Archive for the 'portrait photography' Category

Video 3: Using a Light Meter

September 29, 2010

Mark Wallace is back with the third Adorama video of a four-part series on metering. This installment focuses on how to use a light meter. He breaks down the key elements of the “exposure triangle,” which are aperature value, shutter speed, and ISO. By entering any of two of the values into your light meter, the meter will produce the missing variable, enabling you to dial in the correct exposure on your camera.

Wallace demonstrates the Sekonic L-358 meter throughout, and explores the four different modes available on the meter: ambient mode, cordless flash mode, cord flash mode, and wireless flash radio triggering mode. He goes into detail on two modes, basic ambient metering and wireless triggering.

For ambient metering, he provides both outdoor location and indoor studio examples, along with many handy tips, such as a multitude of issues when positioning your meter in front of a model, and settings galore. Thanks for both the overview and the details, Mark!

Don’t forget to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this four part series.

After you’re done learning from one of the masters of metering, check out all the Sekonic meters to step up your game and nail your exposures in-camera, saving you countless hours trying to tweak them in Photoshop or Lightroom.

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Getting Real with Rachel Rebibo

August 25, 2010

Moving from New York to Paris six years ago, Rachel Rebibo has had image-making in her for a long time. Previously a resident of Washington, D.C. and New York, she now finds herself in sync with the European lifestyle, despite the byzantine maze of French paperwork she’s often required to navigate. Finding herself behind a camera since she was ten, this photographer is hitting her stride in a big way. Often carrying four cameras and a light meter in her handbag, she’s ready for any photographic happening. “I’m one of those chicks who rocks a really big purse,” she laughs.

 

©Rachel Rebibo

 

Women and their fashion accessories is something Rebibo knows a lot about. She loves to photograph women. In particular she has shot a woman named Julia, a professional makeup artist, in a wide variety of styles and locations. “I feel like the camera loves her. She can’t take a bad picture,” she says of her muse. The two became close friends after meeting as students. “I’m sort of addicted to taking her picture, I think she’s beautiful,” Rebibo says. You can see more of these images on her site.

 

©Rachel Rebibo

 

Not content to just photograph female models, Rebibo drove around the United States for a month and a half, creating images for her Americana series. Rebibo didn’t simply document landscapes, buildings, and still life studies. She also got to meet citizens who took her into their homes and fed her. She’s chronicled misspelled signs, trailer park life, bar-be-que joints, and taxidermy examples of two-headed mammals. Her images of this largely unseen yet common America are moody, sometimes disturbing, and partially askew. Her untypical camera angles and composition help emphasize a land and a people not wholly content or at peace.

 

©Rachel Rebibo

 

Estimating ninety percent of her fashion and commercial work is shot on film, Rebibo also shoots digitally. Not a fan of retouching, she proudly states, “I don’t use the healing brush and I don’t Liquify at all, ever.” Utilizing Photoshop to only color correct, tweak contrast, and eliminate dust, she says, “I refuse to deform women’s bodies. I don’t use the Liquify filter in Photoshop to make them thinner, make her boobs bigger, make their eyes pop, and then make their lips fuller. I just don’t do that.”

 

©Rachel Rebibo

 

Rebibo finds clients gravitating toward her film photos. “When people are looking at my book and they go, ‘I love this photo.’ Nine times out of ten, it’s a film photo,” she says. Because of this preference of paying customers, she finds the need for accuracy in her exposures to be even more critical. “In black and white and color printing—that’s when you really realize how important it is to expose correctly. When you’re trying to print, it’s not the same as what you can do in Photoshop. When you’re trying to print you really need a correctly exposed negative where you’ll spend hours and hours and hours trying to get the image you had in your head. Because of this, when I went to school it was required you had a light meter.”

 

©Rachel Rebibo

 

It’s an amorphous quality that a well-metered film photograph holds. “It’s just got something you can’t quite put your finger on. It’s not flat, like a digital photo, but there’s something else to it.”

“Something else” might just be the quality her photographs hold. She uses Profoto and Mamiya gear, but she’s especially keen on Sekonic meters. “I use my Sekonic light meter all the time,” she says. “It’s a beast. I wouldn’t mind at all telling people how much I love that product.”

