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.
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.
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!
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…
Welcome to Cool Stuff, a weekly feature where we post our favorite links from the past week, including our favorite articles and how-tos, videos, images and more.
- You know we’re getting the much-hyped Sony FS-700, and if you follow us on Facebook, you know that we’ve already used it to do an awesome little take on Reservoir Dogs. If you haven’t, here it is for your viewing pleasure.
- Of course, if you’re looking for a good review of the FS700 while you wait for ours, here’s one you should see. Al Jazeera’s Matthew Allard used the camera on assignment in Mongolia, and this is his review.
- Speaking of new technology, if you haven’t seen this already, you should really head over to Vincent Laforet’s blog and give his take on 3D, 4K, and more a thorough read.
- Switching gears to the world of still photos, a new documentary from filmmaker Thomas Leach chronicles the life of legendary New York street photographer Saul Leiter. Here’s the trailer.
- Strobists, pay heed. Steve Lloyd has a great piece over on PetaPixelon how he created this great image of a mountain biker on an arch.
- Finally, Luke Neumann over at Neumann films has a great set of overlays you can use in your next video to simulate looking through a DSLR viewfinder. Oh – did I mention it’s free?
That’s it for this week’s Cool Stuff. As always, questions and feedback are welcome in the comments below.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
When it comes to studio strobes, thing fall primarily into two categories: monolights and pack/head systems. Each has distinct advantages and disadvantages, and depending on your needs, you may need one or the other at different times in your photographic journey. read more…
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).
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…