I love shooting images that are bold and eye-catching, and often with avant garde styling and rich colors. That being said, sometimes the most powerful images are simple and timeless. I’ve studied the work of the masters of fashion photography in New York and Paris of the 1950s and 60s. There is just something about their imagery that stands the test of time. Often their sets are simple. Their lighting is uncomplicated and classic. The hair and makeup is timeless and avoids being ‘dated’.
Often it is the stories the images tell along with stunning simplicity and exquisite execution that make the images really sing.
Many photographers have the misconception that beautiful or ‘professional’ images need to be complicated. In fact, that is far from the truth. When a photographer has truly mastered their craft, they know how to simplify down to the elements that are truly required to make an impact. To me, well executed ‘simple’ imagery often looks the most sophisticated (and ‘expensive’).
They don’t need to distract with too many bells and whistles… but instead use the tools required to tell the story of their image. Each shoot has a story to tell, even if it is not a narrative. All elements work together to tell that story— the lighting, the set, the styling, the posing, the makeup, the hair, the model selection, the color grading, the retouching. All elements must service the purpose and story of the photograph.
The concept of this fashion editorial was for our model to command the stage— to shimmer and shine— against the darker tones of her environment. She is fresh and glowing, and exudes a quiet strength and timeless beauty. She shimmers in the night, and you can’t help but get drawn in.
My set of this series of fashion images was simple, and mainly consisted of an old wooden ladder and worn apple boxes that I picked up from antique sales in my home town in upstate New York (Owego, NY).
Elegance with a bit of sparkle. Sometimes a simple set, concept and lighting can exactly whats called for to create timeless images. Stunning styling by @lscstyling and impeccable hair and makeup by @grisellemua on WOW model @elenasartison ! Shot with @profotousa and @xritephoto with @canonusa 5Ds. Shot with a single deep white umbrella xl with diffusion. #nycphotographer #nycphotog #fashiondesigner #fashioneditorial #shimmer #gowns #model #creativephotography #muanyc
I wanted to show a contrast between her beautifully smooth skin and the rough textures of the worn apple boxes. Furthermore, I wanted to contrast the darker set (darker grey hand-painted muslin background “Eleanor” from Seamless photo) and darker apples boxes with textures of the clothing that would make an impact from their juxtaposition. Most of the styling elements consisted of sequins and shimmer, allowing the subject to really command the space.
The Creative Team
When going for something a bit more simple and timeless, it is great that I have an incredible creative team that can help me avoid the shots looking mundane. Simple can, at times, come across as boring unless the execution is spot on!
Makeup artist Griselle Rosario helped create the luminous glow to my model’s skin and shimmering eye-makeup to compliment the concept of the shoot. The slicked back hair helped keep the focus on the perfect skin and textures of the clothing. Larger or more textured hair would have been a distraction to the concept.
Wardrobe stylist Lisa Smith Craig provided absolutely stunning wardrobe yet again that was exactly what was needed for this shoot. She provided designer and editorial looks that helped the subject contrast her environment and that were both timeless AND modern in their silhouettes. From the shoe selection to elegant jewelry choices, she added details that really refined each look.
Our model Elena Sartison I have photographed a couple times, and I love (LOVE) her unique beauty. Her eyes are so alluring and she is an absolute pleasure to work with! At the time she was represented by Wilhelmina NY, and has since moved on to Major Model Management.
Photography: Lindsay Adler
Set Design: Lindsay Adler
Hair and makeup: Griselle Rosario
Styling: LSC Styling for 4 Seasons Style Management assisted by Dash Armstrong
Model: Elena Sartison
Photographic Assistants: Steven Turner, Andrea Sabo
Complicated lighting would not bring anything more to this shoot. Instead, a timeless simplicity was key.
For this shoot I utilized a very simple lighting design— a single Profoto D1 Air with a Deep Umbrella XL White with diffusion. In other words, I used a large and soft light source. I placed the light off to the right hand side of the frame so I could create sculpting and shadows on the face, and also feather the light across the background for drama. You can see the shadows on the left side of the model, and how this not only creates drama but also adds another level of contrast between the subject and her environment.
Shot at Dream Shoot Studio in NYC (available for day rentals)
The final touches to the concept occurred in the retouch and color grading. For this particular shoot I chose to perfect the skin in order to create a sense of luminance– I wanted the skin to actually glow in the light. Furthermore, I colored graded (color toning) the image to have subdued and cool tones to add to the timeless feel. Lastly, I added a bit of yellow to the highlights and subtle blue/cyan to the shadows to give it that final more painterly look.
If you like the toning of this image, you are in luck! You can download the FREE action I’ve created for this beautiful and subtle color grading in Photoshop!