All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘photoshoot’
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of shooting and teaching in a ridiculously ancient building in the middle of East London – The George Tavern organized by my awesome friends over at Train To Create.
Though it cost us an arm and a leg to rent out, I absolutely wanted to be able to teach my workshop in a unique and rich environment. This would not only make my job easier teaching (teehee) but would also allow the workshop attendees to have an amazing experience shooting in a location with designers and a beauty team they would normally not have access to. (That is: 3 makeup artists, 3 hair stylists, 3 designers and 10 models !!)
On top of the amazing team available to us, we had over 10,000 pounds worth of Elinchrom gear sponsored by The Flash Center which gave everyone the opportunity to have some professional gear to play with.
For those of you who are curious to get a feel of what the workshop was like, check out this awesome BTS video that Train to Create threw together:
And the images themselves:
ft. Designs by Dead Lotus Couture,[Model: Hiro Hirata, MUA: Ashley Mclaughlin]Model: Jen Brook, Hair: Donna Graham, MUA: Sonia Allen], Model: Gemma Huh ,Hair: Donna Graham, MUA:Ashley Mclaughlin], Jeremy Colvard, Jaime Rodney, Apollo
And the concept sketches to accompany it.
On a personal note:
Teaching and managing such a large group of people was a challenging but extremely gratifying experience. It was amazing to see so many people from so many different backgrounds come together and collaborate so beautifully together. Though I have a lot of experience managing large shoots, it was the first time that I had tried to manage three photoshoots simultaneously while figuring out how to teach and mentor along the way. Despite the freezing weather, I was pleasantly surprised to see everyone enthusiastically tackle and overcome the challenges.
Though I was confident the teaching/shoot-yourself formula was going to be successful, there was no way to know if it would work until the end of the workshop.
I want to thank all the sponsors for their support of this project: Nik Software, LowePro, UEL Alumni Network , X-Rite Photo, theprintspace, The Flash centre, The Second Door and Train to Create for making this entire workshop possible.
I had the chance to go and check out the facilities of The Print Space who were gracious enough to make a couple prints from the workshop for me to see. As a more social-media oriented photographer, I’m not so much of a print dude so being able to choose a variety of different papers and seeing how they affected my image was a very exciting experience for me.
For example, I discovered that Hahnemuhle German Etching looked absolutely mindblowing in the image of Jen Brook looking up towards the light (first photo posted) … but that the Kodak Metallic gave an amazing shine to Nange & Taras designs. I also discovered the joy of seeing my photograph appear on a 1.5 meter long image. Too bad it wouldn’t fit on the plane with me
Anyways, enough about me. Take the time to check out the work of the workshop attendees
Photo by Girts Rutkovski
Photo by Conrad Webb
Photo by Martin Ograbek
Photo by Adam Haywood
Photo by Richard Powazynski
Photo by Sven Uckermann
During my Von Wong Does Europe tour, I had the chance to meet and shoot the amazing cast and crew of the Underwater Realm. Erwan, my videographer put this amazing behind the scenes video together which goes into great detail documenting all the work that went into creating a few shots and some test video footage.
The idea behind this video was to showcase the crazy amount of work necessary to put together a simple day’s photoshoot. True, the day was also a practice for the crew of the UWR, but rarely do you have the luxury of time especially when it comes down to creative projects.
How I met the UWR
I guess some of you are wondering: How did you even get in contact with the folks over at the Underwater Realm in the first place? Did you guys know each other?
The answer is no. I stumbled on them completely by chance way back in 2011 when DIY Photography featured an article about Making A Non Destructible, Mobile, Power Efficient, Waterproof Kino Flo System and couldn’t help but reach out to them. Much to my surprise they replied.
At this point in time, I was still working as a full time mining engineer with no plans of quitting so it seemed like meeting and collaborating with them all the way in London was nothing more than a wistful dream. Somehow though, life brought us together and when I wrote back to him in March 2012, Dave Reynold’s reply was a simple and direct: Let’s do it.
Fast forward a couple months and we’re zipping accross Europe a couple days after my shoot with Pyrotechnician Andrey DAS. The travel has been quite hectic all around and there wasn’t very much communication between ourselves and the UWR due to extremely busy schedules and travelling constraints so things had to be finalized quite last minute.
