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Thread: A novice's first model shoot.... advice welcome please! :)

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    Deucalion's Avatar
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    A novice's first model shoot.... advice welcome please! :)

    Hi everyone,

    title pretty much says it all, to give a backgrounder, I've been asked by my buddies to join them in a model shoot tomorrow, studio type setting with continuous lighting (what that means I have no idea?) I've never actually done anything like that, my pictures are about mostly landscapes, landmarks, the occasional friends and family events type thing, my first attempt at portraiture well... u can see the results of that with my post "My First Picture Post" in the People & Pets thread.... as well as that oh so memorable but oh so wrong image that I asked for help in the post processing thread "How to remove shadows in post processing".

    suffice to say, short of running for the hills and refusing to join my buds I'm hoping to take this opportunity to learn, kind of like being thrown into the deep end of the pool head first (which is probably my buddies intention all along). But I also want to give a good account of myself, I'm excited and terrified all at the same time!

    any advice anyone can give will be most welcome, in fact I've decided to re-read the school of portraiture thread again, hope to post images of the shoot when its done too.. so any words of wisdom/experience you can impart to a novice like me will be most appreciated

    thanks!

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    Loose Canon's Avatar
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    Re: A novice's first model shoot.... advice welcome please! :)

    Hi Reginald!

    If I had this opportunity looking me in the face I would be doing the “Happy Dance” all over the place! Man, no worries, everything set up, and models? Are you kidding me!?!

    I can’t tell you what you should do, but I can tell you what I would do.

    First, continuous lighting. What that means is that there will be no flash involved. The lighting will be “on” all the time. I’d have a flash with me if it were allowed, which it probably won’t be, just in case I wanted to play with it. Also I’d make sure I had my gray card and get a reference shot or three.

    Since it is to be continuous lighting and you are going to be with a group, I would assume that there will be several photographers shooting at the same time. I guess I would have to deal with that as it played out, but I would keep it in mind. And this may be why it might not be suitable for one guy having a flash firing while others are shooting at the same time.

    I would assume that someone else is going to determine where the lighting will be positioned. I would say that there would be no background worries.

    My fave portrait lens is a 70-200mm f/2.8. I would have that and probably something like a 24-105mm on hand. Especially if I were unsure what kind of shooting distance to expect. I would hope to not have to shoot below 70mm. But the zoom would be nice for getting in tight from a distance.

    I would hope to arrive early and have one of my buds get in the lighting to snag a few test shots. Though I would guess someone will be there with a light meter. I would assume that there will be little or no ambient in the mix in a studio environment. But I’d be ready in case there were for some reason.

    I would expect a fast paced shoot. If it isn’t then you aren’t out anything. So I would set for burst just in case I had the urge. I could shoot fast singles or a burst if I wanted. You won’t have to worry about flash recycling with continuous lighting so you should be able to shoot with impugnity.

    Focus for the eyes. I would want enough DoF to keep the model entirely in focus most likely. At least to begin. Then, time permitting, I might open up a bit to play with the DoF. I would try for minimum f/8-f/11 on a full frame. Minimum f/5.6-f/8 on a crop probably.

    I would set ISO such that a relatively fast shutter is permitted in case the pace is fast. No worries about syncing with a flash. I would probably like a minimum of 1/125 up to maybe 1/250 or so. I might start with Av but ready to go into full manual if necessary.

    I would hope to get some tight head shots, head and shoulders, , full, everything I could get. Get your camera set and be confident in your settings so when the model struck a pose you would be ready to nail it instead of fiddling with the camera. Be confident enough that you won’t have to chimp every shot. Your models might (hopefully) know what they are doing so they will nail a pose for a few seconds and move to the next one.

    Charge all batteries, clean all glass, etc., etc. the night before. Extra batteries, cards, the usual.

    I would be thinking all night the night before, looking forward to it and obsessing over what I was missing!

    And most of all (and here’s the really important part and the best advice I could ever give Reginald)…

    I would have a blast!

