The Lighting Detail Explained: Mandy’s Daisey Duke look. (above).

NOTE: I am trying something new with this article, by including the lighting diagrams (which open in popups) as well as the thoughts on the subject in general. The information included on this site was never intended as a “How-to” guide, but after several e-mails requesting more in depth information for new photographers, I am attempting to share some thoughts pertinent to those with a sincere interest in improving their skills, work ethics and overall quality. I have started this article using equipment on a budget as proof of concept that you can have fun and create art without breaking the bank.

Glamour Photography:

Glamour is an exciting subject and probably every photographer’s dream… well almost… gimme beauty photography any day and I’m a happy camper. Still every spring when the snow begins to melt and the phone starts to ring off the wall, it’s the sign Hometown Hottie season is about to begin. So dust off your lenses and charge your batteries, it’s Glamour time.

The Philosophy and Mindset:
Glamour photography is not as easy as it looks. The goal, of course, sounds simple enough. You make a totally hot babe look as though she is overflowing with sex appeal. You would think the simplest way to do that is to start with a totally gorgeous girl. But the real secret to success is the conveyance of sex appeal, so you need someone who is very good with facial expressions and body language, an actress if you will. A lot of people, including some models feel that some degree of nudity is required. Nothing could be further from the truth! My old college professor said, “If you can not convey sensuality with her clothes on, you have not earned the right to shoot her with her cloths off.” Thirty five years later I still hold take this golden rule to heart. I will not shoot implied nudes of a model on our first session. I need to know that we have achieved that glamorous look, that extra quality, that twinkle in the eyes that says it all. Otherwise, I am missing something hidden inside and we need that missing quality before we can move on.

The Psychology and Key Elements:
A Maxim, GlamModelz Magazine photoshoot can be a very personal, very intimate experience, more so when scadly clothed. There needs to be complete trust between the model and the photographer in order to develop a flow and pull off that awesome shot. I find one of the key points is working within your models comfort zone. Whatever you need to do to make your model feel as comfortable and secure as possible will really pay off in the final shot. This is true for all aspects of modeling photography.

The lighting was so simple on this heavily overcast day. I used my flash in i-TTL mode. It was placed about 6′ directly in front of my model. You may have noticed the softbox mounted to my SB-800 flash. This is a 7″ Micro Apollo, available from Westcott, for both Nikon and Canon portable flashes. This Softbox folds flat and attaches with two small Velcro tabs. This is a Must Have device for anyone shooting outdoors!

Throughout my site, it should be obvious to you I construct and design my shots before picking up the camera. I make a mental list of key elements that I feel are important to the shot itself. The model is the easy part. Some of the others are not as obvious. Let us take a closer look at all of the individual elements we will need for that perfect shot.

Next, you need poses that will flatter your model and her body type. It’s so easy to study a magazine for a selection of poses the night before an important shoot. You will also need a setting that will not overwhelm or distract from your model. Your model is the center of attention here, NOT the background! Make sure you have all of the clothing and props ready and on hand well in advance of the shoot. At this point you should not try to prioritize these individual elements because they are all equally critical. Combining them all in a natural and pleasing manor is what separates the men from the boys, the success from the failures.

Putting it in Practice:

The Royal Whatchamacallit.
I really love a killer outdoor shot myself and I know so many of you are going to be shooting in natural light outdoors, so we’ll start here. Mary wanted to shoot at Lake Berryessa and I had a birthday card project I wanted to shoot for a friend, so we scheduled a weekday trip to the lake. I knew we were not going to be over run with onlookers. Remember what I said about providing your models with comfort and security.

Lets start by looking at what works and what does not work and why.

I failed miserably in the first shot, (left above) because of the location. The lighting is horrible. It’s harsh and the shadows from the tree are very distracting. I did not flatter her and she knows it. I like my images to “pop”  and in this case she almost blends into the background. There is no contrast to make the model stand away from the background.

In the second attempt (above right) I moved her back into the heavy shade of the overhanging trees. A few feet in any direction can make all the difference in the world. The shadows are even and not as distracting. I had her look over my shoulder into the blue sky behind me. This alone is what adds the rich blue color to her gorgeous eyes. This is a trick I usually use with blue or green eyed models when shooting outdoors. At this point I’m still setting up and moving my umbrellas around, but the lighting is starting to look pretty. The steep angle of the single light is not flattering her. I decided i needed to setup a second fill light to smooth some of the harsher shadows.

