Recently I got my hands on the new Fujifilm GFX 100 medium format camera and thought it would be fun to create a free fashion photography tutorial showing my entire workflow. The goal of this shoot was to create a bunch of different looking styled shoots using natural light in combination with a few strobes. For the last year, Fstoppers has been producing an extended, free tutorial on our YouTube channel each month. The idea is to borrow some of the latest and greatest photography gear on the market and use it to create interesting content that might help you improve your own photography. You can check out our previous videos on our Free Photography playlist, but this week we are diving into the world of catalog fashion.
For this particular photoshoot, our sponsors asked us to explore something in the vein of "fashion." Most fashion or ecommerce images are usually shot with a single light against a clean white background, so I opted to photograph a few models with more of an editorial or hero shot theme to make this video a bit more interesting. The boutique clothing company Maris Dehart styled our two models, Augusta Sloan and Shelby Stedman, and the entire shoot took place on an amazing wildlife hunting plantation deep in Beaufort, South Carolina.
Meet the Sponsors
For this photoshoot, I was excited to use one of the most praised new cameras of the year, the Fujifilm GFX 100 medium format camera. This camera is a beast with 102 megapixels, a large 33m x 44mm BSI-CMOS sensor, and insane 16-bit color depth for accurate color rendition and editing potential. This was my first time using the Fujifilm GFX 100 for a video tutorial and it might be my favorite Fujifilm camera body I've used yet. Unlike some cameras in the Fujifilm line, I love how the GFX series has two rotation knobs that fully let you dial in your shutter speed and aperture (or ISO) without having to rotate any other dials. I know many people like the old school manual dials of the X-T series but for me the GFX feels and performs much more similar to the DSLR cameras I used in the past. I also really love and appreciate the larger body style and the built in vertical grip which makes shooting both horizontal and vertical images super comfortable for your right hand. The 5-axis In body image stabilization (IBIS), fast 5 frames per second burst mode, and high quality 5.76M dot OLED viewfinder make this camera an instant winner in my book.
For this particular shoot I brought along two different lenses: the Fujifilm GF 32 - 64mm f/4 zoom lens and the GF 110mm f/2 telephoto lens. The zoom lens was probably my favorite lens because it gives you a wide variety of focal lengths that are useful in tight spaces (which replicates 25mm - 51mm on a full frame camera). The 110mm lens was also a great choice for fashion and portraits because it not only has a super fast f/2 aperture, but this focal length looks very similar to an 85mm lens you might be familiar with on a full frame camera. Together these two lenses gave me a lot of flexibility in my framing and because they are both built like tanks, they felt and performed well in my hands. It's been a while since I've used a modern lens with a physical aperture ring, and I found that I really liked having the control of my aperture in my left hand while being able to quickly change my ISO and shutter with my right hand.
When you are shooting fashion, or really any style of photography, out on location, it is incredibly important to find the perfect lighting for each particular scene. Sometimes the skies open up and give you the perfect natural light, but many times that perfect light in your head simply isn't available to you in that very moment. This is where having a few strobes and light modifiers becomes paramount. It's no secret that my favorite studio lighting company is Profoto, and I'm always happy when they support Fstoppers with content like this because we've always supported them over the years as photographers.
For this shoot I packed up 3 Profoto B10 portable strobes, which might sound like a lot of light but it's always important to have backups as well as an extra accent light in the event that you need just a small pop of light somewhere. These lights are awesome because they are super reliable, weigh very little compared to other similarly powered strobes, are all self contained with a battery built right into the unit (so no cords), and can be completely controlled wirelessly through either their Air Remote or their Air Remote TTL for HSS shooting.
One of my favorite things about the Profoto system is their speedrings allow you to change lighting modifiers quickly and easily. Out of all of the lighting systems out there, I 100% believe Profotos is the best because of this speedring design. For this shoot I brought along a few of my Profoto Softboxes, reflector dishes, and honeycomb grids but because their flashes can mount nearly any brands' modifiers, I also packed a few of my favorite softlighters which often come in handy in tight spaces where you still need soft light.
