A question that has always been asked on social media is what gear do you recommend for weddings and why? In today’s blog, I decided to write about the gear I use and why I use them for weddings. I recently did a blog on Preparations to shoot a Wedding. If you haven’t yet make sure to check that blog out.
The most crucial item that is needed for shooting weddings is a camera bag, let’s face it without a camera bag you won’t be able to carry the gear you need to shoot a wedding.
The bag I use for a wedding is the Tenba Roadie Roller 24. I use this bag because of the size been able to fit all the gear I need to bring and use for my weddings, this way I am only bringing one bag to oppose to multiple bags. The Roadie Roller 24 is well designed and can customise the compartments to suit the gear you would like to store in the bag. It is a roller bag making it so much easier to drag around on different locations and constantly been on the go changing locations it is a lifesaver instead of having a large backpack carrying it on your back feeling the weight and pressure. The Tenba bag also has a TSA lock so you can lock your bag avoiding people from accessing your gear, in addition, it also has a locking cable as well been able to tie it against something avoiding people from picking the bag up and walking away with it. The Tenba bags are solid built, they have reinforced sides protecting your gear from damages when the bag has been hit.
Shooting a wedding it is very important to have 2 cameras, one main camera which you will be using the majority of the time and a backup camera. I use the Sony a7iii as my main body and the Sony a7r3 (i have recently upgraded to the Sony a7rIV) as my back up camera. Both these cameras do really well in low at high iso and with fast focusing. Having the a7iii has my main camera due to the 24mp, that way I save on storage as the 42mp you would need to be prepared in having a lot of storage space. The Sony a7r3 I use as my back up for more candid shots due to switching the camera in crop mode if I need the extra reach to capture images of the guest enjoying themselves.
SD Cards –
I currently use the Sony Pro SD cards, I have 64gb and a 128gb. It is very important to keep some spares with you in case one card gets full and need to put in a new card. Both bodies allow having dual SD cards, that way you record on one card and it will automatically backup the images to the second card.
With the 3rd generation Sony bodies they now have the larger Z batteries, unlike the first and second-generation batteries that are a lot smaller. Before I would carry at least 8 batteries and will go through 4 on each body. Now with the Z batteries, I can shoot a full 14-hour day and will have about 6% battery left at the end of the night. With the Z batteries, I can get close to a 1000 shot on a full battery, I do however have 4 batteries.
Camera Straps –
Camera straps I say is a photographer’s worse nightmare. I have been through so many cameras straps and was always disappointed with them. But now I have thrown out all my straps and currently using the Spider Holster Light system, and I have to say the holster system is a lifesaver. Been able to go through a 14-hour day wedding and not have sore shoulders as the camera straps will weigh down on your shoulders and necks giving you pain at the end of the day. I can’t tell you how many weddings and events I have done where I would be in pain due to the weight. Whereas the Spider Holster Light system it distributes the weight around your waist making it easy and quick to access your cameras especially been on the go. I have the Dual Spider Holster Light system, been able to fit 2 cameras on either side of my hip with quick and easy access. The Spider Holster is very easy to set up. I do also have the Spider Holster Light hand strap on both bodies. That way my cameras are well secure in my hand without accidentally dropping. The Hand strap fits very comfortable on your hand, it has a perfect mould giving you that flexibility to changing the settings without restrictions. Use both these combos as made weddings so much easier to shoot, knowing I don’t have restrictions or limitation with camera straps.
Bride & Groom house –
The lenses I use for both bride and groom house are the Sony 90mm f2.8 macro, 35mm f1.4 AF (this lens will stay on my a7iii for the whole day and is used 90% of the time), For my Sony a7riii I will have the Sony 85mm f1.4 GM. I do occasionally use the 55mm f1.8 Zeiss just depends on the space at the house if the 85mm will be too tight. I love to use natural light for the houses oppose to flash as it gives more of a nice natural look.
I love the 90mm f2.8 macro, it is Sony’s sharpest lens and in my books the best for detail shots.
Sony a7rii + FE90mm f2.8 macro. This shot I had my phone torch backlighting the ring and above it, I had my godox v860ii flash set up. The rings were placed in the plastic cup and sitting on top of some bark
The 35mm f1.4 and the 85mm f1.4 I use for when the bride or groom getting ready, this is my favourite focal length to shoot with at weddings. Been able to get some nice wide shots and can get in close to the subject if needed.
During the ceremony, I use the 35mm f1.4 and the 70200 f2.8 GM. A lot of worship places would not allow flash which does not bother me as I love to use the natural light that comes into the church. What I love about the 35mm f1.4 I am able to get some nice wide shots of the bride walking in or some candid shots at a wide aperture especially if the church has low light.
A candid shot of the flower girl looking outside the church at the bride. Captured with the 35mm f1.4 AF lens – ISO 125, f1.4, shutter 1/1250
When it comes to the location I intend to just use one camera and one lens. The lens I choose to use for location is the 85mm f1.4 GM. I also will add off-camera flash for the location shoot, which I will use the Godox ad200 with my Magmod Magsphere and MagGrid, sometimes I will use the ad600 with a 27inch beauty dish depending on time and if I have an assistant. I will however at times use the 35mm f1.4 if I want to capture more of a scene with the couple.
For the reception, I will stick with my 35mm f1.4 on my main body but will change to my 24mm f1.4 GM for table shots as the 35mm won’t be wide enough or if I have a second photographer I will have him/her cover the table shots. My second body I will change between the 55mm f1.8 Zeiss, 85mm f1.4 GM or the 70200 f2.8 GM depending on the size of the reception as I will use these lenses to get some nice tight candid shots of the guest, bride and groom having fun. I will try and not use flash if I can but if I end up using flash I have 2 x Godox v860ii flash and will use the Magmod Sphere or Bounce.
Thank you for reading. Do check out my social media pages and my facebook groups below.
