By Roger (13 May 2014)
One of my favorite booths at Photoshop World is operated by the FJ Westcott Lighting folks. I stop by there, every day of the conference. Their fiendish scheme to draw me in and sell me their products has worked – I own several of their lighting tools. Their gear is top-notch. You can find additional information about their products on this link.
Westcott brings in a couple models; lights them; and provides an expert to demonstrate the products and provide shooting advice. The background setting, props, costumes, and themes are different every day. This keeps you coming back, if only to see their latest set-up.
Each Photoshop World has its own theme, and, this year, it was pirates. Naturally, there was a model dressed appropriately.
You can see the background stand on the left. They do a pretty good job with background, but there are always so many photographers gathered around that putting yourself in the ideal position is not always possible. I would love to stay and shoot the models all day, but isn't what I paid for. I'll get rid of the stand in the final image when I get the chance.
Here is another model photo I'll have to work on if I want to make it a bit more realistic.
The set-up is to demonstrate Westcott lighting, not to create portfolio pieces. Even if you get an absolute stunner, you wouldn't put one of these photos in your portfolio because hundreds of other photographers have the same shot. Not to mention, the set-up isn't your design, and the lighting is done by the Westcott crew. You can't really claim it as your own. But they make great photos for you to practice with. So, this evening, I threw the canoe rider into a quick composite on the river. (It needs more work, but I didn't prepare the photos until tonight. Excuses, excuses....)
Sometimes, the sets can get pretty extensive. They brought in a pick-up truck for one of the days. The models work for about four hours with cameras clicking every way they turn. ("Play Freebird!")
Besides the inherent fun of shooting people instead of things, I really enjoy some of the more eclectic sets and costume designs. The makeup artists come up with some pretty wild stuff. Most of the people I photograph are in a “normal” background and wearing casual clothing. They don't wear tutus, tiaras and red contact lenses.
Apparently, this model had the right hair for a tiara because, the next day, they decked her out as a socialite from the 40s, with a cigarette holder and another tiara.
The crowds are really thick at times, and the models can't move much, or they will move out of the lighting set-up. I'm sure it makes for a long day.
I was surprised by how few of the photographers were talking to the model. This is a basic skill you shouldn't need to be told about. Models are taking their cue from you when you're behind the camera. You talk to them to get them to adjust to the lighting; change expression and stance; and, really, just to be polite.
Imagine standing on the other side of the camera, and your photographer doesn't communicate. How will you know what the photographer is trying to make? Now, imagine being in front of 50 photographers in the middle of a convention center floor! Not me.
If you ever find yourself in this kind of pack, always talk to your model. First, the model will look at you – much better than trying to catch them as they desperately scan the pack for a friendly face. You'll get more natural expressions, and you'll both enjoy the session much more.