Fashion Photography 3

In part 1 I interviewed Dave Kai-Piper about his work as a top fashion photographer and he invited me to join him early next day to shoot some early morning images down by the sea whilst no one's about, which you can see in part 2. Now lets see what else the maestro get's up to, and some of it is pretty crazy stuff...

As you’ll see right at the start Dave puts his extremely expensive Lee Filters face down on gravel, which made even made me flinch a bit in case a stone poked into it and scratched it. But for dave scratches and dust on his filters are desirable for the effect he gets. “Lovingly curated’ is the phrase he uses! Fashion photography is all about a feeling of desirability and he uses some interesting methods to achieve it.

Dave has a powerful clarity of vision when pre-visualising his images which is important for every photographer to be able to master. It’s US who make the image not the camera which merely records light onto a sensor. I love the way he sees a landscape image in his head, then imagines it with the model precisely placed and posed within it.

Camera settings etc are the last part of it to be added in at the last moment according to light, depth of field required etc…  This is how it works in all genres - not only fashion photography.

Notice the tiny movements Dave makes between shots, changing his viewpoint, re-aligning aspects of the composition as he works. Remember he’s shooting a landscape with a model in it - not just a model. By moving yourself higher or lower, right or left a bit you change the feeling of the image as foreground is included, more or less sky etc. Even a slight change in focal length makes a big difference.

Fashion photography is about the clothes, not the model or the location and careful posing is needed. The more natural the pose the less the viewer notices the model. Notice the difference between a more glamorous curvy shaped pose and a straight up and down one.

To maximise on a position always try moving around it to see if there’s more to be gained from it. After Dave shot his dark sky landscape fashion shot, he didn’t move the model, he moved himself around the model to shoot into the sun to explore a different look shooting directly into the sun.

Think about Dave's comments on an image being too bright or dark - what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Are blocked shadows really wrong or blown highlights bad? Or are they just part of what you want to achieve in an image.

There’s a lot of talk about a blown highlight being wrong because there’s no detail in it, but if that detail detracts from the intention of the overall image the I’d suggest capturing maximum detail is ‘wrong’ in that instance.

Photography is a blend of technical and creative skills which stem from the photographer. Whether it’s fashion, landscape, macro or anything else it’s us who choose how to implement these skills by thinking like a photographer.

When you watch the slideshow at the end, think about how each image was achieved, notice all the aspects which might be considered technically wrong like scratch marks on filters etc. Ask yourself if these make - or break the image…

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