Nikola / My mindset during shooting

Nikola / My mindset during shooting

Today I would like to give you a close understanding what happening in my mind during shooting. For that I will base on a photo with Nikola / MagnesModels that I took recently in a place I love to work with – Port Miejski in Wroclaw.

Nikola / MagnesModels

First of all, before I even start I need to select the model. Quite often I see comments like that 99% of the image is the model – this is true, but those who comments forgot that It’s not a random person appearing in front of camera, but someone selected by Photographers that fits his/her aesthetics. Same rule apply to wildlife, landscape or any other type of photography. The subject do matter!

Second of all – I tend to look for not obvious, rich and interesting backgrounds, where everything kind of works together. I do love to play in outdoors as it’s simply much easier to get interesting compositions, than in studio. It would be also great if it’s not a crowded place, but it’s not a must. I do like depth and variety of planes and lines that object in the background create, but only to complement the subject.

Third – it’s nice to get good outdoor light so for that I start usually around golden hour if possible, this also means that the light will not be that harsh to work with. Usually I tend to position my model in a spot where sunlight does give a shape to her by hitting her from around 45 angle back. This will also prevent any harsh shadows on her face, but will lead to eyes bit in dark so this is where reflector come in handy. I usually use it to fill shadows on face and add a little of catchlight there – yet it has to be subtle or it will start looking artificial and ruin overall mood. Last thing – I tend to look for darker backgrounds so to make my subject pop more out of the frame, and to have lot of space in front of her so there is a big area of light that goes back to her face/eyes.

Fig. 1. Light setup explanation

Next step in my mind is composition, I do quite different ones usually, yet this particular photo I went for a closed composition, so fully visible model. In this kind of setup I need to leave enough space for the model so it does fit frame properly. I also like to add some angle within planes and lines so that image starts to get depth. Last – it’s nice to get enough space in top/bottom part of image so I can also crop it later on for platforms like Instagram.

Fig. 2. Composition breakdown

Next natural step for the composition is to position model that it’s working nicely with the composition, add more lines or shapes into it. In case of this photo I loved that we could get opposite lines created by her legs. I also tend to look for a body setup that does look flattering to the model, but Nikola was quite good at that so I can eventually focus on different parts of my work.


Last thing is getting proper focus, for that I tend to make sure that I comply with 2x Shutter speed and more rule, so with my 24-70mm when I’m in range of 1/160 and shorter it should be enough to get focus proper all the time. In portraits I do almost all time focus on eyes – the one closer to the camera. Obviously I go for lowest possible ISO, and as I don’t care about bokeh I just go with whatever if it comes to aperture. When I do find nice place to shoot I don’t want to have that blurred out!

During all of those thoughts in my mind I still have to work with the model, discuss what we can improve, and encourage to bring more emotions or stronger poses. I tend to have model feel comfortable as that’s also the emotion I want her to show on the photos – this also does involve some social skills needed just to not be “that creepy guy”. My mind is also full busy with “do we have enough time”, “is it good enough” or “where will we go next” that doesn’t really help working but you can’t get rid of those.

If you like that kind of breakdowns I can try make some more of those in the future. Of course it’s just a part of final image, as it still has to be retouched, but that’s not the part of this post. Thank you for reading and see you next time!

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