We settled in at RealmHQ (at the time) around 10 PM and Dave and I sat around the living room table and began casually planning the one shot we were really looking to achieve – an underwater behind the scenes photograph worthy of a two page magazine spread. We wanted to create an extremely stylized and dramatic Behind the Scenes image of the cast & crew at work giving a sneak preview at the awesome project that they’re putting together. The image could then be used for a two page spread on a magazine without necessary giving out the plots or storyline.
Our morning began bright and early as the diving pool was only available from 7 AM to 4 PM. This meant that we would be dealing with an extremely tight schedule. Complex makeup, hair and costumes were going to have to be done on 4 different models, lighting & camera equipment to be set up underwater and the concept smoothed out. This meant a lot of waiting and testing as we dealt with the logistics of dealing with a high end underwater photoshoot. Simple things like swapping out a battery or memory card would take up to 30 minutes!
Since I only had only had small diving strobes with me that was really only designed to shoot small marine animals from very close up, I had no choice but to think of a solution to trigger the strobes on the surface of the water.
Since the camera was going to be stationary on a tripod underwater, I rigged up a small strobe that was suspended directly over the water with the help of a Nasty Clamp and a piece of wood. This way, I would be able to point my underwater strobe vertically upwards to trigger my speedlight, which would then be able to fire across the room to trigger my Linkstar 500 Watt studio strobe … which would then create all the light I would be needing for my shot.
Setup light diagram provided by Sylights.com: http://www.sylights.com/vonwong/6780-uwr
Once all the elements were ready, we barely had any time left in the day. Rather than take the time to shoot each person individually, we decided to do everything all at once, so we had the entire crew of the UWR dive into the pool all at once. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to nail one single shot where everyone was perfect but with a little bit of compositional magic, we managed to pull off the shot that we really wanted to achieve.
And the final shot:
On top of the shot we wanted to create, I had the opportunity to shoot some additional frames of the actors as they practiced swimming around. This allowed me to make some pretty nifty images that can now be used as promotional material for the Underwater Realm. Though these stories don’t quite exist yet… who knows down the line what crazy projects will result of this endeavour!
If you guys enjoyed these photos and videos, I would like to invite you to check out one of the five short videos that the Underwater Realm pulled together:
Also, if you’re looking to try out underwater photography on your own, I’ve taken all my experience from this shoot and a couple others and written out an article that you might enjoy! Click on the banner below to check it out:
Our tour is sponsored by: http://www.slrlounge.com/ and our studio equipment/lighting/equipment sponsored by: www.lovinpix.com
- Congrats to Ghislain Leduc for winning last weeks bracelet draw!
- I will be giving a 2.5 day workshop in London, UK on the 22nd, 23rd, 24th of March… if you’re interested, subscribe for my workshop updatesand I’ll contact you soon!
- I’ve been nominated in the [FRAMED] awards as one of the best conceptual photographers! Drop me a vote or two to support me: http://bit.ly/10QntqG
- I am hard at work on the Von Wong does Europe DVD! There is only one more BTS video remaining and we shall be fulfilling our print commitments!
Shooting creative portraits underwater can be quite a challenging task. I’ve summed up a couple tips and tricks that can help you get ready for your first couple experimentations in creative underwater portrait photography.
For those of you that want to try out underwater photography, chances are you’re not looking to spend thousands of dollars on an underwater housing. Luckily, there are alternatives out there that act as glorified plastic bags that are quite secure such as the DicaPac *** which can house a full frame DSLR and lens for only $75. Starter housings like the Ikelite housings cost over $1500 body only and that’s just the beginning!
*** When purchasing any type of glorified plastic bag, I highly recommend you test it regularly by sealing it and putting in a sink/bathtub/toilet full of water to check for leaks. Manufacturers will not reimburse your camera if it leaks!
Myself holding a DicaPac somewhere in Malaysia
1. Water will affect your shot and your lighting!
Water affects your lighting. As you probably know, the deeper you go, the less light reaches your subject. On top of that, water acts as a massive filter that eats up the entire spectrum of reds… which means that your shots will get more and more blue as you go deeper. Depending on lighting conditions, you might want to stay as close to the surface of the water as possible to get the best skin tones and to keep your shutter speed from getting too slow! Additionally, the farther you are from your subject, the blurrier they will tend to become!
