How I Got the Shot – NYC Concept Shoot with Sal Cincotta
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Recently I had the honor of working with and photographing the beautiful Bella. I met Bella and her family at ShutterFest 2017. She was one of the models for the event. At the time, I didn’t have a chance to work with her one on one, but I knew I wanted to spend some time and try some new concepts with her.
I started the “How I Got the Shot” column years ago during a quest to better my craft. I figured I would take you along for the ride every month as I try new things, and we could learn and grow together.
This was a concept from Alissa, my second in command and all-around boss-lady. She saw some ideas for a flower wall, and we went from there. While there are sites that produce flower walls, they are usually complete crap. They look and feel cheap. They photograph poorly. These flowers you are seeing are all fake.
On sites like Etsy, you will find a huge variety of options and price points. You usually get what you pay for. For this shoot, we didn’t overspend. We went with middle-of-the-road pricing. The total cost was just around $200.
Bella is lying on a green indoor/outdoor rug to ensure that we don’t see the floor through the flowers, thus creating more post-production work and cost. (We picked up that rug on Amazon.)
This was shot indoors at a studio in NYC. This allowed us complete control of the environment, which is very important on a shoot like this. You want to be able to take your time setting up and getting dialed in with your lighting, posing, etc.
The ceilings were white and about 15 feet high. This played into our lighting decisions.
For shoots like this, I try never to cut corners. Invest in the details. Hair and makeup are crucial. Bella has gorgeous skin, but the camera and lighting can be unforgiving. I need to be as close to perfect as possible in-camera so I don’t have to spend countless hours fixing things in post-production. The soft light and makeup really paid off.
This was a fun shoot. The lighting was very different than our usual. Normally I would set up a few softboxes and call it a day, but for this one, I wanted a really soft natural-light look and feel.
So, how did we do it? We started with a Profoto B1 flash and Manfrotto Nano Stands. We fired the strobes into the ceiling to create a giant softbox.
Someone asked me recently if I could accomplish the same thing with speedlights. It depends. With this type of indirect light, you are losing a ton of light in the distance to the ceiling because the light has to travel from your strobe to the ceiling and back down to the ground. Factors that impact this include the height of the ceiling and the reflective nature of the paint. So you could need more power than a speedlight can put out, but it might work just fine.
You just have to test your setup.
This was an easy enough setup, but I had never tried it before this shoot. The first time’s a struggle, but that’s how you grow. Now I have a new lighting setup in my arsenal.
Try something new every month. Work on your portfolio. Get out there and practice. That is the only way to grow as a photographer. I love challenging myself each and every day to be better than the day before. I love the process of failing because there is always something new on the other side.
This Post Has 2 Comments
I picked up your magazine for the first time yesterday and this was the first thing I read because I like the concept. To me, the final photograph, while beautiful, seems flat and two-dimensional. It actually reminded me a bit of a folk art painting (probably as much for the colors as anything). That was not a criticism but just an observation. The greatest feeling of depth is in her collar bones. The question in all of this is, is it a correct assumption that my perceived lack of depth is due to the lighting technique and bouncing the lights off of the ceiling. Also, did you do much post processing to get the shadow effect around the collar bone or is that pretty much the way it came out. Thank you
thank you for reading the magazine and my article. 🙂 i am not sure i would describe the image as “flat” per se, but i understand what you mean. correct, this is big soft light – not directional light at all. makes the skin look and feel very milky. collar bones – nothing… just her pose and shadows 🙂 but realize… there is no perceived depth, because there really is no depth… she is laying on a bed of flowers – so the distance between her eyes and flowers is very small… for more depth – we would have needed greater distance allowing for more light fall off (different light hitting her face than hitting the background) hope that helps and thanks for reading!