I spent my Sunday at Studio One in Orlando creating photos from a charity studio shootout. Plenty of wonderful models, lots of fellow photographers, all of the proceeds went to benefit the Make a Wish foundation.
The Make A Wish Experience
The whole thing was the brainchild of Lizzii Le, a former Hollister model. She went with a theme of all Asian models and invited a dozen or more of her friends. Everyone from experienced Abercrombine and Hollister models to folks who were just starting out.
Everyone was great fun. The studio just had a great vibe of energy, happy people helping each other out with shots, and enjoying our Sunday in the studio. This was the first time Lizzii organized the event, but she's already thinking about making it an annual event. I'll definitely be back.
My Less Than Minimal Approach
Most of the other photographers traveled light. A few brought a light and a stand, perhaps two. I loaded up my SUV with so much stuff that I needed to bring my hand truck to cart all of it into the studio. My thought was it's better to have and not need than need and not have.
For most of the shots, I used a single Elinchrom BXRi 500 with a Deep Octa. Since I was shooting with my friend Steve, I also took some shots using his Alien Bees light with a beauty dish, and also another setup with a basic reflector.
I brought my own beauty dish, two other Elinchrom lights, a few Nikon SB-900/910 flashes, a midi Octa, a strip soft box, grids, and one or two other soft boxes. Even though I didn't use all of it, I let a few other guys use my gear for some shots.
The reason I brought so much gear is because of uncertainty. Since this wasn't my own studio shoot, I had to be flexible for whatever conditions I'd find. Also, I had a few ideas from my preparation for the event. Once I started shooting with the Deep Octa, I decided to stick with it and just move it around for different looks. I even brought a fog machine, but didn't use it. Probably would have interfered with the other photographers.
The majority of the photos were on a white cyclorama wall. The last thing I wanted was another collection of over lit, white background photos. I decided to start off with some side light using the Deep Octa to keep the spill off the background and ended up with something like this shot.
My Tether Table Setup
Tethering is nothing new, but I've been slow in getting the proper gear for shooting tethered. I finally made the decision last September at Photoshop World in Las Vegas. The folks from Tether Tools were there and I plopped down my AMEX to get the full kit. Table, crossbar, drive holder, 15′ cable, jerk stopper and some other things that I don't quite know where they go.
I'll be honest, I didn't figure out how to connect the jerk stopper. Fortunately, it wasn't much of a problem. Everything worked very well. It's much nicer to look at the screen to evaluate your shots, and it also made it much easier to show the models how things were going.
It's a great collaborative tool. The models occasionally would pick up on things that they wanted to change, so we'd shoot again and come out with better shots. Everyone wins.
More Than White Walls
In the days leading up to the shootout, I spent some time on Pinterest creating a board with some ideas for shooting in a studio space. I was looking at lighting, poses, and ideas to get something other than a white seamless background photo. Here's my Studio Space board on Pinterest.
There are a few background props at Studio One, so it wasn't just a matter of shooting completely on a white background. One of my favorite spots for a background was a distressed sign. I asked Lizzii to pose on an apple crate and knocked out this shot with Steve's Alien Bees light and a reflector.
Who says you can't shoot a beautiful model with harsh light?
I particularly liked a large gold flaked panel for some shots. Here's one out of camera with a bit of a halo effect from the Elinchrom light behind Kelsey's head.