A few weeks ago I worked with Danneille, who is with the Elite and Q modeling agencies. We were introduced by a mutual friend, Desirée Durang, who has assisted me before and was also the assistant on this shoot. Danneille had recently moved to LA from the east coast, and needed to update her portfolio to make it more ‘California friendly’. High fashion with lighter, sunnier feel. We decided to go for a ‘resort’ look. The kind of clothing the well-to-do might wear while vacationing in Palm Springs or the south of France. And since we didn’t have the budget to rent a sailboat or take over a Malibu mansion for the day, we decided to head for the beach.

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We picked the last Sunday of the Christmas break, just before school started up again. It turns out this day was also the warmest day we’d had in ages. Big mistake! El Matador Beach, our chosen location, was incredibly crowded. It was something of a scramble to shoot between crowds of people walking by in the background, although as sunset approached, most people had left.

The lead image is where I was attempting to get a look I saw in a Ferragamo ad: hard light and overpowering the sun. It’s intentionally dark and moody. Note that I posed Danneille in the shade of a large rock, but close to the edge of the sunlit area. So the light hitting her is strobe, and is temporarily brighter than the sun. I used my Metz Macablitz 60, with no modifier, attached to a paint pole which was held by Desirée. I think I had a 1/4 CTO gel on it as well. Camera left was an SB-28 in a shoot-through umbrella, with a 1/2 CTO on it. That accounts for the warm highlight on her right (camera-left) arm.

Below is a set up shot.


Danneille changed wardrobe and then we shot some images that were more ‘standard’ from a lighting standpoint (below). The main light is still on the paint pole, camera left. There’s a shoot-through umbrella on the light this time, and I’m still using a 1/4 CTO (but not adjusting the white balance like in the opening shot, so the look stays on the warm side). The sun is over Danneille’s left shoulder (camera right). There’s an SB-28 as fill light, with another shoot-through umbrella, to the right near the camera, being held by my makeup artist Ja’Nice Estrada. And I should mention also that Angelina Scantlebury handled the wardrobe styling for this shoot. [more below]



It was a perfect sunset that day, and for the final images we had another wardrobe change. I love the way the wet sand reflects the sky, and also creates a nice background to accentuate her legs.



And we close with the sun having set, and the light getting so dim that it’s hard to get sharp images without a tripod. We got a lot done in a very short amount of time, which is what a good team will get you!

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