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Hi guys, it’s been again a long time since I have blogged my latest post here.  A combination of work, important projects and family life (3 kids now, and 2 of them at home for 2 months during holidays in July/August) made me virtually unavailable for anything else. I already can’t wait for our first holidays in more than 3 years, by the end of this year, back to Europe !

Anyway, during that time, I have done many different things, and among them, I have upgraded my lighting equipment with an amazing item: the Icelight. When I first heard about the Icelight early 2012, it was through my friend Jerry Ghionis when he was still testing it. Jerry is recognized as one of the best wedding photographers in the world, and he had the brilliant idea to design a continuous lighting that is really transportable and delivers a great light quality. I won’t describe the product here, there are lots of resources on that on the net – http://www.theicelight.com – but I simply would like to stress out that this product is amazing *.

So I have ordered 2 Icelights a couple of weeks ago and I got them last Saturday (17 Aug 13). They are not really cheap (US$500 each) but it costs less than a good speed light and for a far better quality of light. It’s as Jerry says: “it’s like carrying window light everywhere you go”. The product is manufactured by Wescott, a famous lighting equipment company, and is of great quality. The box itself looks like the one of an Apple product, and really you feel quality, reliability, solidness when you have the Icelight in hand. Everything looks perfect, and it is, but of course, there are a few cons: like the battery for instance, which lasts only 1 hour at full power (that being said, it’s quite rare that you need full power all the time, and between 2 shots, you can just switch it off …), or the maximum power, which doesn’t enable you to use it in bright outdoor conditions (the Icelight is clearly designed for indoor, studio or night shoots).

As every photographer, I am photo equipment geek … and as soon as I receive a new piece of equipment, I want to test and try it. In less than a week, I have already shot 2 photo sessions with my Icelights: one for a wedding and one that I have offered to a couple who wanted to do something very special (recreate the Wong Kar Wai movie “In the mood for love” mood and atmosphere in the streets of Port-Louis, Mauritius. Here are then some images taken during those 2 photo sessions … and really looking forward to the next sessions with them !

1. “In the mood for love” theme images:

DSC_4900w signedr DSC_4909w signedr DSC_4972w signedr DSC_4996w signedr DSC_5019w signedr DSC_5042w signedr DSC_5054w signedr DSC_5071w signedr DSC_5086w signedr DSC_5141w signedr DSC_5165w signedr DSC_5169w signedr DSC_5183w signedr DSC_5187w signedr

2. Images of Meelin and Oliver wedding – first time I ever used the Icelights:

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3. The Icelight with its box:

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* Note: I am not a distributor or reseller of this product in Mauritius or anywhere in the world – Jerry, if you read this, maybe we could do business together here 😉 lol. I am not earning any commissions or royalties by writing this blog post. I am just writing it because I love the product and I think it deserves to be better known.

I’m quite proud to have been chosen to take the first images of the new dress collection of La Maison de Haute-Couture Lionnet Fauzou. This new dress collection is based on the masterpieces of Mauritian artist/painter Vaco Baissac. Very well designed, very colorful, it’s a real pleasure for the eyes.

Here are some images I’ve taken, some of the dresses’ designs and a few Vaco Baissac paintings which inspired Ainais Lionnet and Fabien Fauzou, the 2 young and talented Mauritian designers.

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Despite being quite late for my new year’s wishes, it is commonly accepted to send wishes up to the end of the first month of the year. Therefore I am still on schedule 🙂

My family and I, wish you all the best of love, luck, health and success for 2013. Our politicians, throughout the world, are planning a difficult, tough and gloomy year 2013 – I prefer to see it with hope and opportunities.

2012 has been an amazing year for Pixel in the box – with a lot a new styles and projects reached: fashion, a short animation movie …

2013 promises to be an even greater year, on both professional and personal sides, as we expect our third kid by the end of March !

Again, dear friends, all my best wishes to you for 2013 !

Carte voeux 2013

Back in 1998, when I first visited Mauritius, I discovered that my wife-to-be’s mother was raised and lived in a colonial house in Port-Louis. When I saw the house, I told to myself: “one day, I’ll own a similar colonial house and I’ll live in it”. Never could I have imagined, that 14 years later, I would be thinking of a photography project around the colonial houses to try to save them !