 

©Rachel Rebibo

 

Using a Sekonic Zoom Master L-508, and it hasn’t failed her yet. “When people ask me advice about equipment and stuff, they always make remarks light meters are really expensive,” she explains. “My answer is they have always been expensive and they will always be expensive, but it’s possibly the most sound investment besides your heavy duty professional camera body because you use it forever. I think I’ve had my light meter for ten years. It’s held up the whole time for me. I’ve taken it all over. It’s been to Asia four or five times. It’s been across the United States. It’s been in rain and swamps and sand and all sorts of stuff. It’s slept with me in a tree house in Vietnam. It’s never, ever malfunctioned ever, it’s never had a problem.”

 

©Rachel Rebibo

 

Rebibo has strong feelings about the practical use of a meter by serious photographers. “I think people get too used to looking at the screen with digital photography, and I feel like that’s a big problem because you can’t look at the screen for exposure,” she says. “If you’re street shooting, you can sometimes get away with not using a light meter because you can sort of gaze, but in a studio I think it’s shameful to not use a light meter,” she laughs. “I think it should be illegal to not use a light meter in the studio.”

There is a clear method to why she feels so strongly. “Our studio teacher at the School of Visual Arts made us do these horrible exercises shooting white on white, reflective metal on white, reflective metal on black, and all those types of things to learn proper metering for products and clothes. If you’re shooting a white dress on a white background, looking at the screen is not going to guarantee you that you have the right detail in both.”

 

©Rachel Rebibo

 

Meters and film are not the only two tools Rebibo sees as superior for photographers. “Most digital prints become pretty yellow and gross within three years of printing, no matter what the manufacturers claim,” she says. “You need to print it again, but you don’t ever have a tangible item, a finished product in your hands the way you do when you have a set of negatives.” Referring to very professional labs, Rebibo has been dissatisfied with today’s prints, but doesn’t blame the labs. “It’s the materials they’re sold by manufacturers. Whereas for instance, fiber prints I printed myself in high school still look as crisp and as clear and as white and black as the day I printed them.”

 

©Rachel Rebibo

 

Rebibo shoots several Mamiya cameras, including a Mamiya C330, her very first medium format camera. “I dream of owning an RZ67,” she says, her goal being able to provide film-phobic clients with images from a digital back. A fan of natural light when shooting outside or on location, in the studio, Rebibo exclusively uses Profoto lighting gear. “I shoot really fast, even when I’m shooting film I can kill 30 rolls of film in 45 minutes without blinking an eye,” she says. “One time I was borrowing a friend’s studio, and I don’t remember what type of lights he had, but they definitely weren’t the most expensive professional lights, which is what I’ve been used to using. Every other shot was black because I was firing too fast and the recycle time wasn’t fast enough. I’d end up wasting so much film with black shots that it’s always worth it to just go with Profoto and then I know that won’t be a problem. I can go as fast as I want.”

 

©Rachel Rebibo

 

Leaning towards film and hand-printing her work, it’s not surprising to learn Rebibo’s overall goals in photography. “My philosophy of shooting is getting back to something real and honest,” she declares. “I think that’s probably where my attachment to film comes from. I don’t want to see a 15 year old girl selling me a pair of shoes that’s aimed for me when I’m 28, and then I don’t want for an agency to send me a 15 year old girl and then ask me to Photoshop out her bones because she weighs 90 pounds and almost fell over at the end of a ten hour shoot.”

What bothers her most about the state of commercial photography? It’s what today’s consumers don’t know. “They don’t realize every single image you see, from children on cereal boxes to every other image you see has been retouched. It’s been Liquified, it’s been airbrushed, and people are not conscious of that. I think it’s really dishonest. I definitely say my philosophy is getting back to something that’s real.”

 

©Rachel Rebibo

 

Rebibo won’t be offended if you say she operates from an photographic era in the past. “I’m sort of an old school thinker, I guess,” she says. “My favorite photographers are Richard Avedon and Helmut Newton and Herb Ritts and also Joel‑Peter Witkin on the very fine art side and they’re real photographers. They made their own photos and I think when you have a creative director and an art director that’s designed everything for you, you’re just someone who’s executing someone else’s idea and that’s not necessarily being a photographer. Photographers take pictures of everything they love—not just fashion, not just advertising, not just documentary, not just portraits, not just fine art.”

In the future, we won’t try to pin Rachel Rebibo down. We’ll watch whatever further developments come from the lenses of this photographer who has a vision no matter the subject matter at hand. Bonne nuit.

 

©Rachel Rebibo

 

Rachel Rebibo Photography
Rachel Rebibo on Behance Network

Written by Ron Egatz

Sean Armenta’s One Light Beauty Setup

August 2, 2010

Fashion, beauty, and lifestyle photographer Sean Armenta has released a video detailing how he sets up one light (a beauty dish) and some homemade reflectors to light a typical cosmetics campaign ad. That’s right. You heard correctly. One light for professional results you’d see in any fashion magazine.

