shooting beauty…

Beauty …. /bjuːti/ “a combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight”

A genre that, for me, stands on its own; of all the genres I have photographed over the years “Beauty” is perhaps the most challenging yet most rewarding of them all.

IMG_8361 copyaOften the most naturally “beautiful” or “photogenic” of people are the most difficult to make look so in camera. By the same token, often those who may not be obviously beautiful can through lighting, make up, hair, technique and with their own ability become absolutely beautiful once the lens is upon them.

There is so much intricacy involved in photographing beauty. Firstly you have to choose the face. Faces are important. A few factors will determine what kind of face you need for the gig, and there a lot of face types out there to choose from! Often the client will decide, often you are asked to supply the face. Whichever way, you have to carefully select the right face, and ability, of the model/ actor to deliver the “looks” you need!

IMG_8347 copyaOnce you have selected the face, you have to consider the creative team. Creative teams work in different ways and produce different things. They have different skills, personalities and abilities, so often selecting the right team for the gig can be a minefield within itself! You should be very honest about what you expect from your creative teams. Give them an aim, point them in the right direction, but then let them do what they are brilliant at. Let your creative team breathe and they will produce awesome results.

‘Alana had amazing skin already so we started off by adding strobe cream by MAC. It’s an iridescent cream that can be used on its own or mixed with foundation. I mixed it with face and body foundation to create a high sheen on Alana’s skin. Wanted to keep the eyes natural but with a hint of gold so I used Illamasqua cream eye shadow. First time I had used it but I love! Was hard not to add liner but wanted to keep make-up fresh so just added mascara, a hint of margin blusher (again by MAC) and more highlighter. Super pleased with the result!’ Cat Eccles (Make -up artist)

So you have the face, and the creative team. Now you have to use your creative eye and experience to light, compose and edit images that bring together all the elements I have spoken about. Over almost 10 years I have developed a workflow that works for me; from selecting the face, the team, the lighting, the background and the edit, I instinctively know what I want and what I will do before I even position a light.

During the shoot the creative team constantly reviews the work. We are all on set, fixing, changing, perfecting our work as we go; there’s no room for “that’ll do” we are all, perfectionists here…

bts29.5 times out of ten, on beauty shootsin the studio, I will use my large octagon soft box alone. It gives such a beautiful and even spread of light and helps to create lovely skin tones. For this shoot though I decided to go out of the box a little and create a more interesting harsh/ soft effect across the model. To create this effect I used a 2 flash head set up. Off to my left (models right) was a flash head with silver bounce brolly, covered with yellow acetate to create the “golden” splash of light that I wanted. To my right (models left) I used a 1.5m Octagon soft box as the main light, to light the left side of Alana’s face, back and shoulder, positioned to just ‘glance’ the model. Both lights were set to F8. I used the white wall of the studio as a backdrop, positioning Alana slightly away from the wall to avoid shadows and too much light falling on it.

Camera spec: Canon 7D, 28-105mm lens, F8, 1/125th sec, ISO 100. Custom White balance (5200k) Shot in JPG.

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Editing workflow is also an essential part of the process; if you have made good choices in model and team selection, any editing should be kept to a bare minimum! The creative ladies did a fabulous job, which was made easier by the professionalism of our model Alana. This combination of creative talent meant that only minimal editing was required on the images produced.

Digital edit: White balance correction, levels, skin, image brighten, sharpen and save.

Final thoughts… They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder; as a photographer or creative, beauty can only ever be a good as the work you produce!
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Words and Pictures by Lance Burkitt

Make up: Cat Eccles

Hair Stylist:  Kelly Hanks

Model: Alana Elliot

Photographed at New York Studio, Rotherham

© ascendance magazine

Definition of Beauty taken from Oxford Dictionary