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Pool Side

This was shot for the cover of District Magazine, a local magazine here in Houston, TX.
Used the sun as the main light, with Sarah's back to it. We u...
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This was shot for the cover of District Magazine, a local magazine here in Houston, TX.
Used the sun as the main light, with Sarah's back to it. We used a California Sun Bounce with the gold zebra side to add the warm tones and bounce light back at Sarah.
I absolutely love how the cover turned out!!
Model: Sarah Walker
HMUA: Kim Clark
Art Director: Brian Kennedy
Location: Hotel Alessandra
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Runner Up in Wearing Swimsuits Photo Contest
Contest Finalist in Wearing Swimsuits Photo Contest
Contest Finalist in My Best Shot Photo Contest Vol 7
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3 Comments | Report
RedKite105 March 15, 2019
Adore this. Classic glamour. Truly inspirational.
socreative PRO
socreative March 16, 2019
Lovely work!
derxphoto September 04, 2019

Same photographer See all

Behind The Lens

This photo was taken in Houston, Texas at Hotel Alessandra downtown. The hotel is luxury, cosmopolitan style hotel and has an unbelievable rooftop pool that overlooks all of the downtown buildings. Since this was an editorial piece for the cover of a local Houston magazine (District Magazine) we had full permission to use the location. That is one of the perks of shooting for a magazine! They were very accommodating and we were able to have full reign of the area.
What's funny about this photo is that it was taken in the middle of winter! Thank goodness Houston tends to have mild winters. We arrived at the location around 8 am, and the art director and I scouted the pool area while our model was in hair and makeup. I remember it was chilly and I had leg warmers on! The sun was out full force however, which helped, and as it got higher in the sky it began to warm up. We had an issue with the hair stylist which put us back an hour! So we didn't start shooting at the time we had hoped. I wanted to shoot before the sun got too high. So every minute that passed I was getting nervous! I set up a strobe and tested it, and watched as the shadows on the pool deck changed. I had the strobes just in case I needed to rely on artificial light if the sun no longer worked. The original spot we thought we would use didn't work out because the light changed so drastically. So we came up with alternate plans. We waited and waited and probably didn't start shooting until 11am. It was BRIGHT!
We wanted a very sunny look since the image was going to be on the cover of the Spring/Summer issue. I really wanted to use the sun as my main light. We positioned the model so that her back was to the sun. You can see the shadows from the direction of the sun on the chair and ground, and also see the highlights on her body and hair. To add light to her front side we used a California Sunbounce with the gold zebra material. The gold also added a gold-tone which helped make it warm and summer-y! This illuminated the swimsuit and bag which was important because those were items that needed to be highlighted in the magazine. We had Sarah turn her head towards the sun to get nice light on her face and the shadows on the other side were filled in with the sunbounce. The art director, Brian, really wanted to have leading lines in the image so we played around with the lines of the pool and the shadows and lines on the ground. I think that is my favorite part of the image!
I used a Nikon D810 with a 24-70mm lens, handheld. (I was standing on top of another lounge chair to get a higher angle.)
I love working with Brian, the art director, because of his amazing creative eye and vision. He really wanted something with bold lines. He pulled some examples as inspiration and had them for us to reference. We were inspired by vintage looks and design.
Post-processing for me is pretty simple! I make all major adjustments in Lightroom and then export to Photoshop to retouch skin and finish up with toning. For this particular image I used Lightroom to warm up the overall image, bring out the shadows a bit, and boosted the blacks and colors. In PS I retouched her skin. There wasn't too much to do to it. The final image on the cover of the magazine I believe has a different tone to it that Brian created. I love that version as well.
In my camera bag
I normally have my camera for sure! (Nikon D810) And then I have my lenses: 85mm prime 1.4, 70-200mm 2.8, 50mm 1.4, 24-70mm 2.8. Those usually cover what I need for most shoots. Also in my bag are my Pocket Wizards, chargers and batteries for the camera, batteries for the PWs, ND filters for the lenses, CF cards, and random things like tape, small gels, sync cords, and a speaker! I also always bring my Paul C. Buff strobes and portable batteries just in case!
My advice is to try and shoot before the sun is too high in the sky. If it is coming from a lower angle you can position your model with their back to it and get a nice rim light and natural hair light. I would really recommend getting a good reflector, I love the California Sunbounce because it's BIG! It has handles on the back so it's easy for your assistant to hold and maneuver around. (Be careful in windy situations though!! They may fly away!) Have your model move their face around until you see it illuminated the way you want, and ask them to work in that space. Try different things!! There is no right or wrong way. Look for leading lines: shadows, lines on the ground, things in the background etc. All of these can add to the overall image. Pay attention to these details, and have a purpose for them. And of course, it helps to have a good team! This image stands out because of the makeup, the hair, the styling and art direction. I know that we can't always have the luxury or budget to do this, and if you are just starting out it may seem impossible! But try and team up with makeup artists and hair stylists at least, do a collaboration shoot so your model looks well put together. The image can only be as good as your subject! As far as styling goes, look up inspiration on Pinterest, or online and have ideas of how you want your model to dress. Sometimes simple is the best. Use a few accessories to make it complete! Location matters too! I know I don't always have access to awesome pools like this one, but get creative. Even someone's personal home pool can work! Just make sure you notice what's in the background. Having this higher angle I was able to eliminate the background, so think about getting higher so you don't see what's really there! Lastly, have a backup plan in case your first idea isn't going to work. For this shoot, we really had to come up with new ideas on the spot because the light was changing so fast. Since hair and makeup was taking longer than expected, there was nothing we could do other than think on the fly. Be ready for changes, and things to not go as planned!! In the end, you may get something unexpected, but better than it would have orginally been! So roll with it!

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