Paula in Brussels

A big part of getting ready for a photo session is the location, and you should always be prepared to go that extra mile when planning for it. Today I want to share one of my experiences in the hope that this will help you in your photoshoot arrangement or will just spark an interesting conversation.

It was the summer of 2013 when Paula told me she was coming to Brussels and she would like to do some photos with me. When I prepare for a shoot I usually start with an idea, I visualize it, and then I look for the best way to realize it. In this case, as I worked with Paula before, I knew it had to be something that would complement her classic look and femininity.
At first, I looked for a hotel room but, there was nothing that would fit my needs, so I moved on to Airbnb. After some time, I had the perfect place. It was a chic little apartment with high ceiling rooms that the owner decorated with antique furniture pieces and vintage trinkets. The only problem that it was a bit pricey.
Although I would only use the apartment for about 3 hours I would have had to pay the daily rate on Airbnb, what about other rental websites, maybe I will be able to find it elsewhere. A bit more time spent in front of the computer and I managed to find the owner’s phone number and negotiate with him to pay half price for those 3 hours.

I packed my cameras: 4×5 Speed Graflex with Aero Ektar, and two medium formats: Pentax 67 + 75mm for wider shots, and Hasselblad + 110mm for close-ups. We got there all enthusiastic and ready to work but, soon after we started, another issue became apparent. The rooms were a bit crowded, the same furniture that made me choose this place was now flooding my scenes, more so, the place was quite dark, and we could only use the area close to the windows.
After rearranging some pieces of furniture, we managed to bring the environment to about what I had in mind and create a few interesting pictures.

I guess what I am trying to say is that you should take your time to find the right spot for you when organizing photo-shoots. Scout it if you can but if you cannot don’t get immediately discouraged if it is not exactly what you want. Put in a bit of work in arranging it, like this you will have the chance to observe the environment a bit closer. The earlier you start your preparation, the easier it will later be. First, watch photos of the chosen place in advance, or even go to spot if possible. That will surely help you to notice how light goes through rooms, where is a dark wall, where you have too many elements that will unfold chaos in your image. Or maybe something is missing that you should consider taking with you on the set.

The same you should do with a model you are going to work. Go through her photographs. See her face from different perspectives, which hairstyle you like most, what makeup fits her, check body proportions. With this knowledge, later on, you may plan how to hide weaknesses, and focus on the beautiful side of a model.

You might say this kills spontaneity; I would argue that to be able to be spontaneous to have a clear mind and a bit of preparation does just that!

Enjoy the photographs of my lovely model, and let me know what you think.

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