This feature Friday, I’m taking a look at a shoot from almost exactly two years ago. A model I recently started shooting with wanted to do a session at the Graduate Hotel that had recently opened  here in Nashville. The Graduate Nashville is part of a chain of boutique hotels which, in the case of the Nashville location, is decorated in a fashion that celebrates Music City’s style and is adorned with visages of stars like Dolly Parton and Minnie Pearl. The lobby area is a treat of a place to shoot for the location photographer, with some amazing vintage style sofas and other types of like-styled seating.

Of course the location is secondary to the subject and Stephanie showed up ready to shine, literally! That slinky, shiny dress worked perfectly in this setting and while it is quite the attention-getter, Stephanie outshines it here. As a makeup artist, she knows what looks good on her and arrived ready to start shooting. She has a lovely, fluid motion and grace in her posing and can create an unbreakable connection to the camera.

The hotel lobby has some great light that comes through the tall windows but it’s not always where you might want it. I wanted to be able to provide some fill light without having to carry a lot of extra gear. I brought along a portable, battery-powered video light and a light stand which I could easily move around. This light (a Neewer CN-216) is bright enough to fill the shadows around the eyes and also helps soften some of the harsh shadows without being noticeable.

A reflector can be just as effective, but is more difficult to wrangle when you’re shooting solo. I fell like it was pretty effective and not making the shots look “lit” while still giving the overall image a nice balance of light. I’ve used this and similar lights when shooting out on the street when I need a spot of fill and I’m working solo.

A natural light portrait of a model by brandon jackson
A natural light portrait of a model by brandon jackson

At one point we went on to the outdoor space adjacent to the conference rooms on the second floor of the hotel. This space has some beautiful light at the right time of day. The sun will reflect off of the windows of the hotel into the opposite side of the outdoor space, and we took full advantage of that for a few shots. While no one puts “baby” in a corner, I put Stephanie in a corner of brick walls where the reflecting sun was creating this strong, “glowy” light. This would be one case where the shot was natural light but looks like it was “lit”.

During this session I was shooting Olympus and here I’m using a pair of OMD-EM1 mk2‘s. I switched between the Olympus 12-40 2.8 zoom and the Sigma 56mm 1.4. This setup and the  single light stand and LED video light made for a versatile and easy to carry setup as we moved to different spaces of the hotel.

Stephanie is not only a lovely and striking model, she’s also a very talented makeup artist, as clearly evidenced in these images. This was one of several sessions we worked on together, and she always brought something special to our work.

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!