Notice how this helps to further enhance the “three dimensional quality” of Yollanda’s body. It gives a subtle silky sheen to her skin where it reflects off. In the photo above it also provides a slim rim light on her elbow that helps to separate Yollanda’s body from the background.

High heels help with the model’s posture

High heeled shoes are usually flattering – I think we all know this. But it isn’t just at the level of the feet – high heels change the overall posture, weight distribution, and muscular tension in  ways that are flattering. (I am not recommending high heels for any other purpose!)

But we don’t want the shoes to distract the eye away from the clothes

In the full length photo below, notice how Yollanda’s high heels do not distract the eye from the more important parts of the photo. In fact Yollanda’s shoes are almost invisible. From the point of view of the designer, the most important parts of the photo are those that show the clothes. In this case the model’s bikini.

If Yollanda’s shoes were black they would attract the eye (because of the extra contrast against the pale background). If her shoes were white they would look OK against a pale background, but they might be distracting to the eye if we had selected a dark background.

There isn’t a “right” or “wrong” about this. It is a matter of what is appropriate. But overall,  transparent high heels are “a good thing” from the point of view of photographic safety, and versatility.

Beautiful black model Yollanda Musa wearing bikini "Gugu" from Afrokini. Commercial swimwear photo shoot. Photograph by Ian Trayner in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

 

The power of dramatic lighting in a bikini photo shoot

Once we had a set of “safe” catalogue shots of our bikini in the bag, we wanted to capture some images that were a bit more dramatic for our swimwear photo shoot.

I decided to create images with a relatively high contrast, using dramatic rear lighting and strong colours. I decided to use “cold” blue and green coloured lights with a pale wig to give an “ice” effect. And I decided to use red lights and a black wig for a “fire” effect.

“Fire and ice” bikini images

“Ice” bikini photos

The key light on Yollanda is provided by a 21 inch beauty dish fitted with a grid. This is one of my favourite lighting modifiers. The key light is white, so as not to change the colours of the bikini – at least the top part.

Yollanda is lit from behind using three speedlights. Two are firing through blue gels, and one is firing through a green gel. I love what the coloured lights do to Yollanda’s hair against the black background, and I love the blue and green rim lights on her body. These help show off the curves of her profile. I have written about using coloured gels with flash photography in a previous blog post.

Beautiful black model Yollanda Musa wearing bikini "Gugu" from Afrokini. Commercial swimwear photo shoot. Photograph by Ian Trayner in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

 

Adding coloured mist to our bikini photos

I wanted to add more drama to our swimear photo shoot. I did this by using a water spray to catch and diffuse the coloured lights behind Yollanda.

This is very easy to do. All you need is a cheap spray bottle (such as you use for misting plants) and a means of co-ordinating the spray with firing the camera. I used a remote trigger to fire my camera, and sprayed the spray myself. But you can use an assistant to do the spray if you have one (and don’t have a remote camera trigger). Obviously you need a tripod or other stable support for your camera if the photographer has to do the spraying himself (or herself).

It is important to make sure you don’t spray your lights! If you are short of space you can put clear plastic bags over your flash units.

The water spray settles quite quickly with gravity, so you need to coordinate the spraying and shooting. You will find every shot is different from the one before, and you can play around for a while capturing images that are slightly different from each other. You will find some work much better than others.

If you go on for a while you can end up with a bottle worth of water on the studio floor too (I have a plastic paddling pool I use for catching the water).

Beautiful black model Yollanda Musa wearing bikini "Gugu" from Afrokini. Commercial swimwear photo shoot. Photograph by Ian Trayner in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Beautiful black model Yollanda Musa wearing bikini "Gugu" from Afrokini. Commercial swimwear photo shoot. Photograph by Ian Trayner in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

“Fire” bikini photos

To photograph Yollanda “on fire” I used red gels on the speedlights behind her. These give the curves of her body a lovely red rim light. I added the flames on the computer in post production.

Beautiful black model Yollanda Musa wearing bikini "Gugu" from Afrokini. Commercial swimwear photo shoot. Photograph by Ian Trayner in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Accreditation for this swimwear photo shoot

Model: Yollanda Musa (she has a website coming soon I am told)
Make up: Chesmi Rodrigo
Swimsuit: Afrokini (On the website is says their swimwear is “waterproof”. I guess that is true, but it made me chuckle).

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Rosemary Lloyd: photo shoot for magazine cover

Photo shoot of Rosemary Lloyd for magazine cover

Fashion photo shoot of Rosemary Lloyd

I was asked to set up a fashion photo shoot to take photographs of Rosemary Lloyd for the cover of “World Class Queens of England Magazine“. Rosemary is the magazine’s first UK embassador. We did the photo shoot in my studio in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey.