Art Of Portrait Photography
Art Of Street Photography
Art Of Macro Photography – https://www.facebook.com/groups/artofmacrophotography/
Sony a7/a9 – www.facebook.com/groups/sonya7professionalseries
Landscape – seascape – cityscape https://www.facebook.com/groups/artofscapesphotography/
Bokeh Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/bokehliciousphotography/
Art Of Animal Photography – https://www.facebook.com/groups/artofanimalphotography/
Sony A6000 – a6300 – a6500
Sony a77ii/a99ii group
Sony alpha sydneyRead More
Capturing weddings can be the most stressful but fun thing to shoot. But for me, I absolutely love shooting weddings because I am able to capture those special and unique moments for my clients. Just seeing the smile on their faces when I hand the images over to them for viewing is priceless
The key things for weddings to know are:
Getting to know your clients: The first meeting is always the most crucial part for a couple looking to get married. Building that connection with the couple and making them feel comfortable for them to trust you and hire you to capture their special day. Spend some time chatting to the Bride and Groom, find out their story and get to know them. It is also a great time for them to get to know you as well. They are here to find out what they are hoping you as a photographer will be able to achieve for them in capturing the special moments of their lives and what they expect of you. Pre-wedding shoots are a great way for you and the couple to get comfortable with each other and for the couple to understand how you work and for you as a photographer to understand what the couples want.
Make sure to always have a signed contract between you and the bride and groom. The contract is there to describe the fees, services and products offered to the couple. And will also protect you as a photographer. It is best to hire an attorney to create a contract suited for you.
Ask for the Schedule for the wedding, finding out the times of the import parts of the day making sure not to miss a moment. If it is the first time going to the church, location and reception, take some time to visit the places. It is important to know what to expect at the locations and prepare as you don’t want to turn up at these locations and see something you were not expecting that will through you off from what you planned to do. Eg. Church, whether or not flash can be used. As you won’t know how well the light is. Check out the location and find some key sections where you can take the couple for some shots (make sure the couple is aware that a permit may be needed and to organise getting the permit). Visit the venue see the lighting that is used in the venue.
Go through your equipment a week before the wedding making sure sensors are cleaned, Lenses and cameras are functioning well (if there is an issue with any of the items you have time to get a replacement). SD cards are in working order and formatted (You don’t want to turn up to a wedding and realise your SD card was either Full or faulty) make sure to have extra SD cards. Take Spare batteries as depending on how long you are shooting the wedding you may need to swap batteries. The last thing you need is having your battery to go flat and no spares to continue capturing the day. Always carry 2 bodies, one main body and one backup. My main body which is the Sony a7iii I will have either 24mm f1.4 GM or the Sony 35mm f1.4 Zeiss just depending on space that is available, this is my most used lens 90% of the time for a wedding. My backup body I will have my Sony a7Riii with either my Sony 135mm f1.8 GM, 85mm f1.4 GM, 70200 f2.8 depending on the venue. Have a good bag to carry your items in, I Currently use the Tenba Roadie Roller 24 which will fit all my bag and it is a roller and easy to carry around. With the Tenba bag, it is a cable lock so you can tie it to places and know that no one will come and pick up your bag. I also use the Spider Holster Light Belt to carry my gear throughout the day instead of camera straps. The reason I use the Spider Holster is that I am on my feet all day and having straps puts a lot of strains on your shoulders. Whereas the Spider Holster distributes the weight around your waist and frees your shoulders so you will not have any pain at the end of the day. And the most important thing is Flash. I have 2 x Godox V860ii flashes and I do bring either my Godox ad200 with Magmod MagSphere, MagGrid and Maggrip or the Godox Ad600Pro for location shoots.
Ceremony and Reception
With the ceremony, majority of worship places do not allow flash (it is important to ask, as you don’t want the priest or person who is performing the ceremony to stop and ask you to turn your flash off in the middle of the wedding). It is best to have a camera that handles low light really well and be able to increase your ISO without adding grain. Example the sony cameras I am able to shoot up to ISO 12800 with very little noise in. It is important to have fast lenses especially for low light with worship places and reception. I generally use primes with an aperture of f1.4 or a 70200 zoom which is an f2.8 that way you allow more light through your lens without increasing your ISO too high. Key moments to capture during a ceremony is the Bride walking down the aisle, Exchanging the rings and the first kiss. These moments are very important to capture and should not be missed. During Ceremony it is good to blend in the crowd and capture candid shots of the guest laughing and having fun. For this, I would use my 85mm f1.4 (Hopefully Samyang will release an 85mm f1.4 AF and a 135mm f2) or 70200 f2.8 this way I can get some nice close tight shots at a distance without been seen. It is best to capture emotions as they are happening.
What do you need?
Make Sure to bring snacks and water as it will be a long day and would not have enough time to stop somewhere where you can get something. Dress appropriate for a wedding as you want to blend in and be able to capture those special candid moments of the guest or couple, You don’t want to stand out. Wear comfortable shoes been on your feet the whole day without a break is tiring, I had my fair share of uncomfortable shoes where it killed my feet. Invest in a good pair as without your feet you won’t be able to work.
What to do after a wedding?
The first thing you do when you finish a wedding and get back home or to the office is to BACKUP your images. As you don’t want to accidentally delete them or something happen to the SD cards and you lose all the images. That is the last thing you and the couple needs.
A lot of People always ask me, Why do I use the 35mm 90% of the times. First of all, I am a prime shooter and the only zoom lens I use is the 70200 f2.8 which is mainly used at the ceremony. For me, the 35mm is my favourite focal that allows me to get close to my subject for some nice detail shots and to capture images showing more what is happening around your subject. With the f1.4 which is great in low light and produces a stunning bokeh or background separation. Below are images I have captured during a wedding using the 35mm.
When shooting portraits, the focal length of your lens has a lot of influence on the final result. It’s very common to hear a lot of discussion surrounding 85mm, 100mm, and 70-200mm lenses, as these are the most common focal lengths used for “traditional” portrait photography. However, there really is no right or wrong answer about which is the best lens for portraits – it completely depends on the style and results you want to achieve! In this article we’ll be discussing how you can use a more unusual 24mm focal length for effective portraits. We’ll compare that to using a more traditional 85mm focal length, we’ll see the different situations in which each lens excels, and we’ll discuss the best situations in which to use either focal length and why.
When NOT to Use a 24mm Lens for Portraits
While a 24mm lens is a great focal length that has a lot of portrait applications, let’s start the discussion by pointing out the kind of portrait where I would AVOID using a 24mm lens – headshots. The reason for this is because 24mm is quite wide (particularly on a full frame camera), and as such it suffers from the perspective distortion that most wide lenses exhibit. Specifically, it exaggerates distances, making close objects appear larger than normal and distant objects smaller than normal. This is more pronounced the closer you are to the subject, and when trying to get a close-up headshot it can really distort the human face. This distortion is not a pleasing look and gives a bit of a “Funhouse Mirror” effect, which is typically not what your clients will be looking for!