Keep all of this in mind when planning your shots!
2. Radio triggers don’t work underwater!
If you were planning on triggering surface strobes using radio triggers, think again. Radio waves unfortunately don’t travel through water which means that you’re limited to optical triggering using underwater strobes, or hoping that your flash+plastic bag combination is powerful enough to trigger strobes on the surface.
If you plan on triggering using the on camera flash, cover any part of the housing/bag directly in front of the internal flash with duct tape/gaffer tape to prevent backscatter from the internal flash that could ruin your image!
Alternatively, if you happen to be a little bit on the handy-side of things, look into this fabulous DIY solution
Alternatively, contact the folks over at The Underwater Realm and ask them for their lighting plans for their underwater LED lights! They might still have them for sale: http://theunderwaterrealm.com/contact/
3. Plan for time! Things take 3 times longer to happen… at least.
Normally takes you 30 minutes to nail a shot? Don’t count on it when playing underwater. Things take exponentially longer to happen when it’s happening underwater. Everything is more complicated: framing, focusing, breathing, directing, changing settings, moving lighting… and even worst, as the day gets on, you get tired and things get only harder!
4. Think oxygen & comfort!
It may sound stupid but things you take for granted such as breathing and staying warm don’t work the same way underwater as they do over water.
Best case scenario, get an entire scuba kit.
Worst case scenario, grab some fins to increase your mobility.
Also, staying in water for long periods of time gets uncomfortable quite quick so be sure to grab a full body wet suit. These small things that help keep you comfortable will help ensure that your mind stays more focused on creating the image you want to create.
Finally, be sure to bring snorkeling goggles over standard swimming goggles. Keeping water out of your nose will make your life so much more comfortable in the long run.
5. Beware the drowning face
Unfortunately, most people tend to look quite ugly as they strike glorious graceful poses underwater. Many a time, shots are ruined because of a missed expression. Before taking photos of your models, run them through the poses underwater making sure that they’re comfortable. Getting them to perform the same routine over and over again while your attention is 100% focused on their expression and not grabbing the shot will help both parties understand what needs to be done to pull off the perfect expression.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to deal with the drowning face, some amazing portraits can be created by simply cutting off/obscuring the heads of your models. Brooke Shaden does this quite often in her amazing underwater works (beware a lot of her stuff is NSFW).
6. Light floaty clothes and props are magical underwater
Light transparent cloth looks amazing underwater and adds a glorious sense of ethereal beauty to your images and is great for helping you tell a story without drowning your models. Keep in mind that it will hinder your models movements which brings me to the last and final point…
Bringing props underwater will also make things even more surreal. Simple objects take on a whole new meaning underwater. Some ideas: guitar, chair, flowers…
Photo Credit: Renee Robyn Photography / Model: Madison Mah
7. Run through breathing and visualization techniques to help improve your shots
Speaking of drowning expressions, one thing that will greatly help you stay underwater longer and get a better expression is to perform a combination of visualization techniques and breathing exercises.
Surprisingly, it is not the lack of oxygen that triggers the urge for air after you hold your breath for very long but the body’s buildup of carbon dioxide. That can be controlled with a little practice.
8. Bring swim noodles and lead weights!
Swim noodlesare the perfect flotation device that are great to have so that your models don’t need to swim to the edge of the pool/lake/sea after every take. They’re long, bright, hard to loose and ridiculously useful.
Lead weightson the flip side can be useful for sinking your models rapidly if you happen to be in a deep environment so that they don’t waste time and energy to get to the bottom of the pool.
9. Prepare a safety person
I can’t stress how important this final point is. Having somebody standing by to get your model out of trouble if she tangles herself while you’re fiddling with the camera is absolutely critical. Water is dangerous and you always want to be sure that people are on hand just in case anything goes wrong.
And finally, some inspiration from some great creative underwater photographers:
- Zena Holloway: http://www.zenaholloway.com/
- Elena Kalis: http://www.elenakalisphoto.com/
- Alix Malka: http://underwaterfashion.org/archives/355
Did I miss anything? Please leave a comment!
