November 23, 2009

Nicole - model from the workshop

I am wiped out from three days of taking pictures and staying out late from the workshop. Time to rest before heading back to Colombia! But, I want to share with everyone some pictures I did today of Nicole.

The workshop was Saturday night in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. After the workshop I invited all the attendees to join me in a night of taking photos. Corey was the only one who stuck around because he didn't have a flight home until the next morning. So, Corey and I hit the streets with one light stand, two lights and a camera. We found Nicole working at a restaurant and asked her if she wouldn't mind taking a quick photo. She was very friendly and said yes. The next day I emailed her the photo; she happily responded and asked me if I would take some fashion type photos of her before I returned to Colombia.

I had some time today and did a shoot with Nicole. note: I have no car in St. Pete, no cell phone, and had no idea what I was going to do about location. I borrowed a car, contacted Nicole via internet and found a location while driving around! More after the jump:

Here are the pics:

For all the pictures in this series I used a 50" Westcott softbox and a rim light with an amber gel (note: I asked Nicole to pick out the color she wanted for rim...she picked a brownish amber). I'm sure glad she didn't decide to use that neon purple gel.  I pretty much use the same technique when doing a fun shoot like this. I place the softbox around 45 degrees to the model and get that damn thing as close as possible to the model without it coming into your frame.  Remember,  the larger the light source, the softer the light (back off that light source and it's going to become smaller and produce a harder light).  Shove the rim light behind the model on the same plane as the main and put it 1 or 2 stops lower in power than the main light. Shoot away and have fun! Always keep in mind: shutter speed controls available light and aperture controls flash exposure.

I'm tired people. Andy and I will do a proper video about the shoot I did today this Friday when I return to Colombia. Until then...lighten up and shoot! Enjoy!!!!


  1. Michael,

    No joke, kick ass!! Proud of you get your ass back to Colombia so we can continue working!!



  2. On second thought, screw the Pistachio's bring her!!!

  3. That last shot is brilliant. Michael you have a way with the ladies ;-)

  4. I LOVE this! The minimalism is really working for you guys! Your approach to getting instant models is amazing! I think that it's your best tip/skill because you make it happen all the time! With out a subject to shoot we're just techies with glass :P

    You guys are amazing and I hope you make it to the USA again soon!


    Buffalo, NY

  5. Michael shoot me her email so I might work with her.

  6. Andy, Michael,

    I guess you should hit the road stop.. Romania :)

  7. Wow another great set of photos! nice work! i am truly in awe.

  8. No, next stop UK , we need crazy photo people.
    What would be really helpful for me would be details on the f and the shutter speed all that jazz, being newbie im running kenrockwells suggestions for the D90 P mode, etc etc
    Looks like SB28's are about £80($132) on ebay. so im bidding....
    Hey Andy, I got muddled up, its michael thats tom cruise lol
    Well you would think so by all the ladies anyway!
    The model in st p looked about 12 lol

  9. David,

    I would love to do a workshop in the UK. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter (see the widget on right side). We promise not to spam you. We will just send you info on our future workshops and cool videos for the people following us.

    Be sure to also watch our video series on speedlights (see blog archive on the right). We cover most of the technical information you need to know about off camera flash.

    PS we shoot everything manual mode! We are here to help.

    PS 2 You like this kind of material? You want to see more model shoots with people we find randomly while traveling?

  10. keep it coming, can you send me one of the images to my email so i can check out the parameters in aperture
    Sent u a donation, buy some peanuts !

  11. Dodgekr,

    Thanks for the donation, for being the first one to donate to our cause you are officially invited for FREE to any of our paid workshops that we will be having shortly!!!

    Contact me on Skype : to get your email to send you the picture.


  12. Will,

    Glad you are enjoying all this stuff!!! Thanks for the compliment but we really just love to shoot and when there isn't a model available, a paid shoot or anything else to do...we just find people. Rejection is not as bad as not getting the shot!!!


    In awe!!! Wow, the best compliment we have gotten!!!


    Romania it is!!!

    Alright my people of lightenupandshootlandia stay tuned, we'll have more shortly. Also, don't forget to sign up for the newsletter. I really am working hard on it and I don't want to send it to just 3 people!!!


  13. Im in for the newsletter, looking forward to it actually. Also FYI after seeing it in action at the workshop I bought the 50" westcott softbox through your affiliate link as well as some other incidentals so you should have at least another 50 cents in your account there. Keep up the work, coming along great....

  14. Its true, like matt said, when i saw the 4aa battery shot , it was like wow awesome, bangbus owners lol.
    cool guys,very cool, all i gottta do now is get a workshop in the uk and im sorted :-)
    Sorry its only enough to buy peanuts, maybe later :-)
    come on people donate

  15. Brian,

    Thanks for the affiliate link purchase...that softbox is the shizzlnitzlle!! I wish more people would see it in action, it really is amazing. Don't forget to post pics on our flickr group so we can see!!

