Shooting with Others (Part 1) - LUAS Style
I love shooting with other photographers; the past couple of years I have shot with countless pro and non-pro photographers around the world. Primarily I shoot with other photographers looking to improve their skills and I'm happy to be a mentor and source of inspiration. I too have several mentors that have helped me from many aspects of the business; it's an important part of the progression as a photographer and just important to be a mentor one day to other photographers that are beginning their own journey as a photographer. Yesterday I shot with a peer and friend, Jeff Medlin:
Jeff Medlin (image left) Michael Thompson (image right)
Shooting with alongside a peer that has their "chops" and the ability to produce their vision is a different experience. I highly recommend finding other photographers that are on your same playing field so to speak, so you can get out and enjoy a day of good ole fashion shooting. That's exactly what I did yesterday with Jeff Medlin from Dallas, Texas. READ MORE
Jeff has a career outside photography, so he's primarily a weekend warrior that "shoots to keep his sanity." Jeff's work is meticulous, flawless and is a master of light. His style usually involves finding a gorgeous model and then setting up a mini-production to produce outstanding images. Take a look at his site to get an idea of the quality of his work (not bad for a weekend warrior!)
While driving around we found this black and white checkerboard background on the side of an old garage. This was at the end of the day when we were only using natural sun light. The first image is Jeff's the second I had Jeff flag the sun light with his hand to block light in the eyes. This was my trend for the entire day:
A couple of reasons I like shooting with Jeff: First, we both enjoy shooting beautiful women. No disagreements or problems there; and we strive to find talented models when we feel like shooting for the sake of shooting. Second, we both have a certain standard when it comes to gear. Let me divert for a moment and explain Jeff's philosophy on gear:
-he updates his camera annually. He states that buying the best pro camera you can get (whether you shoot Nikon or Canon) is the way to go. Every year upgrade to the new model. There isn't much depreciation when you use this philosophy and you always have top gear. I have always been under the philosophy of shoot with it until it falls apart. I'm reconsidering.
-Jeff also buys used top of the line products for certain pieces of gear like lighting. His Profoto 2x3' softbox blew me away. The Profoto retails for around $499; shop around and pick one up for $150. He uses the Paul C. Buff lights and simply bought a ring adaptor that works with the Profoto. After shooting with a quality box, I'm ready to throw away the current brand I have been using the past several years.
-painters pole and Matthews grip. See photo and figure it out yourself.
Here's a behind the scenes shot. You can see the two light set-up we had. Jeff shoots Canon and I shoot Nikon. Besides what you see here, we had a grid spot, colored gels, scrim and a reflector. That's it!
Enough gear talk. Let's get back on track.
Jeff and I have completely different shooting styles, but there aren't any egos when shooting together. Basically we decided on the LUAS style of "run and gun." Load up a SUV and have all gear ready to go in the back. Drive around with your model and location hunt as you go. I had scouted out two locations in downtown Ft. Worth and we set up quickly and shot. When we burned through ideas we jumped in the car and went to the next location. This is by far my favorite way to shoot. I'm fast. LUAS has given me the ability to think and work fast.
How do Jeff and I differ? I'm much more experimental and not too concerned over gear, quality of light, whether or not my sensor is dirty, half my gear is gaffered taped together/semi broken, and I'm not concerned with sharpness/pixel peeper stuff. Jeff is meticulous and it shows in his work (he likes to use a light meter, I on the other hand have never used a meter in my life). There's nothing wrong with either style, they are completely different approaches. My loosey goosey style works for me.
I decided to block light out of the eyes on every shot. Here's another example of light in the eyes and not in the eyes:
More on the above and my thought process: I start with a vision and decide which gear is needed for the job. I also like to think outside the box, which means breaking the rules. There was a staircase blocking the light and Jeff said, "Mikey, did you know that is going to cast a shadow?" I responded, "yeah! that's why I put the light there!" Sometimes I use mistakes to rock a certain style or to produce a certain look. The key is to rock mistakes deliberately and be consistent with your style. I decided to shoot several shots where I subtracted the light form the models' eyes.
Here's one from Jeff:
Jeff will start with natural light before breaking out the strobes. I do the same. It just makes sense for so many reasons. His images are always more punchy than mine, I don't know if that's the Canon or his post processing. I can't get images this sharp! Jeff's images make me want to shoot with Canon!
Another from Jeff. I had the two light set up and then Jeff says, "let me try that!" We didn't copy eachother or shoot the same thing 99% of the time. We each had a different vision. It's important to stick to that when you are shooting another photographer. Be original. I have to bust Jeff's chops for this one because he saw my vision and went for it after I finished shooting pretty much the same thing. You decide if they are different or if Jeff completely copied my idea. First image is Jeff and the second is mine:
I will say that Jeff prefers a sexier shot than I do. Hahahhaa. Here's mine:
I used the railing to get a shadow on the eyes. Jeff chose not to do this. Similar but different. Also, look at the post processing. We each have a different style.
Finding models. Okay, Jeff and I are masters at working with and finding models. Check back on part 2 on this subject. You will not want to miss part 2!!!
On yesterday's shoot, Jeff called a model, Quyen, that he has worked with in the past. She was completely at ease working with both of us and enjoyed that both Jeff and I have completely different styles. The one common thread that both Jeff and I have is we know what we want and we both know how to direct the model/assistant to help achieve the desired look.
Stay tuned for part 2 of shooting with others.