Indeed, in less than 2 decades, hundreds of colonial houses and other old style houses have been demolished in Mauritius. 10 years ago, I bought a wonderful book called “Vivre à l’Ile Maurice – la vie en varangue” – in this book are photographed more than a hundred of houses; today in 2012, less than 50% of those houses are still here ! This is a reality, and this is a reality of NOW – from the few houses (6) I have visited last week-end, 1 has been destroyed in 2012, 1 is promised to be destroyed in 2013, and 2 are in such a bad shape that they could simply collapse at any time.

Most of those houses are privately owned by Mauritian families, but some of them are owned by the State. We can argue that the cost of maintenance for those houses is high, but if it is well done on a regular basis, it is not unacceptable … and anyway, this cost is still far less than the one of destroying the house and building something new in concrete. We can also argue that the colonial houses is more a “white people” patrimony which is not linked to a positive past for most of the Mauritian – but here again, this is the history of the island, its culture and architecture and it has to be protected – in Poland for instance, they have not destroyed the Auschwitz site where millions of people were murdered. After all, I think it is simply a matter of choice and of willingness, and I believe it has to come from the State – for instance, some houses should be classified as Mauritian national patrimony and thus cannot be destroyed, even if they are privately owned. In France, it’s the case for a lot of castles, houses, monuments … And I truly believe that this goes in a positive direction for tourism,which is one of the most important pillar of the Mauritian economy. If Mauritius destroys its cultural patrimony, it will lose a lot of interest. Well, at least, this is my opinion.

So that’s why, with a Mauritian friend, we have decided to gather old and new images in a photography project to try to raise the awareness of whoever is interested with history, culture, architecture … ; the awareness that we have to do something, and we have to do it now ! Because who knows what will have happened in a few years if we don’t do anything now. This project will maybe end up with a book, we’ll see. But for sure, I’ll keep you posted here and there about it ! 😉

Here are a few images that I recently took:

1. My family-in-law house in Port-Louis – if there is one colonial house that I want to save myself, it’s this one. It is currently the location of a Mauritian company.

Colonial house Port-Louis

Colonial house Port-Louis  Colonial house Port-Louis  Colonial house Port-Louis  Colonial house Port-Louis  Colonial house Port-Louis  Colonial house Port-Louis

2. A couple of houses in Moka – the first one is promised to demolition in 2013, while the second one is hosting an office (which is a good way to rehabilitation):

Colonial house Moka  Colonial house Moka   Colonial house Moka  Colonial house Moka  Colonial house Moka

3. A very pretty house on the verge to collapse – from the outside, it still looks nice, except the roof; but once inside, the wooden parts are all rotten and it’s dangerous to walk in it !

Mon repos - Mount  Mon repos - Mount  Mon Repos - Mount

4. This is not a typical colonial house, but an old convent built in 1864 by the English. This is owned by the State.

Couvent 1864 - Moulin à poudre  Couvent 1864 - Le Moulin à poudre  Couvent 1864 - Moulin à poudre  Couvent 1864 - Moulin à poudreCouvent 1864 - Moulin à poudre

5. Finally, to finish on a positive note, here are 3 excellent examples of how to develop cultural attractions for those precious architectural jewels:

– Eureka House in Moka: museum, restaurant, hosting place for events

Maison Eureka, Moka  Maison Eureka, Moka

– Château Labourdonnais: museum, restaurant, hosting place for events, famous for its mangoes

Château Labourdonnais  Château Labourdonnais

– Mogador: an exceptional colonial house dated 1888 transformed into a beach villa to rent

Mogador  Mogador

This is a question that I am quite often asked, hence the reason of this blog post.

As I am also taking more and more images of hotels and villas, I have tried 2 very different techniques, which I will share with you. But first of all, why is it so difficult to take images of interiors: the reason lies in the essence of photography i.e. light ! When you look at a nice hotel room for instance, your eyes have a dynamic that a lens of a camera cannot render – they see both the room itself and the view from the window, at the same time, and both well exposed. The difficulty for a photographer will then be to render those exposures – one for the inside and one for the view – as good and realistic as possible.

The 2 techniques are:

1. The digital blending technique, which I consider to be more a “computer-based” technique rather than a pure photographic technique.

