Photo Finds: Fashion Photographer Melissa Rodwell

Photo Finds: Fashion Photographer Melissa Rodwell

Welcome to Photo Finds, a feature where we point you to some of the best photography around the web. This week, we bring you the work of fashion photographer Melissa Rodwell. I’ve been following Melissa’s blog since 2010 when it first came to my attention through David Hobby’s Strobist blog. Since then, I’ve read practically every post and watched every BTS (Behind The Scenes) video that Melissa has done, picking up a tip (or three) every single time.

Let’s get one thing out the way first. A lot of photographers say they are fashion photographers. What they really mean is that they’d like to be fashion photographers but, as Zack Arias points out, just taking a pretty picture of a pretty girl in pretty clothing isn’t fashion photography.

Melissa Rodwell

To shoot fashion, you have to live it, breathe it, consume it. You have to truly love the subject and understand it. Just as importantly, you have to shoot for fashion. By those simple standards, Melissa Rodwell is most definitely a fashion photographer.

Melissa’s client list is pretty darn impressive. Among others, she counts as her clients Ralph Lauren, KURV, Mademoiselle, and Harper’s Bazaar. She has shot in locations all over the world, from New York to Dubai, and has exhibited her work in Australia and Amsterdam. She has repeatedly broken out of her role as a fashion photographer to work on personal projects.

Now, there are a lot of fashion photographers out there. The major markets are flooded with people looking for work in that industry. There are, however, two things that make Melissa pretty unique and cause her to stand out in the crowd.

The first is her sense of style and execution. Fashion photography has gotten especially bizarre (to me) of late in what often seems to be a crazy race to absolutely incomprehensible surreality. Go through the pages of Vogue to get an idea of what I’m talking about. Why on earth does a Bvlgari ad have a lion in it? It’s almost like someone flipped the crazy switch to max and said, “Hey, you know what would be awesome? A lion in an ad for our perfume. With Rachel Weisz! And Kirsten Dunst!”

Can anyone tell me what a lion has to do with perfume?

In the midst of that insanity (inanity?), Melissa’s work seems to restore a significant sense of balance and clarity. Where too many photographers resort to gimmickry, she assembles the most simple elements to create image-powerful photographs. Take her “White” story for KURV magazine (image above). Her light sources here are window lighting and some Christmas lights. That’s it.

Now, that’s not to say that she can’t gang together a bunch of Profoto lights in a shoot to overpower the sun. It’s more that she has a great sense of what’s needed to bring out drama and impact in a shoot and doesn’t overdo it.

The second reason why I think Melissa stands out in the crowd is because of her openness.

The fashion photography world often feels closed, insular, and exclusionary. People don’t often talk about it as if they’ll lose some competitive advantage if they do.

Through her blog, Melissa tears down several of the barriers preventing you from getting a good look into that exclusive world. From BTS videos and articles, to interviews with other photographers, models, and assistants, she spends a good amount of time helping the outsider construct the semblance of an idea of what this world looks like.

And if that wasn’t enough, she conducts workshops all around the world, the most recent one being in Berlin. Moreover, she has taken her role as an informer and educator one step further by releasing an educational DVD about the world of fashion photography. Priced at $249, this is an investment for those serious about getting into this field. If her blog is any indication of the contents of the DVD then it will likely be worth it.

Speaking of her blog, Scott Kelby, whose opinion I pay a great deal of attention to, named her blog in his “Best of 2011” post, calling it the best blog for fashion photographers.

Take a look at Melissa’s work on her portfolio site and visit her blog.

5 Things Worth Celebrating About the New Canon 1D X

5 Things Worth Celebrating About the New Canon 1D X

A new member is about to officially join the BorrowLenses Canon 1D pro body family tomorrow. The 1D X (“X” representing the merger, or “crossover”, of the 1D and 1Ds series) takes the impossible choice out of sports/wildlife vs portrait/landscape by being able to, seemingly, do everything!

1. Speed

The 1D X has the fastest FPS of any 1D so far (up to 14 FPS).

2. AF Overhaul

The 1D X uses a 61-point/41 cross-type AF system. Cross-type focus allows for higher accuracy in contrast detection. read more…

4 Important Things to Know About Canon’s New 40mm Pancake Lens

4 Important Things to Know About Canon’s New 40mm Pancake Lens

1. Long History of a Short Lens

What’s all the fuss surrounding Canon’s new 40mm “pancake” lens? So called because of their flat, short-barrel look, pancake lenses are primes made with thin glass and have been a convenient carry-along for photographers for over 100 years. They are an unobtrusive lens with aesthetic appeal, a longtime favorite in the mirrorless/Micro Four Thirds crowd. Canon has finally jumped on the bandwagon with its inaugural pancake: the EF 40mm f/2.8.

2. Better Focusing Distance and Bokeh

Most pancakes fall into the normal-to-wide focal range and this one is no exception. While most, especially older, pancake lenses are unable to focus down on anything closer than 18 inches, this one is able to home in at a relatively close 11.8 inches. And with 7 diaphragm blades at f2.8, the bokeh on this lens is quite good.

