September is back-to-fashion month, when glossy magazines bulge at the seams with their biggest issues of the year.
To celebrate its fashion-packed September issue, W magazine partnered with Hipstamatic for a new lens called “WMag Freepak,” offered free to download in-app until September 2, and launched a contest that will earn the winner a chance to shoot for the magazine.
Photographer Peter Ellenby, a self-taught shutterbug who has lived in San Francisco, shooting bands, events, portraits and fashion since 1994, took the WMag lens on a trial run for pics that will appear in an upcoming edition of Hipstamatic’s iPad magazine Snap.
Here are his tips for photographing fashion, including why you should save money on a studio but always accessorize your shots with a touch of crazy.
1. Test your equipment. Before a shoot you really want to test what you’re going to be shooting with. As soon as I downloaded the new WMag FreePak from Hipstamatic, I grabbed my daughter and said “Ruby, model for me.”
I did a quick shoot with her to find out how the WMag FreePak reacted to light, how the tonality of the shots looked, etc. I was really impressed with the Pak’s amazing contrast while also maintaining some softness that is so flattering in fashion and portraiture. Usually you’d probably know your way around your camera pretty well, but that’s one of the wonderful things about shooting with Hipstamatic on your iPhone; a whole new set of gear can be dropped in your lap at any time.
2. It’s the work, not the gear. One of the things that I love about shooting with my iPhone is that it just gives you so much freedom. It’s like having a few hundred cameras in my pocket!
The model we worked with on the shoot, Avery Tharp, really seemed to dig the fact that she was just being photographed with iPhones. I also think that it helped relax the whole situation and having a relaxed scene, especially a relaxed model, is really key. Anyone who looks down on a photographer for using an iPhone is just being a snob. It’s not about the tools used to capture an image it’s about the quality of the work you get with those tools.
3. Scout your locations and backgrounds. It’s really important to know where you’re going to shoot before you get the model, stylist and the makeup artist going because you don’t want to waste their time (or your time) so find some really cool places to shoot.
Some places with some atmosphere. Places that have nice colorful walls. Places that have something for the model to do. That being said however, always remember the most important thing when you’re shooting fashion is the model and, maybe even more importantly, the clothes. The “where” is there to make them look good.
4. Find light that works with your tools. Light is everything for photography even more so when you’re shooting with your iPhone. You have to be a little bit more in tune with what’s going on because the light quality can really affect the quality of your photos.
I prefer to shoot outside or in natural setting rather than in studios, and the iPhone’s flash isn’t much to brag about, so natural light is the lord of your shoot. Dramatic direct light to softened indirect light is all good, but make sure you have a reflector to add some highlights and brightness when needed.
Also, not shooting in a studio and using found locations can be a great way to get by on a budget. No need to rent out a space, just find some cool places that work…Keeping that in mind save your cash, or your client’s cash, for the all-important stylists and hair + makeup artists, they are super important to a fashion shoot.
5. Do something crazy. We grabbed a giant chair and stuck it out in the middle of the street South of Market in San Francisco. Why is there a chair in the road? Why is there a beautiful woman in an amazing dress sitting on it? Who cares! It looks amazing!
6. Be mindful of motion. We were lucky for this shoot that the famous San Francisco wind didn’t whip up too much and provide the added feature of motion to hair and clothing (motion is something I’m very used to shooting as a music photographer) but if it had it’s something that can be dealt with. The key is patience and anticipation.
Wait for the wind to blow the model’s hair so it’s not in front of her face. Anticipate the moment the dress will be flowing in the wind. Not blowing it up over her head. And take a lot of photos. It’s not like you’re going to run out of film.