Steven Brokaw Photography

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I recently did an interesting photo session with friend & Indianapolis based photographer, Faith Blackwell. We chatted previously about shooting together in one of our studios. The plan was to invite a MUA, a few models, and another photographer. We would select a few themes and PHOTOGRAPH ALL NIGHT. Basically, pull a photographer all-nighter.

We picked a date and decided to shoot over at my studio, M10 Studio (which I share with Paul D’Andrea & Eric Schoch). In exchange for using my studio Faith arranged the models, the MUA and came up with a few themes. We were good to go.

Faith arranged a MUA that I’ve used before, Sasha Star. Sasha is a skilled MUA. For models she lined up new models Tashina Finkton, Jared Bailey and experience pro, Diablo Diangikis. Tashina has a great look / style. Jared is powerfully built and for being new to the game he did a great job. Diablo, well Diablo is just uber. You just say go, and he snaps into the moment.

Jared in B&W

Diablo in B&W
Funny thing, once we picked the date we both agreed doing an all-nighter was probably going to be too much. We ultimately decided to simply start at 5pm and end at 11pm. Believe me, that worked out to be long enough. In that time we did 4 themes.

One theme was against a black seamless. I used a 3 light setup. 2 Elinchrom D-Lite’s with Elinchrom Portalite softboxes camera left and right slightly behind the model. Also, a Nikon SB-600 speedlight in a RPS Studio Softbox RS-4030. The Elinchroms and speedlight were triggered with Elinchrom Skyport EL triggers. I have a few triggers so I let Faith use one to make things easy. The effect of the lighting setup was to give a rim light around the models and key light on the face. A nice effect.

Tashina in B&W

Tashina against grey seamless
To get things going Sasha started on Tashina. Faith and I then started to photograph Jared and Diablo. With the above lighting setup we photographed both individually with shirts on, with hip-type jackets, and a few shots without shirts. This is the first time I’ve photographed male models in studio. I was worried about getting the lighting right. This lighting setup worked perfectly.

Once we completed this first set, Tashina was good to go and we took turns photographing her against the black backdrop. She was really easy to photograph and has excellent posing skills.

We then had both guys go steam-punk. Faith brought a few steam-punk type goggles and we played around photographing a steam-punk theme. We asked both guys to emote as much as possible to add some drama to the photos. It worked.

Steam-Punk Jared

Steam-Punk Diablo
The 3rd theme was against a grey seamless background. The focus of this shoot was Tashina. We tried all types of lighting in this part of the session. We used studio strobes as both key and fill lights. We used a ring light that Faith brought, we used Nikon SB-600 speedlights with and without gels to add light to the background. We did close-ups through the ringlight and had Tashina pose under different lighting configurations. The one lighting setup that I liked the best was a single Elinchrom D-Lite mounted with a large Elinchrom 27” Softlite Reflector Beauty Dish with a white diffuser as the key light. The beauty dish was camera right – in-front of the model and slightly above. I used a bare Speedlight at ¼ power aimed at the background behind a large flag (a hinged room like divider). This had the effect of haloing Tashina.

Tashina on grey seamless
Finally, for giggles we all went to the back of the studio in the industrial complex and tried our hand at some “levitation” type shots. I had done this previously and it generates an interesting effect if pulled off correctly. It required at minimum of 2 shots per image. One with and one without the model under the exact same lighting and focus setting. The model poses as if they are off the ground (i.e. standing on a chair) and then using the magic of post processing you stack the images and remove the chair. Very cool.
One part of a Levitation effect
Bottomline, I had a good shoot and a fun time. It was fun hanging out with Sasha, Diablo and Faith and nice meeting Tashina and Jared.

Jared, Sasha, Diablo, Faith, Tashina, Me
After action comments:

• Stay flexible with your plans. We originally scheduled an all-nighter and ended up shooting for only 5 hours. We made sure everyone knew our schedule was going to be flexible.

• In any shoot make sure everyone knows the details. Faith did a nice job coordinating everyone so it went off without a hitch.

• If you are going to have multiple photographers and / or plan a long session it’s a good idea to line up more than 1 model. In this case we had 3 but had arranged 4. One of the models couldn’t make it. If you hire just one and they don’t show up, then your photoshoot won’t happen.

• If you shoot with another photographer make sure you coordinate equipment. Faith has Canon & I have Nikon. Because I had a second set of Elinchrom Skyport triggers it was really easy for Faith and I to use the same lighting with absolutely no drama. If she had brought Cowboy or PocketWizard triggers and I had only one Elinchrom we would have taken lots more time.

• Ask the model to make dramatic moves and show emotion in shots. Normally, I shoot normal fashion / portrait type model shoots so posing / lighting is more important. In some of the shots we had all three give a look like they were screaming or holding their head in agony. Some of these shots were the best.

• Experiment with lighting. You’ll surprise yourself.

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First Shoot With My Nikon D600