Model Portfolio: Jinri

Jinri would easily be in my top muses list. Always awesome to experiment with various looks and concepts with her. So here's one where we toyed around some mish-mash of contemporary Chinese- in a modern setting house.

I was just working with one (1) for most of the shoot since the glass walls went up as high as the 2nd floor. We had all the light we needed even as the afternoon pushed on. My strobe was powered down and placed on the far end of the house. 

Working with natural light means working against time. Light shifts in direction, temperature and texture as the day progresses, and it's all about maximizing each moment. There are chances when you had to throw out your current idea because you've already missed the opportunity to shoot it right. 

I can't really give a straight up lighting tutorial on this one, except for some guides in searching for that perfect setting. 

  • Never get transfixed in just one spot for that moment. Like I said, time is against you. If it doesn't work, simply move on. You could revisit that layout in the middle of the shoot if you want.

Ara did an awesome job with Jinri's make-up. This look reminded me of Ayumi Hamasaki, some popular J-Pop singer. 

  • Never settle for physical setup of your venue at face value. There are lots of ways to work around the setting to maximize your shooting potential. 

  • Favor the light to your model's best angle.

Production Credits:
  • Make-up: Ara Fernando
  • Styling: Hannah Kim
  • Model: Jinri Park
Behind the scenes


Model Portfolio: Nicole

Nicole has always been on my bucket list of models to work with. After our shoot for FHM Magazine 8 years ago, it was only then when the stars aligned themselves again, and I have her in front of the lens. 

Reunion shoots are the best kind for me. It rekindles old friendships, and that's where I draw the inspiration to work with them. 

This was shot in "Raffy's Last Resort" (as I fondly call his place), at the 2nd floor of their main house. We don't get to go up there on a regular basis, so I take the chance every time we can. The last time was for Jinri's calendar several months back. The challenge in this scenario is maximizing the space without losing the inspiration. More often than not, when you've shot in a location several times in a row, you get a bout with location fatigue. Your brain gets tired of seeing the place, and automatically go for spots you have used previously. 

As they quote it in Criminal Minds, it's all about "looking at the scene with fresh eyes."

This particular layout was hard to imagine at first. The light was coming from a wide window with a screen, but covered with lots of foliage outside. There's not much sun peeking through and any cloud cover immediately drops the available light coming in. What I did here is compensate with strobes, but simulating how the room would be naturally lit. 

My main light was a brolly box aimed to the wall corner wall. This diffuses the effect, at the same time picks up the tinge color of the room. The ceiling had an old green lamp, which coincidentally is a signature look for an Asian cinema feel, but it was already too weak to be picked up by the camera. I had to place a gelled strobe firing on the opposite side, to boost the green light effect from the lamp without having an overpowered effect on it. My last light is a highlight hitting the chair, just missing off her shoulder.

But again, I'm not relying on the strobes alone. I'm actually picking quite alot of the ambient light. All the strobes were powered down to their minimum. As for my camera settings, I upped the ISO to 800 and aperture to 2.8. 

The color grading is a punchier version of the Asian film look I usually do. I upped saturation on the reds and magentas, but had to kill a bit on the yellows. I also overlaid a green tinge on the entire image, and dropped the opacity below 20%. The backside of had a hanging green lamp from the ceiling, giving off that vintage Chinese feel. 

This set was more on the natural light, and I just used the modeling bulb from one of the strobes to light up the corridor behind the stairs.

I did her headshots against a brown wall in Raffy's patio in front of their house. This is pretty much straight up and chose that spot since the light was diffused and soft. I did my usual color grading for effect. Not sure if this really hits the spot, but I've always loved experimenting with various color grading effects. 


Model Portfolio: Isabel

It's more of the one-light setups for me again with Isabel. 

I experimented on a mixed lighting scenario for her. We did some strobework, and boosted ambient lighting as you see in the sets that follow.

I wanted to give an extra vintage spin on the typical head shot, but the challenge came when I just used one light for this. Then I remembered those old-school black / white glamour photos and I thought of replicating the same effect. The left shot on the other hand is your typical head shot sans any color grading. 

The next two sets are rather basic, much like how alot of fashion images are lit. They're not really complicated to begin with, yet what makes them stand out is maximizing a minimalist setting. What you are selling are the clothes, and the model is the "accessory." 

The last two images of this one-light-against-wall setup is another experiment in replicating vintage editorial work. Simple poses matched with lighting and a touch of color grading for the "old" magazine feel -- like the ones you've left in the attic after several years. 

The last four (4) images is taken from the same set. The lights in the make-up table at the studio were pretty strong, and I thought of using this as a backdrop for a contrived "behind-the-scenes" shot. I used a strobe placed camera right behind Isabel giving that highlight on her shoulder, at the same time using its bounce to work as my main light. This kind of lighting gives a drama in an image, accenting the highlights. Based from experience though, this only works in on-location scenes, and not in straight up studio shot. I use this technique alot in Men's Health shoots. 

The last image though was a happy accident. It was a test shot where the flash didn't fire at all. In hindsight, I personally found it better than the actual shots for the layout. 

Production Credits:
  • Make-up: Jet Babas
  • Styling: Hannah Kim
  • Model: Isabel Blaesi