In contrast, a longer 85mm lens has the opposite effect. Rather than distorting features, it compresses them, which actually has quite a flattering effect on the human face. This gives your headshots more of a realistic look and is why I primarily shoot headshots on 85mm or longer lenses.
Let’s demonstrate this by having a look at the below images. We can clearly see the difference between two lenses here; the 24mm lens results in a distorted look while the 85mm gives a much more pleasing result. For this reason, I would avoid a 24mm lens when shooting headshots.
Benefits of a 24mm Lens for Portraits
Now that we know when to avoid a 24mm, when should we use it? The best application of a 24mm lens for portraits is for environmental portraits. These are situations where you want to capture your subject in the larger context of the environment in which they are situated. This is as opposed to close-ups and headshots where we typically want to almost completely obscure the environment through use of shallow depth of field and tight composition. Environmental portraits instead aim to tell a story about the subject; the environment can establish context about who they are, what they are doing, and generally provide more nuance than a standard headshot.
Whenever I want to tell a story via an environmental portrait, a 24mm lens is almost always what I reach for. Because it’s wide focal length allows me to take a step back and pay attention to a larger field of view, it’s a great lens to capture the scene in which your model or couple is in.
A 24mm lens is also great for those tight spots where you want to capture the full body of your subject and can’t use any longer focal length due to limited space. This can be common in restricted spaces, such as churches, indoor venues, and even portrait studios!
Let’s examine some images that I’ve shot using a 24mm lens.
If I had attempted the above shot with an 85mm, I wouldn’t have enough room to step further back and be able to capture the whole body of the couple including the bridge. So instead I used the Sony 24mm f/1.4 GM (on a Sony A7 III) to capture this shot, which allowed me capture a wide shot of the couple with the bridge. And since I’ve put some distance between myself and the subject, we don’t see those distortion issues that we noticed on our close-up headshot examples previously.
Let’s look at some more examples, this time showing a few different shooting positions. In this case, we’ll look at one with full body and the other with half body. In the first image below, my back was completely against a wall and I couldn’t step back. I wanted to capture more of the environment and another focal length wouldn’t be wide enough to capture what I had envisioned. The 24mm allowed me to include the lovely background imagery as well as a full-body shot without any distortion on the couple.
Below is the exact same posing, except that I stepped in closer for more of a half-body shot. This allowed me to still show the background but have the couple fill more of the frame. Notice how it still provides some nice separation between subject and background, which is why a fast aperture can still be useful on a wider lens.
The 24mm also allows you to more freely capture creative perspectives when a longer 85mm focal length would be more limiting. In the below image I was standing on a small ledge and stretching my arms out above the couple in order to show a different perspective than normal portraits. If using an 85mm lens this would have required a dedicated ladder or more!
The image below is a close up that was shot with the 24mm. Now, this is close enough that I had to be careful about encountering the distortion that we discussed at the beginning, but it’s not too overpowering in this instance. If you carefully manage your positioning and angle, it can be possible to minimise this effect to some degree (although it will always be there). It’s something that I would recommend practising so that it becomes second-nature when on a shoot.
When Does an 85mm Lens Excel?
Now that we’ve talked about the 24mm, let’s discuss when a more traditional 85mm lens can be the right choice. I love using an 85mm when I want to get close, or when I want to achieve a very shallow depth of field. This is because a longer focal length provides a more shallow depth of field than a wider one, so an 85mm lens will always be natively better at capturing a beautifully out-of-focus background than a 24mm one. As discussed earlier, an 85mm also gives you more of a realistic perspective of the persons face when shooting close up due to the compression of the longer focal length.
The below image was shot at a local park. The background had quite a few busy and distracting elements, but shooting at a wide f/1.4 aperture on an 85mm allowed me to blur those elements out, keeping the focus on the subject and creating artful background bokeh.
You can also use an 85mm for full-body shots in a similar way that you might on a 24mm, but you will have to be further back in order to do so. In this example, I was on the other side of the pond from the model as I wanted to capture the water in the foreground. A 24mm would be too wide in this situation, as the model would be far in the distance! The 85mm allowed me just enough reach to show the environment and full body of my subject while also producing a bit of bokeh in the background.
In the image below I knew I wanted a blurry background, so I knew I needed to be close to the subject. However I also wanted a full-body shot, so I was careful about my distance in order to achieve both of these. You’ll notice that many of the full-body shots on an 85mm involve the subject sitting or in some other non-standing position. This means that they don’t have as much height, which will allow you to get a bit closer in order to fill the frame and maximise the bokeh. It can sometimes feel a bit contrived to position a model this way, so I would recommend experimenting with some more natural-feeling poses with a family member in order to get a feel for this type of posing.
When discussing the 24mm, we looked at a half-body shot with a couple. In that instance, the background was slightly blurred but was still mostly visible because the 24mm can only achieve a certain amount of bokeh due to its wide-angle. Below is an example of a half-body shot using an 85mm – notice how the background is almost completely blurred out, a much different effect than we found on the 24mm. Of course, I was much further away from the subject in order to achieve this framing on an 85mm than I was for the 24mm shot. The takeaway is that even if you have the positioning freedom to achieve the same type of image in terms of framing, these different lens choices can still significantly affect the result! Neither is better, it’s just a matter of different styles for the job at hand.
A great example of where an 85mm certainly excels over a 24mm is in-studio headshots. As studio backgrounds are often simply a solid colour, they tend to heavily emphasise the subject over the background, making them a natural fit for an 85mm. In addition, you’ll often be using more complex flash and lighting setups in a studio, which can be easier to manage when you’re only focusing on how that lighting affects a model’s upper body vs their entire body. Here is an image captured with the 85mm in the studio which gives a perfect perspective of the model’s face while avoiding distortion.
Shooting portraits can be one of the most rewarding styles of photography, particularly if you enjoy working with people. While there are tried-and-true methods, using unusual focal lengths like 24mm can lead to more creativity and experimentation, giving your portraits the “pop” needed to stand out from the rest. On the other hand, the 85mm look has a lot of benefits as well and is a classic for a reason. Mastering both styles can be a very exciting and rewarding experience!
