I’ve always been upfront about what I like to shoot – people. All faces are different. Each one comes with an owner and a past. I try to get at a little piece of that – a moment when there is nothing between their mood and the lens. It’s more real than landscape or nature photography. I enjoy those things, but I can’t connect with those things. A landscape can be a conduit to how humans have behaved. But the human face is the direct story. It’s who we are.
A few weeks ago I was contacted by clothes designer, Charlotte Mooney, about shooting her new collection. It was equestrian themed. She wanted to know if I’d be interested in collaborating. I was. Long story short – emails flew back and forth and we arrived at a solid concept, with models, location and MUA within a few short weeks.
Shooting for fashion is different for shooting for art nude or portrait. You have to light the clothes. You have to sell the clothes. This was new to me. Usually I light for mood and get the poses to reflect that. But now I had to light moodily and still allow the jacquard fabric to show through. That’s easier said than done. Each shot in the series was a head-scratcher. It required me to shift gears and think of ways to get the theme, the pose, the light and the fabric all working together.
From a technical standpoint it was a fuji X-T1 and a 35mm f/1.4 lens for almost all the day. All the shots were between F/8 & F/11. The reason for that was to get detail into the clothes. I wasn’t just headhunting for a face here. I was looking for detail, cut, tailoring and colour. The problem with F/8 and beyond is battery life in my portable flash unit (Jinbei Discovery 600). As I wanted to show off the great location, I needed the flash at a distance, so it wouldn’t be the shot. Getting to F/11 from 12 feet through a few layers of octabox diffusion is battery killer. Luckily, the Jinbei is up to it. It really is the Elinchrom Quadra killer it’s purported to be. As long as you don’t want to freeze raindrops with HSS, it’s up to the task.
The X-T1 seems to have much better battery life over the x-Pro1. It certainly focuses in low/contrast light scenarios better than it’s predecessor. Image quality is the same – excellent.
So a couture fashion shoot tested me. New considerations had to be examined and met. It was a lot fun and I think I’ve got the itch to do more. Many thanks to the cast and crew, who were ego free and worked so well together.
& Dave Gill & Kieran Behan who Val’ed with distinction.