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AWA

Anime Weekend Atlanta | Pt. 2 | Light

Last year I photographed the Lolita Fashion Show at Anime Weekend Atlanta by myself. This year I had the Army of Interns along with me. While I had them shooting the standard wardrobe coverage shots – I went out into the back hallway, got kicked out twice, and then kept asking different people until I found one that said I could shoot back there.

This is how we go about lighting our photos. The shot above was the service hallway/commercial kitchen area of the Cobb Galleria conference center. There’s even more hallway behind me in this shot. While the lighting wasn’t exactly this bad – it was pretty bad, especially for photography. So we start by adding some light and seeing where it lands.

Adjust the white balance.

Alright. Too much light, too much lens flare.

Hey look. There’s a cool shadow – and now we have a sort of corridor of light shining from that side doorway.

Now we compose the shot.

Put a model in, and there we go. Done.

That’s basically the process. Even though we’ll have an idea of how we want things to be lit – you have to test it out. So we set up lights as fast as we can and we GO. That’s it. Set up lights, test, shoot.

And that’s basically what we do with our Interns. We set up lights, take photos, see where the light hits, and make adjustments. Sometimes you have time to be very particular about where the shadows land, and sometimes you just have to move on. In situations like the hall cosplay setups – we aimed for some interesting light but with a setup that’s very flexible. We wouldn’t have much time to make adjustments when we’re only getting 3 frames for each person/group.

More coming soon. Thanks for reading.

Anime. Weekend. Atlanta. 2010. Photos. Cosplay. Leah. And. Mark. Steampunk.

Anime Weekend Atlanta | Part One

Last weekend me and the Intern Army spent Friday & Saturday photographing Anime Weekend Atlanta (AWA). Our general goal was to make different ‘con photos. Other than that – I didn’t really say how it needed to be done, I just didn’t want to see shots resembling these. Natural light isn’t bad. On-camera flash is bad (generally). Other than that – the Interns were free to run around with their staff badges and make awesome photos.

I also told them that we were competing. All of us.

I asked them to take shots in the hallways – not just using a blank wall or empty space. That’s too easy. And while I’m sure the Interns were often frustrated with all of the people walking into their shots – the halfway spoken idea was to incorporate those people into their compositions. I know. It’s difficult. But if they could nail this down – just think how much easier everything else will be. Wax on, Wax off.

After shooting about a hundred photos this way – even I got bored. So I went with natural light. And I aimed for headshots.

I was hoping that some of the Interns would go back and forth between natural light and off-camera flash, especially since we were all competing for different looks. While I did tell them to use the flashes and go for that first setup – since they were all going to end up with shots like those, it should have been a natural thing to go the opposite direction and aim for really great natural light looks. Fulfill the requirements and then go outside of the box.

I took a step further and went only for headshot-type photos. Because I need practice.

Because one day I’m going to be presented with an awesome photographic opportunity – and one of my worst fears is that I’ll waste it; that I won’t be ready skills-wise. So everything, and I basically mean everything these days is practice for some unknown shot in the future.

So I asked people to look right here, right into my lens. In a public setting – many starting photographers tend to shy away from interacting with their subjects, preferring to shoot from the outside, across the room, stealing looks and shots. If you can’t stare people right in the eyes then you’re always going to miss connecting with your subjects. I’m not saying stare them down – but you need to connect with them on a level without the camera between the two of you.

So I practiced. Over and over again.

More photos from Anime Weekend Atlanta later this week.

Anime. Weekend. Atlanta. 2010. Photos. Cosplay. Leah. And. Mark. Steampunk.

Lolita Fashion Show

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NOTE: Any MODELS from the Lolita Fashion Show – Please SEND US your email address at Email(at)LeahAndMark.com – Or LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS in the comments section below so that I can deliver your photos to you. THANK YOU.

CLICK for Gallery ONE

CLICK for Gallery TWO

(Note: These are not all of the photos – but they give you an idea of how the shoot went.)

CLICK for the RUNWAY Photos – Part One

CLICK for the RUNWAY Photos – Part Two

I had a really great time yesterday at Anime Weekend Atlanta 2009/ The Lolita Fashion Show. For those who don’t know, this is derived from Japanese Lolita fashion and not anything generally associated with the term ‘Lolita’ – a more generic and acceptable term would be Modern Victorian – and even then that’s not completely accurate.