The dream list of equipment… one day
And for those interested in seeing how I shot the Underwater Realm:
After surviving a crazy 4 hour concept,shoot and edit challenge, I decided to draft up a little survival guide I thought might be useful for all of you to enjoy.
1. Know your stuff. Get it ready!
It is imperative for you to know what resources you’re going to have available to you – what are their limitations. What are the work arounds, if something breaks or fails to work, do you have a backup plan.
- Check your batteries, are they all charged?
- Memory cards. Without these, your camera is useless!
- Triggers: what if they don’t work? Got backups? CLS/cable/optical alternatives?
- Reflector. Bring one it’s useful.
- Tripod. Always want to have one available. Did you bring your base plate? I use the CSLR M-Plate, so my base plate is always tightly screwed onto my camera.
2. Assess the location
Take a couple seconds to look around the space, engage the people that are there at your disposal… Figure out where you can and cannot go. Don’t be scared to ask.
- Is the ceiling low enough to bounce light off of?
- Any interesting objects that can help cast an interesting shadow? Plants are great for this.
- What type of ambient light are you dealing with? Can you turn them on/off?
- Which objects can be moved? What can you do to customize your set?
- How much time do you have available? Who is in charge of the building/space? Become friends with him, he might be able to open some doors for you…literally.
3. Who are the people there and what are they good at ?
If they’re there, they can be used. Figure out what the strengths and weaknesses are of each person that’s there to help you out. Establish a connection with the people and the location. If you’re shooting in a public location and people stop and stare, they can help too!
- Girls are better than boys at makeup and hair. Don’t have a hairstylist? Put a girl to work, she’s probably got more practice than you if you’re male.
- Figure out who has experience in photography. What equipment are they familiar with.
- If they have no experience, take a couple seconds to gather up your potential assistants to explain to them the basics (ex: Don’t put your finger here, this is the optical sensor.)
- Choose wisely. Take a couple seconds to study the people that are available and put them to use accordingly. Don’t put a 12 year old kid on lightstand + umbrella watch duty, he’ll probably get bored and run off.
- Be conscious that these are people probably helping out for free, they’re not your slaves. Be aware of what you’re asking of them. It doesn’t hurt to ask people if everything’s ok.
4. Do first, think later
If time is a very real constraint, get the ball rolling. Turn on all your equipment, take out all the light stands, set up all the softboxes. Have everything ready to go so that when you need it, it’s there.
- If possible, set your assistants to the task. Though they may be slower than you, delegating will free up your hands and mind. If they don’t know how but are a quick learner, get them started and tell them to figure it out.
- Try to lay everything out in a single corner. Seeing your equipment all ready to go can inspire ideas that you hadn’t previously considered.
- Don’t be scared to change things up after you’ve asked someone to do something. If for whatever reason you decide that Flash A should now have a softbox and Flash B a beauty dish instead of the other way around, it’s not the end of the world. No one’s judging you.
As a photographer you’re thinking of concept, lighting, pose, style, communication, timing and more. This means that when one variable changes, the rest need to compensate and the only way to do that is to multitask.
- Can’t multitask? Learn. Start small and build up. You multitask on a daily basis (talking on the phone while cooking while making plans for the next day). How do you do it?
- Create a mental checklist if necessary and run through it over and over again. Here’s an idea of what goes through my mind:
6. Relate to familiar scenarios
Experience plays a huge part in these type of situations. Connect to a similar situation that you had to deal with – what are the similarities. How did you deal with similar challenges.
- If you’re one of those visual people, perhaps it would be handy for you to grab a set of Strobist trade secret cardsor build your own
- Have images you like in a folder on your phone. Seeing images can trigger inspiration.
7. Be confident… or act confident if you’re not.
When you hold the camera in your hand, you’re the dude (or dudette) in charge. Everyone is looking at you to pull the shots. If you look like you have no idea what you’re doing, people will quickly loose confidence in you and things will only get worst.
