Friday, 12 May 2017

Review: Tall Dark & Art - An Art Nude Shoot Opportunity

Earlier this week I went to a "workshop" run by Tall Dark & Art  which I found via their meetup.com https://www.meetup.com/Photography-Workshop-Meetup/ group.

I've been wanting to extend by nude art shooting for some time, the big challenge is that amateur nude models are hard to find and a bit fickle and professional nude models are usually expensive. Getting studio space on top of that is prohibitive.

The setting

Model: Emily
The Tall Dark & Art shoot was held in a commercial hire studio in the midst of industrial Moorabbin and came with two models and assorted props. The two models were Emily who was a bubbly happy girl (seen in this shot) who worked well with or without direction and strikes up an easy relationship. The second girl Kiko was from a dance background and for the most part simply did her own thing except when specifically asked to do something by one of the six photographers.

It wasn't really a workshop, although anyone who needed help certainly got plenty of it from host Peter and the studio owner - all you needed to do was ask.

Two main sets were provided and lit at the start and the photographers had freedom to use those sets and the girls within their boundaries. Emily had strict boundaries, Kiko didn't really mind anything and did most things that were requested of her.

Set one was a simple stool lit with a octagon photoflash where you could choose to use the flash trigger or utilise just the modelling lamp. While the lamp required use of ISO around 3200 this was the approach I took most of the time because it suits my shooting style of darkness and high contrast with significant softness to the shots. The image on this post is SOOC (Oly high contrast b&w mode) and gives you an idea of where I work with nudes when inside.

Set two had various options and was lit with blue, red and white stage lighting. I have to say the Oly sensor easily blew out on the blue and had to be constrained - fortunately the OM-D E-M1 Mk ii abounds with colour settings to tone down the hideous blue. The options included a bench like a small picnic table that lent itself to all sorts of things (used in this image), a small 1x1x1 cage,  a large cross, a small cross, a coffin and a chain post.

The operation

Model: Emily
The studio was unlocked about 6.30pm and people came in to familiarise themselves with the sets and lighting. The girls arrived, introduced themselves and nuded up at 7pm and were available until 10pm with a couple of breaks in the middle. The six photographers worked across the two girls taking turns to direct (something I admit I'm awful at) and moving around the sets. I was happy because most of the time they concentrated on the more exotic Kiko which meant that I had Emily to myself for a lot of the shoot. Emily fits my shoot ideal much better than Kiko because I like to shoot the normal girl not the dance model. Spending a couple of hours with Emily nearly 1 on 1 was great as she helped me extend my direction abilities as we talked through the shoot. Emily had a good idea of what would look good and what would not and a simple routine was quickly developed.

The shooting environment was cordial and friendly. The studio owner and Peter set some rules up front regarding respect and treatment of the models. Each of the girls had the opportunity to express her boundaries.

Coffee was available for the asking and there were a selection of other drinks available at a cost if you wanted them.

Cost and wrap

Model: Kiko
The session cost $149 and included the models and studio hire. I consider this to be very well worth the cost and enjoyed the session quite a lot. The low lighting is challenging so you'll want your low light fast shutter skills up to par before you try this. You could use a tripod or monopod if you want to but I prefer the flexibility of position and movement that high ISO brings.

By the end of the session I had around 1,200 images to look back on to think about what did and did not work to help me improve later.  I'm fortunate that I've done a number or semi nude and nude shoots with both males and females so my skills are developing to my satisfaction.

I definitely recommend trying out one of these sessions (they run quite often) and give nude shooting a go if you have any interest.