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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Simple Eloquence

There is nothing more satisfying that shooting some simple head shot and test images.  No studio, no extravagant and complicated multiple light setups, and no worries of art directors, assistants, or makeup and hair artists fussing over keeping each strand of hair in place.  For this post, I was commissioned by the lovely Ashley Eliza Parker to update her head shots for her acting and modeling resume.
More after the jump>

I met Ashley last Fall on the set of a local independently produced feature film I have been the Director of Photography on. Ashley was one of our principle talents for the film in which she played the role of the lead Vampire Girl.  I couldn't help but respectfully admire her flattering looks and her ability to look great on camera.  Anyone reading this who films or photographs people on a regular business knows what I'm talking about when I speak of subjects who for some cosmic reason look good on camera regardless of outfits, colors, or makeup.  Ashley is certainly no exception.  And like most low budget independent films, Ashley doubled her workload by playing production assistant and helping out wherever she was needed.  The film is titled Lust of the Vampire Girls.  Expect to see it distributed later this year.

The main purpose of the shoot was to create some updated head shots for Ashley, but we couldn't just do head shots.  After all, you always want to establish a rapport with your subjects whether they are a screaming kid or a seasoned model.  If I were to jump right in to the head shots, chances are they would look awkward, forced or unnatural.
Just as if we were to go to the gym or go for a run, we want to warm up and stretch our comfort zones and creative legs accordingly prior to jumping in to the key concept or money shots.
For Ashley, we shot at three locations I scouted in advance.  The sun was intermittent with continual clouds coming and going as they sought fit.  Even with my sticking to areas of open shade, I still had to be on toes and tweak my exposure in small adjustments.  Forget the image preview on the LCD, pay attention to the histogram, and shoot away.

For lighting, I kept it simple and used a single strobe with a 43" convertible umbrella.  I used the reflective side as I wanted more contrast.  When the sun was out, I used it as a rim light to further separate Ashley from the background.  I read the ambient exposure by reading the reflective light meter built in to my camera, shot a few frames, then turned on the strobe to successfully and efficiently build an appropriate exposure for Ashley.  This was all done in one or two minutes as it was a cold winter day and I didn't want to freeze her to death.

I kept the light ratios close together to keep the images near natural light in appearance and editorial based in theme and concept.

Our final set was the head shots in their entirety.  We shot under an overpass. The above image is a true smile from Ashley, which she gave without me coaching her or asking her to say the all so horrific "cheese."  Only after establishing rapport will your clients let down there guard enough to give you a glimpse of their true selves in there true form.  Ashley and I are in the works of doing a era-based pinup type shoot soon. Stay tuned!

PS- yes I know I need to blog more.

One more final head shot

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