Steven Brokaw Photography

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New Talent - A Learning Experience

Had a chance to work with brand new model, Kaylen Shelby.  I was asked by a friend to shoot with Kaylen.  You know the drill, a “friend of a friend”….I agreed.  Kaylen is JUST starting out and wanted to try a more professional photoshoot.  After I told my friend that I would shoot, Kaylen’s mother reached out to me, and we set up a date. 

I learned that Kaylen wanted to try her hand at modeling but was brand new.  On the date of the shoot she was just turning 15 which is actually not to young to start down the fashion modeling path. From photos her mother sent it looked like she had potential so I thought it would be a good opportunity to meet her, do a shoot for her portfolio, and generally chat about model photography.  We were good to go.

To give Kaylen a full experience I also hired a MUA/Hair Stylist, Sasha Starz.  We discussed in advance what clothes to bring and what to expect from the shoot.  I discussed doing a set of “Polaroids” and then a more formal shoot.

On the shoot date Kaylen, her mother and Sasha arrived.  For the first 30 minutes I talked to Kaylen and her mother on what to expect and how the shoot would go.  We talked about working with photographers, minimum physical requirements for fashion, how to conduct herself with an agency, how to project herself as a confident professional, etc.  Kaylen asked lots of good questions.

We were off.  Since the first shoot was Polaroids I didn’t have any makeup done, or anything with her hair.  I just had her stand against a grey wall in the studio with her hair loose, and her hair back in a ponytail.  I had her wear her glasses and had them off.  Also, just a pair of jeans and top.  We spent about 30 minutes taking photos while chatting all the time about how to work with the lights and the photographer.

After this set was done I had Sasha work her magic on MU and hair.  While Sasha worked I talked to Kaylen’s Mom.   Once makeup was done I had Kaylen change into a dress.  We then did a set of photos against the grey wall.  In these sets we used my Nikon D600 with an AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lens.  The key light was an Elinchrom D-lite 4 with a Rotalux 43” softbox. 

During this set I posed Kaylen and again we chatted throughout.  Kaylen had practiced posing so much of my directions were fine-tuning or having her try new poses.  We spent about 30 minutes on this set.  OK, time to move onto the next.

MU and hair change.  The next set was against a light blue background.  For this set I used an Elinchrom 27” beauty dish reflector.  I did not use the internal deflector, but added a diffusing sock.  I set the beauty dish about 4 feet away from Kaylen in order to get strong shadows.  I also asked her to change into a different outfit.

We shot this set with a 9x12 crop and headshots.  Again, throughout talking to and posing Kaylen.  I moved the light around multiple times to get different shadowing.  After about another 30 minutes we were done. 

Overall, we had a good time.  I enjoyed talking with Kaylen and her mother.  We had a chance to show her what a typical photoshoot was like.  I ended up sending her about 8 photos for her portfolio and recommending other photographers to shoot with.  I’d do this type of shoot again if asked.

General notes and observations:

  • Remember if you are trying to get into modeling for fashion photography there are some pretty standard measurements for the model.  If you don’t meet them it DOES NOT mean you can’t model, it just means you may need to go into a different genre,
  • The agency wants its models to be confident.  Learn to speak for yourself.  Learn to talk to people that may be much older than you,
  • Don’t overshoot,
  • If you are starting out select photographers that you respect and reach out to them.  You will need to do TFP or pay the photographer, but develop a strong book with those photographers whose style you want in your book,
  • Learn the business.  Learn posing, how to work with a photographer, lighting, etc.  Be a professional,
  • Even if an agency doesn’t pick you up or go far into modeling you will still be one of the cool kids in school…


Traveling With My Fujifilm X20

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