Playboy Playmate Photo Shoot
Digital Medium Format Photography
Camera: Leica S2, Medium Format DSLR
Lens: Leica 180mm f/3.5 APO ELMAR-S Lens (145mm equivalent in full-frame 35mm format)
Aperture: Setting: f/11
Shutter Speed: 1/125th handheld
White Balance: 6000K
Camera Mode: Manual
Lighting: Hensel Porty Premium 1200 Power Pack w/Hensel Ringflash
I decided to discuss this photo, for our how it was done section, as a tribute for the late Playboy Playmate Cassandra Lynn, a great friend for over six years. It’s been three years since her passing but what most people don’t know was that this was one of her photos on display while we were at a Playboy event at Harley’s club in Prague. This was Cassandra’s first and only trip to Europe, and I had the honor to accompany her there. A butterfly now in heaven, rest in peace my dear friend.
The Story Behind The Photo
Normally during my exotic photography workshops, I have my models and assistants arrive a couple of days early. This gives everyone time to acclimatize and also provides me extra time to get a little of my own photography done before everyone arrives. I also will do a little shooting during the workshop as photographers often ask if they can see me work, as was done with this photo, shot the third afternoon of the workshop, Nov. 15, 2010.
In this particular photography workshop held in the U.S. Virgin Islands, one of our models was Playboy Playmate Cassandra Lynn. Cassandra and I had known each other for four years, but had done very little photography together. On this Caribbean trip, I still had a Leica S2 medium format camera that Leica had loaned me with a few lenses the week before to photograph the Sacramento Kings NBA Dance Team Calendar, and I figured I’d use it one more time before its return to Leica.
Cassandra had gone all out for this photography workshop having her hair done in braids, which took almost a day to accomplish, so I especially wanted to capture her at this event. We’d done many events together, including my workshops, but I didn’t always have time to photograph her at these events; but between her braids and the medium format Leica, I was going to ensure we’d shoot, and we did, this being one of the resulting photos.
Ironically, a year later for another U.S. Virgin Islands photography workshop, we had Cassandra again as one of the six models, and two of our photographers, a couple from the Czech Republic, Jiri and Annette, discussed with us how they were putting together some photography events in Prague and Pilzen, and would like us both to attend on their behalf along with a Playboy event. Ten months later, Cassandra and I would attend these events in the Czech Republic including the Playboy event held in our honor at a popular club, Harley’s, where they had some of my photography on display including this photo. Sadly, this would be Cassandra’s first and only trip to Europe before she would rise to heaven a little over a year later. May she rest in peace.
The first challenge was the model’s safety. Cassandra is standing on a rock where the ocean meets the island and the waves that day were extremely powerful. She had to maintain her balance on a slippery rock not knowing how bad the waves were coming from behind. We did our best to warn her for awareness purposes, but there was one time where the wave crashed from behind so hard and high it almost swept her off the rock. We were lucky, and we worked fast, getting the shot, and getting out of there.
Fortunately Cassandra was a great model, she knew how to move and because the ocean is loud with the surf in the background, she was able to move after each flash unless I yelled at her otherwise.
The second challenge was overcoming the sun with flash, which was easy as we used a Hensel Porty 1200 watt-second portable, battery powered pack to drive our Hensel ring flash at full power. My assistant stood next to me while having the portable power pack hang from his shoulder with a shoulder strap. The ocean waves were very active that day, so we had to ensure the splashing waves would not strike us, though we could feel the overspray on the splashes.
In the end, we overcame our challenges fairly easily and Cassandra provided some great poses for us to capture quickly. It also helped that Cassandra and I had a great friendship and had done a little shooting before, including previous photography workshops, thus the more you work with a subject, the easier it is to capture great photos. Plus as a photographer, it helps when you have such a photogenic and beautiful model along with great makeup and hair plus great assistants. It’s a team effort.
Safety is always first and our first concern was ensuring the model was safe so we kept her on the nearest rock formation. By using a medium format 180mm lens, the background compresses and brings the splashing waves in closer allowing us to keep her closer to us and not the ocean. She was also instructed on how slippery the rocks were along with the dangers before my assistant escorted her to her shooting spot.
We were using battery powered flash, though it is dangerous around water too, we were careful and kept the power pack off the ground and away from splashing waves. At anytime if anyone, my assistants, my model or I, see anything unsafe we immediately take action even if it includes shutting the shoot down. All went well and we worked fast, but careful.