Why I Love My Vacations

Needless to say it’s because I spend time with my wife and my daughter.

I don’t need to go very far away from home to have fun and to enjoy not being from 8am to 5pm behind my desk. In fact, I am so much on business trips that I almost feel the need to stay home just to remember where my base is so to say. Of course, my wife feels different so we have made a gentle agreement : we go where she wants to (as long I have nothing special against the chosen destination) but once we are there, we just enjoy the day, we don’t spend too much time on driving around and we make pictures.

This last week in the south of Austria was a wedding’s present from my parents in law. It was a nice time and the weather was ok, which is important when you shoot on locations.

Photographically, I used this week to see the Bryan Adams series EXPOSED and WOUNDED. I know Bryan Adams for its music and I was very surprised to hear he is shooting for 19 years already. Like Karl Lagerfeld for DIOR, he started to shoot for his own needs, in his case to get nice shots for his CDs. On the way he became a celebrity photographer. I guess being one of them helped him to get in touch with those guys. Anyway, I like what he does. And I was pleased to notice that light-wise his setups are efficient and quiet simple. Less is more. And this lets me remember what Frank Doorhof once said : “First you pay attention to the lights, after a while you look for TFP-models, then you care about the background. then, you learn to care about MUA and hairstyle.” He says that with other words but I guess you get the idea.

I think, the next step is the story-telling, the message you want to share. And that’s the thing, you know how to make pictures, but where should this lead to?

And when I look at Bryan Adams pictures, I get the story, the message, the feeling. The technic is well achieved and is not the main point. It’s not that you say “Wow the lights are so well set!” But you see the pictures and you feel connected to them. I have posted a video about his work in a previous post.

The other thing I love to do on vacation is to read and/or surf to get knowledges on a special subject. I love biographies of famous photographers, I mean you can learn a lot about pictures, the life of a star photog, and sometimes you see them in action and I can get an idea how they light a set. Patrick Demarchelier is a world-class photographer who shot most of the top-of-the-top models, HM the Queen Elisabeth II, Lady Die, and many others… is to be found, for instance, in youtube. Why him? Well, he is one of the bests, he is French (the videos are in English, don’t run away!) and this is “the Patrick” who is called in “The Evil Wears Prada” as the assistent says “I have Patrick!”.

🙂 Stop at second 28 and at second 40. Here he shoots with ambiant lights placed very close to the model, maybe an arm away. I guess this is for the fall off.

In my search I have found this one too.

At second 25, we learn a lot of things : He shoots with a softbox from Elinchrom set on a boom. The light aims at her chest but her head is also covered by the light. Angle of the SB to the model is 45°, its distance ≈ 1,5m or 1,7m. Patrick is seating 3m from the model. Background is a white seamless. The paper will reflect some light hitting from the ground and will act as a reflector. Note that the SB is straight in front of her. I see that because of the shadow by her foot. I think a strip light is aiming at the background. But I am not sure. In order to get a difference in terms of fall off or little contrast, Patrick has set a black reflector to kill some light (right to camera). As Frank Doorhof, he uses a light-meter to get a perfect exposure (and to get it quick). Well actually one of his assistants does. By the way, the light-meter aims toward the light while metering.

OK, I won’t describe all I have watched and learned by observing how Masters do shoot, but this is a thing I love to do when I am on vacation.

And, of course, on vacation, I LOVE to shoot. My favorite model is my wife. She is an angel of kindness and patience as well.
So we made a deal : a little shoot every day. BUT, I have to get things ready as much as it gets before we start so she does not get bored by “Euuuh, Darling, I have to figure out where I… hum… Maybe this light should be on the right and not on the left… okay, now let’s make some test-shots”. If I were doing like this, she wouldn’t accept to model. As she now is pregnant, she would just stand up and say “Darling, figure out what you want and then how you get it before you call me, my time is as precious as yours. Let’s try again tomorrow!” This forces me to think a lot before the shoot and this is where metering the light is a big help since, when she appears, it’s all set and I don’t have to think about the technic but only about composition and expressions : the set up is ready. I love to mix natural light with strobe-light. One strobe light mostly. Which makes 2 light’s sources (yes mates, the sun is  light source!)

Most of the time, I am disappointed with my results. But this is how you learn. It’s not that the pictures are bad, but they are almost always different from what I was expecting actually. At this point I would like to thank Scott Kelby for the online classes, Joe McNally, Dave Black and Frank Doorhof for being such inspiring and good teachers. I still have a lot to learn, but when I look back, I see all the way I went and this would have not been possible without these classes and these guys !

Bildschirmfoto 2014-09-28 um 13.43.22


Winter is coming and I will shoot more and more in the studio.

More to come…


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