Caroline Yandell: Photo Shoot and Technique

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: April 9, 2010

Category: General

As a rule I’m generally someone who prefers to photograph ‘on location’ for a whole host of reasons; variety of locations, the challenge (and that’s not just with the weather) and the fact that it’s ‘free’ to name a few. However, I’ve been finding myself spending time in the studio alot more lately and I’m kind of beginning to get a real kick out of it. Not having to contend with the usual weather challenges here in the UK and security guards who seem to appear from nowhere the studio is a great place to slow down and experiment with different lighting set ups; after all the studio is a blank canvas so the only limitation is your imagination (and lighting skills of course).

Last week I was photographing Caroline Yandell in the studio. I’ve worked quite a lot with Caroline over the past few months on portfolio shoots and also during the ‘tester’ workshops I’ve been running so this particular shoot was more of a ‘thank you’ to Caroline so that we could put together some photographs she wanted for her own use.

Now despite having my own particular kind of style, weeks before we get together I always ask models/clients to start putting together a collection of photographs that they see and really like the look and feel of. This helps me to get an idea of what ‘feel’ they’re looking for and the photographs could be from anywhere; magazines, newspapers, on the internet or even billboards.

I’ve done this for quite some time now and I find it a big help in keeping the dreaded ‘Mind Blank’ at bay. I’ll generally ask the model/client to bombard me with emails containing samples of the images they’ve found; the more I get the better.

Just a thought…What kind of things do you ask of your client/model to prepare for a photo shoot?

Despite being in the studio and having all manner of lights and modifiers available I decided to restrict myself to use only what I would be during the Workshops ie Nikon Speedlights, Reflective/Shoot Thru Umbrella, Lastolite Ezy Box and Honl Speed Grids. Why? Well my thinking behind this is that not everyone who comes along to a workshop will have access to, or be able to afford Elinchrom Lighting, Octabanks and so on so if I use them during a workshop how can attendees replicate the shots once they leave? Also, I’m a big advocate of Zack Arias‘ philosophy in using a piece of kit over and over until you know it’s limitations; then and only then invest in another modifier/piece of kit.

All of the photos included in this post were made using a single Nikon SB800 Speedlight and either a 60″ Reflective/Shoot Thru umbrella or the Lastolite Ezybox. With regards to lens choice, I was using the Nikon f/2.8 70-200mm and the Nikon f/1.4 85mm (definitely my favourite lens).

Being in the studio meant I didn’t use Pocket Wizards to trigger the flash but made use of the Nikon CLS (Creative Lighting System) with the SU800 controller on the hotshoe of my D3. The backdrop we were using was a white seamless but opted to make it shades of grey simply by altering Caroline’s and the lights position in relation to it ie the closer to the wall the more light would spill onto it and the brighter it would become and vice verse ~ Inverse Square Law in it’s simplest terms 🙂

Now here’s a thing…all the full length shots where you can see some ‘dead space’ to the side of Caroline were taken using my Nikon f/2.8 70-200mm lens which may initially make you think that I was in one heck of a big studio; but that certainly wasn’t the case. Wherever possible I’ll always photograph a subject so that they pretty much fill the frame; that way the sensor in my camera is being used to capture all the important detail as opposed to lots of empty space.

The ‘dead space’ in this series of shots was added later in ‘Post’ using a technique in Photoshop CS4 called ‘Content Aware Scaling’. This is a technique that I make use of quite often but have never really heard it talked about since it was introduced. So, because of this I’ve recorded a short video tutorial to show you how I use Content Aware Scaling in my editing and I’ll be posting it up here on the blog and my YouTube Page for you in the next couple of days. I just need to add some ‘text’ into the video which won’t take too long and then it will be ready for you to take a look at and maybe make use of.

In the meantime if you’ve got any thoughts, comments or questions then please feel free to post them in the comments section below; it’s always great to ‘hear’ what you have to say and I’ll do my best to reply to you as soon as I can.

In the meantime,
Enjoy 🙂

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  1. John Shim

    Awesome. Thanks for the tips. I don’t have CS4 but plan on getting CS5.

    • Glyn

      John, CS5 is gonna totally ‘kick the ball out of the park’ … have you signed up for the launch on Monday?

  2. tim wallace

    Nice post as always Glyn, content aware scaling is indeed a very handy tool for some of us and I’ll look forward to the video.
    Have a good weekend mate

    • Glyn

      @Tim…Thanks for that mate. The video will definitely be up this weekend, but I’d be real interested to see where it fits into your editing.

      Same to you mate; have a great weekend & speak soon,
      Glyn 🙂

  3. JJPare

    Great post, Glyn.
    As for communicating inspiration with the client, I use Tumblr to create a ‘mood board’ for upcoming shoots. For each shoot I can just add a new blog to my account. And it’s dead simple to post pics to it. That gives myself and the client a good starting point to work from, and an easily accessible reference for us both (rather than having to pick back through my inbox).

    • Glyn

      @Jason….Great to hear from you mate…how’s things? Thanks for the ‘heads up’ re Tumblr; it’s not something I’d even considered, but it makes perfect sense. Think I’ll be taking a closer look at that today….anything to reduce the ‘inbox’ has gotta be a good thing.


  4. Keith

    another good post Glyn and nice set of images, love the 5th, keep going back to it, looking forward to the vids on YTube

    • Glyn

      Thanks Keith. Video will definitely be posted on t’internet this weekend 🙂

  5. Noel

    Great post Glyn – I really can’t wait to get into the studio now!!!

    all the best mate,

    • Glyn

      Cheers Noel and yeah, see you next Sunday if not before 🙂

  6. Mike

    Nice series of images and I like the idea of getting the client to provide some images as a guide. It can be quite difficult for us to know all the various poses. I usually have a ton of images on my iPhone that I have as reference for each discipline ie wedding, engagement, portrait, kids & newborn

    Cant wait to see the video too for the content scaling as its something I have never used before.

    Keep the posts coming matey, loving them big time!!

    • Glyn

      Mike, great to hear from you as always.

      Yeah I know what you mean re the poses. I find the ‘brain storming’ really helps; once we get a feel for what’s wanted the poses tend to just evolve. Mind you, music blasting out from the iPhone dock tends to help quite alot too 🙂

      Video will be posted at the latest by tomorrow evening mate. Just gonna be making the most of this sun whilst it’s showing itself.

      Have a great weekend.

  7. Darren House

    Have you seen the new content aware prush etc in CS5 very clever!

    Been watching the creative live feeds on InDesign and Photoshop very clever stuff!

    • Glyn

      Yeah there’s a heck of alot of good stuff coming in CS5; can’t wait to get hold of the full release version now 🙂


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