Happy fashion month everyone! Remember, fashion is more than a pair of designer jeans and an ironic hat; it’s a chance to bag unique, creative images, and to feature subjects who really push the boundaries. It takes nerve to walk down a catwalk dressed like an insane pirate, after all.
But simply finding a good subject and something interesting to dress them in is only part of the battle. It’s no use your model nailing their dramatic look, only for you to let them down with a set of bland, uninspired images. Lighting a shot takes just as much creativity as creating the perfect print or seam – if you’ve never done it before, here’s how to get started.
1. How much light do you need?
By shooting at the right time of day, you might not need any help at all: don’t forget there’s a spectacularly powerful light source about 93 million miles above your head. It’s hot, it’s explosive, and it can create absolutely spell binding images. Time your shoot right by heading out either early in the morning or a few hours before sunrise and you’ll find rich, golden, directional light that makes your subject look incredible. Using sunlight doesn’t always mean you need to shoot outside, either: if the location for your shoot has some nice big windows, position your subject near them for good results. Bonus points if the windows haven’t been cleaned in a while: the dirt will diffuse and soften the light.
2. It’s not all about external lights
Don’t think that just because all the cool kids are using remote flashes on light stands that you have to as well. Direct flashes, scorned by aesthetes because of their harsh, unflattering light, can look really edgy and modern when you use them with the right model and fashion. They won’t be much use on a haute couture shoot but you will definitely be able to find a use for them when it comes to shooting up-to-the-minute fashion.
3. More light, vicar
If you definitely want more light, and for the ultimate in control over where light comes from and how it’s modified, you want external flash guns. Fortunately, we at OLYMPUS have you covered – the FL‑600R has a built-in diffuser and can be angled precisely so you can either light your subject directly, or bounce the light off a nearby surface to produce a more even, softer light. Even better, the FL-600R can be used wirelessly, which means you can use it to trigger other flashes nearby if it’s on your camera, or you can use it as a wireless slave, which means it’ll fire when your camera flash goes off. It’s a very economical way of setting up a wireless lighting system.
4. Continuous or strobe?
This is an important question. Strobe lighting – that is, flashes that emit a strong burst of light for a very short time – are great if what you need is plenty of power, but until you have some experience it can be hard to gauge exactly what the aesthetic effect of your carefully prepared lighting setup will be. This is where continuous lighting comes in handy: it doesn’t produce as much light but it’s easy to see exactly where the shadows will fall in your final exposure. Older school photographers will know this as a modelling light. Fortunately, the FL‑600R has you covered in both regards – it has a powerful strobe function as well as a bright, built-in LED which allows you to see what your lighting will look like.Got off-camera lighting figured out? Managed to persuade a model to pose for a dawn shoot? We want to see your best-lit images as we get OLYMPUS’ fashion month under way. Tag us with #OlympusUK on either Instagram or Twitter and we’ll have a look. Alternatively, hit up our Flickr group or our Facebook page and contribute pics there. Let there be light!