Model Portfolio Shoot: Tertulien at the Beach


Tertulien is a New York model, who flew out to LA last week. He was only here for the weekend, we had never met, and he didn’t know LA (can you imagine never having been to Los Angeles?!! 🙂 ). So to play it ‘safe’, we decided on a beach shoot. They don’t have beaches on the east coast (from what I recall), so this seemed like a perfect addition to his portfolio. We headed off to El Matador State Beach for a couple of hours before sunset. I’ve shot a few family portrait sessions here, but this was my first model portfolio shoot at this location.

[click “continue reading” below for more…]

I started the shoot by getting some ‘available light’ shots with an f/2.8 lens wide open, for soft and blurry backgrounds. There is soooo much sea-derived crud in the air at El Matador beach though, my lens soon developed a fuzzy haze of ocean spray and who knows what else. All while I was shooting! So my available-light shots inadvertently took on a soft-focus lens look. With every little accident comes opportunity, and I some cool ‘soft’ images as a result. Like the image below.

I had my assistant hold some reflectors that were ‘A’-clipped to a paint roller extension pole, and this helped fill the shadows a little bit. It was windy enough that the reflector panel (a large piece of foamcore board) was in danger of flying off the pole. In the image below however, the main fill is coming from the sun hitting the rock to the left of the model.

The rocks at El Matador are dramatic and wonderful. They are also very yellow! Disturbingly so in fact. I have to plan wardrobe so as not to clash with the rocks. I also have to desaturate the yellow from images I take there, so that they look appropriate and normal.


After the initial warm-up with available light and reflectors, I got out the strobe: in this case, my trusty and aging Norman 200B. When planning the shoot, I knew it was going to be windy, so I arranged for an assistant to be my ‘voice activated light stand’. Trying to work with a light stand—much less an umbrella—in these situations can be disastrous.  I don’t know what I would have done without her! Desiree Durang, a wonderful photographer in her own right, did a great job of not tipping over in the wind. Even while holding a 45″ shoot-through umbrella! I did have to weigh her down with the Norman battery pack to make sure she didn’t blow away though, as she’s just a whisp of a thing. Also, because there’s a steep hike to and from the beach, up the side of a cliff, I didn’t pack a lot of gear in. So just the one light and the sun on this shoot.

You can’t go to the beach with a model and not shoot a swimsuit shot! The sun is to Tertulien’s back, and the main light is the Norman in the shoot-through, camera left. You can see Desiree holding the strobe for this shot, at the end of this post.


And another…


A quick wardrobe change, and the sun is starting to set. Desiree is perched on a small rock, camera right, to get the light up high enough.


And here’s Desiree, holding the umbrella, strobe, battery pack and extension cable. All I had to hold was a camera! I triggered the Norman using my ‘cheap ebay’ radio triggers, as I’m waiting on a household-to-miniphone cable I ordered. Then I’ll use my Cybersyncs a lot more outdoors.


3 thoughts on “Model Portfolio Shoot: Tertulien at the Beach

  1. Wow…these are so awesome! Found the link to this through Des’ site..she’s my cousin (inlaw) and yes she is a little whisp of a thing lol! You guys worked it out cuz these are awesome..I’m sure he was more then happy with them.

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