A lot of photographers would have been happy with the second shot. My other photographer buds would have ridiculed me over the harsher shadows and that background. I can almost hear someone saying, “OMG she has a tree growing out of her head. Call a tree surgeon to prune it.” It is a distraction but by opening up to F-3.8 on my 50mm 1.8 lens I will take care of that, quick, fast and in a hurry! We end up very happy with this shot below.

NOTE: If you were to write any of my muse models for a shoot and they saw anything in your portfolio like the two bad examples above, they would send you back their rates. I really couldn’t say I blame them! You are not flattering the model and she will never use this so you need to pay her for her time. Someone somewhere, said, “You are only as good as the worst image in your portfolio.” Think before you shoot and think twice before you post your work for the world to see!

It took about 30 minutes to find the perfect setting and position my lighting, props and pose her. You should also notice I moved in quite a bit. I like my images composed tight. The focus is on the model. Not all of the scenery around her. Remember it is always about the Model…

Another key element I neglected to mention earlier is a personal rule of mine. Every picture should tell a story. I feel this adds to the overall image impact. I ignore this unwritten rule with Fashion and Beauty but for me it is an important quality that needs to be a part of every Glamour shot.

I find working from a theme will really help keep you focused. I still do this with glamour shoots. It adds fun and excitement and gets everyone involved and working as a team towards a clear and defined goal.

The premise of cheating at strip poker has always fascinated me. It’s has been the inspiration for several Glamour projects that I am shooting now. Mary and I love this one which she fondly titled, “but it’s a Royal whatchamacallit.”

The Lighting Detail Explained:

In conclusion, I had a phone meeting with the model. We developed a concept and assigned each other the responsibility of various props and outfits. On shoot day we met and scouted a location and composed this shot. In most cases I would have scouted the location by myself. I like to be totally prepared on shoot day and make the most of our time together.

The night before: Study your poses again and unless you are really good at describing exactly what you want bring examples of poses and expressions that you hope to pull off. Don’t expect the model to be able to read your mind. When I’m shooting with a new model and the shoot starts heading south, I like to try roll playing. I’ll think up a simple little scenario and ask her to play it through. Every model I ever shot with really took off with these activities. It makes the shoot more fun for her and really breaks the ice. Anything you can do to make the shoot more fun leads to your success.

Now rush out and buy fresh batteries :)


DrDavesGraphics.com The Official Website of DrDave

Posted in Category: Tutorials



About the Author

Posted by: Dave in: Tutorials on: March 25, 2010
I'm a Northern California Professional Photographer, based just outside San Francisco. I specialize in commercial product advertizing and architectural. I have been working with Bay Area modeling agencies for more then 10 years, shooting portfolio development for models and high-end makeup artists. I am highly creative and always unique. I shoot cutting edge projects, both in the studio and on location.

  Follow Dave: Personal website, or:  



You might also enjoy reading:



© Copyright Dave Davis, All Rights Reserved. Dave Davis, Dave Davis Photography, Dr Daves Graphics, is providing information and services on the World Wide Web for educational purposes only. Permission to use, copy and/or distribute documents, text and/or graphics from this World Wide Web server is strictly prohibited under United States of America, Federal Law, without first obtaining written permission.
Images, Graphics and Articles on this webserver containing the logos, brands, trademarks and/or copyrights of separate inanities, are the sole property to that company or organization and are being used with their written permission, following their explicit guidelines.

307 Responses so far.

  1. Auletta845 says:

    with this. In addition, the blog loads very quick

  2. Sebren says:

    Very efficiently written tutorial. It will be beneficial to everyone who employess it, including yours truly :). Keep doing what you are doing – for sure i will check out more posts.

  3. Urmos says:

    I’ll immediately clutch your rss as I can’t to find your email subscription link or newsletter service. Do you have any? Please allow me recognise in order that I may subscribe. Thanks.

    • Dave says:

      Oops…. Hi Urmos,
      I have been working on the site for the past few months. I promise that will be back with my very next update!!
      I have always had Subscribe by email before and I know how useful that feature is…

      Regards
      Dave

  4. Standen says:

    Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It truly useful & it helped me out much. I hope to give something back and aid others like you helped me.

  5. russ says:

    I must show my love for your generosity giving support to men and women who have the need for help on this important matter. Your real dedication to passing the solution up and down was particularly practical and have made associates just like me to arrive at their aims. The helpful guide entails a great deal to me and a whole lot more to my fellow workers. Thanks a lot; from each one of us.

  6. Mayer says:

    I as well as my pals came examining the best pointers found on your web page and so at once developed a terrible feeling I never expressed respect to the website owner for those secrets. All the people happened to be for this reason very interested to see all of them and have truly been taking pleasure in these things. I appreciate you for being so kind and for getting this kind of excellent subject areas most people are really wanting to be informed on. My personal honest regret for not expressing appreciation to you sooner.