Along with the beauty dish, Armenta also utilizes a Sekonic L-358 meter. At the ready is a bank of PocketWizard Plus II units.

Sean Armenta | One Light Beauty Setup from Sean Armenta.

Armenta put this video together for the FStoppers.com behind the scenes video contest.

We had previously checked out Armenta’s career and work in “Sean Armenta’s Ornaments of Women.” You can see more of his work and writing at the following links.

Sean Armenta Photography
Sean Armenta blog
Sean Armenta on Twitter
Sean Armenta on Facebook
Sean Armenta on Flickr
Sean Armenta’s Workshop

Written by Ron Egatz

Sean Armenta’s Ornaments of Women

June 22, 2010

A famous quote attributed to Martin Luther reads like this: “The hair is the richest ornament of women.” This 500-year-old quote is something Sean Armenta intrinsically knows and understands. Although capable of a wide variety of fashion portraiture, it’s the exotic hair and makeup sessions where Armenta truly shines. Paul Mitchell, the North American Hairstyling Awards, and a host of hair salon magazines have all benefitted from Armenta’s expertise at capturing complex hairstyles, from the elaborate to the outrageous.

©Sean Armenta

Born in Vancouver, B.C., Armenta was raised in Los Angeles and Orange County of Southern California. Now living in Santa Ana, he became interested in photography during his childhood, when his mother was constantly taking pictures of him. “I have albums upon albums of childhood photos my mom took of me,” he says. “Looking back, she was a really great portrait photographer. She taught me all the basics of camera operation and the fundamentals of exposure and depth of field. I learned off her Nikon F2 and basically shot that into the ground.”

While Armenta worked to build his own portfolio, he assisted a variety of professional shooters, including commercial, portrait, and fashion and beauty photographers. First exposed to fashion photography in the 1990s, Armenta’s immaculate, elegant style was originally influenced by giants such as Herb Ritts, Patrick Demarchelier, Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, and Peter Lindbergh, who then ruled the industry.

©Sean Armenta

“I love their clean, classic style, and their work to this day is absolutely timeless,” Armenta says. This timeless quality is something he strives for in his own work. “I definitely have an appreciation for a classic and simple aesthetic that’s iconic in nature. We rarely see a purity in photographs today that was definitive of their work. As far as more contemporary photographers I am inspired by Sarah Silver, Steven Meisel, Mario Testino, Javier Vallhonrat, Eugenio Recuenco, and Solve Sundsbo.”

Armenta uses some very interesting lighting effects in his portraits of models. Reflections from a mirror ball, or edge lights with colored gels quickly come to mind from the range of images he’s known for. When asked how he deals with these different intensities of light, he’s very straightforward. “Iʼm not a very technical or mathematical person,” he declares. “I light organically and visually. Having an amazing tool such as the Sekonic L-358 at my disposal has given me the advantage I need to merge the technical aspect of lighting with the creative and visual aspect of it. Being able to precisely measure light throughout the entire frame is key when using multiple lighting sources and achieving challenging effects.”

©Sean Armenta

When Armenta was building his portfolio early in his career, he worked with Tania Russell, a well-known makeup artist in Los Angeles. Experimenting with a new makeup style, it called for a closeup. His results caused Russell to comment he had an aptitude for beauty photography. “I’ve been passionate about shooting beauty ever since,” he says. “I attribute my love for beauty photography to her.”

The Allure series on his site features some truly artistic makeup work, using models faces’ as if they were blank canvases. The photographic challenges these different colors and textures produce can be formidable. “Different cosmetic products will have different reflective properties,” Armenta explains. “A dewy foundation on skin will have a different reflectance to makeup that has more of a metallic finish. Pre-visualization and proper conceptualization of lighting is so important. Choosing the right lighting modifiers, lighting position, and careful metering are all essential parts of dealing with these challenges.”

©Sean Armenta

Along with incredible makeup, elaborate hairstyles is an area Armenta excels at capturing with his cameras. He often works with two talented Paul Mitchell hairstylists, Noogie Thai and Lucie Doughty. Most of the work they’ve done together has been nominated for various categories in the North American Hairstyling Awards. Canadian Hairdresser International, Modern Salon, Studio, Vibra and other hair magazines have featured shots Armenta has captured of their work. “It’s definitely a challenge lighting different hairstyles, different types of hair textures, and different hair colors and finishes,” he states. “Trying to get the hair to move the way you want and photograph the way you intended also poses its own issues. When you provide a collaborative environment and get everyone involved in the creative process, it becomes much easier to overcome obstacles.”

