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Studio fashion photography with a pro

Studio fashion photography with a pro - Emma Cattell takes fashion photographs for the Daily Mirror. Here's how she does it.

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Portraits and People

Emma Cattel shoe/fashion photography
 Taken By Emma Cattwell in the studio.
Lights used: Two Broncolor Hazy on the front and a third Elinchrome head on the background which is two stops brighter than the front.
When working in the studio I don't have a check list as such however, I do always set-up well in advance.

I take light  meter readings and use my assistant Hal as a model, to make sure all lights are at the settings I need. It's always wise to use a stand-in before you start the shoot in-case any shadows are being cast that you don't like or any hot spots, where the light is burning out the background or subject can be seen.

To buy lights for a project like this, I would recommend going to an outlet that will let you try them before you buy. Make sure they can be turned up and down to create the desired effect and most portable lights can be controlled manually. 

Professional  photographers tend to use Broncolor and Elinchrome, the high end of the price market. If you want these, take a look on the internet as there are some great deals. On fotosense, a set of Lastolite Lumen8 SV lighting kit is £395.01, they are great value for money and offer full control of the power.

In the studio the minimum lights I use is two. I sometimes use up to five but this number can be never ending, it all depends on the pictures required. but don't use less than 2 lights and use them with as many poly boards as possible.

My backgrounds are mostly 9 and 12 rolls of coloured paper and you can also buy special material backgrounds for use in studios. As long as the background is lit correctly, you can use anything and working at a stop brighter than the front reading is a good starting point. Backgrounds also look better slightly out of focus as, that way, the emphasis is on the clothing not what's around the photo.

EMMA Cattell fashion photography
 Maxi dress shot taken by Emma Cattwell.
Photographed on location in the woods using natural light which was reflected in using a Lastolite reflector.
For fashion, a large  area is vital as is a long lens as you can use it to drop out the background if desired. Using short lenses can distort the models body shape and as fashion is about showing off the clothes, this isn't a good look!

If you don't have a studio, a garage would not be ideal but not impossible. A living room - if you're Simon Cowell, is probably bigger than a garage or even my studio so fine, use it, but a warehouse would be better. Height is important, you're trying to emulate the sun don't forget, so a minimum height of 14ft is best to aim for.

The other option is shooting fashion on location which is a great challenge and of course, you have the best light for free! I use Lastolite reflectors to help on location - they are my favourite and I use them all the time, they are great for studio use too.

For fashion a good model is essential and that's someone who can move well. This is vital as each image, ideally, needs to be different. Depending on where the pictures are to be published, I will shoot 20 outfits on one model and each image has to be different.

Fashion photography is very subjective as often, the images depend on the publication you're working for. Make sure you can see the clothes and the texture of the material, create different angles, don't always shoot at eye level, use your imagination and be bold.

In my opinion, all photographers see different things in an image so the world is really your oyster!
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tmp 9 3 United Kingdom
3 Jul 2009 2:37PM
really enjoyed reading this profile great tips and photos . thanks

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