Who is Rosemary Lloyd?

I’m afraid that is too big a question to answer in my simple blog. She is more than just an internationally known model. She has won more accolades than I can list here. If you are interested you can read an interview with Rosemary in the September 2018 issue of “World Class Queens of England Magazine“.

Sigrun created a dress based on the union flag

The styling ideas for this photo shoot came primarily from Rosemary Lloyd herself. She wanted to use a very patriotic theme based on the union flag. Specifically, she  wanted to portray the character “Britannia”. Rosemary asked  Sigrún Björk Ólafsdóttir to design a bespoke dress that included the colours of the union flag. Sigrun also made the union flag shield.

Who is “Britannia”?

According to Wikipedia the word “Britannia” was used from 43 AD to mean “Roman Britain”. In the 2nd century, Roman Britannia “came to be personified as a goddess, armed with a trident and shield and wearing a Corinthian helmet”.  This figure has appeared on many British coins over the years, and has been perceived to be a symbol of of “British maritime power and unity” (the words of Wikipedia again). I associate Britannia with the old British penny that was in circulation prior to decimalisation, but I discovered she is also featured on some variations of the modern 50p piece. I think it is fair to day Britannia is a fairly familiar figure to most people who have grown up in the UK. But I suspect most other people won’t have noticed her before.

While I was “researching” this information I realised how little I notice what is actually on our coins. They are so very familiar and recognisable, but could I tell you what they actually look like? I don’t think so.Rosemary Lloyd as "Britannia" photographed by Ian Trayner | dress designed by Sigrún Björk Ólafsdóttir

 

Additional styling for the photo shoot

We replaced the Corinthian helmet with a tiara from Swarovski. This was supplied by the magazine’s editor for our photo shoot. It is far more befitting to Rosemary Lloyd’s title of “World Class Beauty Queen of England” than a Corinthian helmet.

But what about the trident? The obvious way to find a trident would be to buy one online. However as far as I can remember, I don’t think I had prior notice that Rosemary would be posing as Britannia. I think the first I knew about it was when Rosemary unpacked her costume.

So what to do? One option would be to ignore the trident. But then I had a moment of inspiration. I fetched a garden fork from the garage. All that was required was to reduce the number of tangs from four to three in post production. What would we photographers do without Photoshop (or equivalent)? I liked using the fork because it is obviously real metal in the photographs, and not a plastic prop.Rosemary Lloyd as "Britannia" photographed by Ian Trayner | dress designed by Sigrún Björk Ólafsdóttir

World Class Queens of Europe Magazine

For the magazine World Class Queens of England Magazine we got not only the cover, but an additional eight pages in the magazine. The editor liked the photos so much that he also put Rosemary Lloyd on the cover of the sister magazine, World Class Queens of Europe Magazine.

Rosemary Lloyd as "Britannia" photographed by Ian Trayner | dress designed by Forever Devine | tiara by Swarovski

Rosemary Lloyd as "Britannia" photographed by Ian Trayner | dress designed by Forever Devine | tiara by Swarovski  Rosemary Lloyd as "Britannia" photographed by Ian Trayner | dress designed by Forever Devine | tiara by Swarovski Rosemary Lloyd as "Britannia" photographed by Ian Trayner | dress designed by Forever Devine | tiara by Swarovski

The creative team for this photo shoot

The photo shoot was done in my studio in Kingston upon Thames. After Rosemary asked me to do the photography I had a good look at the style of images that appear in previous issues of the “World Class Beauty Queens” family of magazines. I needed to adapt my lighting to be consistent with their brand. I found the best solution was to use a beauty dish fitted with a “shower cap” diffuser as the key light.

The theme of “Britannia” was from Rosemary Lloyd herself.

The union flag dress and shield were designed and created by Sigrún Björk Ólafsdóttir.

The navy blue dress was designed by Forever Devine.

Hair and make up were by Cindy Purezka.

The tiara was from Swarovski, and the sash was supplied by the editor of World Class Queens of England Magazine. I am told the crystals on the sash are also from Swarovski.

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bridal gown photo shoot Shamali

Commercial bridal gown photo shoot

Bridal gown photo shoot for Shamali

Shamali wanted a “wow” image to show off a bridal gown from her new collection, and she commissioned me to create it.

Shamali is an exclusive range of high quality bridal gowns to suit every shape and personality. The collections are all designed exclusively by Shamali and hand finished in England”.

