Tech Talk: Anatomy of a Fashion Jewelry Shoot

By OMP Tech Correspondent Don Becker of dbCreativeImages.com OMP Member #155

In a class I taught for students in the professional program at our school, the assignment was to “create an attention-getting advertisement for jewelry using a model.”

For this assignment, I was to be the primary photographer, and three students were my “assistants,” but participated in creative decisions and also shot the finished setups along with me. We had three hours of studio time for this assignment.

As part of their learning process they set up the backgrounds, placed the lighting, helped meter for correct exposure, and actively participated in the creative decisions as to lighting, jewelry selections and placements, and model poses.

jewelry shoot

The jewelry was obtained by raiding my wife’s collection, and approximately 30 pieces were selected to be considered, which included some matched sets but mostly random items that looked somewhat similar. Of course, in a real situation the client would have very specific pieces that they would want to have highlighted. If the pieces were photogenic, the photographer’s team would likely have a relatively easy time coming up with interesting and dynamic images. If not photogenic, well, then the photographer would need to get creative with the lighting, the placement, the backgrounds, and anything else they might be able to come up with, in order to make the final images “eye-catching.”

In this case, the client (me) wanted the jewelry to be highlighted against the smooth bare skin of the model. We had the beautiful model Dasha wear a tube top, showing bare arms and shoulders, to better emphasize the jewelry. Three different combinations of jewelry were selected for the initial trials: a shiny black necklace with black earrings; a set of gold, pearl, and crystal ring, bracelet, and earrings; and a gold cross necklace with multicolored jewel insets and with a gold ring, also with multicolored jewels.

These images were to be semi-closeups, to better see the jewelry, but even so the far backgrounds made a significant difference. We found the plain white paper background to be overly bright, and the black background to be too dark, so settled on a black background lit with a Norman monolight, which provided a medium background with multi-shadows — this seemed to work well. The key light was an AlienBee monolight in a 60 inch round softbox, providing large soft lighting, with egg-crate louvers in front to make it more semi-directional. A third moonlight was used with a 40-inch umbrella as a fill light, about 1.5 stops below the key light.

The final exposure used was 1/125 s at f11, ISO 200, with the camera in the manual exposure mode. (Note: In the studio, I almost always use my camera in the manual mode, setting the exposure as determined by hand metering and confirmed with the histogram.) Initial images were examined, and it was decided that the ring and cross images provided the most impact for the advertisement. A variety of different positions of the jewelry and the model were then photographed, and then we were ready for the final step, post-production.

Part of the purpose of this exercise for the students was to emphasize how important the post-production is to the final image. In the vast majority of cases, whether for fashion, for advertisements, even for portfolio work or everyday professional work, no matter how perfect the model, the lighting, the expression, and the exposure, a skilled Photoshop™ or other image enhancing software person can make the image better! Of course, some images require a lot more work than others, and the photographer has to decide what level of post-production effort is called for based upon the final use(s) of the images and the fee involved or the importance of the image to the photographer.

To see more of Don Becker’s images, visit his OMP Portfolio.

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Flapper culture: The Great Gatsby look

Great Gatsby lookFull of glitz, glamour, ornate details, and a true style all its own – what girl wouldn’t want “The Great Gatsby” look? Whether you are looking to enjoy a casual Gatsby themed garden party or don your most glamorous look at a fabulous cocktail evening, there are plenty of ways with ModCloth to add a flapper-esque flair to any look this spring/summer.

  • Details, details, details. Epaulets, pearls, rhinestones, and sequins were highly used during this time period to add glitz to an evening outfit.
  • Slender silhouettes. While you could still see a full skirt, long hemline, and high neck, the robe de style dress featuring a drop waist and straight cut was the most popular style.
  • Haute headpieces. To top off the entire look, add a whimsical & decadent headpiece from 1920′s Great Gatsby Fashion at ModCloth. You can even DIY a fabulous headband with ribbon, feathers, and gemstones!

Here is another neat bonus ModCloth offers everyone: The ModStylists team can put together a look-book specifically for you! You can visit the ModStylists here: ModCloth ModStylists

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Career Advice: How to Become a Successful Commercial Model

By Aaron Marcus OMP Member #131667

Planning your Shot

Since the shots for your composite sheet don’t have words, make sure each photograph itself tells the story. Even better, create a photo that shows more than one story.

If you want to present yourself as a mom and a businesswoman, the photo might show you walking up the steps to your house wearing a business suit, carrying a briefcase, while your child runs to meet you. Take your time and be creative in thinking of different scenarios for your shots.

Carreer Advice for modelsMagazines are a great source of ideas. Find the magazine that will feature the look you want. For example: Parents Magazine is great for shots of parents and kids. For business images, look through investment magazines.

The ads can give you information on how to style the shot and what props are needed. Props are items placed on the set to make the ad look real. For example, if the ad is supposed to take place in an auto garage, tools, oil cans, towels, grease guns, and auto parts would be appropriate props.

The most important thing to keep in mind is to make the photos look like ads. Do not pose for the camera. Show a wide range of expression for the different photos.

Having strong pictures for your comp will give you your greatest chance for getting work.


Aaron Marcus PortraitAaron Marcus has been a full-time actor and commercial model since 1986. His credits include “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” HBO’s “The Wire,” and “The West Wing,” and ads for countless brands. Aaron has also been cast in numerous TV, movie and theater productions.

Excerpts from this article are taken from Marcus’ book “How to Become a Successful Commercial Model.” To learn more about commercial modeling visit: www.howtomodel.com.

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FEMALE MODELS WANTED!!!