In this article, I will be talking to you about how to capture some good self-portraits. The benefits of this are two-fold. Firstly, you get a fun picture of yourself! But secondly, and more importantly, it can be a great learning experience because it presents an opportunity for you to experiment with and learn about portraiture in a setting that doesn’t present any time pressure. Also, having some experience being on the “subject” side of the camera can also make you more effective at communicating and directing your subjects in future.
A self-portrait doesn’t have to be just a simplistic portrait of yourself, you can make it pretty creative with just a little bit of work. For this particular self-portrait, I decided to go for a fun “ninja” style with a moody dark look. The goal was to showcase a mysterious person behind a hood and face mask!
The first step in self-portraits is to have the right gear. In terms of camera bodies, any brand will be able to capture a great image. I used the Sony a7R III, in particular utilising its real-time Eye-AF feature. This makes a big difference, as it made it easy for me to ensure the eyes are sharp and in focus, something that can otherwise be a bit tricky in a self-portrait. In terms of lenses, I used the Sony 85mm f1.4 GM.
Setting-wise, I had the focus set on Wide with continuous focus, which allowed me to utilise real-time Eye-AF at its full potential. If you don’t have a Sony camera with this feature, don’t worry, you can achieve this in other ways. Set the focus mode to Wide, then pre-focus where you want to stand and mark that spot. Take a test shot and once you are happy that the image is in sharp focus you can then switch it to manual focus. That will ensure that the autofocus won’t hunt and re-focus. Utilise your fully articulating screen (or if you don’t have one, use an external monitor) so you are able to see a live view of your positioning. Another option would be to tether the camera to your laptop, so you are able to view the images as you capture them.
Below is an image of my full set up. I had the camera mounted on my Benro tripod, and I used a wireless remote to trigger the camera. Make sure to have your camera set on a timer so when you are using the trigger it doesn’t fire instantly before you are able to get into position! I had my camera set on a 10-second timer so that when I use the wireless remote I was able to get into position and hide the remote before the picture was taken.
Welcome to my “studio”
My main source of light was the Godox AD600Pro on my left side with a Godox 90cm Strip Box. My backlight was the Godox AD400Pro, similarly with a Godox 90cm Strip Box, set up just behind me on my right side. Both strip boxes have a grid attached to them. The grid allows you to control the light better and minimises the light spread so it only hits the subject and doesn’t spread it to the background or the floor. Both lights were triggered with the Godox Xpro trigger. The main light was set to Group A and the backlight was set to Group B, which allowed me to control both lights individually.
The first question – the goal was to capture studio-style portraits with a black background, so how did I achieve this when there is such a busy background? And why did I not shoot this indoors or in a studio environment? I wanted to show you that if you have no access to a studio or even a large indoor space, you can still capture shots like this even your own backyard.
In order to achieve a pure black background, I chose to do this at night. To start, I set my camera to ISO 100, an f/11 aperture, and a 1/250 shutter speed. This allowed me to completely block all ambient light and achieve a pitch-black background. The reason for shooting f/11 is that I want everything in focus and sharp. While portraits often have a blurry background, in this case, there IS no background, which means a shallow depth of field would only result in half of my face being in focus and half being blurred out. Instead of relying on shallow depth of field for background separation, we’ll instead rely on light separation. The first image was a simple test show with the stated settings and no lights:
Test shots are important for dialling in your baseline settings
Once you have that set before we do any work on posing we will have to adjust the lights properly. To start I added only my backlight, the Godox AD400Pro. That way I could tweak that light and change it’s effect independently of my main light. You could use a light meter for this to get more of an accurate reading, but I decided to do it by feel – an advantage that comes with experience! I wanted the backlight to be brighter than the main light, so I set the light to full power (1/1). I then took a test shot and below is the straight-out-of-camera result. Already we have a very cool moody look, which we’ve achieved with just a bit of outdoor space and the dark of night! This is the most cost-effective way to capture studio-style portraits with a black background. You just need to remember to cut out the ambient light so that the flash will be the only source of light on your subject, which will provide a very dramatic look. Of course, you may have to go back a couple of times to adjust the light if it is too bright or too dark.
Simple lighting decisions can go a long way to capturing your vision
Now that I am happy with these results, I decided to add my main light, the Godox AD600Pro. Adding a second light allows me to stand out more from the background. I then adjusted my main source of light to about 1/8th, quite a lot dimmer than the backlight, as I didn’t want the main light to overpower the backlight. I wanted it to have just enough power to light the left side of my face but retain that moody, dark look. Here is the result (straight-out-of-camera) from adding the second light.
Adding in the main light. Framing is not perfect, but that’s why its called a test shot!
Now that all our settings are dialled in we can start to work on the pose and getting the framing right. In the below image I positioned my body more towards the backlight and faced towards the main light. I angled towards the backlight as I didn’t want my body to be completely lost in the background – I wanted it to pop. This was particularly important as I was wearing black clothing. I also added some props in my hands to add a bit of interest to the image. You can see in the image below that this allowed me to make the pose more interesting while still retaining separation from the background and still capturing that moody feel.
Having some simple props and testing out different poses can add more interest to your photo
Frankly speaking, with self-portraits the sky is the limit – there is no right or wrong answer about how many lights you can use, and you can take all the time you need to experiment because you’re the only one there! Your particular decisions will depend on the vibe and feel that you are going for. Experiment with lighting and posing to achieve differing results. For example, in the below image I decided to use only my dim main light, and I moved the position of it slightly.
Tweak your lighting to try out different looks
Still using that same one-light setup, I positioned the light at a slight angle on my left-hand side. I then added the props back in my hand to add more of an effect to the image.
Adding the props back in for dramatic effect
You’ll notice that the framing is not perfect here. That’s something that you may find happening more commonly in self-portraits because you don’t have a photographer behind the camera to ensure the framing is perfect as you change your posing. No worries though, as some simple cropping in post-production can solve that issue!
Don’t be worried if your framing isn’t perfect, that’s an easy fix in post
Certainly, I’ve found that the Eye AF feature on recent Sony cameras makes this procedure a fair amount easier, as you don’t need to worry so much about your exact position in the frame in order for your eyes to be perfectly in focus. However many other brands are starting to add similar features, and you can get away without it with just a little bit of extra work. Note that you also don’t necessarily need to use strobes, a Speedlight will also work for self-portraits.
