Allied Productions | Grand Rapids Video Production, Photography and Digital Media Agency
THE INTERSECTION OF STRATEGY AND STORY

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The Intersection of Strategy and Story

Fashion Photography Tutorial: The Calvin

Simple, classic. This Photo setup is easy to learn yet effective enough to be a staple offering. 

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The Approach: Consistent, Forgiving, Flexible shooting

Some of our most popular fashion work is easily replicated. The lighting style is very consistent and forgiving. As such, it remains a favorite year after year. While we often alternate with back-lit and single light setups, the key elements remain the same. Our preferred approach is to use a strobe with a large parabolic umbrella and a diffusion modifier for the key source, a large v-flat as fill and (if needed) a hard back light (if desired). 

 A simple one light setup with a 7' parabolic umbrella (+diffusion) feathered and elevated. While this look often utilizes fill light or reflection, in this case we wanted a stronger shadow. The look is clean and classic, in color or black and white. Our studio infinity-wall completes the look. 

A simple one light setup with a 7' parabolic umbrella (+diffusion) feathered and elevated. While this look often utilizes fill light or reflection, in this case we wanted a stronger shadow. The look is clean and classic, in color or black and white. Our studio infinity-wall completes the look. 

Essential Photo Element: Consistent Lighting

One essential element of the look is to keep consistent light on your subject. Using as large of a light source as possible (remembering the inverse square law) allows for quickly altering framing from closeup, mid, and full-length composition. This aspect allows for relaxed, authentic posing. Rather than being as directed and crisp as one requires for other looks, this requires immediacy and authenticity. It is imperative to have a basic understanding of body language. You want to find a relaxed openness with an underlying strength and individuality. This look is an iconic style for a reason, as it's easily accessible yet difficult to master. 

 One light setup with large parabolic umbrella and diffuser. Light is feathered across model to create some shadow but provide consistent, soft key. 

One light setup with large parabolic umbrella and diffuser. Light is feathered across model to create some shadow but provide consistent, soft key. 

The Flexibility: Simple Adjustments, Big Variation

By feathering the key light, it is possible to achieve several variations on the overall theme simply by changing your shooting angle. Staying closer to the key will achieve loop/Rembrandt patterns in broad lighting, but the setup is also favorable for short lighting. 

 A two-light setup utilizing a 60" octobox with gridded diffusion and white panel for reflected fill. The simplicity of the outfit and the unrefined styling combine to present an engaging, iconic look. A grey seamless backdrop completes the look.

A two-light setup utilizing a 60" octobox with gridded diffusion and white panel for reflected fill. The simplicity of the outfit and the unrefined styling combine to present an engaging, iconic look. A grey seamless backdrop completes the look.

Final Thoughts

While studio photography offers many options and lighting patterns, this simple setup is a good 'first look' strategy. It doesn't require much mid-shoot tweaking, it's incredibly forgiving, and it suits a relaxed 'get into the day' posing/emotive style that we love to shoot. We'll often utilize this look to break the ice and get into the flow of the day. Let us know if it's just as effective for you!