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|| News Item: Posted 2010-12-07

Behind the scenes at winter fashion shoot

By Carlos Gonzalez, The Minneapolis Tribune

I recently shot the Holiday Fashion issue for As you can imagine a fashion shoot is quite a departure from daily newspaper assignments. Typically when shooting a daily assignment, you’re either alone, or working with a reporter. A fashion shoot, though, is a collaborative effort requiring a team of professionals.

Photo by Carlos Gonzalez, The Minneapolis Tribune

Photo by Carlos Gonzalez, The Minneapolis Tribune

2010 Winter Fashion shoot at the James J. Hill Library in St. Paul, Minnesota.
After our initial planning meeting with Art Director Leslie Plesser, the James J. Hill Library in St. Paul was chosen for our location. The inspiration for the shoot was Classic Hollywood with a modern twist for the holiday season. Wardrobe, hair, and makeup were chosen accordingly. A blonde female model (Katie) was specifically chosen so her hair would pop against the dark backgrounds of the location.

We had a 10am call time and needed to be out of the location by 5pm, which made shooting our 5 different looks a challenge. It may sounds like a lot of time, but when you factor in hair, makeup, clothing fitting, a break to eat, and time to actually take the pictures, it’s not much. It worked out to about 20 minutes of actual shooting per look. Because of this, time management was crucial!

When I noticed a wardrobe and hair change between shots took a bit longer than expected, I asked the Art Director before I began shooting how we were on time. That way, I knew exactly how much time I had to make the current shot and still get us back on schedule for the next look. If you are planning a shoot where time is a factor, I would advise that you designate someone as a “time keeper” to help you stay on schedule.

Like any team effort, it is important for everyone to do their part in order to have a successful shoot. The responsibilities of the photographer, model(s), art director, stylist, assistants, hair and makeup artists are all crucial to a successful shoot. Everyone involved on this shoot did a great job, which of course made my job much easier.

The shots were all made with 2-4 lights. The main light consisted of either an 18” beauty dish or a grid light. I also tried to use backlighting when possible to help enhance Katie’s blond hair on the dark backgrounds.

For the shot on the staircase I used four lights. Dynalites were used as the main lights with 10-degree grid on the model’s face and a 3-degree grid spot on her legs. A Canon 540ez Speedlite was mounted to a railing above with a super clamp and used as a hair light. Another Speedlight was placed on the second level and used to light the books behind the model.

The shot on the second floor walkway consisted of 3 lights: an 18” beauty dish mounted on a 13’ stand to reach the second story; Speedlight set on the books behind the model for a backlight; and a Dynalite with a 10-degree grid under the glass floor to illuminate the translucent tile under the model and to help bring back a little detail in the black dress.

For a video, links, credits and more photos and details about the shoot please check my blog and website:

Carlos Gonzalez is a staff photographer with the Minneapolis Tribune. You can see his work on his member page:

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