Glam-Rock Session with Mandy Berry

Kicking off the new year with a return to Feature Friday where I spotlight a favorite session or project. This time around I’m visiting the David Bowie inspired “Glam-Rock” session with the amazing Mandy Berry. This concept came from Mandy texting me that she’d like to do a shoot inspired by David Bowie, specifically the Heroes album cover and session photos . I leapt at the chance to create with her on this project because (A), I’m a huge fan of David Bowie and (B), I’d shot with Mandy before and she’s a superstar in front of the camera.

The setup for the BLJ (black leather jacket) shot was fairly straightforward. We set up a table and chair where she could sit and rest her elbows. The background is a Savage Light Gray Washed Muslin which received only some incidental light making it appear much darker that it looked in person. Lighting was simple with a 22″ beauty dish with grid above and to camera left and the background was lit using a 7″ reflector with a grid. Strobes were Interfit Honeybadger units.

For the closeup images I shot with a Sigma 56mm 1.4 lens and for the full and half-length shots I used an adapted four thirds 14-54mm 2.8-3.5 lens both of which were mounted on an Olympus OMD-EM1 mkII. I output these images in both color and black and white as they really work either way. And for those curious, the cigarettes in the shots are real but they were not actually lit. Instead she was holding an unlit one and I added the ash and smoke in post. After shooting the close-ups we grabbed a few full and half-length shots before Mandy changed wardrobe.

Mandy changed into a large, white, button-down shirt for the next set of images. These were more spontaneous as well really didn’t have a plan for this set other than just having some fun with it. Mandy’s ability to play to the camera really shines here as we captured a bunch of fun images. However, she soon grabbed a bright red blazer and a gold/blue striped tie and this transformed the next set of images.

Other than swapping backgrounds to white and placing two lights on it to create a pure white scene, the lighting remained just that 22″ beauty dish, although this time without the grid.

The exposure on these was very much “to the right” keeping the images as light as possible without blowing them out. I was careful to “just” maintain the details in the shirt while still taking her face just to the edge of too bright. I like the stark effect we ended up with here. Soon after a few of these, Mandy grabbed a bright red blazer and a gold/blue striped tie and this, plus some “extra” raw processing transformed the next set of images.

Before we wrapped, I put the gray muslin back up and placed the grid back on the dish. I also hit the background with a single 7″ reflector and used barndoors to create an angular splash of light on the background. I had brought along my own Guess denim jacket from the late 80’s just for fun and Mandy put it to work. The end results reminded me of some of the old ad campaign photos for Guess in the 80’s and 90’s.

I can’t stress how much fun this session was and how much I love working with Mandy when the opportunity presents. I particularly like it when I get approached with a fun concept like this as I really enjoy the challenge of deconstructing what was done and then creating an homage to it like we did here with the images Masayoshi Sukita created with Bowie in 1977.

If you’ve got a project or concept in mind and are looking for someone to help you bring that vision to life please reach out to me. Let’s see what we can create together!

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