©Sean Armenta

Armenta has no preference regarding shooting in studios or on location. “Each offers their own challenges,” he says. “I shoot according to what the situation calls for.” He cites living in Southern California and its weather as definitely making things easier for location work. Aside from the lack of precipitation and benefits of temperature, the lack of humidity helps with controlling hair, particularly the more elaborate sculptures hairstylists create.

©Sean Armenta

Some spring cleaning once brought about one of Armenta’s most unique shoots. I asked him about the fashion series with natural textures and abstracts projected onto a seamless white background. “I was cleaning out the studio one day, and I came upon a box of old transparencies I had shot several years ago,” Armenta recalls. “At that time, there was a fashion photography trend of projecting images over the model and using that as the key light. I wanted to try something different and actually light the model and the background separately. I used an old 35mm slide projector to project the transparencies onto my studio cyc, then I used a 22” beauty dish with a grid to light the model while keeping the strobe off the background. In addition, I gelled two umbrellas on either side of the model to provide some colored rim lighting, but I did not have those heads fire. Instead, I simply used their 250 watt modeling lights in order to introduce motion blur as the model moved around on set. To arrive at my exposure, I first determined what my continuous lighting was reading at, for both the projected background image and the gelled umbrellas, taking into account that I wanted to drag my shutter to produce motion blur. I believe I decided on 1/8th of a second for my shutter speed at 400 ISO. After that, it was a matter of adjusting the output of the beauty dish to match the f/4 aperture that the continuous lighting produced at that shutter speed and ISO. Not only was I trying to introduce motion blur, but I also wanted to shoot at a shallower depth of field in order to blur the projected image behind the model. The images were shot on a Canon 5D with a Canon 50mm f/1.4 tethered into Capture One.”

©Sean Armenta

Armenta credits his mother with teaching him how to use in-camera meters, but has taught himself handheld incident light meter reading. “When I bought my first set of strobes, I also bought a very basic light meter,” he recalls. “When I progressed and graduated to a Speedotron lighting system, I wanted to be able to trigger the strobes wirelessly. The best option for that is using a PocketWizard system, and of course, Sekonic offers the RT-32 Radio Transmitter Module for the L-358, so I also upgraded my light meter with that and I still use the same meter today.”

The L-358 Armenta uses has been in his gear bag for six years. “That in itself is a testament of its build quality,” he says. “It’s held up to studio use, the beach, the desert, and travel. The technology used in Sekonic meters helped me immensely in producing the quality of lighting I strive for in my work. I’m looking at upgrading to perhaps a Sekonic L-758DR. I’m also looking to purchase the Sekonic C-500R color meter in the near future to help make it easier experimenting more with mixed lighting scenarios.”

©Sean Armenta

With his six-year-old purchase, Armenta feels his Sekonic investment has paid off. “I canʼt sing enough praises when it comes to my L-358, especially in difficult shooting situations,” he explains. “Just being able to trigger my lighting from far away is amazing to me. I try to go out to Joshua Tree National Park at least once a year for a location shoot, and that’s where the L-358 really pays off—when we are trying to balance ambient light with strobes. I can position my lighting exactly where I want to nail down my exposures easily and accurately, regardless of what the environment throws at me. When youʼre high up on a huge boulder and the power pack is out of reach, you donʼt have to have someone fire the pack for you to get a reading. The L-358 also shines when it comes to determining lighting ratios when using multiple lighting sources. Sekonic meters make you more efficient and precise. This translates into less time spent adjusting lighting in the shooting stage and also less time and money spent in post production having to fix lighting issues.”

©Sean Armenta

Although primarily known for his unique beauty photography, Armenta is game for almost any subject matter. Celebrity and music are two areas he cites which he’d eventually like to try his hand at. “I love photography, period,” he emphatically says. “Even though I focus on beauty and fashion, if anything outside that realm should come across my table and interest me, I would definitely shoot it. While beauty is my focus, I love shooting fashion and lifestyle.”

©Sean Armenta

In the future, Armenta is interested in larger beauty advertising campaigns for larger clients such as major cosmetics manufacturers. He’s nothing but bullish on his goals. “I want to be the next big name in photography—the next Steven Meisel or Mario Testino,” he says. With work this strong so early in his career, there’s no reason why this can’t happen. Until then, we’ll be satsified with his continued beautiful portraits of the richest ornaments for women.

