Hey Folks the ultimate selfie not a post I thought I would write BUT I saw great value in sharing this even more so during this world pandemic which has hit this and many other Industries hard! as of writing this work has disappeared as it has for many and I now have more time on my hands BUT this is only temporary and it WILL get back to normal, just got to hang in there folks! So with all of these work responsibilities being taking from us, take this time to have a breather, try and relax a little I know it will be hard but what's the alternative right? with all this time on our hands its time to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, and get ready for hitting the ground running when it all returns back to normal which it will. I know how difficult it can be to test out ideas for a shoot when you don't have models at hand at all times of the day, or when we have exhausted all of the family members good nature to help in our time of need and I also know many other photographers can relate to this . As a Photographer I am always thinking of ideas, lighting setups, looks I want to create and the huge frustration which comes with those thoughts, as we all know how much preparation and time one image can take, but the biggest problem for most photographers is we are left with only a pen and paper to jot down ideas or maybe draw some diagrams, or some may have great software to recreate these ideas/looks in a 3d rendered environment, but for me there is no better way than to stand in front fo my own camera and run through the test setups when I have no one at hand to help, having that human element in front of the lens to test is far better than using a mannequin or a polystyrene head as it can help greatly for an upcoming shoot you are testing for or just trying to recreate a look you have seen. Walking into a shoot I have already tested out allows me to approach the session with great confidence which instills confidence in the model, which then yields great results or at the least the exact results you were after from your initial ideas/concepts. Without a doubt knowing how to set up your lights to create a specific look without having to go through this process will come with experience but to anyone starting out or learning the craft, this is the perfect way to learn at your own pace and in your own environment. I guarantee it will boost your confidence going into your next shoot!
I am going to walk you through my process in the hope it will help you get up and test out those ideas so they don't fall victim to ' that would work really well' or end up not being possible to create for all the excuses which quickly follow!
First is the most obvious, you're going to need a tripod, remember you are alone with no one to hold your camera so its essential :) You will also need a Camera I will link to all the gear I used no doubt you will have your own but if you want to check them out links below. You will also need a wireless trigger, oh and lights/strobes
Now while there are many ways to trigger your camera be it using the built in self timer ( Not Something I would recommend as you won't get consistent results) or most cameras these days allow control from an app on your phone, I prefer using a wireless trigger as it allows for more freedom in front of the camera you can hide it in your hands and it creates more consistency through the images and allows you to make those small incremental movements to see which position/pose will work best when you come to shoot for real.
So the first step is to set up the tripod, camera and your choice of lens, position it for either full length shots or 3/4 length, using your choice of camera trigger take a couple of test shots with no lighting set up just yet, focus on your position and composition then mark the floor to keep the distance (subject to camera) consistent, this helps loads when working by yourself, I tend to use the eye AF on my camera which is very good, if your camera doesn't have a reliable AF its just as easy to use any object (light stand) and place that in the frame then manually focus to get it nice and sharp and then, mark the centre of the object on the floor and that will be your standing position. Next you want to set up your lighting, if your using one light GREAT one light is all you need most of the time so practice loads with this light keeping it in the same position and try moving your body and see how many different looks you can create , if you want to experiment with more I strongly suggest starting with one light and build it up one at a time! Now the fun bit starts at this point you can go crazy with the lighting trying all sorts of positions to see what works and what doesn't, using fill lights, kick lights etc or better still try and create a look you have seen from one of your favourite photographers and really work it until you understand how it was lit, if you spend enough time doing this I can guarantee If you are new to off camera flash, or lack a little confidence in your lighting this will help boost that confidence massively! You will find yourself going into your future shoots with great confidence knowing how to light your subject leaving you relaxed which allows you to forget about the lighting and concentrate on producing great images! and have loads of fun at the same time!! Check out the video where hopefully I will take away all that awkwardness you might feel doing this by yourself, its fun and anyways how many times do us photographers get to be in front of the camera!