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How-to's

Seven rules for Shooting in Shooting the $2million image

Martin Turner (Martin Turner)


Keywords: martin_turner, studiophotography, concept, planning, composition, lighting, shooting, postprocessing, pro, professional_photography, human_factor, working_with_people, studio

This is the seventh part of the series Studio Photography: Shooting the $2million image and we’re going to look at seven rules for shooting.

Remember our scale at the beginning? 0-64 points for concept, 0-32 for working with people, 0-16 for planning, 0-8 for composition, 0-4 for lighting, 0-2 for shooting, 0-1 for post-processing? Multiply them all together, and the result ranges from 0 to 2 million. The way you shoot the shot can make an otherwise perfect image $2 million, $1million or $0.

If in doubt, keep shooting. Many of the examples in this article are shot with a Lastolite Hilite background, which is an enormous softbox with two studio strobes inside it to give the blown-out background common in many of today’s campaigns. Shoot wide, so that you can keep the same focal length while capturing a full range of action.
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Let’s understand what would make it $0. You need to be absolutely sure, every time you wrap up a shoot, that you do not have the $0. Obviously, not getting the shot at all would cause it to fail. This was a real problem in the old days, when you could shoot off a reel of film and not know you had anything at all until you got it back from the lab the next day. Back in those days, we used to shoot everything on two cameras, so if one failed, we had the other. However, even though today you know instantly whether it’s worked or not, if it carries on not working for fifteen minutes, then you have shredded the enthusiasm of everyone on the shoot. If an hour, you have basically lost it. Between booking studio time, models having to travel, the client expecting to see something, and your own mounting sense of frustration, you will be better off rebooking for another day.

Most photographers have a collection of bits and pieces that don’t entirely work: a much-loved lens that doesn’t always stop down, a light that somehow doesn’t always fire, a soft-box that is hard to put up, or even a technique that mostly works. Anything in your shooting equipment which is not 100% is liable to cost you the entire shot. Always have a backup camera and lens available. Over-order the lights. Have a way of getting clothes and props at the last minute if someone turns up having misread the instructions.

In this case, the model, who is also the client, can only hold the pose for a certain length of time, and can only repeat it a certain number of times before fatigue sets in. Even if you could get them to endlessly repeat after breaks, the concentration is gone. Moral: always be absolutely sure that your equipment is working, and will keep working every shot.
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1 comment

Jim Donelson (jcdonelson) on January 17, 2019

Ribbon awarded for his contribution to the Articles section

Martin, Damn, you did it again. Great article, great advise. Thanks Jim

G