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Flash for Fantasy - Outdoor photo shoot with Indra500 studio light

11/26/2015 ISO 1200 Magazine 0 Comments - Good Light! Issue 22, the one in which we provide you with tips for going beyond the typical ways of running photo shoots. Setting up a photo shoot like that can no doubt be an overwhelming endeavor. There are usually a lot of moving parts involved, and you really have to pay attention in order to end up with the best possible results.

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My recent forest photo shoot was exactly like that, and by sharing my approach with you I hope you will get closer to being able to put together something similar.

I think we are at our best when we can be in our element. This is as true for me, the photographer, as it is for the model. That is the main reason why with this particular forest photo shoot, we actually spent more time in the studio preparing for it as we did shooting it on location. My reasoning behind this approach is simple. I like to feel relaxed, I like to have fun. I feel that the more fun we have, the better the end result is.

The preparation I do in the studio allows me exactly that, making it possible for me to be at my creative best when the time comes. They say that preparation is key and while sometimes that is a huge cliché, in this instance it really is the backbone of the whole experience. A much needed support for the creative process that will actually let you remain mistake free when it’s time to let your artistic spirit shine.

With this kind of approach I can create an environment (both in the studio and on location) that will offer me the best possible chances to end up with artistically sound, high-quality photographs. With this fantasy photo shoot the actual preparation started in the studio around 12.30 pm, putting together the accessories and bouncing ideas off of each other.

We arrived to the location around 3 pm to finish the shooting by 4 pm, a mere hour later. This means that the preparation and the car ride actually took more time than the photo shoot itself. This was entirely the result of the above described, calculated approach. As per usual, our model Alexandra was an excellent partner during the whole process.

Knowing the essence of the location beforehand, and the fact that Alex usually has a somewhat shy demeanor about her, the idea was to turn her into a kind of forest presence, almost like a Ban-Draoithe. One of our accessories that helped create that certain persona was a horn crown. We inquired about the cost of these items in preparation for the shoot, but at an average price of around $200 we found them unnecessarily expensive.

In the end we chose to create the crown on our own, and I would definitely recommend this for you as well, considering that the materials cost us about 10 bucks. If you have children you can even turn it into a fun afternoon where the whole family get to do something creative together. To emphasize the unique nature of this mythical creature and at the same time make her stand out from a visual standpoint as well, we chose a white nightgown to go with the crown.

This was another $10 purchase at the local H&M, meaning we did not have to worry about its ultimate fate. Regarding the hair and the makeup, we decided to go easy on both fronts, allowing Alexandra’s true nature to shine through which once again we thought was in perfect alliance not just with the spirit of the shoot, but the definitive look we were after as well.

Despite our efforts and keen preparation, we have decided to do the first set within the confines of our studio. I used a soft, beauty light for that set that essentially guarantees good results. This is important for my process because it not only gives us a very good baseline for the work that follows, but it also gives us – both the model and me – a sudden rush of extra confidence that comes very handy for generating the creative atmosphere.

I recommend you to try this, it really makes the following process that much easier and potentially more rewarding. If, for some reason, the shoot does not end up the way you originally imagined, you will still have a couple of quality photos to work with. I used a three-light setup for the first stage of the studio work, two shoot-through umbrellas to shine into the face of Alexandra, occasionally supported by a reflector from below.

I wish you good light!
Michael from

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