Behind the Shot | Christina

“Behind the Shot” is a series of blog posts where I provide a little insight. Behind the camera thoughts sort of speak. Here I’ll talk about some technical geek speak, camera gear or maybe my thought process to getting the shot. Every picture has its story so here is mine.

For this installment of Behind the Shot I’m going to do a throwback.  Originally I wrote this blog post to be published on LUCIMA’s blog.  Back in 2012 when Charles asked if I wanted to contribute to his blog I didn’t know what to write about.  Let alone who would of been interested in reading about my past shoots.  Now that I look back on it I’m glad I did write about one of my shoots.  Its nice to look back on my growth, read the story and revisit the styles and fads of that time.

I’m going to share my post verbatim below and if you want to see the original blog post on LUCIMA’s blog that I invite you to check the story I titled California Sun.


San Diego Fashion Beauty Photographer Rodney Alan-1

So Charles invited me to be a guest blogger.  While I could of rehashed some of my old content from my own blog that would be too easy.  I like to be challenged.  Sometimes. 

Let’s start off with a quick introduction.  My name is Rodney Alan.  I like to shoot rocks, unicorns and the occasional double rainbow.  However I specialize in fashion and beauty photography.  You’ve either heard my voice in Charles’ podcast, seen me briefly in one of his Fashion Video productions or maybe even met at one of his Fashion Photography or DSLR Video workshops.  

For the life of me I couldn’t find something intriguing or relevant to write about until it popped into my head while editing my latest shoot. Why not talk about my recent desert adventure in regards to lighting and how I addressed it.

This past Saturday a few photographer friends of mine figured to take advantage of daylight savings and close it out with a bang.   We decided to caravan it up and shoot in the desert. 

The planning process started a week in advance via group iMessage texting feature on our iPhones.  While texting may not be the most viable solution it did bring instant communication and some jokes.  We also met over some late night eats at California Pizza Kitchen to iron out all the details about the models, MUAs, wardrobe and the exact desert location. 

The most difficult decision was figuring out the models and who would be best suited for each respective photographer’s vision.  In a way its a blessing and a curse to have that kind of problem.  Ahhh Los Angeles, where there is a surplus of models.  Literally.

We arrived at our desert location and one of the first things I do is scout the area while the models get situated and MUAs do their thing.  This is my first time shooting at this location and any desert as a matter of fact.  What I’m looking for is something that is interesting cause well, we’re in the fuckin’ desert and how interesting can that be?!  After a couple of weeds, rock formations it all looks the same.  Its the lighting that makes a difference of which weed or rock formation I choose. In regards to the lighting I’m looking at the sun’s position and how the light falls.

For this particular shoot I came up with an editorial story.  I wanted to keep it simple and minimal when it came to my team.  No makeup, hair, wardrobe or assistants.  I asked my model to be camera ready and I’ll style the wardrobe.  I didn’t have a makeup artist for my shoot, however the other photographers got one for their models. 

For this shoot its just me and my model, Christina.  I kept things on the light side so that the model and I have a good connection.  I felt any distractions can disrupt the flow and chi of the shoot.  Just kidding about the chi part, it just sounded cool. And by distractions that includes lighting equipment and such.  I didn’t use any lights, on camera flash or reflectors.  I solely depeded on available light.  After picking out the wardrobe for Christina we were on our way.

I’ll share 2 pics from my desert adventure and describe the lighting and how I used it to light Christina.

In the first picture I found a location that had weeds, rocks and well more weeds and rocks.  I chose this particular location because the layout of those items and how the sun was positioned at 4:23PM.  The wardrobe for this shot was pretty simple, just a California flag… remember earlier I mentioned I wanted to keep things simple. 

I described my vision and had Christina follow along and improvise.  The sun was positioned really high and there is really no cover for open shaded areas in the desert.  With that said I wanted to back light Christina.  Well that was the initial plan, but the wind wasn’t being cooperative with the flag so I asked Christina position herself so that the flag would flow with the wind and create some movement so that she didn’t look static.  That meant she was constantly moving along with the wind.  So Christina eventually was lit by the sun in a combination from the back and side.

This location had a constant which was the sun, however there was a variable factor to work with and it was the wind.  Being able to adapt quickly to the situation I was able to capture this pic along with so many others that I had a hard time choosing which one to edit.  Its kinda neat when I have problems like this.
San Diego Fashion Beauty Photographer Rodney Alan-2

In the second picture, Christina has changed into another look.  Sticking with the keeping it simple formula, I have Christina wear just a denim vest and black bottoms. 

On accident I found a location that  was a sand embankment with some kind of rock formation. Upon arrival of the desert I didn’t see this spot during my recon mission of the area.  It wasn’t until heading to next spot that I found this.  What made it stand out  was the how the light was falling at 4:50pm  Notice how the shadows casting from the rocks in the foreground.  I saw this and looked at the position of the sun to verify what I was seeing and BAMMM!  We started shooting here real quick before we walk down the canyon to our intended spot.  I had Christina positioned so that the sun was lighting her from the side at a 45 degree angle, sort of.  

What’s great about shooting with an experienced agency model like Christina is that she is aware of her light.  All I have to do is tell her what I’m want to accomplish and she knows what to do.  Here’s a PSA to models, KNOW YOUR LIGHT!  If you don’t know what the light is doing ask the photographer to see the back of the camera.  And if your photographer is having a hard time with the lighting then this is where the saying “you get what you pay for” comes into play.  I could go on about this, but I digress.

So there you have it, a quick insight to my desert adventure with Christina.  If you have any questions feel free to leave it in the comment section and I’ll get you an answer. If I notice a common theme in the questions maybe I write up another blog entry.  Maybe.

Thanks for tuning in!  Be sure to check out some of my updated work on most of social media platforms.  I’ll list them below.

instagram:  @rodneyalan
facebook:   www.facebook.com/rodneyalanphotography
tumblr:  rodneyalan.tumblr.com
twitter:  @rodneyalan
blog:  rodneyalanphoto.com
website:  rodneyalan.com

-Rodney Alan


If you enjoyed reading that be sure to check out my ongoing series of Behind the Shot where I share the story behind the picture, in words.

-Rodney Alan

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