Candle In The Wind
capturing the truest light in which people view you
Perfect lighting is like a candle in the wind, that is why the most brilliant shots are the ones that reflect the light from within. The aura that every one of us projects; unique specifically to ourselves. Photography to me, is always about enhancing what is already there. So you want to be both deliberate and in the moment. Make sure the model’s shirt isn’t sloppily splayed, or the hair frames their face shape suitably.
I’ve never cared for studio lights, because they are harsh and mute the skins natural texture. I want to work around the pre-existing light of the day, so it looks authentic to the environment it was captured in. As far as equipment goes, as an Art Director I’ve learned it’s a lot simpler (and more comfortable for models) if you just shoot with your phone. It’s lens when used correctly is comparable to a DSLR. Don’t listen to the critics; it all about how you use the tools you’re given.
If a model has breakouts or skin textures that are not permanent, we want to remove those while keeping the existing pores. The healing brush in photoshop is amazing for this. Simply sample an area that is blemish free, and it’ll clone it and refine the effected area. Because if you start with the blur tool, it will be obvious immediately that it isn’t naturally clear skin. Again we want our models to look as confident as they feel on a good day. Phone apps like SNOW, Light Room, Photoshop (for your phone), are all good alternatives to working on your laptop.
Next we want to level out basic imbalances. This again can be done on any preferred editing app, including most default gallery editing features provided with the phone. Boost the brilliance a little until we can see enough detail in the photo, this allows us to pass over using the sharping tool (which mostly comes across as harsh). We want to intensify the highlights, till they look a little dark, so that it pools vibrancy in the washed out areas. You want to pull up the brightness, and then bring down the black point. After all of this, in order to diffuse our present black shadows, we lessen the contrast. Finally pump up the exposure (til everything looks harmonized), and you’re left with perfect Chiaroscuro hand-guide. I use this method a lot, and models (and clients) always exclaim that they love it because it looks rich and intense.
If you have any yellowing whites, you can fix those by stepping up the cool/blue tones of the color balance tool. Next we want our model’s face to look as a carved Grecian God/Goddess version of themselves. Aspect ratios, and the off-kilter compression of most zoom lenses, make everyone’s face look askew. This also increases the bulbousness of the nose and the jowls. So we move to our Puppet tool in Photoshop or or beauty tools in our phone apps.
The nose needs to be decreased by a minimum of ten percent to capture the models real face. Lips need to be enhanced around four percent increase. And lastly the jaw should be sharpened and brought in by six percent. Everyone is unique, so again use your facial memory to make the photo match the model, not the other way around.
In conjunction with the theme of styling what is already there, we now have room to play. Each photo has a personality of its own, no matter the original intention. You can add grain and scratches to make photos look analog. Or break away from reality, and create a vogue black and white editorial. Or add tinted color, to highlight what you are selling. Though in the end the personality that needs to be most visible is the model’s. That needs to be projected front and center, every shoot. Even when asking them to play a role, don’t ask them to do things that are unnatural, because it will look forced and uncomfortable. We are humans capturing human essence; no matter what the shoot, that resonance is the baseline to successful and memorable edits.
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