Commercial photography

Although I am primarily a family portrait photographer, I also do some fashion and commercial work. I have had the privilge of photographing Shamali’s bridal gowns for a number of years. This summer (2018) Shamali asked me to create a single “wow image” for promotional purposes. She also wanted me to take some additional bridal gown images for her website and catalogue.

Photographing bridal gowns in a relatively confined space

Shamali decided we would do the photo shoot in her shop. This is very convenient because all her bridal gowns are already there, as well as other props. Of course I have to bring my lights and photography equipment! However the space is relatively confined as far as photography studios go. You can Google “Daisy’s Bridal Couture” and have a look at the front of the shop in Google’s streetview to see what I mean.

I always enjoy visiting Shamali’s shop because of the calm atmosphere, and the warmth and friendliness of Shamali and her staff.

The first challenge – creating the set

My first challenge was to design a photography set that looked elegant, and was suitable for photographing bridal gowns. You can see the set I came up with, but I shall keep how I made it a trade secret!

The second challenge – “going the distance”

In order to photograph a model full length without distorting her body, it is necessary to place the camera at some distance from the model and use a long lens.  The model will then appear to have normal proportions. In contrast, if the photograph is taken close to the model using a wide angle lens, we may find we are looking up at the face of the model, and down at the top of her feet, with her legs foreshortened. This is not at all flattering. The resulting images exaggerate the size of the torso, and “shrinks” the model’s legs. So for fashion photography usually one wants to get a good distance away from the model and use a relatively long lens. For a full frame (35mm) chip camera, lenses with a focal lenth of 100m or longer would be good.

And that brings me to my second challenge – how to get far enough away from the model? The solution was to place the camera on the pavement outside the shop and shoot through the doorway.

The creative team

Shamali provided the bridal gowns, shoes and hair jewellery. She also provided the “studio space” in the form of her shop, Daisy’s Bridal Couture.

The model for this photo shoot was Olivia Dunn.

Kirsty Cox did Olivia’s hair and make up. I have worked with Kirsty a number of times, and I can recommend her professionalism, and the quality of her work. I have included a couple of head shots to show the quality of her work.

commercial bridal gown photos shoot for Shamali, hair and make up by Kirsty Cox commercial bridal gown photos shoot for Shamali, hair and make up by Kirsty Cox commercial bridal gown photos shoot for Shamali, hair and make up by Kirsty Cox commercial bridal gown photos shoot for Shamali, hair and make up by Kirsty Cox commercial bridal gown photos shoot for Shamali, hair and make up by Kirsty Cox commercial bridal gown photos shoot for Shamali, hair and make up by Kirsty Cox commercial bridal gown photos shoot for Shamali, hair and make up by Kirsty Cox

commercial bridal gown photos shoot for Shamali, hair and make up by Kirsty Coxcommercial bridal gown photos shoot for Shamali, hair and make up by Kirsty Cox

How did I light the “wow” bridal gown image?

I used two lights.

The main light is from a white 55cm beauty dish, fitted with a grid, from Viewfinder.

The rim light caressing Olivia from behind was provided by a tall slim softbox. But a similar effect could have been attained using a variety of lighting modifiers.

The studio set is all white. The background is white, and the columns are white. Areas appear dark because there is little light shining on them. This is an important principle; control of shadows and control of light are two sides of the same coin – and equally important as each other. That is my (allegedly humble) opinion!

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model portfolio photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, African styling, C Walé Hair and Beauty

Model portfolio photo shoot

Model portfolio photo shoot

Styling for this photo shoot

“Styling” for this model portfolio photo shoot was a collaboration between the model, Yollanda Musa, and make up artist Caroline, from C Walé Hair and Beauty.

Styling

Yollanda writes;

“The outfit was made for me, for the “Miss Pride of Africa UK 2016″ beauty pageant. I wore it for the Nations parade round . I co designed the outfit with a Zimbabwean Designer. I chose colours to represent the Zimbabwean flag colours . So I told the Designer what I wanted and she sketched the idea. I wanted a modern mix in the design so I asked for the ballerina skirt. I then got the hat designed in South Africa – it is a style that is worn by South African women. I combined the different components. Caroline worked well to match the makeup to my outfit”.

Make up

Caroline’s own words;

“The purpose of this model portfolio photo shoot was to have a colourful and vibrant representation of Africa.

“Every piece of the attire had to be eye catching. The hat and jewellery was from South Africa, and were provided by the model.

“This makeup look was about keeping everything calm and going bold blue with the lips with tribal designs. It’s always great to either focus on beautiful intrinsic colours on the eyelids with eyeshadow, or dare to be bright on the lips.

“It’s always important to use primer before applying your foundation to reduce shine.The eyebrows were shaped neatly with a dewey foundation base. To make the eyes pop it’s always a great idea to use beautiful eyelashes.