    (Remember folks, buy through the link on our backpackers studio post, we make the good ol'e cashola)

    I gotta go work, got a photoshoot tomorrow for a motorcycle import company. I'm gonna film, but Mikey is still in the states so it's just me. Panning motorcycle shots and hopefully not getting killed video should be posted soon, if it's any good!! My fat ass sitting backwards on a motorcycle as I try to take picures...what could go wrong!!!

    Sign up for the newsletter, be the first to know about my funeral arrangements!!! Yay!!


  16. Too cool. That last shot is great. Keep it coming. Watched a few videos with my wife looking over my shoulder and let her know I was going to visit in Columbia...she rolled her eyes and started laughing.......does that mean yes? Dunno?

  17. Aggiecj,

    To me it sounds like you already have one foot on the plane! I'm pretty sure that is a huge YES!! One thing that I have learned through marriage is that rolling of the eyes definitely means YES!! Not sure what the laughing part just can't understand women all the time.

    So let me know when to pick you up at the airport!! Friday works well for me...

    See you here!!

    Bring Pistachio's!!


    If you come tomorrow tell your wife that it would be great because you can help me with some pictures for SOHO magazine ( )

  18. Michael, Andy,

    if you plan a trip to Europe, dont forget to visit me in Slovakia. We dont have that stunning countryside, but the ladies here are first class. Ask anyone who has been here.

    PS: Im planning to try out the softbox & flash stuff the comming year. You are a great inspiration to me. Keep on going.

  19. Hey guys a video request... Could you show us a quick video of that Westcott 50" from packed state to assembly? Lots are hesitant to buy the big ones because of fear of the actual packed size and also that they will be a pain in the ass to set up. Thanks!

    And just a note - hope you guys have a geat Thanksgiving in Colombia ;-)

    Libby - aka Niagaragirl

  20. Libby,

    The 50" is very easy to set up and will fit on a standard umbrella bracket for speedlight. It pops open like a giant umbrella. Super easy!!! It is big though...but, very light weight. It is probably our coolest light modifier. I would start with the 28" if you are a little afraid of the size. We will have some videos soon showing the 50"


  21. sign up for the newsletter. we are going to show some special videos for our followers. Also look out...we might be coming to your hometown!!!

  22. Those shots really make her look like she is a pro model. Maybe she should try to pursue that.

    I have a question: could you do a video or article or something about how to DIRECT models on a shoot? That's the part that Im having trouble with right now, how to tell them how to pose or what to do.

    The part in your latest video where you tell her to just stand in the door and pose as she wants flows so naturally and she seems to get into it easily. That's something I REALLY need to learn right now.

    Any info you could give me to get the hang of this?

    Thanks and keep up the great work!

  23. Dodekgr (David),

    Shit dude...sorry about the photo I've been swamped...I have those pictures of the motorcycles tomorrow and we've been practicing the setup because it's not going to be easy. You don't have the resources you have in the states so we gotta really think about stuff. I love it how in the states you can just say, I need this and you have two answers that will solve everything..Walmart or Home it's like...45-60 days to import it. For craps sake they don't sell gaffers tape here!! Good idea for anyone one who is an import specialist!! Also Pistachio's they are so expensive here!!

    Ok rambling over...on to the next post. So after all this novel I wrote..just wanted to say, you'll have the picture by Friday!!!


    P.S. Today I spent your donation on lunch!!! So thanks for that, still have 6 dollars left over...gotta love colombia!!!!

  24. Diego,

    As Michael and I talk about making this full time and really teaching people with workshops we realized that all the workshops we have attended teach you photographic techniques, for ours we want to teach confidence. We want to teach you how to feel like an amazing photographer. We noticed that people are amazing photographers, except that their confidence gets in the way. When it comes to models you have to make them feel like they are the only thing that matters to you. That you are so obsessed with them (not in a fraky stalker sort of way) that you will do anything to get their best angle. Talk to them like humans...not models. At least it works for us!!

    So my advice...sign up for our workshop!!! More advice...and I've said this before...rejection is not as bad as losing your shot!! Say what you want!!

    Oh and sign up for the newsletter, newsletter peeps get first dibs on the workshop (yes we plan on travelling all over!!)

    Hope it helps a little,


  25. On another note guys/gals, we'll have shooting diagrams for these shots as soon as Michael gets back to the good ol'e republic of Colombia!! Everyone email him and tell him to hurry up!!!


  26. Andy,
    I love how in the usa you have everything, more importantly its cheap! I loved the weather, in the uk we have eveything, but its expensive and on a smaller scale.
    But the weather sucks!
    Keep up the good work.

  27. Michael,

    My girl Nicole sure looked amazing, good job! Well I'm glad to see your workshop was a success and glad to be of help for your location.

