Visualizing The Shot Before You Shoot!

01 Apr

I have to apologize for not posting more often. We arrived in New York City on January 3rd and I have been working non-stop since we moved here. With jobs for Ralph Lauren and Nike, which took me back to LA for a week to shoot and then back to NYC to finish the job, my schedule has been a whirlwind of exciting jobs and networking. I’ve also shot two amazing editorials which I’ll blog about as soon as they’re published! Let’s just say that my decision to move to New York was definitely a good one! I absolutely love it here and have acclimated to it faster than anyone could’ve have guessed I would.

Before I moved to New York City though, I had one last shoot in LA for Rusnak Automotive Group. Elizabeth Rusnak, Vice President of Rusnak and head of marketing and advertising for the company happens to have been my best friend in High School and after having a Good Bye dinner in Hollywood with “The Girls”, her and I decided to do another shoot together with my models and her cars! Trust me, Rusnak doesn’t sell ordinary cars. They sell high-end, luxury automobiles of the Rolls Royce, Bentley, Jaguar, Porsche caliber. I have worked with Elizabeth over the years on various projects and since we go way back, there’s a great collaboration between the two of us. Liz was witness to my initial discovery of photography, we even worked on the yearbook together in our Senior year of school waaaaay back in 1980!!

Because of time restraints for both Liz and I, we decided it was best to shoot the cars in one of the Rusnak warehouses.  It was your typical space, complete with awful fluorescent lighting and grey, dingy walls. But what was great about it was it’s actual size: it was big enough to move the cars around and get my lighting in there. I can shoot in a closet, but if I have my choice, honestly,  it’s nice to have a big space to get really creative in. Especially when you’re shooting big cars like the Rolls Royce Phantom!

I knew before I even shot this job that I was going to be working in this space, which I’ve shot in before. And I knew I would have to drop in different backgrounds. I decided that since I would be moving to NY in less than a month after shooting this, I would shoot some New York City nightscapes and strip those into the background. So I lit the set accordingly. I used a lot of flare and back light in order to recreate the look of headlights streaming into the car where the models were sitting. While I was shooting, I kept the background in mind and visualized what kind of “final” picture I was going to get after I included the retouching. It’s important to always have your final image in mind when you do a shoot. There is so much prepping that goes into my shoots, nothing is left to chance. However, there are times when I change the whole thing up the day of the shoot, depending on whether I had an outdoor shoot and the weather dictated the need for necessary change. Or perhaps the energy on set dictates a different direction. Even some styling “surprises” can change the direction. But for the most part, I research and plan way before my shoots so I can nail down the shot list before I even get to set.

I wanted to do a sexy, romantic shoot in the high-end cars.  So I knew I needed a male model as well as a female model. I had recently worked with Rina from Photogenics in Los Angeles and we had a really nice chemistry on the last shoot so I booked her again for this shoot. I love her long, thin body. She wears clothes like a dream! I wanted an edgy, “European” looking boy so we booked Lawrence for this shoot. Since I decided on using Rina first, it was then easier to cast my boy.

I placed them all over the place. Back seat, front seat, him in the front, her in the back, outside of the car, her alone……all different scenarios. And I shot with my wide angle lens, the 24mm for most of the day. I had a beauty dish, a large octabank, some parabolics on the background and we even popped in my trusty speedlight to add some extra flare. Just like I discussed in this previous post, I don’t use speed lights for any key lighting but they do lend themselves nicely as background light or interesting flare. Tyler sometimes held the speed light just off the car’s back end, pointing it towards the camera so I could get the effect of  headlights blasting into the car. Since my backgrounds were going to be New York street scenes, and NY is a crowded, busy place, plenty of interesting outside light was necessary to give this shoot a realistic feel. I guess if there’s anything to learn from this shoot it is to think before you shoot. Think about the final image you want before you get to the studio or the set. That way you can direct your lighting and models to formulate the final look.

All Images © 2011 Melissa Rodwell Photography

Styling was done by Rodney Burns, Make up by Johnny Saade from Artists by Timothy Priano and Hair by Adriana Trevizo, also from Artists by Timothy Priano.

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