Self-portraits can be a lot of fun, but more importantly, they can be an excellent learning experience, especially if you are new at portrait photography. They allow you to try different lighting conditions, camera settings and poses all without any time pressure at all. You can spend your whole day at it! You’ll learn a lot about setting up your portrait shots, not only as a photographer but also as a model. While it might feel awkward, having first-hand experience with posing and having your photo taken will allow you to communicate more clearly and creatively with your model once you’re on a more traditional shoot. I’d highly recommend that you experiment with self-portraits in a variety of settings.Read More
This blog post is not meant to be a rant of sorts, rather a look into what happens every day in the industry. My hope is to open the eyes of models starting out and give a perspective to the people on the other side of the camera. I hope to promote a business model where teams look out for and promote each other. That being said…
I found out yesterday that one of my videos was stolen for a music video. I had not signed a model release and the videographer consented to have “parts of it” used for a lyric video without asking/telling me…
The entire video was used.
A year later a friend sends it to me saying how famous I am, that I’m in a music video. First, I am shocked. I never consented for this to be used. Second, I’m surprised to find the videographer credited in the description. He was a family friend and surely would have told me if somebody wanted to buy our video. Third, I’m extremely hurt because there is no mention of who the actress is…and I am the sole subject of the video…included throughout.
How did everyone think this was okay?
Model: Ashley BeLoat
Photographer: William P Cook
This happens a striking amount for independent models. We are often cheated out of our rates, manipulated into paying or losing money to work for someone, or found in a situation where an agreed upon TFP is redistributed or sold behind our backs.
This is unnerving enough in itself. The startling thing? The average model nowadays starts in their early to mid-teens. What will a child — yes, child — of that age know to do about this sort of thing? How would they know the gravity of what happened or even how to fight it? They likely will not know if or how to sue for pirated/stolen use of their image.
Models, actresses, musicians, photographers alike — we are all victims of stolen work. The one difference is that models are often the youngest of these populations and hence often the most seemingly defenseless. The likelihood of people getting away with the theft of our image is greater than that of a well known photographer’s work. We are less likely to pursue rightful legal ramifications.
In this case, many people were at fault. The maker of the lyric video asked my videographer for consent to use “parts of” our video and used the entire thing. My videographer gave consent on my behalf for a project of which he had no right to give full release (no model release was signed, I owned the video every bit as much as did he). The music artist never asked if consent was provided by the talent, or even asked for my name to credit me…
And once again, I was never notified anything about this project. I found out from a friend a year down the road. What could I have done better? I should have created a contract prohibiting further distribution of my work without my consent or compensation. This is something I still need to create for my protection in the future.
Nothing about this process was rightful or honest. Everyone was lied to or left in the dark, but I the most. This is the reality of the creative field. This is why we need to fight more than ever for rightful use of our work, and ensure the proper credits of our teams. This is why we need to remain professional, like we would expect anyone else to be towards ourselves.
Model: Ashley BeLoat
Photographer: William P Cook
Has your work ever been stolen or pirated by another artist/brand? What did you do about it? What is your opinion on how business was conducted in this instance? Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time,
Print | Runway | Television
You may have noticed a trend in the world of modeling. Some people have spoken out about it, others stay silent. I think there is something crucial here that needs to be said. Something that needs to not only spark a conversation, but a change. It’s time to speak out about the epidemic of TFP modeling.
If you’ve been in the industry long you’ve likely learned the concept of TFP or “time for print.” In a nutshell, this phrase means “free work for free images.” The concept has its proper time and place, but I’ve noted a shameful misuse and over-exhaustion of this principle in my time as an independent model.
Naturally I must start this article off with a disclaimer of sorts. If a model has no experience and is just starting out, it can be perfectly acceptable to request time for print. If a photographer is highly notable and puts out consistently incredible work, there are occasions where time for print may be acceptable based on the model’s portfolio and what the shoot is for. And lastly, if the model and photographer are mutually looking for portfolio updates, this can be an acceptable practice as well – provided that both parties mutually benefit.
Model: Ashley BeLoat
Photographer: Yuliya Panchenko Photography
Hairstyling: Gretchen Gramlich
Makeup Artistry: Nicki Marie Makeup Artistry
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get into my qualms with TFP. I will begin stating that independent models get the worst of this issue. Since they don’t have an agent consistently fighting for the highest pay and demanding appropriate compensation from photographers/clients, they are the most susceptible to being preyed upon for free work. Keep in mind that most models are teenaged or young adult women…and the vast majority of photographers will be older than their talent. This places the independent model on average at an automatic negotiating disadvantage.
These models will be asked to give up or re-arrange work at their other jobs, commute hours on their own gas money, work shoots as long as 12 hours (not counting commute), do their own hair and makeup, provide their own wardrobe, and sometimes even fly out of state out of their own pocket. Why do they do this? “Oh, it’s TFP. Everybody does it, so it’s what I have to do to make it.”
This is such a lie.
Yes, dues need to be paid in order to build talent, character, and credibility. But once a point is reached where you feel your experience, talent, and name are worth something you should begin expecting as much. Acceptable compensation will change on a case by case basis depending on who is pointing the camera at you.
Another issue with this business model I must speak about – withholding photos from models that have been booked “time for print.” Certain photographers out there are more guilty of this than others. It can be unintentional or downright calculated. I cannot stand when a model is never supplied with photos from a time for print shoot. The photos may be provided years down the road, completely unedited and poorly lit, or even worse…never. This has happened to myself and countless other models out there. If you are a photographer and have done this to your talent, know that it’s completely unacceptable. If this was a conscious choice because the photos were not up to your standards, know that compensation must still be supplied to the model. An easy solution is to provide the edited photos and ask the model not to tag you, or simply PAY the model for her time/money/gas/makeup and any other expenses she paid to pose for you. If leaving your talent without images was due to having too much other work, then you should never have booked talent for a TFP project in the first place. Again, I would highly advice financial compensation to your talent in this case.
There comes a point in time after experience and a certain level of quality in a model’s portfolio when he/she should severely restrict the amount of TFP he/she accepts. Once a model gets to the point they are consistently booking work, it means they have proven themselves to be desirable for the job. Just like a reputable mechanic would never be expected to fix a car for free, a reputable model should not be expected to work for free. As stated before, there are times that TFP is worth it to the model if it’s a project or shoot beyond what existing portfolio merits. Or, simply, the model feels they would benefit from the images as well.