3. STM Enables Video Auto Focusing on the Canon Rebel T4i

This lens is certainly a great go-t0 for travelers looking to pack light, however, the technology of the 40mm is principally for video and will allow the camera to focus continuously while shooting video. The STM (STepping Motor) feature of this lens offers smooth and quiet continuous auto focusing when used with the video functionality of the new Canon Rebel T4i (for our review of the T4i, click here).

read more…

Photo Finds, June 15, 2012 – Matt Furman

Photo Finds, June 15, 2012 – Matt Furman

Matt Furman

Matt Furman

Welcome to Photo Finds, a feature where we point you to some of the best photography around the web.

The business of photography isn’t an easy one. If you’re a pro, you have to deliver – and you have to do it consistently, day after day. Even more difficult is the fact that you have to stay fresh, flexible, stay in tune with the styles of the day, and evolve with time. Few photographers can do this over any length of time.

Matt Furman, a commercial and editorial photographer based in New York city, is one of these few. With a client roster that includes Forbes, CFO Magazine, American Airlines, Billboard, and Barron’s, Matt’s work reflects a sort results-oriented aesthetic that stops far short of being “typical.” read more…

Photo Finds, June 18, 2012 – Daniel Milnor

Photo Finds, June 18, 2012 – Daniel Milnor

Welcome to Photo Finds, a feature where we point you to some of the best photography around the web.

A Leica, a Hasselblad, a few rolls of film. That’s pretty-much photographer Daniel Milnor’s ammunition when he goes out shooting. Whether it’s along the streets of Paris or in the wilds of Machu Pichu, Daniel’s style of documentary photography stands out head and shoulders above the crowd.

read more…

Photo Finds – June 11, 2012: Zack Arias

Photo Finds – June 11, 2012: Zack Arias

Zack Arias

Zack Arias

Welcome to Photo Finds, a feature where we point you to some of the best photography around the web.

This week’s Photo Finds is a very specific one. We’re not just going to talk about a specific photographer; we’re going to talk about a specific photographer shooting a specific genre.

A lot of you have already heard of photographer and teacher Zack Arias before. We’ve certainly mentioned him on our blog repeatedly, and his lighting workshop on creativeLIVE ranks as one of our top lighting resources to date. He’s also easily one of the most eloquent and honest photographers I know of.

That same honesty and eloquence has, of late, manifested itself in a style of photography that’s pretty different from the portraiture that brought Zack his initial acclaim. Yet, despite its difference, there’s something uniquely Zack about it, and that’s why I’m talking about it today. read more…

Photo Finds – June 4, 2012: Michael Cali

Photo Finds – June 4, 2012: Michael Cali

Mike Cali Self Portrait in Dubai. Shot with the X-Pro1. Photo Courtesy and Copyright © Michael Cali.

Mike Cali Self Portrait in Dubai. Shot with the X-Pro1. Photo Courtesy and Copyright © Michael Cali.

Welcome to Photo Finds, a feature where we point you to some of the best photography around the web.

When I picked wedding and portrait photographer Michael Cali as the person I wanted to talk about in today’s Photo Finds feature, I didn’t remember right away that he and last week’s Photo Finds photographer, Brad Moore, had something pretty significant in common. Both Brad and Michael have served as assistants to one of the most amazing photographers alive today, Joe McNally. Brad is his former assistant (he works for Scott Kelby now) and Mike is Joe’s current assistant. read more…

Op-Ed: The New Horizon(tal)

Op-Ed: The New Horizon(tal)

From time to time, we offer up Op-Ed pieces on various aspects of photography for your consideration. Please note that these articles are the personal opinion of the writer, not necessarily of BorrowLenses.com. 

Changing habits is tough. I used to, for example, use my iPad in portrait orientation for the most part. Now I’m trying to break that habit.

Ditto for things on the shooting side. At one point, I used to have a vertical grip on my 5D Mark II and shoot primarily in portrait mode. Most of what I shot was vertical, and I loved it. Portraiture, I used to think, should only be shot vertically. I even invested in an “L” bracket for my 5D so I could shoot in portrait mode with a tripod more comfortably.

Now? Not so much. read more…

5 Things I Learned at the Google+ Photographer’s Conference

5 Things I Learned at the Google+ Photographer’s Conference

Last week we had a great time at the Google+ Photographer’s Conference. As an event partner and sponsor we had a chance to meet a lot of great photographers in attendance. The conference had a great energy to it. With photographers being so active and social on Google+ it was rather effortless to pick up conversations in person with photographers of all stripes and experience levels. It was for this reason alone that attending was an amazing experience. Beyond meeting with great photographers there was a lot of great information shared amongst attendees and speakers alike. The 5 takeaways that I came back with that all photographers on Google+ could stand to benefit from included:

1. Focus on Community
The community on Google+ feels like the Flickr photography community of old. There is a constant flow of photos with many photographers you’ll find familiar and many more that will likely be new to you. It’s a great time to explore and network with photographers of all backgrounds, experience levels and expertises. In fact there are numerous sub-communities on Google+ focusing on various photography niches. Google+ makes it super easy and fast to find information in alignment with your photographic and non-photographic interests.