“Once the makeup was done, the whole look came together when the outfit was worn”.

Photography methods

As Caroline stated above, our aim was to create images that give a “colourful and vibrant representation of Africa”. With this aim in mind, and having seen the clothes, I decided to use a red background. However I did not want the images to be overwhelmed by a bright red background, so I “underlit it” (even a white background will look black if there is no light on it).

Beauty lighting

My next question was; “how do I want to light the model?” Yollanda is blessed with beautiful bone structure and a beautiful face. So naturally I wanted my photos to be “beauty shots”. So I decided, for this model portfolio photo shoot, to use one of my favourite lighting modifiers for “beauty photography”. This is a 550mm beauty dish fitted with a grid, and I used this as the main light source on the model. These modifiers are relatively expensive (mainly because of the grid), but they provide a light source that can be extremely flattering.

I say “can be”, because this type of modifier provides a relatively “hard” light source. That means the shadows have relatively hard edges, with a lot of contrast between “light” and “dark”. While this kind of light can beextremely flattering on slim faces (if positioned properly), it is unlikely to be flattering on round faces.

I just had a look at this beauty dish and it doesn’t have a manufacturer’s name on it. Nor is the manufacturer’s name written on it’s box. However I can say I bought it from Veiwfinder.

White or silver beauty dish?

In general I prefer beauty dishes that have a white reflective surface, as opposed to a silver reflective surface. White surfaces give a “more forgiving” light source in my opinion. Especially if there is any degree of shinyness on a face.

Using coloured gels

Recently I published a blog post about using coloured gels in studio photography. Yollanda’s bright blue lips inspired me to add some blue light for some of her model portfolio photo shoot. In some images I have used a blue light as a fill light. This overlays a subtle “blueness” to her images, making her skin appear a touch “cooler”, and making the shadows a bit blue. You can see this especially in the whites of Yollanda’s eyes, in some of the images.

Later I moved the blue flash to behind Yollanda. So instead of being a blue fill light, it has become a  blue rim light..

The blue light was created by a Nikon SB900 speedlight fitted with a blue gel from HonlPhoto. Read my blog post “using coloured gels with photography” for more information about using coloured gels.

Rim lighting

All the images have a rim light coming from the opposite direction to the main light (ie pointing towards the camera from behind the model). Sometimes the rim light is white, and sometimes it is blue. But it is always there. The purpose of rim light is to separate the model from the background, so you can see the outline of her body.

If you are interested in lighting, watch out for rim lighting on TV, especially on higher budget films. In dark spaces rim lighting is used very effectively, and because our attention is on the “story” rather than on the “lighting”, we probably won’t notice on those occasions when the rim lighting “doesn’t make sense”! In other words, there may not be a natural light source in “the story” to provide that rim lighting! Having said which there often is,for examjple provided by lights on a ceiling.  But in reality they are often lights on boom arms, just out of shot.

Would you like to see all the images from this model portfolio photo shoot?

See all the other images from this model portfolio photo shoot in this gallery.

model portfolio photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, African styling, C Walé Hair and Beauty model portfolio photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, African styling, C Walé Hair and Beauty, blue coloured gel model portfolio photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, African styling, C Walé Hair and Beauty model portfolio photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, African styling, C Walé Hair and Beauty model portfolio photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, African styling, C Walé Hair and Beauty

The creative team for this model portfolio photo shoot

Model: Yollanda Musa

Yollanda Musa is an award winning UK based model. She was awarded a “Women Of Purpose Award” in recognition of her hard work and determination as a model . Yollanda has represented Zimbabwe in pageants. For example “Mr and Miss Black Beauty”, and “Miss Pride of Africa UK”. In the latter she won the title of “Southern Region Princess”. She also won the Sports Award title at “Miss Hertfoshire 2017”.

Yollanda is not just a pretty face; she bravely learnt how to box to raise money for Cancer Research UK. She even won her bout!

Yollanda is 5 feet 2 inches tall. This is not a typical height for models. Nevertheless Yollanda caught the attention of newspapers, such as Hemel Hempstead Gazette and Welywn and Hatfield Times. She has also been published inmagazines such as Effuse, Le Blanc and Secret Eden.

Yollanda’s links;

Visit Yollanda Musa’s blog and learn about her experiences as a petit model, and read her advice to aspiring models.
Get in touch with model Yollanda Musa by emailing yollandamusa@outlook.com
You can also join Yollanda’s network on LinkedIn.

C Walé Hair and Beauty

Find Caroline on facebook here: C Walé Hair and Beauty

 

 

 

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