- Don’t make long uncertain “uhhmmmmm… ahhhhh…” sounds as you consider what to do next. Compliment the parts of the image that work loudly to encourage those that surround you while you panic in your head about the parts that don’t work
- Don’t chimp for too long. A quick glance should tell you how things are looking. People holding uncomfortable poses as you zoom in and consider whether you’ve nailed the perfect Rembrandt lighting will quickly grow uncertain and their pose will suffer int he long run.
- Really want to take the time to review the shot? Call a quick break
- Have a friend in the mix? Pull him/her aside and get an objective opinion… a fresh pair of eyes can help unblock whatever you’re stuck on.
- No idea what to do? Things just really aren’t working? Reset the entire set. Say to the group: “Alright this is great, lets try something new!”
Photo by Jo Gorsky – www.jogorsky.com
For those interested, this was the challenge that triggered it all!
****Are you a long term fan? Please tell me about yourself!
Second camera: Sael Simard
Before my Von Wong does Europe tour, I put together a crazy photoshoot with Montreal Based Stripper Suntory to attempt to put together a couple of unique shots of him suspending himself in chains. This was a very challenging shoot to put together as we required a bunch of elements that were not necessarily easy to obtain.
- A loft with metal beams that we could suspend a person and a couple hundred pounds of weights.
- Some sort of support system
- Large industrial chains
Initially, the original plan was to find some sort of an abandoned building and suspend chains from whatever we found there… I’m quite happy that we decided to go with the safer option of renting a friend’s loft for the afternoon as there would have been no way that we would have managed to drag the chains into an abandoned building (which weigh A TON) or find a safe way to suspend them.
For the industrial chains, Suntory did some research at the gym he was attending to actually got the huge chains used to suspend the massive punching bags and we came across http://www.chainestraction.com/.
We took the time to call them, drive over to see what chains they had available they could lend us. The folks over there were actually quite friendly and gave us a really sweet deal on a 3 day rental on the chains.
Finally, we had to figure out how to have the entire thing hanging from our ceiling so we had a specialist come in, check out the ceiling beams and solder some big chunks of metal together to make this whole thing possible.
I have to admit, the entire experience was quite stressful not quite knowing if our home brewed solution was actually going to work… but it did
From there, we had to figure out how we could transform a very yellow asian man into a silvery statue. This is where Jessica Renahan, a fabulous makeup artist came in with a solution.
She prepared a mysterious concoction by blending Vaseline, acrylic, oil paint, charcoal powder all together to get the effect. Initially, we didn’t get the blends quite right and Suntory was so covered in Vaseline that he was slipping all over the place and the Vaseline had a tendency of clumping up in odd places so we rubbed down the Vaseline as best we could and covered him back up with a whole bunch of charcoal powder that really gave him a proper matte texture.
In addition to the makeup, we had to have Suntory actually dehydrate his entire body to accentuate his muscles even more. Three days before the shoot, Suntory tightly controlled his diet in order to slowly and safely dehydrate himself to increase his muscle definition.
And last but not least, lighting. I threw my lightstands up as high as they could go. Using my Paul C Buff. extra large softboxes, I could get some pretty decent body coverage… almost 10 feet into the air but that was unfortunately not quite sufficient to get any sort of lighting from the top of my model.
The solution –> Clamping a couple speedlights on the ceiling using a pair of nifty Nasty Clamps
To help increase muscle definition in a photograph, it’s always important to remember that harsh directional lighting is what will make the difference to help increase that body definition.
Note: for those wondering about the black background, we actually suspended a 10 foot wide black backdrop onto the ceiling using a combination of gaffer tape and backdrop stand! Unfortunately no BTS footage was captured of the setup
Note#2: Any jewellery designers out there want to transform these photos into works of art? Hit me up!
Photo: Benjamin “Von Wong”
Makeup: Jessica Renahan
Assist: Kaleena Jay, Nadia Zheng
Video: Sael Simard, Laurence Turcotte Fraser
I’ve been receiving a lot of questions lately on who I am, what I do, how I do it… so I figured I’d throw together a 15 minute interview on myself for you guys! Since I had recently written an article on inspiration for Kwerfeldein, I figured I’d throw up the english version over here on my end of the world. Combined with the fact that PetaPixel requested an interview with me I figured I’d merge the two topics together and make this video. It’s quite challenging filming and editing things yourself so I did the best I could here….! Sorry for the “ums” and “has”… I’m still working on my camera face !