    More success and luck,

    Krisitne Vogel
    Cafe Alma

  28. Kristine,

    When I get back to Colombia I am going to make a proper video and I will be sure to give big thanks to Cafe Alma for their support. They let us use their amazing restaurant and bar for the workshop.

    Thanks Cafe Alma!

    PS if you are in St Pete be sure to go to Cafe Alma for their eclectic menu and awesome service!!

  29. Hey Andy:

    Thanks for your reply!

    I must say your advice is really sound and helpful, I hadnt thought of that before: to see models as humans and not as models, because when I do that, it tends to put a barrier between me and the model. Its stupid I know, but thats something Im trying to change at the moment.

    Ive signed up for the newsletter, and if you guys ever come to Mexico, Ill sure be attending the workshop!

    Thanks a lot again for the advice!

  30. Been following you for a couple of weeks and I really enjoy the creativity and levity combined. I'm a complete amateur so I find myself reading alot of other's opinions and I appreciate your 'just do it attitude'.

    I for one cannot stand camera snobs... I like photographs, cameras are just soemthing you use to take them.

    Keep up the good work.


  31. Hahaha AWESOME MAN!!! They came out great! Keep us informed! I'll shoot you an email of when I have my site and video up, it's gonna rock!

    Also, I ordered the speedlit 50" softbox, 28" softbox, and 60" umbrella. As well as the 20mm & 50mm primes like you suggested! Only downside is I couldn't find those Avenger stands on Amazon.. so I went with some other brand that comes with a Boom seeing how the speedlite softboxes can't tilt..and i'm only a 1 man show for now

  32. Corey,

    I'm I one man show most of the time and so is Andy. Andy and I developed a small studio (Backpacker's Studio) that we put on our backs out of necessity. Take the smallest amount of gear into the field and produce a wide array of result with that gear. With the gear you recently purchased you can creatively get 90% of most jobs done. If you add some grid spots and a snoot you are almost there!

    Andy and I will cover some more specific examples of light modifiers and applications in the near future.

    Thanks for coming to the workshop!

  33. J--,

    Thanks for following. I completely agree with you about the camera/gear snobs. The first thing that most people say when they see a picture you take is, "what camera did you use?".

    That is like saying..."wow what an amazing dinner you made, what knife did you use to cut the tomatoes?"

    The camera, like the knife...DO NOT MATTER!!! Ask me about the lighting, the location, the settings...but not the camera.

    Keep following us, sign up for the newsletter (sorry I keep pushing this but we have a really funny newsletter for our first one and I want everyone to see it) and finally take pictures and post on our flickr group.


  34. Just discovered you guys today through a different site, and boy am i glad.
    Just sat here for over an hour catching up on all your videos.

    Gonna rewatch the how to get a model in 5 words or less, lol.

  35. Guys, love this blog and all your work. Definitely an inspiration to a budding photographer. You've really got me interested in growing my flash work. I've invested in the Sony/Minolta system though, so I'm finding it hard to find out about any radio triggers that are compatible with the minolta flash hotshoe. Do you guys have any experience or know of triggers that work with the Sony cameras? BTW, I've subscribed to your newsletter and am looking forward to more videos.


  36. Marc,

    Be sure to sign up for a our newsletter. We will have cheat sheets, notes, videos and answer personal questions for our followers. We promise not to spam you or sell our email list.

    To answer your question: it does not matter which camera you own, as long as you have a hotshoe mount you are in business. It also does not matter which flash you buy (as long as you can put it in manual mode). I suggest you watch our speedlight series. That might answer your questions. But, sign up for the newsletter and we'll try to specifically answer your question in an upcoming video.

    get out and shoot!

  37. Michael (and Andy),

    I've signed up to the newsletter and am looking forward to the first one. Thanks again for putting together a cool blog.

  38. Marc,

    You will need something like this

    and it should work fine. I would buy two just to have a backup if anything happens to it during a shoot. Then the triggers and flashes will not matter what brand you buy as long as you can live with manual mode...which is only what we use anyway!! Go for Nikon SB-28's best deal out there on a flash unit.

    Thanks for signing up for the newsletter, should be out shortly!!! Any other questions, just ask!!


  39. What are your thoughts on the SB-26? There seems to be a bit more of an abundance of these on e-bay. If you think these would work nearly as well, then I'll probably go with these.

  40. Fantastic work, as usual, Michael. Next time you decide to come to St Pete, why not let us know. I'd love to shoot with you again.

    My fav is the last one of Nicole. The light is gorgeous--of course, it helps that she is also gorgeous.

  41. i love this site. just a question... how did you know if its the right exposure to shoot with those kind of settings... is it a trial and error procedure. hoping for a reply... thanks

  42. Michael,

    Looks like you and Coreyt had a great time afterwards. Wish i could've stayed and shot with you all. Maybe nexty time. Photos you shot look great. Really nice meeting you.


  43. nice pictures selection, and the model is so pretty.