I must also include this word to the models…Be very wary of the type of TFP you accept. Ask yourself; is the purpose of the photoshoot or event solely to promote another individual? Is it solely to promote a brand? What will you have to show for the experience once you walk away? If “not much” is your answer, this is surely not a job you should take TFP. Furthermore, if the brand you’re posing for will receive advertising, press, etc. remember you are damaging the modeling industry you know and love by providing them with free advertising.
Model: Ashley BeLoat
Photographer: Luyi Zhao Photography
Editor: Xiaolin Photo
Designer: Xiaolin Fashion Designer
Makeup Artistry: Zhang Yiwen
Produced for Stars Exchange
My advice to photographers and brands? If you want a model to spend her time, energy, and efforts promoting your image or product you should compensate her at the level her current work justifies. Remember that modeling takes time and money even when not in front of the camera. There are health and beauty expenses, gym time, time for adequate sleep, and often time away from another job/source of income. Remember the time you are asking your model to relinquish by working for you. Respect that modeling is a profession and craft that takes work, dedication, and talent. It is far beyond simply looking pretty. If you’d like to learn this quickly, ask a pretty girl with zero camera experience to shoot and compare the difference at how smoothly and successfully the shoot runs.
I will share with you the things I’ve been asked to do “time for print” with no compensation aside from images or “exposure.” Sometimes the images were sharable and at my portfolio. Other times, they were not and I walked away with nothing to show from the experience…
I have been asked to shoot for brands to promote their products or garments. Sometimes castings were held, other times they reached out to me of their own accord. But every time in question there was one common tune they sang; “This will be great exposure for you.” My thoughts? If you found me, like my work, and want me, I have been properly “exposed” already and deserve compensation for my services.
I’ve been asked to walk in numerous fashion shows where the only real images received – if any – are poorly lit, blurry behind-the-scenes of getting ready or possibly 2 shareable images on the runway. If you don’t know the routine of a fashion show, it is often a 5-8 hour day for the talent once preparations and rehearsals are counted in. There is usually little to no food supplied as well. Can these opportunities be worth it? Sometimes. When gone about correctly, models can make lasting connections with the designers. But again, if you start off a working relationship with somebody where you provide services for free it will be expected of you in the future.
Flying out of state? Yes, I’ve been asked to do this for free many times. I’ve even been asked to fly internationally to walk a London runway. But compensation? Sometimes employers don’t feel it is necessary. I’m not quite sure how this mindset is justified and it still baffles me. If you want me to represent your brand so badly that you choose me versus models in your general vicinity, I must be bringing something valuable to the table for you. I find it rather insulting to expect me to do so for free.
Exploit my connections with designers to provide you with free multi thousand dollar gowns to shoot? Ask my bridal designer friend to give a dress to shoot outside in the dirt? Not even bother to offer compensation to me or my designer? It happens. Sometimes this is a mutually beneficial situation if the images are of the highest quality and the designer consents as well. However, I am extremely cautious of who I will request to pull dresses for. Not only am I being asked to work for free, but my designers may suffer damages to a dress. It’s my responsibility to ensure every collaboration with me is worth it for them – with minimal expenses for them after the fact.
Model: Ashley BeLoat
Photographer: Ina Pandora Photography
Makeup Artistry: Ina Pandora
Please don’t take the impression this blog was written out of animosity. This is truly an honest depiction of what is happening in many communities I’ve traveled to and lived in. In my experience working in New York, Los Angeles, Florida, and many surrounding islands this is what I’ve found to be common practice. Remember that I speak from the perspective of an independent model with no agent going to bat for her – I’ve been my own agent from day one. I’ve had to deal with people trying to cheat, take advantage of, assault, and rape me on the job. I only wish to share my experiences to benefit the modeling community and provide a different perspective for photographers as they cast their talent.
Above all, please strive to treat your entire team with respect. A bit of kindness goes a long way in front of – and behind – the camera. Conduct your businesses and practice your crafts with integrity. Do this and success will surely find you. Continue striving for greatness, my friends!
Until next time,
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Find me on Instagram @ashleybeloat
With the new year just around the corner everyone is frantically making their resolutions, checking their horoscope, and…updating their closet? If you’re in the fashion industry, it’s very likely you have or are looking to do so. But what trends are around the corner in 2019? What are some things we can expect to remain strong, fade away, or burst into the picture?
- Long Live the 70’s
Or anything vintage-inspired for that matter. But bell bottoms, overalls, corduroy skirts, and jumpers in particular all enjoyed their time in the spotlight this year. I don’t see this ending anytime soon with the wearable, colorful fashion preferences in California were the photography and videography community is very strong. The question is – what vintage trends will be next to take the spotlight? Who thinks pearls are going to claim their place in the fashion realm again?
- The Eyebrows Have It
While the reign of the unicorn and rainbow eyebrows came and went, the eyebrow will continue to go strong. The artful interpretations of these arches will probably remain few and far between. I predict we’ll continue to see bold, fierce, yet polished brows that command attention to piercing eyes in numerous fashion campaigns. Why? A well-done brow holds the power to take any photo from “blah” to “ah” as it draws the focus to the most powerful human element in the overall image. I mean after all, your eyes only have one – erm, two – frames.
- The iPhone Photoshoot
Technology advances, the rise of social influencers, and the never-ending rise in Instagram fashion pages equals only one thing. Higher quality iPhone photos! This trend has been infamously embraced by the many Instagram models who rather than paying a photographer, have their boyfriend behind the (smartphone) camera. Entrepreneurs have the power to advertise their own brands, models have the power to take their own submission photos, and every person has the means to become a “photographer.” While this may pose a threat to the traditional photography community, I think it’s safe to say this is a trend that is here to stay.
- The Rise of DIY
“Oh, I have a personal stylist for that.” Something many of us wish we could say, but few people can. That’s not stopping millennials and fashion addicts from piecing together their own looks. With the ever-changing trends and rapid-fire style releases I think 2019 will find fashionistas reaching into their beauty boxes to think outside of them. This will be a year to become more resourceful and innovative. Consumers will continue to not only consume – but produce for themselves.
Isn’t creativity most of the fun when it comes to defining your personal style?
Who else is happily guilty of taking your lacey bralettes and bodysuits outside the bedroom? I, for one, am so excited for this new style “do.” When executed well this trend can be daring, feminine, and edgy. One of my personal favorites is to take a lacy camisole or bralette and top it off with a blazer or leather jacket. Can you say instant style turn-on? 2019 will have more people revealing Victoria’s Secret in their everyday apparel.