To commemorate this interview, I have whipped out an extremely old set of images I had taken in the past and finally completed a concept that I’ve had running in my mind for the longest time. These portraits of me were actually shot somewhere in Feb. 2010… the background in Israel on March 2012 and finally all spontaneously thrown together in Sept 2012.
The message? That we are the sum of our experiences. Good, bad… they are all a part of who we are today. There is no need to fear what is to come… we’ll get through it.
That’s it for now! I leave you with my article on HOW I FIND INSPIRATION.
As a creative artist, I am often asked: How do you come up with such crazy ideas? How do you find the people to participate? Where do you find the time and the energy?
The answer is one word: Inspiration.
Inspiration is paramount, for without it, we cannot create. It is the momentum that pushes an idea into motion. That starting point before you even pick up the camera. Being open to inspiration is to wake up in the morning and feel excited to be alive. To look at the world as a place of endless opportunities, and have the energy and drive to follow through with them. Being inspired is like being in love – it moves and transforms you.
“The Agonist” – Behind the Scenes with Video
Before continuing, let me introduce myself. I am a 25 year old self-taught photographer who spontaneously dived into photography following a break up in November 2007. At the time, I was working in a Gold mine in the barren deserts of Winnemucca, Nevada, and decided that taking pictures of the beautiful night skies would be a great distraction. The journey began with a trip to Wal-Mart.
Most recently, I quit my job as a Mining Engineer to pursue my passion. I do not consider myself an expert so what follows is merely an opinion. However, it is my deepest hope that these words help inspire and excite your own desires.
What If I am not Inspired?
The answer is simple: Get Inspired.
The truth, nobody is always inspired. Not me and probably not the artists you aspire to, who craft ingenious masterpieces. Passionate individuals are especially cursed as the waves of up and down swing greater than average. The exhilarating high that you get from creating invariably leads to a resounding low or a disappointment when the latest project fails to meet your expectations.
What separates artists who stand out from those that fade away is perserverence – the ones who continually innovate and create in spite of any challenging obstacles.
How to get inspired?
Everyone has his or her own way of getting inspired. Personally, I believe the best way to become inspired is live life. Get out there, meet new people, and listen. Everybody has a unique story, and more often than not, these tales can trigger emotions which may inspire you.
For instance, the image below shows the outcome of meeting with a fan for coffee and a brainstorming session. While chatting, she slowly opened up to a burden of pain and sadness brought on from the death of loved ones. The raw emotion transformed into a concept, which grew into a photo shoot. There was no way I could have discovered this idea alone. Yet, by taking a chance, meeting new people and listening, I was able to reveal empathy and facilitate healing with a creative twist.
Collaboration with Chester Van Bommel via artsome.be
Alternatively, looking within can also yield surprising results. I have always found emotions to be a great muse for creativity. Heartbreaks in particular have always been an impressive source for innovation. It is not easy, you have to force yourself to get up in the morning and focus on transcribing your emotions into art. Once you get into motion, you will be amazed at the things that you can accomplish. For it is useless to remain fixated on something that cannot change.
While being in this state can be absolutely fantastic for creativity, chances are you probably don’t want to spend your time in permanent heartbreak. The key, I believe, is to learn how to experience that same burst of creativity while in a state of happiness and peace.
Whatever your case may be, whether you have the strength to believe in yourself or not, inside of you lies the key to unlocking your inspiration. You just have to look for it.
Still not inspired?
Start to surround yourself with passionate individuals.
There is something incredibly infectious about a person who is passionate about what they do. Find people that relentlessly strive to perform and succeed because their drive and dedication to persevere will rub off on you too.
I recently crowd-funded a tour to travel through Europe and had the opportunity to meet up with some of these very passionate individuals. One instance was putting together a shot for Dave Reynolds, the director of the Underwater Realm. At 26 years old, Dave not only gathered an entire crew of people to shoot a series of underwater shorts probono, crowd funded over a 100,000$ for his project, but also developed new equipment and techniques to facilitate the whole process of shooting underwater.
