Here are some photos from a recent Valentine’s Day pin-up photoshoot with burlesque performer Pocket Venus. We used a vintage pinup poster by Gil Elvgren for inspiration:
We also did a few other looks and poses as you can see below (click thumbnails to expand). I used a fog machine backlit with a light covered with a red gel to create the smoky effects. It was a lot of fun and great to work with model Pocket Venus Josan and makeup and hair artist Ashley of Blood & Beauty.
Here are some photos from a recent photoshoot with personal trainer Maggie. A couple of days earlier Maggie had competed in the 2012 Sandra Wickham Fall Classic fitness competition and came in 3rd in the bikini category, cure so she was in great physical shape! She had amazing discipline and dedication to achieve this level of fitness and plans to resume training and enter more competitions in 2013.
Here’s a video from a recent pin-up photography session that I did with Doreen and makeup artist Tessa Mitz. I love the vintage pin-up posters of the 1940s and 1950s! For inspiration, I browsed through the vast collection of pin-up art on The Pin-up Files and chose some images for posing ideas. I also checked out photos of Dita Von Teese, one of my favourite contemporary pin-up models. We referenced the images during the session so we had lots of poses and variations to work with.
Here are a some some photos that I took on the roof deck of The Studio by Mika Does Makeup with model Ariel K. Marie. It was pretty cold up there so it was a very quick shoot! It’s a beautiful location with a great view, so I’m looking forward to another shoot when the weather gets a little warmer. I hope that you have a happy Valentine’s Day!
Valentine's Makeup by Mika
Click to see more Valentine's photos with Ariel K. Marie
Thanks also to Tiffany May Photography who collaborated on this project, providing much inspiration, creativity and assistance!
For the background, we used “Super White” seamless paper, available from Savage or B&D. It glows blue under black light. We cut different sized hearts out of pink fluorescent bristol board and hung them from the studio’s ceiling with fishing line. We set up four 48 inch 40 watt fluorescent black light tubes – one on each side of Rachel, one overhead and the fourth on the floor to surround the model with black light.
Here’s what the setup looked like (the fourth tube on the floor is not shown):
Skin tends to look very dark under black light, so to help make the model’s face more visible, we positioned a White Lightning X800 strobe with a grid in front of the model, and for some the shots we used a hand-held white LED flashlight to light the model’s face. We also used a white disk reflector, which gave off a blue glow, to help light the model.
Initially, I used ISO 100, f/1.4, 1/25th second exposure with a Sigma 30mm lens. I then wanted to get some shots with a longer focal length so I switched to my 50-200 mm using ISO 200 and 1/10 sec at f/2.8. I used a tripod and a cable release to minimized unwanted motion blur. I wanted to minimize noise by using the lowest ISO that I could get away with. Depending on your camera, you may be comfortable going to higher ISO and faster shutter speeds.
I used Lightroom 3.3 to adjust the colours, exposure, noise reduction, and some local brush adjustments. I completed the editing in Photoshop CS4 – mainly retouching and removing the visible fishing lines that the hearts were attached to.
Are you thinking about giving glamour or boudoir photos of yourself to your boyfriend, partner, fiancé or husband for Valentine’s Day? Of course, I think photographs always make great gifts! If you have never done a glamour or boudoir photography session, it may be a little intimidating.
What is glamour?
Glamour photography is all about making you look amazing, whether it’s pretty, beautiful, sexy, classy, or elegant. I love doing glamour – it’s a lot of fun and a great feeling when clients love their photos!
The ingredients for great glamour photos are:
Hair and makeup: I work with professionally trained makeup artists and hair stylists who know how to make you look your best. They are trained to work with your features and skin tone so you will to look great. And the makeup artists have plenty of professional high quality makeup, brushes, and supplies!
Wardrobe and accessories: Glamour photography is more about the woman than the clothes, so the outfits should compliment you rather than be the main point of focus. For glamour, usually less is better. Outfits can be lingerie, jeans, shorts, swimsuits, skirts or dresses and can be risqué, elegant, cute or innocent. The same is true for accessories - depending on the jewelry, it adds elegance, sexiness and personality.
Lighting: One of my main concerns as a photographer is how to best use lighting to create the glamour look. In the studio I will tailor the lighting specifically for the woman being photographed because everyone is different. Natural light can also be very flattering and glamourous when it is available – such as outdoor locations or locations with window light.
Posing: The right poses make a huge difference in the photos. Professional models know how to work with the photographer and have a repertoire of poses and expressions that they can draw upon. They also know the poses that are most flattering to their own look. For clients who are not professional models, it may be a little intimidating being in front of the camera. Another major part of my job as a photographer is to help with different poses and angles to get the most flattering photos.
Retouching: Everyone has imperfections and the camera records them faithfully. However, most women don’t want to see dark circles under their eyes, bloodshot eyes, wrinkles or blemishes! When I retouch glamour photos, I clean up these problem areas and anything else that distracts from the your natural beauty.