Sean Armenta Photography
Sean Armenta blog
Sean Armenta on Twitter
Sean Armenta on Facebook
Sean Armenta on Flickr
Sean Armenta’s Workshop

Written by Ron Egatz

John Hoeft, Shooter Turned Educator

April 15, 2010

For some people, photography is just part of their DNA. At the age of eleven in Washington State, John Hoeft was developing his own film and enlarging prints in his bedroom. A four year stint in the military gave him the need to document his far-ranging travels for his family back home. After fourteen post-military years in Virginia, Hoeft and his wife have been shooting and educating photographers in the Sacramento area for the past eleven years.

Crediting the digital photography revolution with recharging his photographic batteries, it was the acquisition of new digital gear that helped Hoeft make the transition from hobbyist to fee-charging photographer. Six years ago he began shooting youth sports photography. He quickly learned he was a natural instructor of sorts, and loved sharing technical information about photography with newcomers to the hobby. “I enjoy sharing the knowledge I’ve learned by putting it in a more approachable vernacular they can understand,” he says. “There was a gap in knowledge. There was enough that got you to the point you were dangerous with a camera, and then there was a big gap, and then there were experts.”

©John Hoeft

Hoeft found an opportunity to fill the photographic knowledge gap he identified. Soon he was conceiving and shooting Studio Lighting DVD: An Introduction to Studio Lighting Equipment and Lighting Setups. “It gets you far enough to the point where you can start experimenting. It will help you get the results you envision in your mind, versus what you were previously getting,” he says.

Lighting diagram cards enclosed with Hoeft's first DVD. ©John Hoeft

Involvement with his local community of photographers via Meetup.com was where Hoeft’s pedagogical nature took off. He began organizing meetings of entry-level photographers with the goal of raising the proficiency of anyone interested in attending. “At some of the meetings I found myself continually going over basics just to bring new attendants up to water level,” he explains. “I began to think that if I had something I could just hand to people with all this information on it, time wouldn’t be lost for the other photographers. The DVD is Studio Lighting 101. It’s foundational knowledge to get beginners up to speed.”

Now that Hoeft has Studio Lighting DVD available, he finds his meet-ups move into the actual shooting much more quickly, with a minimum of set-up discussion. “It really helps the folks who we have the meet-ups with, but I’ve been very surprised about the amount of interest in the DVD we’ve had from other areas, particularly outside the United States,” says Hoeft. Canada, Indonesia, Guam, Philippines, and Trinidad, among other countries, have shooters who’ve ordered the DVD. It’s been successful enough that Hoeft has other DVDs on the drawing boards, and other titles are forthcoming. Everything from entry level DSLR operation, posing models, family portraits and boudoir photography are being worked on.

©John Hoeft

Portraits of models and fashion photography is where Hoeft’s personal shooting interest primarily lies currently, although much of his work had previously been centered on landscape photography. Although he shoots for commission work, his yen for educating fellow photographers is winning out, and he has multiple workshops in the Sacramento area scheduled on a variety of subjects.

A Canon shooter for a long time, Hoeft’s main body is a 1D Mark III, a holdover from his sports photography days, with a Canon 20D as backup. Although a big tripod advocate, he shoots both on and off a tripod. When shooting wildlife, he typically uses a monopod.

When asked about metering, Hoeft is enthusiastic to point out what he likes about his Sekonic meter. “I really like my L-358. That dome is retractable, and I use it all the time. If I want to take a reading of an individual light, I don’t have to do anything hokey, like turn off all the other lights. I just retract the dome, point it toward the light, and I’m getting a good reading. I also love that it has the PocketWizard module built into it.”

©John Hoeft

Hoeft, a former IT professional, feels the ease of use is a major selling point to his meter. “I tend to be a little more of a technical shooter, but I’m not up for fiddling with lights, adjusting, looking at the histogram, taking test shots, checking the meter repeatedly, et cetera,” he says. “I can’t stand to waste that much time. Since the DVD has been released, I’ve seen so many people show up at workshops with their Sekonic meters. They’ve become converts. I walk up, fire off a few, and I’m ready to go with the right exposure right off the bat.”

Very interested in saving time, Hoeft has strong feelings about the use of a meter. “I’ve seen people shoot, look at the histogram, shoot, look at the histogram over and over until they get it right,” he says. “If you have a meter, there’s no need to put yourself through that. I wouldn’t want to shoot without it. I’m all about repeatable results, and there’s times when a histogram just will not help you evaluate an exposure at all.”

