Orlando American Photo Model Shoot Workshop, December 2011

Intro / Description

Well this is a bit different from what I normally photograph and post about.  But to keep learning, it’s good to occasionally stretch your skills, move outside your comfort zone, and try something you haven’t done before.  And as your intrepid Central Florida Photo Ops reporter, I have an obligation to report on more than just the landscape and wildlife opportunities in the Central Florida Area.  Right?

Flavia, in color

So last Saturday, I found myself at the American Photo Magazine Model Shoot Workshop at the Marriott World Resort in Orlando, Florida.  The magazine organizes the event, hires models, brings lighting equipment and sets everything up for you.  You just need to show up with your camera and plenty of memory cards.

They also bring in an instructor for the day.  For this session it was New York Photographer Lindsay Adler.  She provided some very good information on lens choice, lighting, posing, and creativity in two different sessions during the day.  She and the other instructors also circulated and offered advice and help while we were shooting.  It’s a great opportunity to learn, especially if you’re not familiar with this kind of photography.

There were 15 different models there.  I’ve included four photos of three of them in this post.  You can see more photos I made (including the other models) in this gallery.  You can also look at other photographers’ images at this link.

Tiffany, in fur

Since I’m normally a Nature & Wildlife photographer, I found it quite fascinating to think about the differences between those genres and Fashion and Model photography:

Nature and Wildlife Photography Fashion and Model Photography
The light is what it is.  You may be able to change it a bit with flash for fill and catch lights. You control the light.  Indoors, you control it completely.
High Dynamic Range is common for landscape photos to control large contrast levels. Since you control the lights, you control the contrast.  HDR isn’t required.
You rarely interact with the subject.  And if you do, you usually scare it off. You must interact with the subject.  Building a rapport and directing the pose is critical.
Very wide (landscape) or very long (wildlife) lenses are favored. Large aperture lenses are favored:  50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.4, 70 – 200mm f/2.8
It’s all on you – a one person show. You’ll require a team: models, make up artist, costumes, sets, etc.
Knowledge / experience and persistence are necessary to find good subjects. Portfolio, reputation, and relationships are necessary to find good subjects.
You go to where the subject is. The subject comes to you in a set or studio.
Post processing: Color adjustments, HDR (landscapes), Selective sharpening Post processing:  Color adjustments, Retouching, Selective sharpening

I’m sure I must have missed something.  What else is different about these two types of photography?

Info for Photographers

Photo hints:

At this type of event, everything except you and your camera are provided:  backdrops, lighting (hot lights and soft boxes), sets, models, costumes, makeup, etc.  The instructors will help with light adjustments and offer advice if you’re having any problems.  Flash isn’t recommended, since the lighting is provided and flash will interfere.  It will also be a lot harsher than the large soft box hot lights that are used.

You do need to use a higher ISO setting.  I used ISO 800 almost all day.  I shot with my lens wide open and my exposures ranged around f/2.8 between 1/60 of a second and ~1/320.  A capable high ISO camera will come in very handy as well as a large aperture lens with VR.  The Nikon D700 and 70 – 200 f/2.8 VRII combination worked well for me.  I did have some issues with overexposure.  I don’t know why these scenes were fooling my meter (maybe the dark backgrounds?), but I sometimes had to dial in some negative exposure compensation.  Make sure to check your histogram often.

Flavia, in black and white

White balance was tungsten on some sets and daylight on others.  I shot in RAW mode, so I didn’t worry too much about it.  I just set my camera in auto white balance and then corrected it (if needed) in post.  If you shoot in JPG mode, pay attention to the changing white balance.  I overheard a lot of discussion that day from different people about “degrees Kelvin”.

The overall experience sometimes resembled a paparazzi shoot out on a red carpet.  Popular models would attract a crowd of photographers.  Courtesy is very important.  Take your turn and let others have theirs – there was plenty of time for everyone.  It was also fascinating to be one of  the photographers in the crowd and hear shutter clicks sync up when a model changed position or where they were looking.

Tripod/Monopod:  Not recommended – it’s too crowded and would definitely be in everyone’s way – including yours.  It would also slow you down.  The models do move around, so you need to  react quickly to get the compositions you want.


One of the event sponsors was Sigma.  They brought a couple crates of lenses and would let you borrow one for a session.  This is a great chance to try glass that you haven’t used before.  I checked out an 85mm f/1.4 for the first session, but ended up not using it very much.  I wasn’t getting many sharp images even when I stopped it down.  I didn’t have time to diagnose the issue but I think my problem was a combination of very shallow depth of field and blur caused by slower shutter speeds with no VR.   I switched to my 70 – 200 f/2.8 and used it the rest of the day.  It was occasionally a bit long at the 70mm length, but I compensated when needed by taking multiple shots.

Jennifer, in close

Best time to visit:

You’ve missed your chance for this year.  To see when they’re coming back to Orlando, you’ll have to check the American Photo Website.  They told us they’d be posting the 2012 schedule soon.

Other:  I had a great time, but it was a long day.  You’ll be on your feet a great deal of the time, and you’ll be shifting positions often to get a good vantage point.  I was quite tired at the end of the day.


You can view a higher resolution gallery of other photos I made at the link in the table below.

My Gallery:  https://edrosack.com/APMS
Their Website:  http://www.americanphotomag.com/modelshoot/
Their Contact Info:
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating:  A different kind of CFL Photo Op must do!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

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