I met Camille during the 16th Grande Séance last year. Well, I say met but really we just came across; long enough for me to figure out an angle to take a photo and move on. She was the only one I shot against a paper background as the rest of my photos were taken against a brick wall. When I got back home, I almost passed over that photo because it was simply just too different than the rest of the photos I had taken that day. I worked the photo anyway because it carried something. This was a good move.
We met over the weekend in a train station. We were basically winging a shoot. I knew the locations we were going to shoot in, we had an idea of the clothing direction we wanted, and the rest would be improvised. We got to the 1st location and started to setup. As Camille was changing in the truck, I was pulling the lighting gears into position. Just as we were ready to start, I flipped the flash on and heard the battery pack screaming… Looked like I overestimated the battery remaining charge and I was now re-evaluating my strategy as I would not be assisted by 640 watts of light. This bummed me out a bit because I had to fall back on hotshoe flashes for what I wanted to do. I knew they would do the trick but the amount of power needed to overcome the sun would mean going through all my AA batteries before the end of the shoot…
I did a mix of off-camera flash lighting, some bare bulb, some with umbrella, and a few with natural light. When I simply needed a bit of fill light I would mount the flash directly on the camera. I was using my good old 540ez who can’t talk eTTL with the 5DmkII so it forces you into manual controls which is the best when working in a creative mindset. I also made sure to incorporate the surroundings we were shooting in as much as possible into the image composition, even though they were the most simplistic locations. When shooting on-location, like shooting in studio, you need to take the control of the environment. Public spaces can have some disturbing elements such as garbage, signs and people. Wait for the people to walk by, recompose to remove these signs (easier to recompose than cloning it out in Photoshop later), and pick up the garbage so it is not in the way. I picked up garbage in the tunnel and in the water puddle, I waited for people to move away on the street and bridge, and walked around until the unnecessary signs would be out of the frame. Failure to do this will show in the photo. Control your environment, look beyond your subject; the whole frame you are capturing is THE image.
We worked for about 3 hours which really felt like an hour. Camille was simply brilliant in front of the camera. The shoot was entirely post processed 24 hours after the end of our session and I immediately started wondering where the next collaboration could be. If it had not been of that shutter release last September we might not have shot this weekend. We were one click away from missing this.