    Good luck and I’ll be looking forward to your shots!
    Last edited by Loose Canon; 18th January 2013 at 01:18 PM.

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    Deucalion's Avatar
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    Re: A novice's first model shoot.... advice welcome please! :)

    Thanks Terry! those were very helpful, especially since I've never done anything like it, tho I must admit I didn't know a whole lot of what I was doing at the time, but I did have a blast.

    I plan to post what few meager shots I took that to me at least could compare to what my buds had produced. will post on a new thread.. My Second Picture Post (Model Shoot)...

    thank you for your advice I honestly believe if you had not posted what you did, I'd be even more in the dark during that photo shoot, thanks!

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: A novice's first model shoot.... advice welcome please! :)

    Reginald,

    I don't know what kind of equipment you will be using, nor what kind of lighting will be available. However, I think that the following will be valid for just about any venue...

    1. With continuous lighting, getting an acceptable shutter speed and f/stop "might" be a problem; depending on the intensity of the light. You need a shutter speed fast enough to give you sharp images hand-held (or as a resort, use a monopod ot tripod to stabilize your camera). That is usually the reciprocal of your shutter speed x crop factor (if you are shooting with a crop DSLR). As an example, shooting at 100mm with a 1.6x crop camera, your minimum shutter speed should be at least 1/160 second. I personally like to shoot my imagery with fairly long focal lengths but, I normally use flash which nulifies the need for a fast shutter speed (if the flash is the main light). Anyway, if you are shooting with continuous light, it would definitely help to use a lens or camera with some sort of stabilization and have it turned on unless you are shooting with certain lenses and your camera is tripod mounted...

    2. Don't be afraid to bump up your ISO to reasonable levels to achieve a shutter speed which will give you sharp images and a f/stop which will give you reasonable DOF. Unsharp or OOF imagery is more of a problem than is noise, which can often be controlled in post processing.

    3. Shooting hand held in a burst mode will often help because within a three shot burst, often the middle shot of a 3-shot burst is often the sharpest because your finger pressing or releasing the shutter button doesn't impact the camera as greatly as in the first or last shot.

    4. If possible, I would shoot in RAW and include some sort of white balance target in the image. I normally use a WhiBal card for this use and shoot in auto color balance using the target to determine my color balance in post processsing. However, if you know the color temperature of your lights, you can set the camera for that temperature. BTW: "ACCURATE" color balance is only a starting point. Sometimes a portrait is more flattering with a warmer than "ACCURATE" color balance. BRW: one shot of the subject and the target will suffice...

    5. All the rules regarding posing, lighting and shootng are valid for continuous source shooting as when shooting with flash.

    6. As I said above, I like to do my head and shoulder shots with a long lens because I think that long focal lengths shot at a distance are most flattering for men and especially women. I like both eyes to be in focus and I don't like the nose to be OOF. However, I don't mind at all if the focus begins to drop off around the ears...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 23rd January 2013 at 08:15 PM.

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    Deucalion's Avatar
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    Re: A novice's first model shoot.... advice welcome please! :)

    thanks for the advice Richard, will put it to good use the next time I have the opportunity again, there were so many mistakes I made during that photo shoot that its any wonder that I could at least produce two good pictures for each of the models. I plan to post a few of them on another thread... it will be "My Second Picture Post" just have to remember how to put pictures in the threads again and upload them to flicker.

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: A novice's first model shoot.... advice welcome please! :)

    Reginald...

    Another tip for identifying the models from a multiple model shoot - if your camera has vdeo capability as many do these days.

    Shoot a quick video snippet (low res video doesn't eat too much memory) with the model stating her name and email address.