©John Hoeft

It was just over a year ago Hoeft became a convert to PocketWizard Plus II’s. “The first thing I think about with the PocketWizards is the reliability,” he says. “As long as you’ve got it turned on and on the right channel—which is pretty easy to do—they just flat-out work. If you’re shooting in a group situation, almost everyone else has PocketWizards. It’s also a great match with the Sekonic meter, so I don’t have to have some goofy thing with both a transmitter and a cord. The marriage between the PocketWizard and the Sekonic is like magic. I’ve only got so much time to shoot, and I want as much of that time to be as productive as possible. The last thing I want is my subject to wait for me while I dial my lights in.”

Hoeft feels the future is bright, if you’ll excuse the cliche, and no pun intended. Watch his site as he continues to update it when new DVD titles will be available. The photography community is fortunate to have someone breaking down essential aspects to getting better photos out of their gear.

John Hoeft Photography

Photography DVDs

Sacramento Photo Workshops

John Hoeft on Meetup

Written by Ron Egatz

Photojournalistic Babies and the Val-tilt

March 25, 2010

In tough economic times for all, Valerie Wallace-Camp is living her dream. She’s found her niche as a photographer, creating work she’s passionate about. Teaming up with her friend Kellie from Across the Miles Photography, they’re sharing studio space in Argenta, Illinois.

A 1999 graduate of Southern Illinois University in with a Bachelor’s in Visual Communication Design, she always knew she wanted to have a career in the arts. After just one black and white photography class in college, she had found her calling. Unfortunately, it was too close to graduation to switch majors, and she graduated the following semester.

Out of school she worked for a photographer as his graphic designer, eventually shadowing him in the studio. She began shooting a few baby portraits, then assisting at wedding shoots. “The time eventually came where I had my own ideas and decided to start up my own business,” she says. “Just weeks later I was signing up my business name with the county.”

©Valerie Wallace-Camp

The past several months have found Valerie and Kellie sharing a new studio space. “It works just like a hair salon,” she reports. “We have our own businesses but share the space and share our props. We each have our own days of the week when we’re using the space. The things we don’t share are Web sites, printing labs, and business names. Luckily our style is so similar that you can’t tell the difference between Kellie’s canvases on the wall and my canvases. And then our design style is just alike, too, as we both have an eclectic, vintage, contemporary decorating style. It all works so well. It’s just kind of melted together quite simply, even better than we had envisioned. We are lucky we get along so well and support each other like we do. I can see where sharing a space wouldn’t work. Luckily, it works for us.”

Geographically, Valerie has found herself adapting her style of photography to her locale. “My style is very photojournalistic. While my style is getting more popular, I still find there are a lot of people who prefer the posed traditional style,” she says. “And that’s okay. I still manage to get some of those candid shots, and they are the ones that usually sell. It won’t be long before most everyone around here will prefer and appreciate the popular photojournalistic style.”

©Valerie Wallace-Camp

Argenta is so small it’s considered a village. Accordingly, Valerie is attempting to stand out the best she can throughout central Illinois and beyond. “I love to have my work printed on canvases,” she says, “which I really do believe is very new to my area, so if you see my work in doctors’ offices or in the studio, you’ll see canvases. They are very new and modern to many people in my area. I also try to do things that aren’t standard for a lot of professional portrait photographers around here, like moving past portraits by designing billboards and shooting photos for Thrive magazine.”

Valerie is quick to point out how social media has helped her grow her new business. “Facebook, Twitter and blogging have been truly amazing for me,” she says. “I put up my VWC Photography page on Facebook in 2009, and half of my clients that year came from there. It’s not just word of mouth anymore, but word of online social media. Everyone is intertwined somehow, and it’s changing the world for all photographers and businesses all over the world. It’s especially been useful for the small, home-based businesses. Of course, it can probably work against you if you don’t keep up with Twittering, Facebook statuses and blog entries, but luckily I try my best to keep up on all these things and it most certainly pays off.”

©Valerie Wallace-Camp

Blogging is in a category by itself. “Blogging is so important to me,” Valerie says. “I began blogging with a personal blog quite a few years ago. It was my outlet as a stay-at-home mom. As a photographer, I’ve realized the same thing–blogging is another creative outlet for me. I love to write, so it gives me the opportunity to combine writing with my photography. Blogging for my business has been tremendous.” She often approached by people who tell her they’ve been following her blog for years. “I don’t see blogging for photographers as anything but powerful and positive. It’s great for us personally and business-wise,” she says.