Having a blast! Having a great time with lots of energy makes the session a success too!
Tips for choosing a photographer (in order of most to least important):
Portfolio: The first thing to do is browse the photographer’s website. Are there are images that you love? You can use those as examples of the style that you want when you talk with the photographer. If you do not love that photographer’s style, then keep looking for a photographer until you find photos that you love!
Recommendations: If you have a friend who has done glamour photography, ask her for recommendations.
Location: How far are you willing to travel to a photographer’s studio? Many photographers are willing to travel to a location, so if the photographer whose work you really love is not local, you could ask if they are willing to travel and how much do they charge.
Price: Decide on the budget that you are willing to spend and take a look at the price ranges, but don’t base your decision on price alone! Prices vary tremendously and there is no set price because you are paying for the photographer’s unique vision and skills. I recommend that you choose a photographer that you really love and then budget enough to get your photos done by him/her. The photos will be a long term gift that will last a lifetime, so it is worth investing in the best quality.
Male or female photographer? Some photographers advertise that because they are male or female, they are somehow more suitable. I don’t think this matters at all – it is a matter of personal preference. Professional photographers rely on having a good reputation and depend on word-of-mouth recommendations from previous clients for a successful business, and will treat you respectfully and professionally.
Once you have decided on a photographer, contact him/her to see if they will meet with you in advance. I much prefer to meet potential clients first to find out what style of photos they want. That way I can make sure she will be thrilled with the final results! Most photographers will require a payment in advance (usually applied to the session fee) to reserve a time slot.
What is boudoir?
Boudoir photography is growing in popularity, especially for pre-wedding photography, and also makes a great Valentine’s Day gift. While there is no single definition of boudoir photography, the name comes from the French for a lady’s bedroom, and it implies an intimate and sensual style.
Boudoir is a genre of glamour that tends to be soft, mysterious and intimate. It can be done in the studio by creating an intimate mood with lighting, props and sets or can be done at locations such as the client’s bedroom or a luxury hotel room. Selecting a boudoir photographer is the same as selecting a glamour photographer, with emphasis on a more intimate style.
Here’s a video slideshow with images from a glamour portrait photography session with Jennifer Ruth and Kaitlin Sullivan. (Click here to see the video if you are using an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad). I met Jennifer at the Twisted Fairytale fashion show in March 2010 and loved her makeup work. Since we were both building our portfolios, we collaborated on a project with the beautiful and talented Vancouver model Kaitlin Sullivan. Jennifer did amazing work with the makeup, hair and styling for six different looks during the session. I did the shoot in the studio using basic portrait lighting setups to showcase the makeup and hairstyling.
For the first set Jennifer gave Kaitlin big pink feathered lashes, wet glittery pink lips and curly hair, with a pink feather boa and a chunky jeweled bracelet. Quite a glamourous look!
I used White Lightning strobes – the main light was an X800 equipped with a beauty dish. I love the light from the beauty dish – it is largish white reflector so the light is pretty soft, but it has some shadow definition that helps give more shape to the face. I used a white foam core reflector panel, as well as a reflector disk to fill in the shadows.
I normally use a lower power main light for portraits so that it does not interfere with the background lighting. I meter everything using a Sekonic Flash Master L-358, starting with the main light. The White Lightnings are great to use because I can easily fine tune the output. I used an X3200 with softbox for the hair light, located camera right, behind Kaitlin. I use a more powerful strobe mainly because the distance is further, but also it gives me the opportunity to increase the brightness of the side light or hair light to give more intense highlights. For a natural look, the hair light was adjusted to about a stop or so brighter than the beauty dish. The background was storm grey seamless paper (medium grey), with a gridded X1600 for a back burst. To meter the background, I used the reflected light attachment for the Sekonic and adjusted the light to give a gradient with the brightest part about a stop to a stop-and-half brighter than the main light. I used barndoors on the X1600 to control the light spill away from Kaitlin. I also used a hair fan for some of the shots, which you can see in the video.
One of the difficulties with large feathered lashes is the shadows that they cast over the eyes. Usually I like to get sparkling highlights on the eyes to give the portrait more life. With large lashes, I watch the highlights very carefully to make sure the eyes are not too dark. Another option is to have the model look down to show off the lashes.
The strobes were triggered using CyberSyncs. My camera is an Olympus E-510, and I used Olympus Studio 2 to tether the camera to my MacBook, I used Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS4 for the post-processing. I will be posting more information on post-processing in future blog posts.
Here’s a diagram of the basic set-up. Thanks to Kevin Kertz Photography for creating the template. It’s awesome and free!
Glamour portrait studio lighting
In the second set, Jennifer used silver feathered lashes, silver lipstick and a hot pink bob wig for Kaitlin. For accessories, we had a black feather boa, diamond costume jewelry and huge ring with black beads. Kaitlin was lying down on a white faux fur for these shots. Other than lowering the lights, the setup was the same as the first set. I also took some of the shots from above using a ladder.
"Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" Olympus 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, 1/160 sec at f/11
Jennifer totally switched up the look this time, with a long black wig, metallic blue lips, and copper eye shadow. We had a blue ostrich feather, a rhinestone owl ring with blue and amber gems to match the makeup. This set was shot using natural light against the grey seamless background paper, which was lit with a gridded X800 and blue gel to complement the lips. The studio has loading bay door, so we opened it up and shot using the daylight. The light was not super bright, so I used ISO 200 and a fast prime lens - Sigma 30 mm f/1.4. I love the shallow depth of field of the wide aperture, but was careful to make sure that Kaitlin’s eyes were in focus. The large light source coming from the open garage door was beautiful and soft. We did have quite an audience gathered at the loading bay watching with great interest!
Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens, 1/125 sec, f/2.2 ISO 200
For the next set, Jennifer created a beautiful look with gold lips with blue eyes gradually shaded to gold, perfectly matching the colourful gems in Kaitlin’s earrings. I used a large softbox for the main light, and another large softbox behind Kaitlin, camera right. The background was lit with a gridded strobe to give soft gradient effect. I often use my 50-200mm zoom lens for portraits because it doesn’t distort the face as much as a wider angle lens does. The Olympus Zuiko 50-200mm zoom is awesome – tack sharp with a wonderful depth of field at wider apertures. The only drawback for using it in the studio is I have to go quite far away from the model. On the other hand, not being right in her face gives an opportunity for different expressions, depending on the model. I like to mix it up and I’m always switching the lenses during the shoot!
"Dreaming in Colour" Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 lens zoomed to 108mm, 1/160 sec at f/10
For the next set, Kaitlin’s makeup featured pink and purple with a hint of gold. I used the same lighting setup as the previous set, except with two gels on the background light – blue and red – to get a purple to match the makeup and necklace. I used o have a purple gel but it melted down a few months ago in an unfortunate accident! Kaitlin was sitting in a large circular chair with a black cushion for these photos. I like to have the model stand, sit, lie down, or move around, even when just doing headshots, to get a variety of looks.
"She's Got the Look" Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 at 50mm, 1/160 sec at f/9.0
The final set was done with the Kaitlin’s hair in an updo and I used the same lighting setup.
"Beautiful Eyes" Olympus Zuiko 50-200mm f/3.5-2.8 lens at 54mm, 1/160 sec at f/9.0
The photography session was very successful – we all got some great images for our portfolios, and it was a pleasure to work with both Jennifer and Kaitlin. Jennifer is amazingly creative and super-organized, which allowed us to get six different awesome beauty looks. Kaitlin was also amazing and I expect to see more of her in the future! She is perfect in front of the camera – easy to direct with lots of creative posing ideas. I hope to have the opportunity to work with them both again in the future.
Bokeh is normally created in-camera by using a shallow depth-of-field and focusing on the subject and allowing the other parts of the image to become blurry. For this shot I wanted to create a glam look by adding some bokeh in Photoshop.
I added a blank layer above the top layer, and selected a hard-edged round brush and set the foreground colour to white. I wanted the brush to paint a bunch of random circles so I went to the brush window and selected “shape dynamics” and moved the slider for “size jitter” to around 30%, selected “scattering” and checked “both axes” and moved the slider to around 480%, “count” to 2, and “count jitter” to around 30%. FInally, I selected “other dynamics” and changed the “opacity jitter” to 10%. You might need to play around with the settings to get something that looks good for you. I then painted the layer with a few strokes. I added a layer effect – “gradient overlay” and used white for the foreground colour and some gold from the lips for the background. It was a linear gradient with an angle of 118 degrees, and normal blend mode. Finally, I adjusted the layer opacity to 67%.
I then added another blank layer above this, and painted some more circles, then I used the Gaussian blur filter to make these blurry. You will need to play around with the radius that best works for you. I added some layer effects – “outer glow” and used the eye dropper to grab some gold colour from the lips, and changed the blend mode to screen. I also used “inner glow” with a light yellow colour (ffffbe). I used a levels adjustment layer, clipped to this layer and lightened up the bokeh circles until they glowed a little. I then changed the layer opacity to about 50%.
Finally, I used a curves adjustment layer above all the other layers to tweak the contrast of the overall image.
Here’s a video slideshow with images from a shoot with model and hairstylist Candy. Click here to see the video on your iPhone/iPod Touch or iPad. Candy is great to work with and puts a lot of intensity into her modeling. Click here to view some of my previous shoots with Candy.
Here are some more photos of Jennifer Nguyen from a photoshoot that we did in January 2010. We did 4 sets and the first was a natural look with blue jeans. The shoot went great and Jennifer brought some very sexy outfits. I’ll post more of those sets later! Check out Jennifer’s blog and Facebook page if you want see more photos and become a fan!