As a photographer, when you are working with a glam squad (hair and makeup stylists) on a shoot you want to take steps to ensure that they get the images they need.
A great way to keep your glam squad relationship strong is to create a pair of before and after images of a model in natural light. People love to see a transformation —the more extreme, the better! And the glam squad definitely benefits from being able to show the result of their work.
In my studio, the natural light floods into the main shooting space through several large windows. However, because this light is direct sunlight it looks best when it is diffused. One method is to cover the windows with an opaque curtain, which makes the light much softer when it hits the subject. Without the bulk of big lights, you can also make this work in small spaces—in my studio, I sometimes use my changing room, where the light is shadowless and flattering to any skin tone.
Much of my studio work is done using the Leica M240 with the 75mm Summarit or 50mm Summicron. Using the wider of the 2 focal lengths, there is space enough to frame a headshot composition. The simplistic light and composition force the viewer to focus all their attention on the actual subject and her styling rather than on the photography itself.
For pretty much any beauty or model shoot that I do, the natural light image is the first one that I create. Because the look of this image makes it easy to see the makeup and hairstyling details, this image is usually the one that the glam squad likes best. However, the natural light image isn’t something you create solely for the benefit of your glam squad. An added bonus is the subtle interaction you can have with the model. When there is no jarring strobe light firing in her face, the opportunity is there to create more nuanced moments. You also have the ability to shoot a lot of frames quickly since you don’t have to wait for strobes to cycle back to full power.
This high-speed shooting – which most people associate with sports photography—is quite useful in portraiture as well. You can have the model laugh or pose as if she is fixing herself in a mirror or simply have her run through a range of expressions and emotions. The more frames you fire on these action sequences, the more likely you are to have one where her face is not caught in a strange expression.
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