What made the Google+ Photographer’s Conference so special is the fact that this virtual community became tangible. If you follow someone on Google+ it was all the reason you needed to introduce yourself. It was great to be able to pick up conversations previously confined to posts and comments. Getting out to talk and photograph with your compatriots from abroad made for an extremely special time.

2. Engage
Google+ is a great place to connect with a community, but it’s only as good as you make it. Find great photographers and interact with them. You never know when someone is active online so don’t let it phase you if your comments go unnoticed at first. Keep commenting and interacting and before you know it you’ll be conversing with photographers you thought you’d never talk to.

3. Hangout: Join One, Start One
What sets Google+ apart from other social media web sites is their ability to support group video chats. It is by far one of the most novel features added to a social media site that I’ve yet to see. Conveying text updates in real-time is great, sharing photos is also great, but being able to talk and see each other in real conversations is extremely cool. It has its moments of getting bogged down if your connection isn’t the fastest, but its still a great experience. Over time it will no doubt improve, but in the meantime there is nothing that should stop you from giving it a try.

Guy Kawasaki Presenting at the Google+ Photographer's Conference Highlighting is BorrowLenses.com HQ Tour

Guy Kawasaki Presenting at the Google+ Photographer's Conference Highlighting is BorrowLenses.com HQ Tour

Guy Kawasaki Presenting at the Google+ Photographer’s Conference Highlighting is BorrowLenses.com HQ Tour

4. Chrome Plugins
Above and beyond my previously recommended chrome plugins (see 5 Highly Recommended Google+ Chrome Extensions) Guy Kawasaki shared his 3 favorite plugins at the conference. They may not all be of use to you, but I bet at least one is. Take note that “Replies and More” will help you with Lesson #2 (see above) as tagging someone in your reply will send an email to that person. It’s a great way to reach out to someone above and beyond the average comment.

  1. Do Share allows you to schedule posts.
  2. Replies and More simplifies responding to authors and commenters.
  3. Nuke Comments streamlines reporting, blocking, and deleting comments in a single click.

5. Hashtags to Explore
Hashtags are a great way to see running threads of conversation across broad pools of people that you may or may not yet be following. Some hashtags are used to note photo themes and others to note discussion topics. In either case if you see a hashtag (ex. #gpluspc) click on it and you’ll find posts relating to that topic in less than a second. With a little deeper searching you’re sure to find new people to connect with.
A great photography hashtag list to start with is from Eric LeslieDaily Photography Themes on Google+  You’re bound to find something of interest here and its a great catalyst to start interacting with some great photographers.

Now that you know, we hope to see you on Google+ and be sure to visit us on our G+ BorrowLenses.com page.

Tip of the Week – Replicate Photographer Peter Hurley’s Signature Look With Strobes

Tip of the Week – Replicate Photographer Peter Hurley’s Signature Look With Strobes

Every week, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at blog@borrowlenses.com.

If you followed this blog for any length of time, you know that we’re big fans of headshot photographer Peter Hurley. Peter is extremely well-know for his ability to get fantastic shots for his subjects. His ability get a range of expressions through rigorous coaching is, I think, what makes his images stand out from the rest.

read more…

Yeah, We’re Fanboys…

Max, Jim and I are at Guy Kawasaki’s talk on branding in Google+, and we got a pleasant surprise.

So, here’s a shot of Guy, with his computer’s display mirrored via projector.

Guy Kawasaki at Google+

Guy Kawasaki at Google+

And here’s his screen, zoomed in.

That's Guy talking about his visit to BorrowLenses.com's offices.

That's Guy talking about his visit to BorrowLenses.com's offices.

Yep, that’s us! and yeah, we’re fanboys.

Guy was kind enough to mention us during his talk, and for those who missed it, Guy also visited out offices recently.

Here’s another shot of Guy’s screen, showing him at BL’s office.

Guy at our offices, shown on-screen during his Google+ talk.

Guy at our offices, shown on-screen during his Google+ talk.

If you’re at the Google+ Conference For Photographers, remember, we’re here too! Come find either Jim or Max (they’re walking around in BorrowLenses.com t-shirts) and say hi!

Tip of the Week: In-Camera Panos with Fuji

Tip of the Week: In-Camera Panos with Fuji

B&W Pano, shot with a 45mm TS-E lens

B&W Pano, shot with a 45mm TS-E lens

Making panoramic images is one of my favorite things to do, and I tend to go to some lengths to make them. My tool of choice is usually something along the lines of a Canon 45mm TS-E lens, and I use a technique I described in a previous Tip of the Week piece, “Use a Tilt-Shift Lens for Panoramic Photos.”

That technique takes some time, thought, and setup, and I don’t always have time to do it right. Sometimes, I want to create a panoramic image quickly and easily. read more…

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