Steven Brokaw Photography

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One of the areas I’m spending time is model photography.  I’ve combined this with my increasing interest in flash / strobe lighting.  One place to give this interest a workout is through a local Flickr meet-up group, Indianapolis Strobist.  A group of 7 local photographers, including myself, got together yesterday evening for a model shoot I arranged.

The photographers that showed up were: Lora Olive at, Ashley Adcox at, Steve Griffey, Dave Olive, Faith Blackwell at , and Paul D’Andrea at

 The meet-up took place at the Stutz Building in Indianapolis.  I’d been to the Stutz a few times in the past as it houses many local artist studios, and they have an annual Stutz Artist Association Open House.  I thought this would be a perfect location because the building has old-style industrial windows, lots of dark halls, industrial fixtures, etc.  On top of this one of the photographers in the group, Faith Blackwell, has a studio in the Stutz.  This was perfect as it allowed us to have a base of operation for our equipment.

I wanted to keep the effort organizing this shoot simple as I have a day job that makes WAY more money than my photo gig. With the help of uber portrait & event photographer, Paul D’Andrea we put a call out for local models.  Good thing Paul has good contacts because I came up blank.  I pinged several models I’ve worked with previously, and reached out to several models through ModelMayhem but came up dry.  Either the models were booked / busy or I received no feedback from anyone on ModelMayhem.  Oh well, since I don’t have a reputation as a model photographer I’m not surprised at my results.  However, with Paul’s help we lined up 2 models we’ve worked with before, and 2 models new to many of us.

Models Bovary & Diablo (MM # 720400) are dynamite together.  They know several of the photographers in the shoot so the chemistry was there. Amanda Jo Welch (MM # 18955491 & 1069732) joined us and had major skills, and Olivia Ogden (MM # 365545) was amazing.

As we’ve done before we broke off into groups and photographed in groups of 2-3.  Since I had an extra Elinchrom Skyport trigger it was easy for me to have a couple of photographers join me.  We took turns with a series of shots and then traded off the triggers.  I started off with Ashley & Steve along with model Amanda.  Later Ashley moved to another group and Faith joined the Steve’s.  We worked Amanda in about 5 locations.  One on a bench, against a set of industrial windows with the sun to her back, another location with the sun to her face and natural lighting to her back, one series in a dark hall, and finally a set with a speedlight directly behind her hair.  We shot for about 2 hours.

In almost all shots I used my standard 2 speedlight setups that I’ve discussed in a previous post.  This time however, I switched out one of my LumiQuest Softbox III with an RPS Studio Softbox RS-4030 set up for a speedlight.  This setup as previously blogged makes for a speedy setup and easy to move around.  We also mixed in a red gel on one of the speedlights which created interesting effects. 

Finally, we headed back to Faith’s studio to cool off (it was uber hot in most of the Stutz) and to try our hand with the other models.  I shot about 15 minutes with Bo and Diablo with the amazing lighting setup that Paul had arranged. 

Finally, Lora and Dave joined me and model Olivia to work some of the hallways.  This time I replaced the RPS Studio Softbox with a standard umbrella (I know, old school).  However, it was so hot in the Stutz the adhesive backed velcro on the Softbox delaminated and the softbox kept falling off the holder…no kidding.  I could have used my LumiQuest Softbox III, but I wanted to try for more diffused light.  In one series the hall was so tight that I could only fit one umbrella in.  I simply set it high and shot below it.  Worked great to add diffused light.

Finally, Steve joined me and we moved Olivia in-front of an old freight elevator.  After a number of normal shots using the umbrella setup, I put a second speedlight behind Olivia and aimed it at the elevator.  This gave some really interesting backlighting effect.  Also we then turned it forward and did a number of shots with the flash firing forward.  Overall, some interesting effects.

In all of my shots tonight I was shooting with a Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8 lens and set my camera to manual.  Manual settings were 500 ISO, exposure at 1/100 to 1/160 of a second and f/stop at 6.3.  The speedlights mentioned are my Nikon SB-600's.

Bottomline, we had a great time doing our strobist thing.  As always, can’t leave a post without a few tips: 

·         If you are going to shoot in a group with paid models and plan to split the cost, make sure you get the number of shooters tied down ASAP.  Without it you can’t determine the number of models to hire and $$$ each photographer has to pay without knowing the numbers.

·         Make sure everyone knows the location, route and timing to meet.  We spent about 30 minutes of our 3 hour shoot getting people together and organized.  Remember the meter is running on the models

·         Bring nametags – this may sound really silly but for meetups like this not everyone knows each other

·         Make sure everything, triggers, camera & rechargeable batteries on your speedlights are charged.  If not bring extra batteries.  I did this and was happy I did.  I went through all my batteries.

·         Experiment with lighting and model poses.  Some of our setups worked and some didn’t.  But you know what?  The shots that I didn’t think would work actually came out really well.

·         On hot days like yesterday make sure everyone has water and gets a chance to take lots of breaks.  This includes the models as well.

A Strobist's Night Out

There Be Clowns Everywhere!