2. The flash lighting technique, which imposes to be much more careful on the ground when taking the image. (I also refer you to the great ebook of an american photographer, who explains this technique in details: Lighting Interiors by Scott Hargis)

For those 2 techniques, I recommend to use the following settings: lower ISO setting as possible (ISO 100 for instance) to get the best image quality; a small aperture (f/11 or above) to get the most elements in focus (except if you are looking for a specific effect); a long shutter speed (1/5th, 1/10th, 1/20th sec for instances) to get the most of your ambiant light (mostly if you put the lights on in the room) – just watch out not to move your camera, else your image will be blurred ! Finally, I also recommend not to shoot too wide – I think 24mm is largely enough. Shooting wide means a lot of lens distortions in the edges of your images.

Those 2 techniques both require some photoshop work afterwards, but while the first one may require hours of it, the second one is more for fine-tuning the image. Both techniques require the use of a dslr (digital single lens reflex) or at least a good compact camera that has Manual, Aperture, Shutter Speed modes. Both techniques require the use of a tripod. That’s basically all for the first technique, while the second one will also require the use of several speedlights (a minimum of 3 I personally think), some equipments to hold those lights – light stands, elastics or other stuffs to fix the speedlights in very remote places if needed … – and a triggering system to fire them. In the end, as you will see, the second technique would be the best one (to me), but it is a bit costly.

The first technique – the digital blending technique. To use this technique, you should shoot in RAW format – this enables to get the most of your exposure in the high lights and low lights. The shooting technique on the ground is pretty simple: select your point of view on your tripod, make a first assessment of the available light (ambiant light) for the inside of the room, take the first photo. From there, you will take several similar images, 1 full f-stop down or 1/2 f-stop down after each other – this means that you will take similar images more and more under-exposed, until you get the best exposure for the window and the view from this window. Generally, I use 3 images – 1 for the inside, 1 for the window, and 1 in-between. Now the tough job on photoshop can start – combining those 3 images into layers in the same image, getting nice transitions, often using selections (to select the frame  of the window for instance).

There are a few tips to make it a little bit easier. First, pay great attention to the window – it has to be plain, with no other objects between the camera and the window (difficult to mask it out afterwards); watch out the curtains, the blinds and other elements that could be very painful to mask out. Second tip, use a manual white balance, as you would not like to have 2 different color sets in your images (although it can be adjusted as you shoot RAW …).

Here is an example of room I shot more than 1 year ago using this technique (2 of the 3 exposures):

and the final result:

And here are examples where this technique would be very difficult to apply, don’t you think so ? 😉

Copyrights Scott Hargis

Copyrights Scott Hargis

The second technique – the flash lighting technique. This technique imposes the photographer to be much more careful when taking the picture. The following steps should be carried on to get nice images:

a. First, after having selected your angle of view on your tripod, you should assess your ambiant light vs. the light of the window. To do so, take a picture, in Manual mode, so that the view of the window is well exposed or highly over-exposed. This is the basis of your image.

b. Start thinking what should be your lighting with flash i.e. what are the key parts of the room to be lit – this would define how many flashes you will need. Here there is a little trick to know about – flashes produce hard light as they are small sources of light (this is why in studio we use soft boxes, umbrellas, diffusers … to create larger sources of light and thus smoother light – the larger and the closer your source of light to your subject, the smoother and creamier it will be). The trick here is that you should not direct your flash to your subject, but you should bounce it on the walls and on the ceiling. The walls and ceiling will then become larger sources of light and will create a beautiful smooth light for your subject. Here is an illustration of this:

Copyrights Scott Hargis

c. When lighting a room, always start with 1 speedlight  and always start lighting the foreground. Then you can combine a second light lighting another part of the room and so on … using this methodology, you will precisely know what are the effects and impacts of each light if you need to place them differently or adjust their power for a better rendering.

d. To adjust the power of your flashes, there is one rule to know: Shutter speed doesn’t affect your flash power, but aperture does. Shutter speed will allow more ambiant light to come to your sensor, so if your room if properly lit with your flashes, setting faster or slower shutter speed will only impact your ambiant light and the view of your window. If you lack power from your flashes, decrease the aperture to get brighter results.

e. Now that your image is well lit (both inside and window view), you can focus on small adjustments. Indeed, flashes will create shadows that can be removed by placing the flashes more adequately. Also, you can have reflections from your flashes in glasses, steel or wooden surfaces. Either you can deal with them while taking the final image, or those will constitute the minor adjustments to be done in Photoshop during the editing phase.