One piece of gear that can really save your butt on location and is totally worth investing in is a good backdrop. Over the years I've used all sorts of staples like seamless paper and different shades of white, gray, and black cloth for backdrops and I think every photographer should own a few of these for general photography. However, this last year when designing our new Fstoppers studio, Lee and I decided we wanted to buy a few large custom painted canvases to give our video set a more professional look. We've worked a lot in New York City and are very familiar with how expensive custom painted canvases can be to rent or buy from the most well known backdrop companies up there. We were super excited to discover Gravity Backdrops based out of Europe. Since we moved to Puerto Rico, you can see a Gravity backdrop in almost every one of our latest YouTube videos.
A few of the things I love about Gravity Backdrops is that they often offer free shipping on larger sized canvas and they will also package multiple backdrops into a single order. So if you want an XL canvas for your studio but then just need a few XS canvases for on location or for layering on top of your XL canvas, you can often find a way to get everything shipped right to your studio for free and within 5-7 business days. They also have a ton of different colors and amounts of distressing that will match the vibe you are going for without ever looking cheesy, cheap, or outdated. Right now Gravity Backdrops is offering Fstoppers readers a pretty awesome deal if you use this Gravity Backdrop Discount Code, so if you are looking to build up some variety in your studio's background offerings, now is the perfect time to take advantage of this deal.
Some photographers love shooting on a tripod and others prefer the flexibility of simply shooting handheld. Even if you are one of the latter, inevitably there will be a time when you need extra support for your camera and having a solid tripod will be a lifesaver. I mainly use tripods for long exposures or for compositing multiple images on top of each other, but sometimes a tripod can be handy when shooting with shutter speeds that are just below what you can confidently handhold. Even though the Fujifilm GFX 100 has a pretty impressive 5 stops of In Body Image Stabilization, I've found that my hands aren't always the steadiest when shooting at 1/50th of a second or slower especially with 102 megapixels. For this reason I always like to have a tripod packed in my grip bag if I find myself needing a rock solid foundation when my situation requires these slower shutter speeds.
The tripod system I used in this shoot was the Manfrotto MT055XPRO3 Aluminum Tripod with their incredibly sturdy Manfrotto Xpro Ball Head. I love that the tripod itself is super light weight which can be a life saver when traveling or hiking to incredible landscape locations. This particular tripod also has an articulating center column that is perfect for those situations when you need to shoot straight down on your subject like during a product shot or over an elevated railing. The Xpro Ball Head is probably my favorite type of head to pair up with your tripod because it lets you quickly place your camera into any orientation and lock it down safely. Although we own at least six Manfrotto MHXPRO 2-Way Pan and Tilt Heads for our video work, I think for photography the Xpro Ball head is definitely the way to go. As you can see in the video above, I didn't need this tripod often throughout this shoot, but when I did, it was strong enough for the beefy GFX 100 while still being light enough to want to carry around the plantation.
The final sponsor of this video is the photo editing software Exposure X5. Exposure X, previously known as AlienSkin Software, is one of my all time favorite tools to use after a photo as been taken. Exposure X5 expands on the film stock emulations and customizable photo presets that first put them on the map, but this software is now expanding into a full raw photo editing solution. If you are looking for a reasonably priced photo editor that offers all of the functionality of much more expensive software, Exposure X5's standalone software might be perfect for you. If you are like me and still rely on many of the photography staples like Photoshop but still want to implement Exposure X into your workflow, the Exposure X5 Adobe plugin gives you the best of both worlds.
For this video I decided to edit each of my final four images entirely in the stand alone Exposure X5 suite, and I have to say, it was very intuitive and easy to navigate if you are used to using raw editing software in general. If you want to try Exposure X5 for yourself, feel free to download a trial version, and if you like it, use the discount code "fstoppers" to save 10% on your purchase of Exposure X5.
The Final Images
Even though this video is sponsored by a lot of awesome photography companies and contains some affordable gear and some not so affordable gear, I want to remind everyone that these types of photos can be taken with whatever gear you already have. Obviously when you are working with professional models, amazing locations, a medium format camera with 100 megapixels, and some of the best lighting available on the market, the resulting photos should be amazing. However, keep in mind, the most important thing about photography is not the gear but rather the creativity and the collaboration between you and your team. Yes, having amazing gear will sometimes help you achieve your artistic vision but honestly, all of these results could have been achieved 15 years ago with the camera gear I was using early in my career.
