Steven Brokaw Photography

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My wife is a big fan of DavidYurman jewelry.  I’m a big fan of the David Yurman advertisement photography.  I think my interest is cheaper!  Anyway, I decided to try a model shoot with a David Yurman style theme.  

The theme is very straight forward.  The model photography tends to be black & white, minimalist images.  Obviously, showing jewelry and either implied nude or basic clothes.  The images are very clean and tend to be full or partial head shots.  Sometimes waist up.  The goal is a classy image which draws your eye to the jewelry.
This shoot was fairly easy to set up.  I contacted MUA, Sasha Star, who I regularly use and Amanda Veldkamp who I’ve photographed previously.  I know her style and her look was perfect for what I had in my mind’s eye.  I contacted both and arranged a date.  I asked Amanda what to bring in terms of clothing and to bring some chunky jewelry.  I also sent Sasha a tear sheet with looks / makeup I was trying to achieve.  We were set.  Upon arrival Sasha spent about 30-45 minutes on Amanda’s makeup while I did final lighting adjustment.
Lighting and backgrounds at M10 Studio was set up the day before the shoot.  To get the effect I wanted I needed to photograph Amanda against both a black and a white background using similar lighting.  The background consisted of Savage seamlesswhite paper on a Savage background stand, and another background using Savage black seamless paper on another background stand.  Lighting was a clamshell setup using an Elinchrom27” Softlite Reflector beauty dish as the top half of the clamshell and as the key light.  A ProMaster SystemPro 42”ReflectaDisc 5 on a small Manfrotto lightstand was the bottom of the clamshell for fill light.  I used the silver side of the reflector.  Studio lighting in the beauty dish a single Elinchrom D-Lite 4.  I also had a second Elinchrom D-Lite 4 in an Elinchrom softbox standing by for additional fill light if needed.
We started off against the white background and I set my Nikon D300s in manual using ISO 200, f/8 and speed at 1/160.  For the entire shoot I used my AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II lens.  I think I’ve said before, but this lens is amazing.  I varied aperture during the shoot to get the proper depth of feel and lighting effect.  I also moved Amanda closer and farther from the beauty dish to get the proper lighting.  We also did several shots without the fill reflector.
After doing about 20-30 minutes against the white background I moved everything over to the black background and we did the same lighting.  During the shoot Amanda changed her top a couple of times and changed up her jewelry.  The first set I simply had her pull the straps of her tee off her shoulder to give the implied look.  This was the look that we really liked.  
After about an hour we were done.  Oh yes, we also did a few minutes against a concrete wall playing with shadows, but that wasn't really part of the shoot.
Adjusted in Lightroom 4 before converting to B&W in Photoshop CS6

Same image after converted to B&W in Photoshop CS6 for the desired effect
Post processing was equally important for this shoot because of the desired Black & White effect I wanted.  Therefore, the first thing I did (which is part of my normal workflow) was to import my images into my main computer, add tags / keywords and then import them into Adobe Lightroom 4.  I used LR4 to do most of my adjustments, mainly curves adjustments and Clarity.  Amanda has really nice skin so not much work was needed on localized skin work.  I then imported the desired images into Adobe Photoshop CS6 and finalized the processing.  In each shot I added just a hint of surface blur to soften Amanda’s skin and added a black and white layer.  I adjusted the black & white layer to taste.  And with that I got the desired results.  I was really happy with the shoot, the images and as always happy to work with Sasha and Amanda.

After action report:

·         I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – watch the hair. Amanda’s hair was blond and that worked well against the white background.  However when I got it against the black backdrop I missed a bunch of the flyaways.  Guess what I did spent time on in post??

·         Use a lightmeter.  I have since purchased a Sekonic lightmeter, but during this shoot I spent probably 5-10 minutes at start getting the lighting just right for the effect I wanted.  Since then I’ve done a shoot with my Sekonic and it really helped.

·         I should have brought jewelry specific to what I wanted to capture.  Amanda brought a few pieces that worked great, but I wanted a few pieces that were chunkier.  OK, here’s the problem, I’m a guy so I don’t have jewelry just hanging around.  Guess I’ll just have to work with what my model brings.

·         Bring an assistant.  It would have been better to have someone hold the reflector or adjust the lights as needed.  OK, OK I know I can do this myself, but let’s face it, it would make the shoot easier.

The Polaroid Colorpack III

Yes Master