Here is an example of a room lit with flashes and how it was lit (Copyrights Scott Hargis):

Scott Hargis used 3 lights to lit this image, all bounced onto walls or ceiling, and placed so that the shadows created are not disturbing:

To conclude on this topic, taking images of interiors is a difficult and technical photographic subject. It requires patience, experience and a lot of skills (in both photography and editing). Finally it also requires a lot of equipment. But it is also very nice to compose the light of such images and to see the result out of it.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and it answered some technical aspects … and most of all that it gave you the will to try it ! 🙂

Hi guys,

sorry I’ve been quite long to come back here and write something new. It is just that I ad (and still having) the most incredibly busy period since I have started my new life as professional photographer !

As from now, it seems that it will only calm down from mid-October, but for the moment, I have shootings (weddings, portraits, corporate, fashion …) almost every 2 days, which is a bit of a crazy rhythm, knowing the amount of work to edit and post-process all the images afterwards … I will need weeks of editing to catch this up !

 

 

 

Anyway, for the moment, I would like to share a couple behind-the-scene videos made by my friend Irwin Nursoo (irwinnursoo@gmail.com) during recent fashion shoots. With this, you’ll be able to feel the hectic atmosphere of a real fashion shoot, where dozens of people are around the models and photographer.

I’ll come back soon with more images and photographic tips 🙂

Have a good day !

Dear friends, this post will be written in French and will deal with the House of Haute Couture Lionnet Fauzou, the fashion designers who designed, created and crafted the amazing outfits for my retro colonial fashion shoot. This shoot took place last Sunday, 24 June 2012 at Eureka House in Moka, Mauritius. It was a pure blast and I’ll share soon the images of my concept. But for now, I would like to give a tribute to the designers who understood my needs, working hard to get inspired by the 17th century outfits and creating a wonderful dress and a stunning male costume. In this post you’ll get insights on how they did and planned their work, and you’ll see some pictures I shot during the session. Hope you’ll all enjoy !

“La Maison de Haute Couture Lionnet & Fauzou a reproduit les tenues de Marie Antoinette et de Louis XIV pour le concept de Julien Venner. Les deux tenues leur ont prit 40hrs de travail environ pour la confection. Il a également fallu trois semaines pour faire des recherches sur cette époque en visionnant 3 films bien réussis tournant sur  cette époque c.-à-d. le 17eme  siècle (Marie-Antoinette, Madame de Pompadour et Madame de Barry). L’inspiration est aussi venue de l’étude du précieux livre «  Histoire de la couture », écrit par feu M. Pierre Laurent, le premier et unique couturier mauricien qui faisait de la Haute Couture et qui nous a laissé en héritage son savoir faire à travers Mme Véronique Lionnet, le mentor de la Maison de Haute Couture Lionnet & Fauzou.

 

 

Les films ont permit d’étudier les démarches des acteurs pour analyser la qualité des matières, leur poids et leurs effets, et les voir tourner pour observer chaque détail des tenues. Pour le costume masculin, il avait des manches finies par de large revers, le dos était cintré et avec une coupe à basque, le jabot (lavallière) était assorti aux poignets de la chemise en dentelle réalisée dans une matière légère en coton de soie. Pour le costume féminin, des détails tels que le corset avec des multiples baleines qui donnait une allure au buste de la femme, la jupe à crinoline, plusieurs couches de jupons et des petits détails de broderie sur le corsage et la jupe avec des galons en coton et en soie, ont été pris en compte. De petits nœuds et des perles ont également été ajoutés aux galons.

Les tenues ont été fabriquées avec beaucoup de précision et sur mesure, les coupes étant différentes de ce que l’on fait de nos jours.Beaucoup de travaux ont été faits à la main, telles que les finitions (ourlet fait main de la jupe qui mesure 6 mètres de circonférence), broderie de perle et dentelle.

Concernant les matières, il a fallu aller à la recherche de tissus semblables aux tissus de l’époque, comme le brocart avec ses motifs d’or en arabesque, bien que, déjà à l’époque, les tissus étaient très variés, allant du coton à la soie en passant par la laine et toute sortes de mélanges qui avaient pour nom basin, étamines, panne, taffetas etc. Pour les accessoires, plusieurs vieux magasins de fournitures ont été arpentés pour trouver les boutons de la veste de Vincent, les galons dorées, les perles et des boutons qui ont été spécialement recouvert dans le style de l’époque. Grâce au stock de Véronique Lionnet, qui fait de la haute couture depuis 25 ans, des dentelles très rares et qui ne se trouvent plus sur le marché local, ont été utilisées. Enfin, concernant les couleurs, c’est le bleu mignon, couleur tendance de l’époque, qui a été choisi – c’est une couleur facile à trouver sur le marché local de notre époque. Les 2 tenues ont été assorties pour faire de cette session photo une journée romantique à Eureka.