- Full-On Faux
It’s a fact – nothing makes a statement like a fur neckline or a glistening leather handbag. But it’s no secret that veganism and the fight against animal cruelty is on the rise. Fashion is going to reflect this. We’ll continue to mimic these style staples but the authentic animal products will become yet more far and few between. Unless you’re willing to go digging through the aisles at the thrift store for some older pieces in good condition, you can kiss that rabbit-lined coat goodbye.
- The Uprise of Upcycling
you have guessed this piece by H&M has recycled silver and econyl woven
into the textile? This is a refreshing
turn from the “fast fashion” industry our clothing market has become. Our nation is producing/purchasing clothing
at an alarming rate for the consumers, leading to excessive amounts of waste as
trends change, styles fade, or poorly-constructed fabrics wear out. The environmentally-conscious community is
going to make some moves here. I predict
2019 is going to continue in advances of recycling, upcycling, and re-using in
its designs. Big labels are already
doing it, and I’m excited to see where it takes us.
What do you think is in store for the fashion of 2019? What trends would you like to see take the runway? What pieces are beginning to fill your closet at the turn of the new year? Let us know in the comments below!
Until next time,
Print | Runway | Television | Voiceover
Model: Ashley BeLoat
Photographer: Dan Mahar Photography
Hairstyling: Gretchen Gramlich
Makeup Artistry: Briana de Bengson
Wardrobe: Lin Exclusive by Yong Lin
Published in ELEGANT Magazine
Bell bottoms image. She Magazine, 25 May 2018, www.shemagazine.ca/fashion/that-70s-look/
DIY style. Fashion Trend Seeker, 9 January 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=icNlx0O77-s
Eyebrow beauty headshot. Luulla, 8 January 2018, www.luulla.com/article/89/Prom-Makeup-Looks-Based-on-Your-Dress-Styles
Faux fur and leather jacket. Asos, 2018, www.us.asos.com/missguided/missguided-black-faux-fur-detail-faux-leather-jacket/prd/8470811
iPhone photo image. Chad Verzosa, 2018, www.expertphotography.com/12-tips-smartphone-fashion-photography/
Recycled fashion photo. Fashion United, 26 March 2018, www.fashionunited.uk/news/fashion/h-m-uses-recycled-silver-econyl-in-its-conscious-exclusive-collection-2018/2018032628827
Wearable lingerie studio image. Kat Rappaport, Spring 2018, www.katrappaport.com/vs-spring-2018-very-sexy-how-to-wear-it/Read More
If you judge my articles by their title you have probably already formed some strong opinions about this one. Models are becoming more diverse in size, shape, age, and everything in between. The plus-size market is stronger than ever and models with Downs Syndrome are walking runways in New York Fashion Week. There are models with prosthetic limbs, scars, tattoos… Girls are often sought after for the things that make them unique and unlike anyone else. Modeling, you may argue, is stronger than ever. This is true in some ways, but quite the opposite in others. Allow me to make my case on why modeling may be on the way out.
Model: Ashley BeLoat
Photographer: Andres Casallas Photography
Production Assistant: Michael Fried
MUA and Jewelry Designer: Tabitha Hayden
Hairstyling: Gretchen Gramlich
The “model” type used to be quite the stereotype. Anyone with this job description was usually tall, young, slim, blonde, tan, and sporting a perfect smile of straight, white teeth. A model rarely deviated from this set of characteristics as this was the image that saturated television and magazines. As stated before we are proud to see modeling evolving into a vast variety of looks. This communicates the truly marvelous reality that there is more than one type of beauty. Every skin color, body type, eye color, age, etc. can all be appreciated for its uniqueness. Again, this is marvelous as more women and men are able to model… However, this means there is less steady work for models as there are less requirements to fit the job. Companies will continue to present diversity in their ads, and therefor rely less on an individual model’s specific look for their brand. This is not to say it’s impossible to make your living as a model, but it certainly can make it more difficult to find jobs for your own look.
Whenever a model is blessed enough to be cast, there is often reluctance to pay him/her or a hefty portion of their compensation is directed toward their booker/agency. When a model is unrepresented, they are often cheated out of rightful – or any – wages. Not to mention much finances are usually invested in a credible, high-quality portfolio. If a model does not do bikini, lingerie, nude, or implied nude work they will frequently encounter teams that are unwilling to pay for their time and talent. I frequently tell models that while it’s possible to make decent money modeling, it is highly unlikely unless one of three things… Either you must be at least 5’8” and signed with a prestigious agency who regularly books you with the best of clients, you must already have an established name that people will seek to have representing their brand, or you must regularly do bikini/nude/lingerie work (as this work usually pays well). The models that pursue high fashion, bridal, portraiture, and lifestyle work are often left underpaid – if paid at all. This can be discouraging for the not famous, 5’7”, modest model like myself. Again, it isn’t impossible…but I always tell younger girls with big dreams to at least plan another source of income. The financial success can be few and far between.
Model: Ashley BeLoat
Photographer: Jeff Kravitz
Designer: Yong Lin
My final point is the overwhelming trend becoming adopted by more and more clothing brands… Have you noticed the rising trend on Instagram? A brand will proudly state; “Tag #____ to be featured on our page!” Consumers go to buy their clothing, have a friend snap a picture, and their photo can end up on the brand’s Instagram wall and website. It’s brilliant – it raises sales and provides free advertising. It shows the wearability of the brand as real people are plastered all over their media in their clothing/accessories/makeup and promotes diversity in beauty. However, there is one minute flaw in this marketing plan… Businesses are relying on actual models less and less. There are fewer opportunities for the women and men who make this their career, and more opportunity for the average person.
What do you think this says about the future of modeling? Do you feel this is changing modeling from a profession to a passion and hobby? Let us know in the comments below what you think!
Until next time,
Print | Runway | Short Film | Live TV | Voiceover
Model: Ashley BeLoat
Photographer: Dan Mahar
Hairstyling: Gretchen Gramlich
MUA: Briana de Bengson
Designer: Yong Lin
Throughout my time creating this blog, I’ve spent a lot of time writing about all the things models do. Today I’ll write about the things models want to do…but don’t. The runways they wish to walk, the garments they want to wear, and the brands they want to represent. Today I’m going to write about the callback that never comes. Today is about the times a model doesn’t get the job.
