The fiancé is on her way back from vacation this afternoon and I’m trying to finish up some projects both at work and here at home before she arrives so today’s post is short and sweet!
Over the past few days, I have read Joe McNally’s LIFE Guide to Digital Photography. This book, wrote as a project for LIFE magazine, shows Joe at his best: preaching the gospel of simple, easy, understandable photography. The small piece I was reading this morning focused (pun intended) on off-camera lighting or the use of a flash/strobe. Joe states that the beginner shooter pulls out the flash, uses it without any knowledge, doesn’t like the look of things, and puts it right back in the box, swearing to themselves “I’ll only shoot natural light!”
I have to admit that I was in that same group when I started, but then, I only had my pop-up, on-camera flash available and if you ask any photographer worth their weight in gold, they will tell you to never let that tiny box of light attached to the camera see the light of day (again, pun intended). As anyone who knows me can tell you, I don’t back down from a challenge, especially one self-imposed. I wanted to learn this strobe thing so I saved up and bought a Nikon SB600. To this day, it’s my go-to light machine.
That’s enough of a history lesson, but I told you that story to tell you this: when seeking out a photographer for portraits, weddings, or pretty much any reason, I would make sure to look at their use of flash. I’m not saying that those who shoot only natural light aren’t capable and can probably make some very beautiful images, but if a shooter has the ability to use off-camera lighting and use it well… then you have yourself a well-rounded, open-minded photographer.
I took this photo during my very first outing with Alexis. I’m not really sure how I stumbled upon her as a model (Facebook, maybe?), but I contacted her to look at doing a test shoot. I enjoy doing test shoots to feel out the personality of a model, their professionalism, and the look/feel/emotion they can bring to the table. Alexis had just graduated high school and was looking at a number of choices from college to careers and wanted to try modeling for fun and, if anything came of it, even better.
I have to say that every first-time model with a new photographer is shy and nervous as is the photographer. (Shhhh! You aren’t supposed to know that!) After the obligatory discussion/question period I have with all my models, we headed down to the location: a small park on the opposite side of the Illinois River that had flooded over a few weeks. What drew me to this place was the way the river water wasn’t too deep (definitely walkable with water shoes on) and the miles of tree groves sticking out of the water plus the sunlight, as you can see in the image.
Over the next couple of hours, Alexis and I had a total blast wading through the knee-deep water and shooting among the fallen trees, small “islands,” and still waters. I vividly remembering this was one of the first shoots where I felt comfortable with both the concept and the execution of the shots; they matched each other perfectly.
This image here is probably my favorite. It shows off the sweet, but mischievous side of Alexis and her sparkling blue eyes. Her pose is classic and the backlight, sun flare, and small spray of controlled strobe light mix together to bring out the color in the background plus the focus on Alexis’s face in the foreground… nicely done all around.
Since that first shoot, Alexis and I shot a couple more times and had fun every time. Her “career” as a model took off quickly (she is a phenomenal model – professional, takes direction well, and knows what she’s doing to boot!) and she has been featured all over Peoria in different venues. Her career took a different spin, however, after that summer when she enlisted in the Marine Corps. Wait a minute… that gorgeous girl is a Marine now? You betcha!
I’m very proud of what she does now, especially with my father being a Marine, and I’m definitely glad she is on our side. I’m also happy to have shared these modeling/photographic experiences with her in the short time that she participated. So, here’s wishing the best of luck to Alexis and her travels around the world; may all roads you travel lead back home.