Another moment was meeting with Andrey DAS, one of the pioneers of fire breathing in Paris, France. He had spent the last 9 years of his life building a community of pyrotechnicians and developing new spitting techniques to share with those around him at no profit whatsoever.
“Epic Pyrotechnician” – Behind the Scenes Video
Both artists find inspiration in art. They have an innate drive to push the boundaries and use their talents to the fullest potential. Concepts and ideas thrive in teams, and those who dare to dream can help make yours come true.
Alright! I got this. I have the most brilliant idea ever. Now what?
Convince the people you want to participate in the project that your idea is undeniably the most brilliant idea ever! A couple tips that can help you along the way:
- Believe in your project. People pick up on that passion and drive. If your eyes are shining with enthusiasm and confidence that this is THE project of the year, people will get hooked onto that. If you’re confident in your project’s success, let it show.
- Show a good track record. Showcase past projects that have yielded good results. It does not matter if the projects are slightly unrelated; people are looking for proof that you won’t be wasting their time. If you happen to be starting out and don’t have very much to show then consider starting small. Build that track record.
- Make it about them. While your projects might be amazing, people are going to want to know what’s in it for them. In creative collaborations, people are donating their time and talent and will be expecting something in return. Whatever you’re offering, whether it be a unique experience or a portfolio piece, make sure you emphasize what they will gain from their involvement.
- Delegate. It can become overwhelming when there are too many pieces to hold together. Try to delegate responsibilities, give people additional tasks to help you with the project. Not only will this lighten your own workload, it will also make people feel included and acknowledged.
- Follow up. Although people may become enthusiastic about your project you have to remember that you are the glue holding the whole thing together. Make sure you follow up with your fellow artists to make sure they are still on board. It is your duty to keep that excitement going. Let them be aware of the progress to keep the momentum alive.
“Les Artisans d’Azure” – Behind the Scenes Video
Last few words…
I hope that these words will inspire you. I think that the key to starting something is to simply start it. People have the tendency of doing things “later” and they never get done. If you have an idea in mind, give yourself a deadline and make it happen. Don’t worry about making it perfect right off the bat… you will make mistakes, guaranteed! You will also fail at some point in time, so accept that reality and try anyways. Whatever it is you want to do in life, start today. Don’t wait until you’re old and your life becomes a series of should haves.
“Ballerinas from the National Slovak Theater” – Behind the Scenes Video
Learn more on…
- Blog: www.vonwong.com/blog
- Youtube: www.youtube.com/thevonwong
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/vonwongphotography
- 500px: www.500px.com/vonwong
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/vonwongphotoSpecial thanks to Kara Jeffery for helping me proof-read this article !
BTS by Erwan Cloarec
Natasha Baker – Portrait of an Olympic Paradressage rider by Erwan Cloarec
Natasha and I happened on each other completely by chance. A fan of mine and fellow photographer Dan Foster spontaneously contacted me on facebook and asked if I would be interested in shooting horses while touring through London. As a horse lover, my initial response was: SWEET, HORSES!! but that was soon dampened by the fact that I actually needed a subject to photograph since the purpose of our tour was to shoot creative portraits of artists, not of animals. Luckily for me, Dan and Natasha actually had a shoot scheduled together so he used the opportunity to ask her if she’d be interested in participating in the project. A couple skype conversations later, she was confirmed!
Meeting with Natasha the first time around turned out to be quite a challenging experience. For one, she doesn’t have an actual street address… so while one would assume from the videos that we were in the middle of the countryside, we actually happened to be in the residential suburbs of West London. Erwan and I had a happy moment driving around the town asking people: Do you where we can find a farm with horses? And contrary to what you might assume… few people actually knew there was a farm less than a km away from their houses! After a good 20 minutes of fruitless searching, we eventually gave up and camped at an intersection while we waited for Natasha to come rescue us. Two minutes later, as she drove over, Erwan and I shared a moment of confusion as we commented to each other: “She can drive?”
So yes, turns out she actually she had a pimped out car that she could drive around with using her arms. Pretty sweet. She gave us a tour of her gorgeous house and farm so that I could get a grasp of the space I would get to play with the next day. She also took the time to introduce me to her beautiful horses JP a Polish Warmblood and BamBam a KWPN. With those two elements clearly in mind, we retreated back to her place to sketch out the shots that we would attempt to create the next day.
