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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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Large Format Camera Workshop

Last Thursday we’ve had a large format workshop with one of out tutor Yan Preston.

Yan explains what is a large format, how does the camera works and why its been widely used even thought being huge, heavy and considered as a very slow and expensive process of making photographs. Large format is used for the quality and beauty of images and for huge size that photographs could be printed. Yan also introduced some artist who as well as her uses large format in their photography. For example Alec Soth, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Sally Mann-Immediate Family, Alys Tomlison, Awoiska von de Molen, Taryl Simon-American Index, Andreas Gursky-River Rhine. According to Alec Soth the subject become less conscious when photographed by the large format, as the photographer is under cloth, so the subject don’t get to see when the image is taken (You tube, Alec Soth: Portraits – The Ground Glass).

In the second part of the workshop Yan explained how to use large format camera, how to put the film in it and how to set up the exposure. We then went outside and each of us had a chance to take two images. There were a lot of stuff to remember but Yan told us that we can only learn it by use it and that we can learn from our own mistakes!

I really enjoyed and this session and looking forward to see how our images turns out.

book making, Books publishing, documentary photography, photobook, photography, photography workshop, Richard Higgingbottom, Tide Press

Book Making Workshop

Our tutorials are finished however, as many of us making photobooks for major project, last Wednesday one of our tutors Richard Higgingbottom delivered book making workshop. Higgingbottom is associated with Tide Press – independent photobook publishing company, what make him a specialist in book making process. Higgingbottom gave us a lot of useful information regarding photobooks and brought a lot of physical books, so we can get the idea about different sizes, covers, bindings, designs etc.

When making books there is many things to consider. Paper type, the thickness of the paper, size, scale, format, soft or a hard cover, colour of the cover, kind of bind, font in the book and on the cover, uppercase or lower case, the cover with the image or without, what writing on the cover both front and back (title, name or nothing), the consistency within the book or not at all to surprise the viewer…

Higgingbottom stated that the design must fit the context, however, the design is to elevate the project not to make the project better. The best photobooks are when the design relates to the project and make the viewer engaging with the project. So, we need to make an interesting book that tell the story we want to convey.

I asked Higgingbottom if hard cover would fit my project? He says that I should try it, and to make each portraiture huge full blead to humanize each of the subjects. He recommended book size like A3. As he told me to work on a sequence, he advised me to do a few more dummy books to see how it feels reading through each of them. First to sequence the images as kind of themes (people at work, people at homes looking straight, looking sideways, text etc). Second sequence with consistency. For example, portraiture with additional image, two single portraiture, one with the text and so on. Next one, start from colourful images and carry on to the ones with the lack of colours, or other way round. He also told me to look at Rob Hornstra work 100 Billionaires to see how the adding text works in the book. Thanks for your feedback Richard, I will try all of this.

My latest dummy book:

Higgingbottom also recommended few printing and binding companies:

F&G Ratchford to get stuff for binding; Spink & Thackray – book binding and hard covers; Precision in Leeds – hard cover binds; Entwistle in Manchester for prints, Hp indigo press printers; G & F Smith for paper – Art shop in Leeds and Manchester; For a book pages no thicker that 150gsm, for a cover around 275gsm if we want to fold it and bind it.

If you have any more ideas regarding book design or prints, please get in touch.