The above images were taken with just a single Profoto B10 and hard reflector dish. This setup is by far the absolute easiest lighting setup you can create on set and one that I use whenever I get the chance. If I were hired to photograph hundreds of outfits for an ecommerce store and we needed consistent lighting that shows off the clothing accurately and vibrantly, this is the lighting setup I would almost always use. I wound up placing Augusta in front of one of the sliding barn doors that had some light sneaking in from the side just to add interest but the more traditional technique would be to just use a solid color wall with no additional lighting at all. In this case, I was able to shoot a bunch of images with the unique background while easily being able to remove the background in post production so that I have both options if the client needed them.
For the second barn shoot, I wanted to create something that was much more moody than what you'd probably see in on a typical fashion sales page. This type of image could be used more in editorial fashion or even as a hero shot for print or in store display. To achieve this lighting effect I blocked off all of the light entering the scene except for a small sliver of light sneaking past the slightly opened barn door. The joke was that I was using real barn doors to create this effect but you can also create it with a small barn door light modifier. This particular look might be a bit too dark for most clothing campaigns but it was too fun and interesting not to use. The first two images are straight out of camera while the final image on the right has a more extreme color grade added in Exposure X5 which I really like.
The third lighting setup and location were by far my favorite. The stylist on this shoot brought all these retro looking gowns and dresses and paired them with these large brimmed southern hats. When I saw the models I instantly thought they looked like a mix between Kentucky Derby Debutantes and characters from Westworld. For this image, I wanted to light the two girls with a more forgiving light source so I used a simple softlighter from the front which is basically just an umbrella with a diffusion material over it. Since this hunting hut was so dark, I thought it would be interesting to add some late day sun light shining through the window so I placed a single Profoto B10 with reflector dish outside firing into the room. As you can see in the video, I played with a few different positions of this outside light until I found the position that gave me the most dramatic highlights and shadows.
In order to hide some of the distracting decor that was permanently attached to the left side wall, I mounted a small Gravity Backdrop to a C Stand and wound up making it a prop by including the stand in the final image. Once I gave the final image a rustic and muted tone in Exposure X5, I began thinking maybe the entire image would benefit from having a sky replacement in the window. I scoured through a bunch of my scouting photos I always taken when I travel and found a few interesting images from Arizona I shot during our Photographing the World landscape tutorial and composited it into the window. The trick to making this look believable is making sure the lighting in the scene is the same and also making sure your background has the perfect amount of blur for the depth of field you are shooting in camera.
For the final setup, I wanted to do something much riskier. The idea I had for this image was to setup an extra large Gravity Backdrop outside in a field and have the foreground be filled with tons of broom grass. I had originally planned for this image to be lit with all natural light as the sun was setting behind my camera but the all too common hair and makeup delays put us behind schedule. If this image were lit with natural light, could have had nice highlights in the distant trees which would have given this image a more realistic late afternoon effect. Since the sun had already set by the time the models got into position, I had to "fake" the setting sun by using a single hard light source, a Profoto B10 with reflector dish, far away from both the model and the backdrop. By setting the flash far away, I was able to have similar light hitting my entire scene without having my model and broom grass drastically brighter than my backdrop.
One of the cool things about shooting with a large backdrop outside is that you can take a single photograph and have two completely different crops. Since the Fujifilm GFX 100 has a massive 102 megapixels, I decided to shoot much wider than I might normally shoot knowing that I can use both the wide shot that shows the entire backdrop but I can also crop into just the model for a more traditional framing that focuses only on the model and clothing. I personally like the wider shot because it looks less common and shows off all the production that went into this image, but the cropped version might be more valuable on a website or for the clothing designer.
Watch More Free Photography Tutorials
I want to thank all of our sponsors for helping us making free content like this. If you enjoyed this extended video, and want to learn more about photography and post production, make sure you subscribe to our YouTube Channel and check out of full Free Tutorial Playlist on YouTube. Our hopes is that through these sponsored tutorial videos we can share a ton of educational and inspiring content with you while also using some of the latest photography tools and accessories along the way. If you have any questions about this photoshoot, feel free to leave a comment below and I'll do my best to answer it.
Also, if you want to learn how some of the best photographers create their specific look in a variety of photography genres, check out the videos in the Fstoppers Store or click on "Tutorials" at the top of this page.