Editorial Fashion Tutorial Posted
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Tuesday, December 31, 2013
By Big Ben

That's right. A new tutorial has been posted to my Youtube Channel.  This one features the elegant and ever gorgeous Tatum Langton, an extremely talented actress who is dedicated and ever passionate in her craft. The video also features the work of the amazing Hair and Makeup Artist Heather Shelton of Red Scarlett Makeup Artistry. I've had the opportunity to work with Heather multiple time over the past few years. Heather's work has taken off like a storm in which I have to be sure to book her well in advance to be able collaborate with her.

This photo session and video was shot over a year ago in November 2012. Although the images have been completed since that time, the video footage has patiently waited on my scratch drives during all this time. Due to the lack of postings and 'year end hard drive cleaning' I decided it was time to get this one in the can. 

Our concept was simple. I met Tatum during the principle photography of the upcoming feature film Alienate, which I instantly saw first hand how talented Tatum is. Photographing an actress who can model is always easier that photographing a model who can act. Actors and actresses are simply easy to pose and collaborate with, because you can give them a role or an emotion to play out in front of the camera just like a director would do for motion picture. For instance, the pose and feel for the image above was ascertained by directing Tatum to 'act' as if she was the heroin coming out of the theater onto a bustling New York Street. 

It is imperative that photographers learn the art of working and coaching their models or subjects. There is a great deal of photographers in the industry that rant and rave about how amazing a model is or how awful a model is. Usually the focus of their awesomeness rating is based on how well the model moves or poses when in front of the camera. Many of today's 'awesome' models possess the natural talent and know how to pose, move, and convey the whatever emotion the photographer, art director, or concept are looking for. A GREAT photographer knows how to establish a positive vibe and rapport with ALL models or subjects. Photographer's need to acquire and practice the necessary interpersonal and professional skills to work with any model or subject, regardless of their natural talent or experience. This will lead to the final images or product meeting your expectations, which makes all parties involved in the collaboration or project successful and accomplished.

Easier said than done, right?

A great example that teaches photographers how to work with any client and build that ever so needed rapport is FStopper's collaboration with Peter Hurley. The video is titled The Art Behind the Headshot. I've watched this video several times in which I've witnessed a visual difference in my images.... And no, I am not affiliated with Peter Hurley or Fstoppers.com nor do I have I been compensated to plugin their products.


The concept was easy enough. After filming Tatum for the big screen, I approached her on potentially collaborating on a fashion concept. Because the winter was fast approaching, I decided that something organic with the use of some atypical makeup and furs would be fun. We bounced back and forth via email for several weeks while sharing tear sheets and ideas that would be conducive to the look we were going for. Heather came to the rescue (as always) when it came to finding the wardrobe and accessories. Tatum had flown from LA for the Thanksgiving holiday and did not have room to pack tons of clothes and outfits that would have functioned. Heather hit up her contacts and was able to locate our wardrobe from Burns Cowboy Shop near Park City, Utah. She as able to get our copper jewelry from Morgan Bass at Copper Paisley. 

When it comes down to shooting fashion, the lighting and technical aspects of the shoot are usually the least important aspect of the execution of production. It's all about the outfits, model, and location. There needs to be only one focus or hero in each of your shots. You convey this by carefully preplanning the aspects above as well as composition, lighting, and movement. In fashion, typically the hero of the shot tends to be the outfit, accessory, or product you're showcasing or trying to sell. 

Like many of my concepts and collaborations, I love shooting in urban environments. I love going Avant Garde and placing subjects that are wearing high-end clothing in the most outrageous or dirty place you can imagine (I am currently in negotiations with the local landfill). I utilized local resources and Google Earth to perform some pre-scouting weeks before the shoot date in efforts to increase our odds for success. I knew from the time of year and the scheduled time of the shoot, that the sun would be located in the southern hemisphere, which would have me shoot in two scenarios:
- Northern west walls that would be shaded or in open shade.
- Shoot toward the south and have the model face north. Overpower the sun and use light ratios to manipulate it to fit my purposes as a rim light.

Our 3 sets utilized both of these scenarios.


All these images were shot with a very naturalistic approach to where I didn't want the images to pop so much that the viewer would take notice of the artificial light. Afterall, a great cinematographer can lens a film to where you don't even notice that lights were used. Basically, my goal for the images was to make them look as if they were shot with natural light. This was accomplished by keeping light ratios relatively close together and not greatly underexposing the background or ambient light and overexposing the model or subject. 

The artificial lights used were my now old Elinchrom Ranger Quadras coupled with 45" and 60" umbrellas for the main light. I then used a Nikon Speedlight with a Manfrotto superclamp for shots where I could not utilize the sun to my advantage. Because of Tatum's dark hair, I wanted to be sure to have some separation from backgrounds that were dark or close to the same texture and luminance of her hair.

Besides the wardrobe and art direction, I controlled textures by selecting locations and backdrops fit for my purposes, as well as shooting with as shallow of depth of field as I could. Because the ambient light was so bright during midafternoon on a cloudless Fall day, I had to use the zoom of a telephoto lens to squeeze as much bokeh as I could from the surrounding scenes. When your confined to sync speed on a non full frame (APS-C Nikon) camera body, a shallow depth of field can be a real challenge when f/5 is as open as you can go.

Post production was relatively simple, being that Heather did an amazing job with hair and makeup and Tatum is a naturally beautiful subject. Many viewers on the Youtube Channel have consistently commented about my post and editing process, with exclamations stating that I must be conducting hours of 'photoshopping' per each image. Many of these viewers have asked to see before and after images in each video. I have met the challenge head on in which I was sure to include the RAW images and edited images in the video. I averaged about 3-6 minutes of editing per image. 

Feel free to drop a comment below with any questions you have. Be sure to check out the video if you already haven't done so and you've managed read this entire hunk of text.

Happy New Year, 

Big B.

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