One thing I love the most about my job is to be able to work with hugely talented people in my team. It’s always so inspirational to be around them and never fails to serve as an outstanding learning opportunity.
No matter how long I have been in the industry or how many shoots I have been fortunate enough to take part in, there is always something to learn from my peers. Everyone has their own style, approach and experience so there is always something you can pick up, reflect on and turn into your own thing.
Makeup artist Andrea Claire is one of those amazing individuals that I have had the pleasure of working with. Luckily for me our recent shoot wasn’t the first opportunity to work together and I hope it won’t be the last!
For this shoot, we chose models Mariska and Mari who we felt both had incredibly strong and unique looks. They each had an edgy look to them while also having enough similarities to be able to look good in a shoot together. This is really important when pairing people up for photoshoots as you always have to make sure that they look good together and the pairing is not too odd. Yes, we have to find beautiful people that also look beautiful together. I never claimed to be saving the world but I love my job! Fun on fun on fun! Both Mariska and Mari also had great skin which is hugely important for a beauty shoot. I knew that I was going to go up close with a macro lens while using a GFX 50S. If I had used a model without good skin, I would have to spend a really long time editing the images. As mentioned, I love my job but I’d be lying if I said editing was the best part of my day.
This shoot’s mood board was based on soft pastel colors. We came up with a bunch of reference photos so we could have different ideas on what we could do on the day of the shoot. Andrea also prepared a whole bunch of light colored fabric including some tulle that we could use to style our models, and also came up with some creative props such as turning curtain ties into hair bands. This is simply one of the many ways that Andrea makes shooting so much easier. Having a proactive, creative and well prepared team can make the shoot itself so much smoother and easier to execute. In any case though when it comes to this sort of photography, it’s really up to your imagination to be as creative as possible!
We did a number of makeup looks for this shoot to ensure that the magazine would be able to choose which images they wanted to use. Good thing Andrea also loves what she does as that means more experimentation with makeup is possible during the shoot. Providing more images than necessary to magazines is something I often try to do just to make sure they have the option to use whichever they prefer.
My plan for lighting here was to produce something that was soft and flattering. I originally started with a big octa since that’s a modifier that reliably produces soft light. However, I decided that the light was actually too flat and changed it to a white umbrella instead. It added more contrast to the image but I made sure to have the light fairly close to the models to keep it soft. As for fill, I had a light with a softbox on the other side. This was mainly to fill up the shadows since the main light is coming from the side. I also had a reflector in the scene though to be honest, I don’t really think it did much. Lastly, I had one more light hitting the white wall behind me. I love using this method as a fill light as it becomes a huge soft light source and is great for filling in the pores, making them less obvious.
Lighting setup above done with set.a.light 3D software. A fantastic tool for testing out different lighting setups.
As usual, this shoot was tethered through a TetherPro cable to Capture One. This is especially important during a beauty shoot as it allows my makeup artist to see her work up close. This means being able to check if there are any unwanted creases around or if the eyelashes are neat etc. Anything that she is able to fix in person while hugely reducing the amount of time I’ll need to spend on retouching. With Capture One, I was also able to color grade and add in edits such that the images that appeared on screen while tethering are already closer to what I envision for the finished product.
Once I was done with the photoshoot, I filtered through the images in Capture One. For this shoot, I had outsourced the retouching to Vincenzo Vocale. He did his magic on them, making the skin look flawless yet natural. I then took over and ran a little Infinite Color Panel magic on them. This is a tool I use for color grading. Color grading is this huge complicated topic that is so subjective it becomes confusing rather quickly. For me, this panel really helps me see the different directions my image can take with different color grades.
Again, I am really incredibly thankful to the team for working on this together with me. It was one of those photoshoots that made me really happy that I actually do this as a career. Looking forward to the next one with Andrea and everyone else involved!
Photographer: Shavonne Wong
Model: Mari Orlova and Mariska Pretorius (Ave Management)
Makeup & Hair: Andrea Claire
Makeup & Hair Assist: Zoel Tee
Retoucher: Vincenzo Vocale
Nice work as always Shav...
Thanks Leigh! Glad you like it ☺️
Yay thank you!
Great work, Shavonne. Thank you for sharing.
Mind if I ask you a few questions?
1) Why did you choose M-sized deep umbrella white, not L or XL - it might have given even softer light? Is it because it would have become too flat? If such was the case, do you think silver deep umbrella L/XL would have made it more contrasty?
2) Imagine if add a grid to a key light (white deep umbrella M) How would the image change in your case?
Thanks again. :-)
Honestly, the main reason for taking that particular umbrella was because it was what was available! Hahaha.
A bigger umbrella would be softer, but silver would be punchier. The light could likely be faaaairlyyyy similar-ish but with a different quality look to it.
If with a grid, I assume the light would be just more focused.
Thank you, Shavonne!
Let me summed up.
So big silver would have been interesting to try. And since it is bigger and gives more light diffusion, directing it with a grid would have eliminated spill in the studio (esp. for darker shots). But smaller white umbrella ☂ gives a more focused light with enough softness and contrast and seem more practical overall in your circumstances.
I was hoping you would do a breakdown of this shoot when I saw your posts from it. Brava!
I'm glad I was able to give you what you were looking for! (:
How great makeup can pro up model pics. When people wonder why their pics don't have the look, makeup is something that seems to slip the mind. Nice work.
Makeup definitely plays an incredibly huge part in beauty photography! A great makeup artist would make the photographer's job infinitely easier.
Great job detailing your style and work flow.
Thank you! (:
These were not edited by me but by another retoucher. However, I do edit some of my own work and I would caution against editing skin with auto smoothening tools. If you want to learn proper retouching in Photoshop using industry techniques, I highly recommend Pratik's course.
The course really is very good! Retouching is a huge subject and Photoshop has a huge learning curve but if you really spend the time to learn it and skip all the youtube shortcut techniques, you'll be able to learn how to edit skin naturally and beautifully too.
Your posts are my favorites.
Aw, thank you! Hehe that's so kind of you to say!