Anaïs Lionnet & Fabien Fauzou sont des stylistes et couturiers. Non seulement ils créent des tenues, mais ils reproduisent aussi des modèles à la demande de leurs clientèles.”

Until recently, I always believed there are 2 types of lighting school – natural light and flash photography. Being a natural light photographer, I had in my mind that natural light was the best quality one and that a photographer using it well was someone able to adapt himself to any kind of situations (and I still think this is true 😉 ). Also in my mind, the role of flash was more to light a dark scenery or fill-in the shadows – this is obviously the main basic role of a strobe (flash). Finally, using flash had some major drawbacks for me: first strobes flatten perspective hone on-camera; second, when off-camera, it requires to move a lot of equipment (a tripod stand, an umbrella or a soft-box …) and this is really not convenient during a wedding and without assistant.

So, with those negatives mindsets against flash, I have launched my studio activities in Mauritius last year … and from then, I have rediscovered the power of flash, the one I learned some years ago during my photography degree in Paris and the one I used on assignments with professional photographers in Europe and in Asia. However, this really was about using big huge studio flashes, either in a studio or outside, and this required a lot of equipment and assistants (I have very recently assisted a Belgian photographer for a Paris Match reportage in Mauritius, using those big huge studio flashes outdoor – you can have a look here). Here comes a technique that is now, I guess, quite well known by professional photographers – it is called “strobist“. This term of strobist was named by David Hobby (and it’s copyrighted), who is one of the 3 masters of flash photography with Joe McNally and Zack Arias. Just have a look at their work and you’ll understand the power of small flash (strobe) photography ! Very briefly, the technique consists of having your flash off-camera i.e. from a different angle than the one of your lens. You can use 1, 2, 3, 10 different flashes to compose the light of your image – this gives you incredible creative possibilities and precise master of your light. Also, used with effective light modifiers (umbrella, soft-box, grid, diffuser, beauty-dish, snoot …), small strobes can achieve great results !

Knowing that you can get amazing results with just a few pieces of equipment, made me rethink the way I was shooting my outdoor wedding portraits. I used to use natural light and reflectors, which is still the way I operate 80% of the time, because it’s very practical in the fast-paced environment of a wedding. But now I also use my mobile lighting equipment to get images I was previously not able to shoot AND to precisely craft and master light to get stunning images with a lot of character (light creating soft or contrasted shadows). My equipment is pretty basic – 3 Nikon sb800 (I might buy a couple of sb910 soon), some stands, umbrellas, soft-box, color gels, reflectors, diffusion panels and radio triggers. I had this equipment for quite a long time, and I used it indoor (for corporate portraits for instance) – but I was reluctant to use it outdoor, because of the wind. So here comes the small detail that makes the whole difference: some weighting bags, given by my friend Michel Gronemberger, professional photographer in Belgium. With them filled with sand or rocks, my stands with umbrellas won’t fall down, even with some wind.

OK, enough said about my ways to flash photography ! Let’s have now some examples of a wedding I shot last week, without assistant – the wedding of Tara and Stephan in Tamarin. What I did was really simple, and the results were great. I simply thought of 2 lighting set-ups, one on the beach, on in the gardens – except those 2 settings, the whole wedding reportage was shot as usual, with natural light.

The first lighting set-up on the beach could not have been simpler than that – a one light set-up, with 1 Nikon sb800 triggered in a shoot-through umbrella, camera left, iTTL mode, +1EV compensation. The idea was to shoot the couple with the sea and the nice sunset behind them. At that time, the sun was hidden by some beautiful clouds and a few rays of sun light was coming out of them. The ambient light was very soft, but the background was pretty clear (explaining the +1EV compensation to the iTTL mode) – this bright background was also used as rim light i.e. the back light that defines your subject outlines. When you are taking pictures with flash, it’s better to go on your camera manual mode – first, you need to take an ambient light image to check which amount of ambient light you need in your final image; then you check the amount of flash light you need to light your subject; finally, you check the balance between ambient and flash light, in terms of amount of light, quality of light (the position of your flash towards your subject) and colors of light. Here’s the result:

Without any strobe, reflector … and measuring light for the whole frame, you get this type of result (which I love as much as the previous one 🙂 ):

 

The second lighting set-up I used for this wedding was later in the dark. I heard from the owner of the bungalow where the couple was staying that April is the only month in the year when you can have the full moon rising right over Black River, a beautiful river running just down the bungalow’s garden. On that specific day, it was full moon, the sky was cloudless and the moon’s reflection on the river was sensational. Very close to the river was a small pirogue, under a nice tree, both lit by a warm yellow directional spot. The whole difficulty here was to get enough ambient light while it was very dark. After my first test shot for ambient light, I was at ISO 3,200, f/2.8 and 1/20th. If those set-ups are tough for move blur of the background, there’s no risk of getting a blurry couple in my image as the flash will fix them in this very dark environment. Anyway, I had to hold my breath to get some sharpness in my background … The lighting set-up was composed of 2 Nikon sb800, the spot on the boat and tree, and the full moon. 1 sb800 was on-camera and was used as fill-in and commander for the second flash – it was in Manual mode at 1/32 power. The second sb800 was camera left, with shoot-through umbrella, iTTL mode and -1EV compensation (to compensate from the very dark environment). Here’s the result in those 2 different images (both with similar lighting set-up):

And seated on the boat:

Thanks for reading, guys 🙂 Have a good week !

In this blog post, I would like  to tackle a few tips to create nice portrait images. Portraiture is certainly the most common type of photography, as it is extremely vast – it goes from a simple casual portrait, to kids portraiture, family portraits, corporate portraits, weddings, fashion … Obviously, you will not apprehend your clients from the same angle and with the same techniques if it is fashion or corporate portraits. But the few tips I will give you should enhance your images … hopefully 🙂

1. Communication with your model – it seems obvious, but when you are beginning in photography, it is not natural at all to communicate and direct your subject, and it is far more comfortable to be hidden behind your camera. Photography here is more about psychology ! Very few model believe they are photogenic – actually every subject is photogenic. It is our role as photographers to make them feel comfortable, to position them, to find the best angles and techniques to make them look beautiful and be proud of their images. This, of course, cannot be learned in a book – it requires experience, self-confidence, good communication skills, empathy …

2. Find a dynamic in your pose – the whole dynamic of a pose is made by your subject’s body, this is what we call “body language”. Here, the key parts of your subject’s body are the shoulders, the arms and hands, and the legs (if you’re shooting a full body portrait).

– shoulders should be 2/3rd turned – shooting a portrait of someone’s shoulders looking straight at the camera will make him (her) look fatter, as their shoulders will take more place of the frame. Instead of having our client face square to the camera, we need them to do a 2/3 turn away from the camera. Having them turn away will give them a slimmer profile look in the camera and shave off those 10 extra pounds 🙂

– arms and hands should be occupied – keeping your arms and hands straight down your side is really not dynamic and gives the impression of not being comfortable or of being bored. Asking your model to put a hand in his (her) pocket or a hand on his (her) hip will create diagonal lines which will provide a dynamic composition. Also, except for some specific messages that you want to convey with your image, avoid having your model with crossed arms.

– with legs, you can play with the height of your model, being seated, kneed, or standing. Legs can be crossed, one straight one in diagonal … You can make them jump … Any movement would be good for your composition, always trying to avoid having your model planted like a tree 🙂

3. Find an expression in your model’s face – I believe that this is a critical point to make a good portrait. When I am looking at most fashion images nowadays, I really get bored. There’s nothing, not a smile, not a look in the eyes, the skin is so made-up and photoshopped … there is basically no personality in those images, as the model is not the key part of the image – it’s more his (her) clothes that are important (which, I believe, is crap – a model, with some personality and showing happiness to wear those clothes, will certainly give a much more powerful message to potential clients). Hence my point, a good photographer should always try to convey emotions through his (her) pictures – in a portrait, emotions and feelings are initiated by the eyes, the mouth, the global face expression and the body language.

