Steven Brokaw Photography

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I had the opportunity to photograph MUA, Sasha Star’s themed concept focusing on her makeup artistry.  This was a different kind of shoot for me because Sasha basically arranged everything.  I provided the photographers and the studio (M10 Studio).  Sasha did the rest.   As you might know from earlier posts, Sasha and I have worked multiple times together. Almost always I select the theme and the style for the model’s makeup.  This shoot was different because Sasha set the theme.
The theme was Lipstick & Makeup.  She wanted to showcase her skills by doing really wild, colorful makeup on 3 models, all wearing or not wearing sunglasses.  I knew this was going to be a challenge because these were primarily portrait headshots.  Here’s the deal - studio strobes and sunglasses don’t easily mix.  Reflection city.
Sasha and I agreed to a date and the basics for the studio setup.  I arranged our mutual friend, and my studio-mate Paul D’Andrea to be the second shooter.  Because this was going to be long day with 3 models, I also had studio partner, Eric Schoch to be on standby (note to self, next time tell everyone that another photographer will be there).  Sasha asked that both a white and black seamless background be set up.  No problems.  
Model: Cory

Model: Cory
Models Mina Vee, Aubrey Carr (“Cory”) and Korey Gonzalez were lined up.  I’ve photographed both Mina & Cory before, and I saw Korey earlier in a wedding fashion show.  I knew they were going to be pros.  Of course, as I mentioned I already knew the skills Sasha would bring.
Model: Mina Vee

Model: Mina Vee
Game day, everyone except me arrived on time.  I called Paul early in the morning and asked him to set up, since I thought I would be late.  I arrived after Paul had set up a portrait lighting clamshell and the models were getting made up.  I quickly got busy.  
Against the black backdrop Paul had set up an Elinchrom Rotalux Softbox strip light for the bottom of the clamshell and an Elinchrom beauty dish for the top.  Also, behind 2 “V”-shaped wooden “barn doors” he had placed studio lights to high-key the background.  Everything was triggered with Elinchrom Universal triggers.  The strip light was placed right under the model’s chest or knees depending upon the look and the beauty dish at a 45 degree + angle over the model’s head.  We wanted the lighting spot on so we took multiple readings with our Sekonic light meters.  
Lighting setup at M10 Studio.  Nearest is the white seamless with model Mina
Against the black backdrop we used an Elinchrom Rotalux softbox as the key light, another strip light for the hair light and a silver reflector to bounce light under the chin.  We had these 2 setups going all afternoon.
Lighting setup against the white seamless - Cory & Paul
Sasha’s plan was to makeup each model twice with different looks, and to photograph each model against both a black and a white background with and without sunglasses.  Paul, Eric and I moved between setups and tried to keep the process smooth.  However, with that many people and so much equipment it does get tight.  No problems, most of us have worked together before so we did OK.  Also, all 3 photographers use Nikon equipment and mainly Elinchrom lighting, modifiers and triggers, so we were able to move between equipment easily.  
Model: Korey

Model: Korey
I shot with my AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II and my AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED lenses.  Paul did the same.  Eric broke out his prime lenses along with really sharp macro lens that worked great for close-ups.  All images were shot in manual mode with ISO the only constant at 200.  We adjusted f/stop & speed as determined by the light meter, but normally kept the aperture wider than f/5.6 – 6.3.
Overall, a good session with some really great shots.  The only post processing I had to do was to tone down the reflection in the sunglasses.  The makeup & therefore the skin was so well done that almost no processing was required on the skin.  
Post photoshoot thoughts:

·         Keep the organizer of the shoot informed of everyone who is going to be there.  In this case I had forgotten to tell her that I had invited Eric, and honestly I thought they had met before which they hadn’t

·         Figure out a way to angle the lights or the sunglasses to minimize reflection.  I did play around with this, but honestly it looked worse in post than it did in camera.  I would say a good 25% of the shots with sunglasses were unusable.

·         Get the images processed quickly.  If the shoot is for someone else I try to process the images quickly.  The faster the better.

·         In a studio setting a light meter is a handy tool.  It’s not required with today’s DSLR’s but it really helps you nail the lighting

Gregory Hancock “Anthology”

Anthology by Gregory Hancock