Following upon the success of our landscape instruction series, we are launching a similar series on studio portraiture. This will discuss the basics of hiring a studio, finding a model, lighting, posing and editing.
The first step is to find a studio or other place that is suitable. If you own or have access to your own light, then you can shoot at home. If not, then find a local studio that is available for hire. Many studios are available by the hour, but this includes set-up and clear-up times, so it is often best to book a minimum of 2 hours for a shoot. Having located a studio, feel free to ask to get a tour of the facilities before booking. Things to watch for when booking are changing rooms (not just an area behind a screen or curtain, as your model deserve privacy when changing outfits), clean toilet facilities, a sitting area (where you can discuss with the model your requirements for the shoot), coffee or tea making facilities, natural light sources (i.e. big windows), music (many models work better with music playing), number and variety of lights and modifiers, backdrops (how many, what colours, how easily they can be changed, are they plain or printed, paper or vinyl).
As a rule of thumb, any studio should have at least 4 lights, and have a good selection of different sized soft boxes, grids, beauty dishes, shoots, barn doors and gels. Be aware of hidden costs. Some studios that offer paper backdrops will charge you by the metre for paper used. If paper is used, it is often torn or damaged and the replacement costs are high, so check this before booking. Studios that offer tuition courses are also worth exploring, as your first visit to a studio can be daunting. At the very least, you should check that there will be someone available to help you during your shoot in case things go wrong.
The model that we will be using to illustrate this series is Jacci. We have worked with her for many years and we are very comfortable with each other, and have become good friends. In the next instalment, we will discuss how to go about finding a model for your shoot.