The 4 Primary Elements of Photography Part III

In the last article, I talked about ISO & White balance.  For the most part, these are the 2 set & forget aspects of photography.  In any given photo shoot, these 2 items would be set and you wouldn’t change them very often.

Now, we come to the 2 items that are changed the most.

Shutter speed and fStop

Shutter speed:   As we talked about in part 1, the shutter speed is the amount of time or duration that the camera shutter is open to admit light.  It is given in seconds or fractions of a second.  

In the studio, when we are working with portrait photography, it’s important to remember this also may be a set & forget item.  In the studio, you would set your speed to the fastest sync speed of your camera.  This will reduce the affect of ambient light.  If you set the camera to a speed faster than the sync speed of the camera, you will get banding on the photo from the shutter being too fast for the strobes.

Obviously, if you’re using hot lights or shooting outdoors, this setting will change.    You should  use your camera’s built in meter for outdoors photography or hot light situations.

fStop:  This number is the amount of light allowed into the camera as well.  There is a diopter on the lens that opens wider to allow more light or closes down to reduce the light coming into the sensor.  On some lenses, this isn’t adjustable as the lens has only 1 fStop.

When you’re shooting in the studio, you would set this to the metered scene that you are shooting.  If your strobes are metered at f11 combined, then you would shoot at f11 or thereabouts depending on your tastes.

The 4 Primary Elements of Photography Part II

White Balance:  This is the color temperature of your shot.  You MIGHT think that using the auto features of your camera are close enough and that if you shoot raw, you can make it 100% correct in Photoshop or Lightroom raw.  BUT, those settings in LR or PS don’t take into account various other light sources such as ambient light and believe it or not the age of your strobes lamps can change a white balance.  As strobes get older they tend to turn brown and this will affect a color balance slightly.

So, for best white balance readings, use a gray card and set your white balance.  Read your camera’s manual on how to set white balance.

ISO:  This sets the light sensitivity of the camera sensor.  A higher number means a faster sensitivity, but you will sacrifice speed for graininess.  In most digital cameras, the grain starts to show up at an ISO of 800+  it’s small and minute, but it gets worse the higher you go.

To understand how ISO works, I like to think of something that Bryan Peterson an award winning photographer said about iso.  He used the analogy that if you think about iso as worker bees, if you have 100 worker bees making the photo, it will take longer.  If you have 400 making the same size photo, they can work much faster. The other thing to keep in mind is that when you have more bees, you have more noise. It’s the same thing in the photograph. The higher the ISO, the more noise will show up in your photos.

I usually set my ISO for the lowest number possible for the shoot – 100-200 if possible.

In part III, we’re talk about shutter speed and fStop and how they work together to make the shot.

The 4 Primary Elements of Photography Part I

This is technical and is meant for photographers who are serious about their art.

White Balance: Use a gray card to set the white balance. Do this after you setup your lights and before you take your first shot

ISO: International Standardization organization. In old school, it has to do with the film speed. How fast the film when exposed to light reacts. The higher the number, the faster the film speed. In digital photography, after a point, higher ISO also means more grain in your images

Shutter speed: The length of time that your camera shutter is open to capture light. Given in seconds.

fStop:  the aperture or opening in your lens that increases or decreases the amount of light that is allowed into the camera. This number is counter intuitive. The higher the number, the less light is admitted to the camera. So another words, an f2 aperture admits more light than f16.

What is a Portfolio Ready Headshot

A good headshot will help a model get a job he or she wants.  Almost everyone hiring new models require a headshot

Here are some do’s & don’t for head shots.  These suggestions are mainly for the local/regional market. For people wanting to build a portfolio for NY city models and actors, the requirements are very different.  You should 

DO’s & Don’ts

1. Models – Should always smile in the head shot. If you don’t like your smile, tough bungies. You probably won’t get hired without one.

2. Models – Should wear clothing that is casual and average/everyday. No flashy gowns or coats. Also, it doesn’t need to show cleavage. KISS – Keep It Simple.

3. Models – Keep your hair down/out. Don’t pin it back. Also you shouldn’t wear a wig. The client wants to see YOU as you are. Just a nice comfortable style.

4. Models – The pose is normal. No funky things with your hands on your head or chest. No crazy head tilt or shooting with your eyes closed.

5. Models – Jewelry – you shouldn’t wear fancy necklaces, ear rings or a hat. Again – KISS. Remove nose piercings.

6. Models – You need to use a MUA. No eye shadow or false eye lashes. Keep it light and tasteful.

6. Photographers – The head shot is from the upper chest up. Not so close you can’t get an idea of their face & neck and not so far that it’s a ¾ body shot.

