This year I've made it a goal to test as much as is humanly possible. I'm fortunate that Bristol is a vibrant city buzzing with many beautiful people, and numerous modeling agencies to showcase them. Some are well established and others just starting out. So getting testing for them is the perfect way to build up a portfolio.
After emailing a few of these agencies I was delighted to get a yes back. Most agencies are willing to help new photographers out as long as you have a few good shots to show them. Everyone has to start somewhere remember! So don't be afraid to contact agencies big or small. I was too timid for so long and there was absolutely no reason to be!
Although this is only my first test for an agency, my ethos at this current time is to keep shoots simple. Usually agencies are looking for natural head shots that can attract both commercial and editorial clients. Massively provocative or edgy editorial images are often not of much use to them, as they want their boys and girls to be as commercially versatile as possible. Take a look at some of the biggest agencies and their girls books and you'll see what I mean.
I'm lucky that Alice is so damn gorgeous, lovely to talk to and had a lot of confidence about her. It can often be a challenge with inexperienced models to get numerous shots that aren't all too samey and the models confidence is key to this. Sometimes poses keep appearing and facial expressions are exactly alike, but this wasn't an issue on this shoot!
Surround yourself with people who are far more talented than yourself and your work will shine! I think Tarantino said something along those lines once. As well as Alice being amazing, my good friend Evie Smith is a crazy talented makeup artist, and one of the best I've worked with. It was also a pleasant surprise when Naomi Lake (another fab MUA) turned up with Evie as she had an idea to test out later on. You're only as good as the team around you, which is something I've learnt on various film and photo shoots over the past few years. On a few of the latter shots Naomi gave Alice some really good direction on posing that both of us appreciated massively. I was starting to become a tad lost, and it really saved the shots. So take on board what others suggest, drop any ego and you'll be a better photographer for it.
For the lighting I used one light only. A Bowens 500 watt strobe with an 80cm Octabox, boomed overhead at about a 45 dregree angle. And as close to Alice as possible for a really soft light. I also placed a silver reflector panel to her right just to add a bit of fill to make sure the shadows weren't falling into complete darkness. Personally I think that using one light is a really good way to get to grips with studio photography. Test shoot's like this don't require intricate setups. It's all about making the model look as dazzling as possible. In hindsight I wish I'd added a small hair light just to add a bit of shine to the hair and maybe a gentle backlight to lift Alice out from the backdrop.
Towards the end of the shoot we swapped things up just a little. Naomi wanted to create a slightly more edgy image. The lighting setup hardly changed, but I swapped out the softbox for my beauty dish to see if there was any real difference in light quality. Honestly to my eye it didn't really make a difference in this scenario. A £120 beauty dish vs a £30 softbox. Can you really tell the difference? So don't let kit get in the way of anything! I've been guilty of that far too often.
Overall I'm really happy with these images. And I can't wait to move on to the next one!
That's it for now. Hope someone reads this! And if anybody did please feel free to leave feedback. I'm planning on writing more of these type of blogs throughout the year, so it would be great to know if this is at all interesting to people.
Mike Wright x
Alice Hoskyns: @alicehoskyns
Evie Smith: @evies_makeup
Naomi Lake: @naomilakemua