One of the designers, Megan Maude had invited me to come shoot the fashion show – and then I asked if I could also set up and do a photo session with some of the models – since I can control the lighting a lot more that way. Out of the photographers that she had lined up for the show – I was the only one to show up. I’m really fortunate that the other photogs didn’t show – because then I was able to have a photo session with ALL of the models.

Since I’m apparently generally over Anime Conventions and found the hall Cosplay a little boring – I didn’t take photos of anyone else there. And there were some pretty great costumes – along with people cosplaying things that were cosplayed 10 years ago… not just from old shows – but characters that were overdone 6 years ago.

Something I’ve been working into my photo shoots lately is putting the models on a different level – usually up – and then of course sometimes I’ll get up on a ladder or chair. Once I entered the long hallway conference room where the models were getting hair, makeup, and wardrobe together – I saw the lit ceiling, and it’s two big chandeliers. Okay Look – when I arrived at the convention there were photographers everywhere – and a gabillion point and shoots. Some even had their backdrops and softboxes out. I also saw several Canon 5Ds and Pocket Wizards and some near $200 beauty dishes. There was a lot of serious gear there and the only thing I can do right now is look at my $80 ebay light kit, $30 flash triggers, my Nikon D40, and think to myself I would light that shot differently (the shots that I saw other people taking – not mine).

So at that point my main goal was to get some shots that were VERY DIFFERENT from anything anyone else was getting.

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Once I saw the long lit ceiling with the chandeliers – I knew I had something. But I needed to get the models up higher so that I could have everything in the shot and at a good angle. Fortunately – the back of the room led right into the service hallway where they also housed all of their tables and chairs. I grabbed two tables and set them side by side as you can see in the photo above. Instant runway platform. Awesome. Now all I had to do was get the right settings to darken out the backgrounds and the rest of the room. If you look at the photos you can see the people in the back getting their hair and makeup done, and just standing around waiting. It wasn’t a perfect photo shoot setup – but it more than worked – and I could always fix it in post if I really wanted. The most important thing was that I was getting shots that no one else would have from the convention. Anyone can throw up an ugly muslin backdrop and start taking decent photos – but in my head I’m aiming for the shot that they’re not getting – just always trying to be different. Always.

I’m not going for anything revolutionary – just something that the other photogs at the same event, won’t have.

Now that I was getting really nice full body shots that captured the whole outfit – I went all out and decided to do headshot type stuff so I could capture the hair and makeup. Without a backdrop or a clean white wall – I had to use the convention room walls – which are foldable and usually an odd fabric texture. Whatever – it’s what I had to work with so we don’t run, we FLY with it.

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See?

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Awesome.

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This photo here was one of the first that I shot – after I got this one my pre-shoot nerves were immediately calmed down. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get any detail out of their HIGHLY detailed outfits. The black kind of blends too much in the middle of the dress here – but the bonnet and face and hair and white are all there – I have others where the dress is exposed more correctly. But you know – after I get those first few shots that ‘work’ – all of a sudden something in my head clicks and aw, It’s On Like Donkey Kong. Because anyone can shoot with enough flat light so you can see the detail in the dress – but can they light it in away that actually makes it look good or even interesting?

Something else I did was move the lighting for EVERY model. Sure they’re all in the same ball  park – but the light moves from side to side and changes height. I’m not Olan Mills and this isn’t your year book photo.

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The back of this dress is… well just look at it!

Right now until my order for more radio triggers arrives – I’m just working with two off camera flashes. Although I think I would light this shot slightly differently now – what I have set up is my 285hv with a shoot-through umbrella – and then I have my even older Quantaray flash on a light stand aimed right at her face. I told her to close her eyes. But it’s kind of cool? Ha. Well – at least I got the back of the dress really well.

The last shot here is Megan Maude herself. She’s a designer based here in Atlanta and you can find her and her beautiful clothes at MeganMaude.com – she’s super nice and really easy to work with – I am very fortunate to have been given the chance to work with her and all of the other people that worked on this fashion show. Below are the links for the other designers.

MeganMaude.com

BlaspheminasCloset.com

Apatico.net

CandyViolet.com

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CLICK for Gallery ONE

CLICK for Gallery TWO

CLICK for the RUNWAY Photos – Part One

CLICK for the RUNWAY Photos – Part Two