7. Photographers – Lighting should be relatively flat & well lit. Say no more and a 1:2 ratio. You’re not selling your lighting skills. You’re selling the product/model. Also it’s not a low key image or high key either. But rather a mid key.

8. Photographers – Use Minimal Photoshop. Essentially, you wouldjust color correct the image to make sure the white balance is correct.

Here’s a shot provided as an example.

Other things to keep in mind

  • You CAN’T get good head shots from a cell phone.
  • Headshots are like smiling mugshots.
  • You can’t get modeling jobs without a good CURRENT headshot.

Models, Bring Something to the Table

One of the things I notice the most is the models are waiting for inspiration from the photographers. Most of the models don’t do anything unless there is a casting call for a shoot. It’s the photographer that has to come up with the idea and then find a way to draw you into the project.

Why not start the ball rolling and create your own photo shoot. If you’re a member of model mayhem, you can post a casting call there or here and find photographers MUA’s & hair stylists ready to come on board if the idea is right.

Here’s how to put together a photo shoot casting call.

1. Be specific to the idea. Don’t just say you want to update your portfolio. Tell us what theme or genre you want to shoot and what wardrobe you want to bring.
2. Use photos to illustrate your idea.
3. Look at photo examples out there of your theme and gather as many examples as you can in a folder on your laptop or thumb drive. The day of the shoot, bring your laptop or ipad (or thumb drive) and show the photographer, MUA & stylist what you’re thinking.
4. Practice posing ahead of time. Don’t expect the photographer to tell you how to pose. It doesn’t matter if you’re brand new or have shot 1000 times. If you can’t pose yourself, the photographer will get bored and not want to work with you.
5. Use youtube and vimeo for video tips on how to pose. The videos are free. If you use firefox as a browser, you can find a utility to download the videos. I’ve got almost 100 videos that I’ve downloaded from various sites. I watch them before a photo shoot and it always helps to motivate me.

Finally, one last item to help you along. One of the bigest mistakes I see is models spend so much time worrying about their pose, they don’t learn to relax and change expression. If you look at your portfolio and you have the same look in every shot, it’s time to change things up.

Good luck

Tips For New Models

I have some suggestions with regards to people interested in starting in modeling.

1. Get goal oriented. When you come to one of our open shoots, you want to have an idea about what you want to accomplish.
a. Think of poses. Cut photos out of magazines. Print out pictures and start a scrap book of poses
b. Think of wardrobe. Mix & match what you have. Borrow clothes. Don’t forget shoes. Wigs can make for great shots as well
c. Practice. Use a full length mirror and practice poses and facial expression. Don’t just try bland expressions and poses. Try different. Use a point & shoot camera to take pictures – Learn to use the self timer so you can put the camera down. Don’t hand hold the camera or everything will look like a Selfie.

2. Get ready
a. Hairstyle and color.
b. Look at your eyebrows. DON”T over pluck
c. Armpit hair and leg hair
d. Nails well cared for – no need to spend big bucks
e. Makeup. None. Let the Makeup artist worry about that.
f. Some acne is ok. We can help with that.
g. DO NOT OVER TAN. You will look orange on camera. It’s ok if you are dark skinned, but tanning makes you look like an oompa loompa from willie wonka – lol
h. lips – take care of them so they don’t chap.

3. Be prepared for the nudity question
a. There are different kinds – full, topless & implied. Full & topless are self explanatory. Implied is when you are nude with props or something covering various areas in an “artful” pose
b. Consider an escort regardless of whether there will be nudity or not.
c. Know what is being asked of you up front. Get the facts.
d. Stand by your convictions. If you’re not comfortable then just don’t do it.
e. Look at a photographer’s previous work. If their stuff looks like trash, then any nude shots they take won’t have artistic merit.

4. Safety
a. Bring an escort
b. If no one is available to escort you, then set check in times where you can phone someone at regular intervals and also setup a stress word you can use in case of coercion.
c. Know the address you’re shooting at and leave it with someone you trust.

5. Resources for models
a. onemodelplace.com – Free to join – only 5 images to start
b. modelmayhem.com – Free to join – 20 images to start, pro level is $10.00/month

6. Magazines & books
Glamour
GQ
Ebony
Grace Ormonde – Wedding Style
Elle
Vogue
Vanity Fair
Iman – The Beauty of Color