The inspiration for this topic comes from a recent personal experience. I was contacted by a designer in London who had come across my work. She asked for my size and availability the date of her show, asking me to be the showcase model for her collection.
For a US citizen wanting to expand my work into the European market this was already a dream come true, but it didn’t stop there… The designer asked me to walk a live wolf down the runway. A wolf that had been published in Vogue.
I was in shock.
After an hour-long video meeting to make sure she was for real – and she was – I quickly applied for my passport, fronted the rush processing fee, and cleared my work schedule for the entire weekend of the fashion show. I allowed for one or two extra days of shooting should the designer need me. A few days later the designer informed me her accountant did not agree to pay for my flight as promised. I was told she would try again and get back with me “by the end of the week.” The week left…another came…and my email remained unanswered.
I had lost a job I had never even applied for. The biggest, most monumental job of my life. What I had previously thought was impossible, became just within my reach…then taken away. I was crushed.
Rejection is a major part of the modeling industry. There are countless jobs available, and only so many potential candidates for each one. Of those candidates, only one will receive each job. That is one model who lands the position among all the others who don’t. Statistically speaking, models will receive more rejections than callbacks.
To be successful, models must realize that “no” is a word they are going to hear. It’s a word that will close some doors and reduce their possibilities. It’s a word that might hurt…but has to be heard. However, it’s also a word that should elicit excitement. Why? Each and every rejection is one “no” closer to the next “yes.”
You won’t always land the job. But if you continue to work hard, you’ll be the perfect muse for someone else. Continue to model in a way only you can. Stay true to yourself and be irreplaceably authentic instead of a replaceable imitation. Develop your own unique style and continue to share it with the world until you earn your next callback… Then begin the cycle all over again.
Print | Runway | Short Film | Live TV
Business Page: www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images/
Model: Ashley BeLoat – @ashleybeloat
Photographer: Dan Mahar – www.danmaharphotography.com – @dan_mahar
Peacock Party Dress: Xiaolin Fashion Designer – @xiaolindesign
Hairstylist: Gretchen Gramlich – @gdoeshair
Makeup Artist: Briana de Bengsen – @beautybybriana
How many hours per week would you guess I work as a model? Twenty-five? Thirty? Maybe forty-five? I’ve mentioned this before, but many of you still may not know that I’m also a full-time registered nurse. How does that affect your estimate? Would you guess I spend more along the lines of ten or fifteen hours per week on my modeling career? Well the answer… *drumroll* … I unfortunately can’t tell you. It isn’t a secret (if it is, well it’s a secret even to me), it’s simply that the answer is far too complicated to measure in hours. Why is this? A model’s job is to simply show up, pose/walk, get a good picture, and leave…right? Very wrong. Today we’ll discuss why a model never truly goes off the clock.
- Appearance Are Everything –
This applies in the literal and theoretical sense. Yes, our appearance is our job to a certain extent. This means every bite we eat, every workout (or lack thereof), every skin care ritual, and more is part of “our work.” This isn’t to say we don’t or shouldn’t enjoy a no makeup day or a cheat meal now and then, but we are accountable for keeping ourselves up at all times so we are ready when the camera starts clicking.
But appearance matters in more ways than one… What we are and how we look matters, but also who we are. More importantly, who other people perceive we are. The message we transmit to everyone around us is every bit – if not more so – crucial to our work. Brands, agencies, and photographers are all watching to see who we are, what we stand for, and how we carry ourselves. In our line of work, the interviews never end. The judging never stops. Every model needs to be mindful of how they live. There will come a time when the camera clicks and we aren’t looking. We have to ensure that if it does, it captures something the CEO of GUESS, or Givenchy would want representing their brand.
Model: Ashley BeLoat
Photographer: Ben Zheng
HMUA: Lauren DeCosimo
Earrings by Happily Ever Borrowed
Black Raven Gown by Xiaolin Fashion Designer
Red Stingray Leather Purse by Giovanna Barrios
Photoshoot hosted by Expressions Glamour Club
- Travel –
In a world where the goal is to never take the same picture twice, it shouldn’t be surprising to know that models travel very frequently. During my career I have shot in New York City, Philadelphia, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Cayman Islands, on the decks of cruise ships, private islands, and around the state of Florida. Drive time alone adds up very quickly! It still baffles me how little time I spend at home and how much time is spent living out of suitcases.
Not only do the trips in themselves take our time but preparing for them as well. We all have lives outside of work we must see to before leaving. Travel arrangements must be meticulously made. Wardrobes must be planned. Extra bookings must be secured. Budgets must be carefully laid out to ensure we return with a profit and all expenses are expected. Is your head spinning yet? Mine is.
- Planning Resources –
As models, we often supply our own wardrobe. Designer garments often require very specific undergarments. Schedules need to be thoroughly thought out to ensure punctuality at call time. Ensuring all of these details are in order adds even more to the plate. Sometimes it takes entire days to fully prepare these things. When I travel to New York, I often bring designer garments from my collaborators in Florida. But it isn’t that simple! They are located all about the state. I will often spend entire days driving across the state picking up/dropping off garments and accessories. Am I happy to do it? Yes. Is it time-consuming? Absolutely.
Model: Ashley BeLoat
Photographer: Christian Mathe – Picky Pix Photo
HMUA: Lauren DeCosimo
Wedding Gown by Yong Lin Bridal
Photoshoot hosted by Expressions Glamour Club
- Keeping Your Presence Present –
Lastly – and certainly far from least – the never-ending messages, emails, and phone calls! I will never forget my current record of 96 messages/notifications in one day. This is Facebook alone! Not including texts, phone calls, or emails! The wise model looks into every opportunity before making a decision, and is often expected to stay in close contact for upcoming jobs during the planning phase. Prompt, professional responses are crucial to booking work. You never want to give the impression that you don’t care about or appreciate an opportunity.
The second part to this section of work is social media. A model needs to keep his/her name in the photography community. We need to prove that we are constantly out there booking work and representing brands. We need to work with new people, in new places, for new markets… The goal is to show that we are desirable and capable of being in high demand. Just like any other line of work, modeling is a profession. A model needs to prove they are active and working.
What do you think of this breakdown? Do you agree that modeling is a job you can never clock out from? Do you feel this is an accurate representation of how we spend our time? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Until next time,
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