©Valerie Wallace-Camp

While Valerie has worked with more traditional-style photographers in the past, she was eventually interested in applying her own approaches to shooting. With a slight tilt of the camera or getting on the same level as her subjects, she’s helped define herself. “Mike Judge, the photographer who taught me so much, would say things like, ‘some of my photos are different now because I did the Val-tilt.’ I didn’t even realize I was doing these things until he called me on it. It was kind of neat to realize I really did have a particular style.”

©Valerie Wallace-Camp

When your main photographic subject is children, uncooperative kids are a reality of the job. Valerie has a few tricks which help. We asked her to share them with our readers. “When on-location, if I have one who won’t cooperate, I just let them be,” she says. “If the parent needs to step in, of course I allow that. If it’s just a child not wanting to interact with me or the camera, again, I let them lead. I’ll let them take me somewhere and I ask them about the place they’re taking me. If we are near trees, for example, I’ll play peek-a-boo. I try my best to let them take the initiative, and it almost always works. A lot of times they act uncooperative because of the parent, not me. That’s why when we do go on location, or even in studio, it’s best for there not to be many people watching and fussing over the child. That’s when the child becomes uncooperative and not be themselves. In a photographic situation, it’s almost always best to let the child lead.”

The youngest of children present their own set of challenges for photographers. “With newborns,” explains Valerie, “it’s ideal to have a sleepy baby. Quite often the baby just wants to be awake, so we deal with what we get. I take as much time as possible to get the perfect shot, as long as Mom and Dad are okay with that.”

©Valerie Wallace-Camp

A typical session lasts about an hour. Newborns and engagement sessions are longer. “Each child is so different, but I can usually figure out their personalities and work well with them,” she says. Personal experience is applicable when shooting children, she explains. “My daughter is very spunky, strong-willed and busy. My son is very introverted, hates the camera, and hard to get a smile out of. I mother children on both sides of the spectrum, and I think that really works to my advantage when shooting children on location or in the studio.”

©Valerie Wallace-Camp

Valerie is currently shooting a Nikon D700 body. Her most-used lenses are a Nikkor 85mm 1.4D, a Nikkor 60mm 2.8D, a Nikkor 50mm 1.2, a Sigma 28mm 1.8, and a Tamron 17-50mm 2.8. She has a D200 as backup. She also owns a Sekonic Flash Master L-358 light meter. “I purchased it in 2002 and it’s held up perfectly! I use it every time I do studio work, weddings and probably 30% of the time outdoors,” she says. “I also use the PocketWizard Plus II. When doing weddings, this has been a lifesaver. I can’t imagine my life without a wireless system. Now having a studio, I use the wireless system and again, it seems like the most ingenious invention for the photography world. It’s made life so much simpler.”

She does some post-processing in Lightroom and occasionally Photoshop. “Bright and colorful is how people expect my work now. I guess it’s kind of branded me in a way,” she says.

©Valerie Wallace-Camp

In the future, Valerie would like to do more commercial photography. “I am the photographer for Thrive magazine in Decatur, which is a free magazine focusing each month on different upcoming businesses, events, outstanding businesspeople, etc. I’ve had the opportunity to do product photography, architecture, people, dogs—the list goes on. I’d love to continue exploring outside of the normal portrait in realms such as this.”

Valerie Wallace-Camp Photography

Valerie Wallace-Camp’s blog

Valerie Wallace-Camp on Twitter

Valerie Wallace-Camp on Facebook

Written by Ron Egatz

Cara Tobe Taking What She Gets

February 24, 2010

How did a nice young woman from Madison, Wisconsin wind up in Paris, where, she reports, “it’s cold and rainy?” Photography is the culprit. “I absolutely love it here,” says Cara Tobe. “It’s a great place to be a photographer. Everything is so beautiful and inspiring. Even the small things, like traveling in the Metro and the people you see there. Nowhere else in the world matches up.”

©Cara Tobe

Currently she’s attending Spéos Paris Photographic Institute, a small international school centered around career photography. “Photography has opened so many doors for me,” she says. “It brought me to Paris and changed my life. I want my career to be in photography.” Tobe has also lived in Switzerland’s Alps and Milan.

In Wisconsin, Tobe was shooting film up until eighteen months ago. She now has an all-digital workflow. Currently working on a portrait project, Tobe is scouring the city with a black mask and asks strangers to be photographed while wearing it. At school she’s creating product photography for local glassware artisans.