The result was three concepts, quite different from one another… to give Natasha an interesting variety of shots that could tell a story. I’ve found that planning shots in advance rather than gambling on improvisation skills, and taking the time to doodle them out (even though they can be quite ugly at times) are a great way to communicate with your clients or fellow artists the image that you’re trying to create.
The next day, we returned back to Natasha’s farm with a lot less difficulty and we had the chance to meet Dan, who actually made the trip down to come and assist. It was great to have him on board not just for an extra set of hands (and spare D700 I ended up needing!) but also because he has a lot of experience shooting horses and was able to provide us with constant tips to make the job easier.
Although we had planned to begin the day at 8AM… bright and early so that we wouldn’t have to fight too much with the harsh midday sun, by the time we had lugged the bales of hay and equipment across the field to get everything set up and ready to go the sun had already reached full mid day strength! As I mentioned in the video, it’s pretty much impossible to light a horse from a good 6 feet away with a speedlight in mid day sun (f9!) but luckily we had a set of Innovatronix Explorer Minis to power our studio strobes in the middle of the open field! The alternative would have been to drag out a 1000 feet of extension chords… a far less exciting prospect. To light the shot, I initially threw on a couple softboxs hoping to diffuse the light and avoid getting the harsh glows of sweat from the horses bodies but unfortunately even our 500 Watt Linkstar flashes from lovinpix.com weren’t powerful enough so we had to remove them and live with the shinny horses! To help Natasha pop out of the background, I threw in a pair of strobes directly behind her to make her hair shine & glow. Since I had to shoot each horse individually due to personality issues, this meant that I could focus all my flashes to light the horses individually.
From there it was just a question of getting the horses in exactly the right position. Mints served as a great way for Natasha to tempt the horses closer and from there it was trial and error as well as a fancy little bit of photoshop composition to bring us to the final result:
The second concept was a lot more simple. Since we were shooting indoors, the bright afternoon sunlight was no longer much of an issue and I could actually use it as an extremely soft light source to fill the shot. All that was needed was a LumoPro LP160 Flash directly behind Natasha to add just a little bit of glow to the image! Although we had initially used water to create the tear, we soon noticed that it really didn’t give the effect that we wanted so Dan came up with the brilliant idea of using vaseline instead. Even though the tear didn’t turn out quite perfect (turned out being more white than translucent) a little bit of photoshop helped smooth things out !
For the last shot, we fall into a category of image that I feel the most comfortable in – dark, dramatic, epic… We found a massively long extension chord and plugged in a smoke machine and ran around with it trying to catch the wind so that it would blow in the right direction. Unfortunately for us, the open barn was extremely windy so the smoke was blowing in all directions! We began the shoot by acquainting JP to the smoke, by letting him get used to the sound and smoke and although he was quite jittery for the entire shoot, he soon settled in. Lighting wise, we simply had two massive softboxes on either side and had Natasha ride through them, timing the shots so that Natasha was positioned just a little bit past the flashes. Once the lights were set up, all that remained to do was a shoot trial and error… trying to get everything right at the same time – lighting, smoke, horse and human. It’s important during these trial and error phases to guide your model, to come up with constant ideas of poses… and when you run out of ideas, simply ask the artists that you’re shooting if they have any of their own. Quite often that small exchange between two artists can generate even better ideas and creations!
After a full day of shooting, we finally wrapped things up around 7-8 PM before charging into the portrait interview half of our project. The interview lasted over two hours and Erwan did an amazing job summarizing the entire video into an Olympic level portrait of Natasha Baker.
Note: I hope you find these articles inspiring. THe point of them is not to tell you HOW to light your shots, or how to reproduce identical lighting setups but rather to hopefully encourage you to go out there and shoot yourselves! For those interested in exact lighting setups, feel free to browse my blog where I take the time to include a lighting setup of most shots that are posted! If you have any comments or suggestions, please leave them in the box below!
Special thanks to those who helped us make this shoot possible:
- The Workshop Factory
Special Gear used: