While we were on holiday my wife’s cousin, Dini, got married. For slightly complicated reasons, involving her husband’s family’s distant connection to the royal bloodline (nice setup for a drama right there), she couldn’t wear the dress she wanted for the wedding. So instead we had a little photo shoot before the wedding where she could get dressed up just the way she wanted.
My mother in law’s friend runs a wedding planner business, so for the purpose of this shoot I actually got to borrow their small studio. My wife has quite a large family and they seem to know someone everywhere, which can come in rather handy. Shooting in a studio was definitely a nice departure from the living room I’m used to; I didn’t have to worry about the background being a pain to clean up in post and, even though not exactly big, the room was still big enough for stray light bouncing around not to be an issue. It also allowed me to shoot full body portraits while still being able to achieve a nice, clean background.
There was a couple of lights in the studio that I could use but I decided to use my own light as main, just because it makes me feel better for some reason. So the main light in all of these shots is two LP160s in an octabox. I placed the octabox to camera left because of the fancy flower-thingy on her head. In most circumstances you want your subject to turn into the light and not away from it, so when she turns to the right, we get to see the flower more. When there’s nothing obvious to determine the direction, I usually ask my subject which side they like best. I know my wife prefers her right side, so if all else is equal, I try to place my light so that side is more prominent. Just something to keep in mind.
My wife was worried that the photos would be too dark because I decided to use a black background when the dress was also black. However, I often like to shoot white on white or black on black, I think it gives the whole image a more cohesive look. It also allows you to be more subtle with your light. In the two full body shots you see here (not the sitting one), I have a second light that’s coming from behind the subject to camera right in order to create separation between her and the background. It’s pretty subtle but I also think it’s quite effective. The light in question is a big studio flash of unknown brand with a small softbox (maybe around 50×50 cm). I couldn’t use my own light because I didn’t have any more stands than the one I used for the main. The studio flash was hanging from the ceiling on some kind of rail system, very fancy.
During one of my typical portrait sessions I usually take around 10-30 frames, sometimes a bit more. For this shoot I think I ended up with around 70, so we had plenty of opportunity to try different poses and be a bit playful (see below). Other than some small directions once in a while, I really didn’t do much. I told my subject that she could change pose a bit between each pop of the flash and she went for it. She also got suggestions from my wife and her sister who were on the sidelines. The only shot where I gave very clear directions was the top one, because I really like that kind of photo.
Even though the background was very clean without any additional work, some spill light is inevitable. Of course I fixed some of it in post but you can see that I left part of the background dark grey instead of completely black. It helps with the separation and I think it looks quite nice, correct me if I’m wrong.
Another thing that made the post processing easier was the makeup. I’ve done zero retouching on her skin, it simply wasn’t needed. I could get used to having my job be this easy but unfortunately I don’t think that will happen very often. It’s not like I have the space or money to set up a proper studio at home. Still, it was a nice experience and I got some good results. There will be a couple more posts with shots from this studio, so stay tuned for that.