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    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: A novice's first model shoot.... advice welcome please! :)

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    1. With continuous lighting, getting an acceptable shutter speed and f/stop "might" be a problem; depending on the intensity of the light. You need a shutter speed fast enough to give you sharp images hand-held (or as a resort, use a monopod ot tripod to stabilize your camera).
    I'd like to add a little to your statement that using flash automatically allows a faster shutter. That's only true if flashes are your only light. If you're shooting any combination of ambient light and flash, then your shutter speed is determined by the desired exposure around the model, and your flash power is determined by the desired exposure of the model. Tripods are your friend until they slow you down - part of the reason I usually shoot hand-held or monopod-stabilized with models. Then again, most of the models I work with are volunteers, and it's important to use as little of their time as possible without missing "the shot."

    Glad to hear the shoot went well, Reginald. Fortunately one or two good shots of each model is all it takes to make your day!

    There are a few things I'd like to add to all the technical advice presented thus far. Some of this comes from an e-mail exchange with Michael Helms a few years ago, the rest is my own experience.

    First, connect with your model. Two photogs with identical gear, settings, and experience can take the same shot and get totally different results if the model dislikes one of them. Be slightly ridiculous, fun, and encourage them to look as good as possible. Try to get them to laugh, then take your shots right after they stop to get the most genuine smiles. Techniques like this can turn a conspicuously posed shot into a very natural-looking one.

    Show up early (45-60 minutes is a good target). Feel the light. Stick your hand in it and see how the shadows fall. Tweak your sources. Nail your white balance by any means necessary. Double-check your camera settings for anything awry (like setting your camera to 720x480px JPEG, like I discovered I'd done halfway through a product shoot). Every minute you have to get things in order before the shoot and get a feel for the location will translate directly into a better result, and make sure you take up no more of the model's time than necessary. Sure, they can do hours and hours of shooting, but I've never met one who prefers that. There's a local actress I work with from time to time who's on the dockets of much better-equipped, career photographers, but she likes working with me because my sessions rarely last more than 90 minutes, and I shoot primarily outside the studio.

    On that note, don't limit yourself to a location you control. If you're trying to get a natural-looking shot of someone, go to where they're comfortable. Maybe their living room or wherever they practice their hobby. Find somewhere they can be themselves, since at the end of the day, you're after a shot which shows that person at their best.

    Never stop looking for shots. Some of my favorites have come before the model's technically ready (putting on makeup, adjusting clothes, etc.), during pose transitions, or screwing around during breaks. Keep your camera two inches from your eye and practice shooting blind.

    Finally, from my own experience, never date one of your models.

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    Deucalion's Avatar
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    Re: A novice's first model shoot.... advice welcome please! :)

    thanks Lex, good sound advice... especially the last one, I don't think I'm in the same league as the ladies who do this modeling stuff, or on the same planet for that matter... so I'm safe my next post will kind of be all that went wrong for me during that shoot, sure I acted cool like I knew what I was doing, but half of the time...alright most of the time, I was running around like a headless chicken... or to put it in Terry's words... chimmping around

    but I did get that part of trying to connect with your model, to spend the time to just get to know them, and by having them smile and feel relaxed, I've always been quite shy in fact the ebook about the shy photographer could have been written about/for me But I found myself conversing with the models, trying to get them to be at ease even tho there were two other guys with cameras too (my buddies)

    and it does definitely translate to a better photograph, but then again, since I consider myself a novice about all this stuff, that's probably the only thing I did get right... everything else... well you can read about it in my next post "My Second Picture Post (Model Shoot)" In fact, I think I'll go write it up now, cheers!

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    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: A novice's first model shoot.... advice welcome please! :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Deucalion View Post
    ...and it does definitely translate to a better photograph, but then again, since I consider myself a novice about all this stuff, that's probably the only thing I did get right... everything else... well you can read about it in my next post "My Second Picture Post (Model Shoot)" In fact, I think I'll go write it up now, cheers!
    You've got the hardest part down, then.

    Quote Originally Posted by Deucalion View Post
    thanks Lex, good sound advice... especially the last one, I don't think I'm in the same league as the ladies who do this modeling stuff, or on the same planet for that matter... so I'm safe
    She wasn't after my dubious physical charms, I assure you. But telling that story requires rather more beer than I have with me at the moment.

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