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Studio lighting and retouching workshop with Sophie Traynor

This week’s workshop was about studio lighting and the retouching process.

Sophie Traynor specialises in food, fashion, hair and beauty photography.

In the beginning she explained the way she photographs people and the lighting she uses. When photographing in the studio she always sets up her camera to ISO 100, f.8 and 1/125s to start with. The lighting is always position on the side of the model, and the model very close to the light (image 1). At first light is always set up to half of the power. When the lighting isn’t as she planned, she moves the light towards the front of a model. If the lighting still isn’t as desire, she move the lighting and/or adds the reflector on the other side of model’s face until she have the desire results (Image 2). Next, she adds one light towards the background, so it doesn’t look flat and has more tones. To make the background white, she adds two lights positioned towards the background (Image 4). This setting just proves that we don’t need to have many lights to created beautiful images.

If something aren’t going right, Traynor’s advice was to always check if things are plugged in. We, the photographers must agree, as perhaps everyone had some problems when shooting in the studio; stressing as something broke, but thankfully it was only unplugged.

However, in the fashion and beauty standards, photo shoot is only the begging as each photographs requires a lot of retouching. Traynor showed us the way she edits her beauty images. To start with she is using healing brush to get rid of unwanted stuff like for example hair. She is editing pictures in black and white, as she thinks that some stuff are more visible than in colour. She uses non destructive editing and always keeps the original file. Next she uses curves to make the image slightly lighter and uses brush, or dodge and burn tools to darken or brighten the area on the skin. She also uses selective colour if some colours doesn’t look as it meant to.

Treynor suggested that if we are thinking about this business is very important to have a team of people who together create a great shot. To consider fashion stylist, make-up artist, hair stylist. It will make your work easier and pictures wont required as much retouching.

Treynor told us to always learn new stuff within retouching, but even we knew more, we should do less. As the less we do for an image the better for the image.

Within food photography, similar to fashion or beauty Traynore mostly uses simple lighting. Soft box right up to the edge of a table and if needed she adds reflector on the other side of the product. According to Treynor, the closest we get to the light, the better shadows and contrast it will create.

The fallowing day, Sophie Traynor gave us a talk about her few years adventure as a freelance photographer. She told us to always be prepared for the photo shoot and to practise the lighting even on a friends or family. She said that we don’t need to move to London to have clients, as well as we don’t have to work as photography assistant. She build her own photographic kit, however she encouraged us to rent stuff, as we could charge client for it and won’t have to spend thousand pound for a new lens for example. She uses two lenses 100 mm for hair, beauty and food photography and 24-70 mm for fashion. She said that having anxiety before each shoot is totally normal, as when you stressing it means that you care. Additionally, facing difficulties is part of this job, but we get to do what we love. She said that “it feels as jingle fire sometimes, but you need to learn how to jingle the fire.”

Her biggest advice was to be nice, reasonable and communicate well, be honest even about the problems which appears to have returned clients. Off course there are other stuff, you need to prove yourself that they can trust you and build the relationship with a client. I really enjoyed this talk so as the workshop. Another guest speaker who deliver very useful talk and was pleasure to meet, for her honestly, great sense of humour and a lovely personality.

Check some more of the amazing work at sophietraynor.com

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