NOTE: This post contains images with mild nudity. Just a heads up if you’re at work.
I got together with Terresa again on Tuesday night for a second shoot, this one a glamour / nude shoot. And just as the shoots with Joyce and Jorge Luis gave me an opportunity to run my home studio through the ropes, this session with Terresa gave me a chance to see how many other locations I could milk out of my apartment.
The great thing about shooting on your home turf—be it your apartment, your neighborhood, your office, wherever—is that your familiarity with the area and constant exposure to it makes it so easy to make the most out of every square inch. A lot of times when I’m out on a location shoot, I’ll find myself flooded with so many different possibilities that I have trouble picking just one. When you’re shooting somewhere familiar, though, you already subconsciously know the good spots and the bad ones, and it lets you focus your ideas more.
My room isn’t very big (about 14’x12′), but I was able to come up with a good dozen or so different ways to set up the shots so that they look different. A handy one is having fun with the light and then adding a little extra fun in post.
In the photo above, for example, Terresa is staring out the bare open window (I’d wanted to drop a scrim or diffuser but the logistics of getting them rigged outside a third story window were daunting). The sun was pretty harsh and direct, and I played with in Lightroom just a touch in order to give it a stronger, desaturated look.
Barely minutes later, I took the photo below. Same window, except now my red curtain was drawn. And since I was backlighting her, she took on an ethereal, almost nostalgic glow. I barely did anything to this one in post except maybe boost contrast a little.
As soon as we were done shooting by the window, I grabbed my bed and shoved it against the wall with the windows. A quick rearranging of furniture and I had a brand new set. By this time the sun was getting low and the light was streaming nicely in the windows. I have no problems with artificial lights and I’m no stranger to multi-strobe setups, but when it comes to nudes I always prefer a warm, almost personal feel to them. I love studio work, and absolutely admire the talent that goes into getting the lights set up perfectly so that they elevate the subject without taking attention away from her, but for me there’s no beating real sunlight (yes, you can kinda simulate it with strobes, even get the color temps right, but it’s still not quite the same).
When shooting on a bed, white or very light colored cotton sheets are my favorite. For starters, they act as a reflector and help soften shadows a bit. Plus they just look so comfy. Dark satin sheets are “lingerie and candles at night” sexy, but white cotton sheets are “oversized shirts and open windows streaming light in the morning.” A lot of photographers say that the best way to evocative images from a model is to make her feel sexy. I’ve always found it better to make her feel comfortable. Once she feels at ease, everything else just comes on its own.
This shoot started out slowly, but Terresa quickly warmed up and I like to think it shows in the photos. While the Christmas light photos (more on those later) were probably the most fun to shoot, the bed photos are my favorite from the day. There’s a softness and a familiar comfort to them that I really like.
Once we started to lose the light, we decided to have some fun with Christmas lights. True to form, none of the strings fully lit. They were all split into two circuits and every string had one circuit with a dead bulb. In the end we wound up with this big ball of unlit bulbs, right in the middle of the string, that we’d have to hide behind or beneath Terresa to keep out of the shot. There were a few other technical hiccups here and there, but in the end I really like how they came out.
And it’s a lot neater than tinsel.
Bonus: Quick shot of my room in its entirety. In it you can see the corner we did the window shots in, and the bed that I moved between the windows for better light. Not pictured: The black panel doors of my closet that I had planned on using as a dark backdrop.