An Experience of Glamour Photography

Well if I had a penny for every offer to hold my camera bag, reflector or tripod, I wouldn’t be writing this article.

As a developing freelance photographer over the last 2 years the author had worked in marketing for 16 years now. Producing everything from brochures, to web sites, to videos and conferences.

The corporate straight jacket required a Harry Houdini manoeuvre if some sanity was to be retained. So, the passion for photography, which had always been there, brought the author from buying in professionals, to retraining as one.

In photographing various subjects, seeing what appealed and looking for a style of my own – which is still being sort, I did think that glamour photography might appeal as an extension to my love of fashion, so with an open mind I gave it a go. But how do you approach photographing glamour models? Well this is where all the laddish behaviour has to be left firmly outside of the studio, else that’s where you’ll be very quickly. I attended a small workshop style shoot with 3 other photographers at Blue Moon studios on Dudley, West Midlands. I’ll admit that I was a little nervous of what they day might bring.

We had plenty of scope to work with. The studio offered a wide range of photography services meaning it had various themed areas or “sets” and of course provided a professional model. Blue louvered blinds gave scope for a more creative lighting set up as well.

The day was much more challenging than I imagined – I found my creativity drying up and was struggling to come up with concepts that worked. I prefer much more subtle and low key lighting effects than the modern “all white” look. Less was certainly more – but not when it came to clothes, the shots I felt worked better with a hint of what you couldn’t see. You certainly have to be clear in your mind as to what you want and how to talk to models. It’s hard not to be put off at the end of a sequence of images when your model comes running over to pinch the camera off you and check the shots on the back without a stick on .

It’s good to work to a theme and to build a set a group of shots that tell a story or show a sequence. Also shots that show the process of an action rather than just the end result – it makes for more feeling and adds anticipation. Personally I like to try and get a bit of attitude from the lady into the shots – something that shows their personality.

As for equipment , there was the trusty Nikon DSLR mainly used with an 18-70mm lens. Also some shots were taken from the mezzanine of one of the sets using a 70-200mm f2.8 to give a different perspective. Studio flash was one or two Bowens Esprit 500w flash heads with radio triggers and soft boxes. The lighting was kept at a low level – firstly in relation to the model and secondly in terms of power, so that the mood ambiance was conveyed in the pictures. Most of these shots were taken using one flash head, soft box and all the windows darkened using the blinds, this being the preferred set up for the professional photographer. Flash head power was set to one quarter for starters then reduced to suit.

As for digital camera settings I rely on my favourite starting position – 160 sec and f8 – camera on Manual. Then the rest is done testing and a quick check of the histogram. With low key lighting and the model wearing partly black and seated on a black sofa I expected the histogram to be skewed to the left.

I was looking for something different than the typical cliche topless shots and eventually found the great contrast in black and colour with low key lighting.

The only variation to this was the portrait shot with the models hair over one eye, I absolutely love this shot, which is now on my web site and was cropped out of a wider three quarter shot.

All in all a good day and a great experience, on reflection it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. So would I do it again? Yes it’s a challenging area to work in and a great test of your creativity.