BTS – Beauty Shoot with Flowers for Resident Magazine

It's beauty shoot time!  I personally love beauty shoots for many reasons.  They are much more relaxed as I do these in my midtown photo studio, so the lighting and backdrop always remain the same.  It is also amazing to see the transformations the makeup artist is able to create.

Last time I did a beauty shoot with Resident Magazine, we discussed what our options were for the next one.  Flowers became the immediate and most voted for theme.   We then Googled all the different flower based beauty shoots we could find, to make sure that ours was as unique as possible.

The full list of gear for this shoot:

Sony a7RII
Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS lens
Phottix Indra 500 light x2
Phottix Indra AC Adapter
Phottix Odin II (Sony) trigger
Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Studio Ceiling Rail Light System
Custom Brackets Tripod Mount
LG 4K 32" 31MU97-B Monitor
Phottix Hexa-Para Softbox - 47" (with Bowen Speed Ring)
Phottix Luna Folding Beauty Dish - 27.5"
Westcott Eyelighter Reflective Panel

We brought in one of our favorite makeup artists, JP and his tag team hair stylist Dion from Angelo David Salon

For our models, we reach out to One Management, who supplied us with the gorgeous duo, Lauren Taylor and Julieta Miquelarena

For jobs like this, while I can Photoshop myself, I bring in the big guns and send the final shots to my really talented retoucher, Roza.

Finally, we were supplied flowers and professionals from the amazing team at B Floral

Also assisting were 2 interns from Resident Magazine, Kenza and Jennifer.

Check out the video below about the shoot, then read on to how we made it happen!

I'm very proud of my photo studio.  It's stocked with some of the best equipment for shoots like this.

When I built it 6-7 years ago, the most important part of the plan, was that there would be as little on the floor as possible.  This meant, hanging the lights from the ceiling.  But all the pulley systems I found online and at trade shows started at $5k - $10k.  Luckily, I found a vendor that I bought the system for, for only a $1,000.  That price has come down since then and I linked it above.  The only thing I am missing, is some cable management (it actually comes with that too, but some cables, like my USB tether, shouldn't be lengthened more than my current 15 feet).

For this shoot, while I have many backdrops, an amazingly talented colleague of mine, Miguel Quiles, showed me during a shoot, how he uses a large softbox behind the model to light them up from behind.  The result gives you a pure white and clean backdrop behind the model, and frames their entire headshot with light.  So that is how I set up for this shoot.  I used a white beauty dish with sock for the front lighting.

Using my Phottix lights, I shot in manual mode in High Speed Sync, so I could use a 1/800th shutter speed.  This allowed me to use an aperture of f/2.8, which softened anything that was not in my primary focus.  I made sure to use the Sony Eye-AF feature of my Sony a7RII, so every shot I made was automatically focused on the model's eyes.  The entire spread was done using my Sony 90mm Macro OSS G lens, which is amazing for beauty shoots.

I also use the Westcott Eyelighter reflective panel to reflect light from the beauty dish underneath the models head, eliminating any unsightly shadows, while giving a beautiful catchlight in the model's eye.

Finally, I tether my camera to my MS Surface Pro 4, which has a a 31" 4K screen attached.  While I shoot, my camera feeds every image to the Surface which is running Capture One.  The editor in chief of the magazine, Hillary, can literally sit by the couch watching me shoot from 5 feet away, seeing every image almost instantly on a large hi res screen, while using the Surface screen to maneuver through the thumbnailed imaged, all while the settings I edited on my first shot, auto adjust each following shot.  It's an amazing tool for a client to use and lets us make instant changes to a scene, speeding up a shoot, and improving it 10 fold.

My NYC studio

B Floral arrived with a ton of flowers and started getting them ready to be shot!

Julieta was our first victim.

For each look, JP and Dion spent an hour doing makeup and hair.  This shoot consisted of 4 looks, 2 per the 2 models.  So they spent a total of 4 hours working their craft in my kitchen (that has a ton of natural light).

At the same time, the florist, with the help of Dion, put the flowers in the model's hair.

Finally, after an hour, we moved to the studio.

Note, the models are wearing their own bras in this shoot, as we are showing a lot of neckline, and we wanted to keep the skin uncovered.

I took a few shots so we could zoom in on the 4K screen and see any fixed JP would need to make, which he immediately applied.  And then the shoot officially began!

The resulting shot:

Sony a7RII, Sony 90mm Macro G OSS lens, f/2.8, 1/800th. ISO 80

For all the pixel peepers that are reading this, I wanted to share a bit extra from this shot.. A 90% crop, just so you can see what Sony's 42 megapixels can do:

Sony a7RII, Sony 90mm Macro G OSS lens, f/2.8, 1/800th. ISO 80 @ 90% Crop

The second look of the day went to Lauren.

Again, JP, Dion, and B Floral worked their magic.

I also asked Lauren if we could show a quick before shot without makeup, just so you can see how much work has been done.  She is already a beautiful girl, but with JP and Dion's work, she looks like an angel!

And off to the studio we go!

Which turned into this final shot:

Sony a7RII, Sony 90mm Macro G OSS lens, f/2.8, 1/800th. ISO 80

For her second look, Julieta was back in the chair, getting her makeup and hair done again.

OMG.. those eyes!

Studio time!

It's so good, she got 2 shots!

Sony a7RII, Sony 90mm Macro G OSS lens, f/2.8, 1/800th. ISO 80

Finally, we were doing the last look of the day with Lauren.

Back to the studio!

And the final shot of the day!

Sony a7RII, Sony 90mm Macro G OSS lens, f/2.8, 1/800th. ISO 80


And that's another wrap!  I hope you enjoyed this gorgeous shoot feauturing beautiful flowers, talented artists, and gorgeous models.

To see the beautiful spread in print, please pick up the latest issue of Resident magazine.  You can also view the digital format here