Melissa – the ice skater

The majority of my shoots generally involve me coming up with a concept and then recruiting a model to take part. However, I’m more than happy to work the other way round and for the model to suggest something that I then shoot.

This was the case with Melissa when I answered a message she posted on the Facebook group seeking a photographer. Melissa is a Wellington based model and actress, and she was looking for some updated photos to go into her portfolio. We had a brief discussion about what we would do and then set up a time for me to go to her place and do the shoot. We ended up doing three very different looks so I have split the shoot into three posts.

While I enjoy the challenge of working in a new environment it does mean that the car gets loaded with a lot of gear because he never actually know what he will actually use. Melissa had indicated that she wanted some photos shot against a white background. My seamless paper was actually too wide to transport so I settled on a white sheet.

The key to having a clean white background is to ensure that it is well lit and so I decided to position two lights on it. When shooting in my home studio my lights are in 1 m² soft boxes however there was not sufficient width in the space for me to position the two of them. I therefore removed the soft box from one light and shot with it in a small reflector. As this meant that the light was emitting more light, it was set at a slightly lower power than the other one so that the light was roughly even. The main light was positioned camera lift using the 65 cm soft box with double diffusion.

Melissa wanted to portray her versatility as an actor and so she created a character with some of the props that she owned. She turned into a former Russian Olympic ice skater who was now slightly past the prime of her career.

I have shot with actors a couple of times and they are really great as they can bring lots of different expressions to the images. Furthermore they will actually go with a concept rather than a model that you may have to direct.

Part of Melissa’s costume was a long scarf and so I could not resist using it as a mass that lets you focus solely on the eyes. I have shot such images on a number of occasions and I really enjoy the look and power that comes with them.

While not part of the original concept with Melissa as I was processing the images I realised that as they were shot against a clean background they were perfect candidates to be used in composite.

I generally try to use my own images for composite is that an April sent to be entered into competitions in this case I did not have any images of snow ice or ice drinks. So I went onto unsplash.com to search for some images. This is a site where photographers upload images and allow them to be downloaded without charge royalty free. I found a number of images that I though might work and after clear cutting Melissa out I added as the background.

While I like the image above I found that the image worked better in an interior location such as the ice rink.

I was really pleased with the way the images came out.

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