– focus must be on the eyes – that’s the basic of a good portrait: if the focus is not on the eyes (i.e. the eyes are not sharp but out-of-focus), but on the nose for instance, then you lose considerable impact (moreover if you use wide aperture like f/1.4)

–  focus must be on the eyes, not on the chin ! – be careful at your angle, it is always better to take a portrait of someone from a higher point of view. From there, your model will rise his (her) eyes up to you, making them pop up while his (her) cheeks will look thiner. Shooting a portrait from a lower angle is good to create an impression of power … but not really appropriate for beauty shots (except if you want to put the emphasis on the model’s chin) 😉 Thus remember, chin down, eyes up !

– make your model smile – attention, not 1,2,3 … smiiiile ! But really smile, with a good joke for instance. I mean, people look really better when they do smile, don’t you think so ? A beautiful smile should drastically improve 90% of your “not-so-good” portraits.

– avoid systematic direct eyes contact with the camera – looking straight at the camera is natural, as your model is reacting with your, who is behind the camera. However, and except for some specific images (ID portraits, corporate portraits, advertising portraits where the eyes have to “talk and sell something” to the image viewer …), it is also important look at something else – the horizon for instance, providing a visionary message; or a couple who look at each other, full of love, is a far better image than the same couple looking straight at the camera with a “cheesy” smile ! 🙂

– light the face of your model – the role of a photographer is to find the best light for his (her) model. Light will create texture, shadows, depth … a whole atmosphere that will bring personality to the image. The photographer will then have to position his (her) model according to this light, may it be natural light or flash.

4. Overall composition of a portrait – the rules of third is important in portrait, as it is in almost all fields of photography. The key element of a portrait are the eyes, they should be placed on a force line or a force point, as shown here:

Also it is important to pay a careful attention to the background when making your model pose. In Mauritius for instance, you need to be careful of the boats on the sea, of the palm tree that can look like Indian feathers behind your model’s head 😉

5. Specific portraits:

– kids portraits – kids are a difficult subject, like animals 🙂 Indeed, they don’t obey and don’t pose as we would like them to. In order to succeed in kids portraiture, a photographer need to get familiar with the kid (talking with him (her), showing him (her) the camera or your flash …). I also use a little plastic mouse that makes some noise when pressing on it … just so that the kid will look in my direction when I would like him (her) to 🙂

– group portraiture – an important point here is to constitute an homogeneous group, and then to make them do something – talking, laughing … Also try different situations where they are comfortable, as 2 parents lying down in the garden with their kids for instance.

– corporate portraiture – first is to understand the needs of your client (what will the image be used to), then is to find the place where to make the portrait (if in your client’s office), considering light, environment, composition.

– fashion portraiture – for fashion, except if you are working on your own projects, you need to meet specific requirements from your client. Those requirements concern the model, the pose, the clothes, the attitude, even the type of lighting you will use. It is thus very important to assimilate all those requirements before starting the shoot, but it also doesn’t prevent you from knowing what to do to get a great image 🙂

I hope those few tips will help you, photographers to make your model better pose for you, and you models, to be aware of what is a photographer looking for when making you pose for him (her) 🙂

Dear friends, I’m sorry I have been so long since my last post here. Things are moving quite fast for Pixel in the Box and I have been very busy on new assignments and new projects.

Today, I would like to share with you the story tale of a profile studio portrait I did of a friend in January this year. Since I have a studio in Mauritius, I have been taken up a lot for outdoor contracts, so that I have not yet been really able to take profit of this great indoor asset. However, I have lots of idea of portraiture, and, earlier this year, I wanted to test some of them with a female model, my friend Khatleen.

What I really wanted to do with her was testing dramatic lighting conditions on her brown skin. Also, since she has a wonderful prominent haircut, I had the idea to show its volume in a profile image of Khatleen. For drama, I used a black background and a specific lighting set-up – I needed the light to hit only part of her face, creating deep shadows with a very shallow transition. However, the light still had to be quite soft to enlighten a black female beauty. Finally, I had to use a second light to lit her hairs to create a volume effect on them.

Here is the setting I used :

The model has to look straight away, let’s say at midday position – then, your main light, a large soft-box placed around 1 meter away of your model face has to be placed at 2 o’clock position. The second light is placed around 2 meters away of your model to hit her hairs – I used a snoot to only focus the light on them. And here it is, very simple isn’t it ? Everything lies in the position of your light sources – you can try to move them a bit for different effects.

The feelings I have each time I look at this image are the ones I would have when admiring an old statue of a black divinity of beauty or something like this … 😉

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