Vincent Alongi's picture

First model session- CC please

Taken with an aspiring model, this was a TFP session, and my first model session overall... please, some CC. Greatly appreciated.

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Stefano Chiarelli's picture

Hi Vincent, in my opinion composition is not bad but I see two major problems here: almost all pictures should be more blurry in the background (apart perhaps the last two), the second problem is that subject's color and luminosity are too similar to the background's ones: she doesn't pop-up at all. In this case you maybe should have selected a different color for the dress (or for the background) in the preparation phase, and you should have worked a little bit with luminosity in post productions phase. My humble opinion

Vincent Alongi's picture

Thank you, Stefano.

Yes, I could have either framed her against a lighter background or positioned myself from a different angle. Also, yes... could have gone a little more wide-open on the aperture. I did some cropping on these as I wanted to showcase the model and not the entire scene in most of these... there are more shots I'm going to reveal more body and scenery.

The wardrobe was the model's choice; she asked how to dress, I told her before meeting up, "your choice- be yourself" since she's done this before. I guess our collective inexperience came through :)

I can adjust the luminosity still and play around, thank you. I'm about halfway through post on her pictures, so that's something to revisit.

Also... how is the light / shadowing on her? At the start of the shoot, I broke out my speedlight and found that I'd run my batteries down enough where it wasn't firing off the trigger :(... so we improvised with a reflector and just getting into better natural lighting scenes until I picked up spares along the way for the full-body shot.

Additional question-- the birthmark on her left arm- leave or remove? I don't know how to approach the model on touching that up, I don't want to insult or make anyone feel insecure about themselves! And... as this is a TFP situation and I'm going to provide her with something, what's the usual sizing of prints?

Thank you again, Stefano... I greatly appreciate your take and will act on the luminosity for now... and the other aspects in future shoots.

Stefano Chiarelli's picture

Thank you for your deep feedback Vincent :)

So, my opinions
-dress color is not a big problem and you could try some complementary color trick in post
- I find the lighting on the subject really good: in outdoor situations, I normally shoot with just natural light and reflector, so for me its a perfect scheme. Then I work a little bit with dodge and burn to give more tridimensionality if necessary
- I never delete birthmarks :D
- I think that A4 format is more than enough in this kind of situation

Vincent Alongi's picture

Thank you... We had a nice, slightly overcast day to work with. I used the silver reflector, played briefly with the gold, but I wasn't knocked out with that. She loved it, so next time with her I'll try to work it in. It just didn't look like it matched well with the natural light that day.

All good ideas you bring up.. many thanks. I come here to learn and get some thoughts... if anyone wants to blast away, please feel free. Thick skin, and I know there's some unbelievable artists here to learn from.

Stefano Chiarelli's picture

Thank you Vincent :)
This was taken with complete overcast sky and gold reflector.

Vincent Alongi's picture

That's a beautiful shot, Stefano. The window reflection helps with the tone and this was executed very nicely. Great facial expression as well.

gabe s's picture

Have her do something with her arms. Like the one where she is standing in the street, have her put her hand on her hip. Gives a triangle to direct the eyes. As others have said, she blends into the background. Would be an easy fix, just mask her and give a different tone to the background.

Model looks comfortable though, so it seems like she would be easy to work with on a future shoot.

Vincent Alongi's picture

Thank you, Gabe. Great advice. FWIW, she was extremely easy to work with- she has experience, I don't. Lol. Every click of the shutter, she changed up a little... and extremely friendly. Our gameplan is to collaborate again.

Yes, I'm looking at the bulk of my shots and her tones against the background doesn't contrast enough- the focus of her gets a little lost.

Paul Sokal's picture

Vincent, this is my first post on Fstoppers so I hope I don't offend anyone. Beautiful model but I don't think the posing flatters her. Having the arms straight down squashes them and makes them look larger than they are. Check it yourself in the mirror next time you get out of the shower. She needs to get her arms away from her sides. Her poses look stiff and you need to direct her into more dynamic positions. As the old posing advice goes, if it bends, bend it. On the third shot what if she brought her left hand up to side of her face and supported the left arm with her right hand under her elbow? The arms become much more dynamic and interesting and you get her upper arm away from her body so it doesn't look so squashed.

If you look at Stefano's beautiful image you see another issue and that is you composition. It's all dead center and boring frankly. Part of what makes Stefano's image so great is his composition. By putting her to the left he has created negative space to set her off and draw our eye into her.

I agree with other comments that the dress is not helping and that to get her to pop more you need shallower DOF. Also lighting, if it had't died, could bring her out more, underexposing the not too attractive background.

The head shots show off how beautiful she is because we're not distracted by the background and posing in the longer shots. I would suggest studying posing more-lots of books and web resources. Look thru fashion magazines.

And I totally agree about the birthmark. That's part of who she is and leave it. Keep shooting.

Paul Sokal's picture

One more thought: don't look to correct these issues in post. That just makes you a better retoucher. Get them right in camera and you'll be a better photographer.

Vincent Alongi's picture

Thank you very much, Paul... very good points and advice. I'll admit, the first time out and I felt a little "what/how do I do this?"... so I'll do as suggested and study and read up on some desirable composition and posing. And your points on positioning is noted... very good takeaways for me, I appreciate your feedback here!

Hi Vincent, the toughest part about getting started is purely that, getting started. Ha. So good for you getting out there and shooting. I glanced the comments above and some things I agree with others less so.

I think the aperture you shot these at are fine, if not a little bit too shallow for me. Depending on what you're going for I think too little depth of field can take away from the image.

I shoot fashion photography, and I tend to shoot at f/4 or deeper consistently. The city adds to the images and vibes for me. But for portraiture that could be different.

I think a bit more movement could be good for these. Shoot your posed one, but also could try the classic walk away from you and turn to look over her shoulder. Catch a bit of hair movement, maybe a smile etc.

Lastly, this is NOT a self plug, but I only really listen to advice from folks who have good work. So if you think my work is trash, ignore what I said above, no hard feelings.

Keep shooting! This early stuff is definitely heading in the right direction.

Vincent Alongi's picture

Matt, thank you for your perspective.

You triggered a thought when you mentioned 'movement'. As I started out with street photography, a good number of my subjects were in motion (I have some remaining stuff on my site). Then starting out in portrait, you think pose. Perhaps I can integrate some of that movement and motion into what I'm trying to capture in the full-body shots. That may result in an environmental / runway type of feel, I'll play around with it.

I can't remember my specific apertures here, but it was a mixed bag. As the first three shots here are cropping out the background rendering them less interesting, I can take another look at the feel of how they were composed. The big reason for shooting outside in New York is to specifcally capture the urban feel... I think I got away from that in this spread.

Lastly, your work is awesome- I'll refer back to it for ideas and influence, as it's a nice look. I think anyone here looking for influence should be perusing our collective sites for that. Thank you for sharing.

And I can't thank everyone enough... the feedback, pointers and advice is invaluable. Please, keep it coming- I take it all in and nothing is discounted.