Let it Rain in The Photography Studio
The Art of Seduction Boudoir Studio
Camera: Olympus OM-D, EM-1, Mirrorless
Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8, 24-80mm DSLR Equivalent
Focal Length: 40mm (80mm equivalent in 35mm DSLR)
Shutter Speed: 1/30, handheld
Camera Mode: Aperture Priority White Balance: 6000K
Lighting: Natural Light, Filtered Through Window, side-light from LED light stick
I was contacted by “Dennis” from Berlin who years ago had attended one of my photography workshops in Los Angeles. He was visiting the U.S. and wanted to spend a private instructional day with a model and I in the studio before his return to Germany, so we agreed to meet in Chicago at the Art of Seduction Boudoir Studio where he’d photograph Heather plus an additional model, Adri for the day. What he didn’t know was what I had planned for a bonus shoot after his private instruction.
The Story Behind The Photo
About five years ago, “Dennis,” a photographer from Berlin, had attended one of my two-day photography workshops in Los Angeles. He was back in the U.S. on business plus visiting with friends and decided to book Heather and I, plus another model, for a one-day private instruction photo shoot. Dennis also wanted to observe me doing “my thing” when it came to photography so we agreed on Chicago as an ideal location for us to meet and work together; so we booked a day for the use of the Art of Seduction Boudoir Studio owned by Argentina Leyva a photographer friend of mine.
What Dennis didn’t know until his arrival at the studio was the added bonus photo shoot where Heather would be sprinkled with water from above. This was a shoot that would test Dennis, and all of us for that matter, to get a shot done in 90-seconds or less plus it’d be broadcast as a live photo shoot via Periscope.
Periscope is a great marketing tool, but more important, it shows via a live streaming video broadcast, how things get done when it comes to creating a photograph—a nice teaching venue for other photographers to learn from. The downside to Periscope is the video stream only stays live for up to 24-hours for anyone that missed it or wanted to replay the captured video stream. However, one great caveat of the Periscope app is that you can store a copy of the broadcast in your smartphone, though without the comments, questions and hearts (likes), which is the video (condensed and edited for YouTube) we are sharing in this blog article.
During the entire day, both Argentina and I “scoped” (find Argentina on Periscope @boudoircoach; Heather @heathercarden86; Rolando @rolandogomez) some of that day’s shooting. At one point, my third scope reached 1330 live viewers in less than 12 minutes, and garnered 75 replays afterwards. That day I did four live broadcasts on Periscope and I know Argentina did several.
This was only my 17th day on Periscope, so I was excited with the results. Whether we were scoping, setting up the shoots, or shooting, Argentina and I synergized in getting things done for Dennis and the models that benefited from the photos in the end, regardless which photographer was shooting at any given time.
Argentina and I became friends many years ago after she attended one of my photography workshops in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Since then she has opened up to two photography studios, one in Chicago and one in Texas. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Engineering and this obviously gives her an edge when creating things she needs in the studio. As an example, the water device used in the main photograph of Heather in this article was created and built by Argentina.
In it’s current configuration her water device takes about a gallon of water and once it’s released it rapidly drips water for almost 90 seconds—so being quick during the shooting process is a must. In fact, what Heather and I did was practice before the water was released to ensure we had everything correct.
This part of the private instruction was a surprise for Dennis, and a treat for all of us as Argentina, Dennis and I all photographed Heather during the second water release. The first water release Argentina and I shot while Dennis photographed the second model, Adri, in a different area of the studio. It was all done at the end of the day when we had finished with Dennis, but we all three decided to stay an extra half hour to get our water shots. Dennis was pleased with this added bonus shoot.
One thing to note, when doing any type of photo shoot where your model will become totally wet, plan it for the end of the day as make-up will run, plus the last thing you want to do is this type of shot in the beginning of the day as you’ll have to wait for your model to redo her make-up and hair. This is why we saved this concept for the bonus shoot and it worked as planned plus my client Dennis was tickled pink when the day ended.
Creating a photo of this caliber will present challenges to the photographer and the model. In the case of the photographer, you have to wait until the end of the day as mentioned before. Dennis had no problem waiting as it was a bonus shoot on top of his private instruction he received during the day. In addition, you must practice, or do a “dry run” of a shoot of this caliber before you move forward with the actual shoot.
While some studios are equipped with water systems that will allow you to shoot for a few minutes or longer, we were on the second floor of the building and had placed thick, black plastic to capture the water—which meant afterwards, we had to carefully bundle the plastic up, then take it outside and dump the water.
You don’t want your model to get sick or cold, so we used lukewarm water and were prepared, or ready to go once the water was released as the flow of water ends in 90-seconds or less upon the initial release. While I could hear one photographer shooting on high motor-drive mode, I chose to capture one frame at a time in single-servo mode during this bonus shoot. This meant I had to quickly compose, focus, and decide between each frame, which isn’t easy as Heather was also instructed to change her poses during the shoot. It’s truly teamwork so you can release that shutter without hesitation once you “see” what you are looking for in the frame.
Argentina had recommended no flash as she felt the water photographs better with the backlighting coming from her large windows in the background. Using 4 x 8-foot black foam core boards, we partially covered the windows to maintain a dark background and to “cut” the amount of window light entering, hence our ISO 1600 selection. The wall directly behind us, the photographers, is white, thus it acted like a natural reflector and it was that reflected light that was illuminating Heather. However, Argentina had a small LED light stick we placed camera left as a nice sidelight touch.
Anytime you work with water you must work carefully, especially if you are using anything with electrical power. With this bonus shoot, we ensured nothing electrical was in the area around the shooting stage. The light stick was battery powered, extremely low-voltage and placed away from the wet area. We also had a towel nearby for the model’s use and had a second layer of plastic underneath the first layer as a precaution to protect the lacquered studio floors made of antique wood. In the end, Dennis, and for that matter all of us, got a beautiful bonus shoot experience and we enjoyed reminiscing about the previous photography workshop he had attended with me years ago.