©Cara Tobe

Her free time is taken up with street photography and she’s very drawn to Fashion Week. “I’d like to get more involved with creative portraiture, something a little more creative than catalog shooting. I love being around everything happening with Fashion Week. There might be fifteen or twenty different venues, unlike Fashion Week in New York. They’re all around the city, and in each venue the lighting is completely different, the runways are different. One show might start at nine in the morning, and the second one is an hour later in a different arrondissement. You have to immediately figure out your position to the runway, what the light is, what your settings should be. It’s very fast and very exciting. You don’t have control over your lighting, like in a studio. A lot of times there’s a light show, or the lights may go out altogether. You have to take what you can get.”

©Cara Tobe

To make sense of these rapidly changing conditions, Tobe relies on her Sekonic L-308s. “I absolutely love it,” she says. “It’s consistent, and not too big and clunky, so I can fit it in my backpack and it takes up no space. It works perfectly. I always have it on me. My camera’s in front of me and my light meter is always in my pocket.” Tobe shoots a Canon 5D with a variety of lenses. For runway work she’ll typically bring a 70-200mm and a 24-70mm.

©Cara Tobe

“I don’t like the way a lot of people shoot these days with a huge amount of contrast. It looks too digital to me. I started out using film, and that’s the look I’m drawn to. I miss it. There’s nothing better than the feeling of holding your print from the darkroom or looking at your negative held up to the light. I hope film doesn’t die off. The look is less artificial, and that’s what I try for.” Tobe achieves this look in-camera, as opposed to post-processing in Lightroom or Photoshop.

Tobe’s plans are to stay in Paris “as long as the Parisians will have me,” she laughs. Watch for future runway shots with a film-look twist from the City of Light. Merci beaucoup, Cara.

Cara Tobe’s Web site

Cara Tobe on Flickr

Cara Tobe on Twitter

Written by Ron Egatz

Yung-Jing Hsu: Products and People

January 27, 2010

Clean lines. Well-lit products. Effective use of depth of field. Rich, but not overblown saturation. These are some of the initial impressions taken from the work of Yung-Jing Hsu. In 1995, Yung-Jing Hsu graduated from Tamkang University in Tam-Sui with a degree in Mass Communications. In his second and third years there, he studied commercial photography and photojournalism. He currently lives and shoots in Taipei, Taiwan.

©Yung-Jing Hsu

When asked about his product photography, Hsu says it’s more difficult than when he takes portraits. “I have to use all my concentration when taking pictures of products because they never ‘talk’ to me,” he says. “I can communicate with models, but you can’t do that with products.” Eager to make products look as good as they possibly can, he sees the challenge of shooting inanimate objects which are straightforward photographic assignments, yet have an absence of rapport with this particular shooter.

©Yung-Jing Hsu

As a full-time professional photographer, Hsu’s main clients are newspapers and magazines. Previously, he shot exclusively for the Taiwanese newspaper Apple Daily.

Often working in a deliberate methodology, Hsu typically composes and arranges the elements of his photographs before shooting. There is not much shooting from the hip at a Hsu photoshoot. His main camera body is a Canon EOS 5D Mark II. His post work sometimes includes color correction or saturation enhancement in Photoshop.

©Yung-Jing Hsu

“I’m using a Sekonic L-758DR meter right now,” says Hsu. “It’s the most powerful and convenient tool for light measurement.” When asked how the L-758DR helps his photography, Hsu says, “the multifunctional control of measurement helps me in all situations. The sensitivity and correct readings let me control the light perfectly. The large display panel gives me all the info I need, and it’s really easy to read.”

©Yung-Jing Hsu

“I use Broncolor when taking pictures in studio,” Hsu continues, “and Comet for a backup system. I use different lighting control equipment for different subjects. In product photography, I prefer lightform panels with standard reflectors. Sometimes I add a honeycomb. In beauty photography, I prefer a beauty dish with a lightform panel or softbox. In fashion or portrait photography, lighting depends on what the editors want, or which atmosphere is suitable. Sometimes it’s just bare florescent tubes.”

©Yung-Jing Hsu

“I use a sync-cord to connect with lighting gear and L-758DR. The incident-light measurement for exposure value and every independent lighting control. Using reflective light (spot-meter) measurement for lighting condition inside the scene. Eventually, I will buy a PocketWizard for wireless flash triggering to improve my work efficiency.”

In the short term, Hsu is looking to take on some projects that will expand his ability to handle different subject matter. In the long term, he hopes to “combine photojournalism and commercial photography in order to have my own photography style,” he says.

Hsu Yung-Jing on Flickr

Hsu Yung-Jing on Facebook

Written by Ron Egatz