  7. Raviele says:

    I think this is among the most important information for me. And i’m glad reading your article. But wanna remark on some general things, The site style is perfect, the articles is really great : D. Good job, cheers

  8. Mac says:

    I actually wanted to type a word to say thanks to you for all of the marvelous ideas you are writing on this site. My incredibly long internet lookup has finally been recognized with incredibly good content to share with my neighbours. I ‘d point out that we website visitors actually are very fortunate to live in a fine site with many marvellous people with beneficial things. I feel rather blessed to have come across your website and look forward to some more exciting minutes reading here. Thank you once more for a lot of things.

  9. Zane says:

    I am very happy to read this. This is the kind of manual that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that’s at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this greatest doc.

  10. Simunek says:

    excellent issues altogether, you just won a emblem new reader. What may you suggest about your submit that you made some days ago?

  11. Kevin says:

    Good write-up, I?¦m regular visitor of one?¦s website, maintain up the excellent operate, and It’s going to be a regular visitor for a lengthy time.

  12. Vias100 says:

    Wow! Thank you! I continuously needed to write on my blog something like that.

  13. Mark says:

    this is hot

  14. Laurel says:

    interesting post, I love the passion you put into your writings. Great photography as well.
    I would love to shoot with you one day!

    • Dave says:

      I am always happy to shoot with other photographers, in the studio or outdoors.
      I would say my workshops are a good way to shoot with me, but I’m finally filming the entire series of workshops. So this year I will only offer each workshop once. Shooting High-end Beauty and Studio Glamour, are both sold out.

      All the best
      Dave

  15. Bielizna Sklep says:

    Right now it looks like Movable Type is the top blogging platform available right now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you are using on your blog?

    • Dave says:

      I’m using WordPress with the Invictus Theme (google it)
      The theme is sweet, but an effin nightmare at times too. I know there are issues in IE right now, but i am waiting for a stable version – release. The developer has an awesome vision and really can do some outstanding work, but his version control is nonexistent at times.

      Thanks
      Dave

  16. … [Trackback]…

    [...] Find More Informations here: davedavisphotography.com/?p=406 [...]…

  17. Frankie says:

    very well written, love your style

  18. gratis says:

    I love the way you wrote this, more please!!

  19. Thanks for every other great post. The place else may anyone get that kind of info in such a perfect way of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I’m at the search for such information.

  20. Coach Hire says:

    very good

  21. James says:

    I am having a hard time finding a good model, like yours. Does anyone have any recomendations.

    Thanks

    • Dave says:

      Hey James,
      Yes, read the entire series of glamour articles then signup for facebook, myspace, any good social networking site. You should find plenty of models willing and interested. Hire the best team you can afford and do your homework: Scout locations, Gather props, you might even want to sneak in a practice shoot before hand. Even without a model its nice to be prepared for the lighting scenarios you are going to face later with the team. The same time a day of course :)

      Best of luck and have Fun!!

  22. mosley pacquiao says:

    Shooting Glamour – Part I | Portfolio

  23. Yagle says:

    Your blog is so informative … ..I just bookmarked you….keep up the good work!!!!

  24. spencer says:

    I find myself coming to your blog more and more often to the point where my visits are almost daily now!

  25. lenny says:

    Great blog!! You should start many more. I love all the info provided. I will stay tuned :)

  26. jean says:

    Really nice and helpful post. I always appreciate topics like these being discussed to aware people. thanks for sharing.

  27. Backlinks says:

    I am extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one these days.. :)

  28. Canales says:

    wohh precisely what I was looking for, thanks for putting up.

  29. carnkvcz says:

    I just sent this post to a bunch of my friends as I agree with most of what you’re saying here and the way you’ve presented it is awesome.

  30. Hey! I appreciate you for the nice site. Stay the best! :)

  31. Lorenza Markovich says:

    Thanks so much for writing a lot of this excellent content! Looking forward to reading more.

  32. Tauzin says:

    Thank you for share very good informations.

  33. Wesolick says:

    Does it give any better than this!?! As a full-time writer myself is always good to read such a well written and well thought out content.

  34. Toppan says:

    Useful information shared..Iam very happy to read this article..thanks for giving us nice info.Fantastic walk-through. I appreciate this post

  35. Ocejo says:

    Qualified post! this will absolutely sustain me.

  36. Terrence Roberie says:

    Hey, very interesting post, it really got me thinking. Thank you.

Leave a Reply