In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, we explored how Victoria Secret and Russell James pretty much defined modern day bikini/swimwear photography. After six beach shoots spanning from Malibu, California all the way up to Vancouver, Canada, we got a nice tan, almost dropped a flash into the Pacific ocean, and left with a greater appreciation for Russell’s art and craft.
To reiterate, the core of Russell’s genius is his artistic vision and playful vibe when working with the models. His style is sexy, healthy, and wholesome. His style is an inspiration to us at iLHP and though no one can replicate Russell besides Russell himself, we do hope to share our own interpretation.
A Shallow Depth of Field
Russell’s style is defined by a shallow depth-of-field so shoot wide-open with you 50mm or 85mm portrait lens. A 135mm will work great also but we found that we were a bit too far from the model and a lot more shouting was involved.
Bring along a set of ND filters so you can keep your shutter speeds at reasonable speeds. I used very dark ND8 filters in front of my lenses so if I needed to use flash, my shutter would not exceed my non-TTL flash’s maximum sync speed of 1/160. If you use high-speed sync, you can make due with lighter ND filters.
Behind VS’s stratospheric success is a less well known but arguably the most productive portrait photographer today. Kind mannered and well spoken, Russell James has worked with the super-est of the supermodels from the last 15 years and yet somehow stayed away from the limelight. It’s hard to separate where Victoria’s Secret end and Russell James begin, but his images has single handedly defined the brand in recent memory.
In this three part series, we dive into the look of his images, his setup and equipment, then we wrap up with our own photo shoots and interpretation.
Time sure flies when you’re having a good time. Since 2015 is quickly upon us, all of us at iLHP want to have a brief look back at how far we have come this year. We launched our new format on July 7, 2014. We had a simple mission statement, to consistently bring high quality original content. We wanted to do something different, and that is to not only focus on gear but also focus on the art & craft of photography. You guys responded overwhelmingly.
Our unique readership has averaged 200% per month growth since July. Almost all of that has been organic, from search engines, reposts, and word of mouth. Thank you for your support. Rest assured, we won’t be resting on our laurels. We have brand new features planned for 2015, from a greater focus on travel, street, and wildlife photography to more exclusive How-To’s and photography contests.
In the meantime, each of us would like to share our favorite iLHP moments of 2014 as well as what we look forward to in 2015.
There is power in youthfulness. The cosmetics industry is built on it. The world spends billions of dollars to stay, feel, and look young. The same goes for the modeling world. Kate Moss was discovered at 14 at JFK airport, Candice Swanepoel was spotted in a flea market when she was 15, and Lily Aldridge, my personal favorite, began modeling at 16. Unlike other careers where the older you are the more salary, prestige, and respect you can command, being young and beautiful is incredibly marketable in the beauty industries. It is a bizarro world.
It is difficult to capitalize on this advantage when you are also inexperienced. Teens are young adults still learning their way through social situations, family situations, and professional situations. At the same time, I sometimes dread booking young models because I’ve been burned many times when they don’t show up to a shoot. How do teen models deal with the pressures of school, early adulthood, family, and a modeling career?
At just 15 years old, Isabella is currently our youngest model at iLHP. She is extremely professional, mature beyond her years, and yet malleable and open to new ideas like most young people are. She is just starting out in the north east and we had a chance to speak with her after our Terry Shoots last month. With her Candice Swanepoel cheekbones and teenage-attitude stare, this Korean Italian bombshell will undoubtedly have a long and successful modeling career.
Last time in Part 1, we started to explore Terry Richardson’s iconic snapshot style that’s influenced a generation of photographers and created the modern look for fashion photography. Controversies aside, Uncle Terry breaks the traditional “rules” with his use of harsh direct lighting and a shadow that hugs the model. In this part, we will discuss his setup and the gear you can buy to achieve that look.
A good way of understanding the magic behind his camera is to check out his behind-the-scene videos and interviews. With music rocking and a team of assistants behind him, his shoots are laid back yet up tempo. It’s fast, dynamic, and interactive. From these stills, you can see he shoots with a Nikon (D3X I think) and a single speed-light.