Soon it’ll be a year since I began adapting to the pandemic and offering bespoke remote photoshoots to stay connected with photographers and artists worldwide. It has been such an overwhelming time, affecting everyone in such varying ways, but I feel incredibly grateful I’ve been able to be safe, and hone this technique from my home. It has allowed me to earn part of my normal income, despite my regular bookings and travels being cancelled and put on hold, and to continue to enjoy the job I love and have worked so hard on for 15 years.
Now, there are glimmers of freedom as the UK lockdown promises to slowly open up over the summer, which we await excitedly, but many photographers say they will continue to book models remotely going forwards, in addition to in-person shoots, since they have found it a unique and enriching experience.
I intend to continue offering my remote service as I steadily evolve and improve on the quality, artistry and variety I have available, all from my humble abode. The fact I can connect to anywhere in the world – is a huge opportunity from both sides. So I’m going to share more of this remote journey here in this journal, away from the restrictive guidelines of social media, and with more details on the technical approach, creativity and collaboration. If you’re unsure what remote shooting entails, read on for an insight in the process.
I’m overwhelmed at where to start, with so many wonderful remote shoots to share over the last 11 months, so I’m beginning somewhat at random with gorgeous images made with Erik te Nijenhuis in my home set-up last October, 2020 (with Erik in the Netherlands and me in England).
If you take a look at Erik‘s work you’ll see his style is graceful and minimalist – soft, refreshing, black and white imagery exploring serenity, expression, space and form. His instagram showcases an impressive body of remote work with fantastic models from all around the world, in addition to his ‘pre-pandemic’ portfolio, as it were, and it ties together very fluidly.
In advance of our session I sent Erik the images of my home space and we discussed plans for the shoot. We decided to go for a very simple set-up using the natural window light, working through art nude shapes, partial-clothed and portraits.
Although I enjoy working on more elaborate concepts and styling, I equally appreciate the opportunity to strip it back and focus on the bare bones of it – light, shape, expression. The way you can explore and play with these elements is endlessly fascinating and enjoyable.
On the day, I finished setting up my camera on the tripod, tethered to my laptop and opened the Canon Utilities program. I phoned Erik via video call and after a few steps we successfully connected our computers so that he could view my screen, see what my full-frame DSLR camera was seeing, and be in full control of it’s settings and shutter.
This was the first time we met – so it was lovely to have a little chat about our work, where we live and our current situations. I showed Erik the settings (since each model’s controls can differ slightly depending on the make and model of camera) and off we went!
As always with my set-up, my camera was saving the RAW images to the memory card, with the JPEG images sent to my laptop via the tethering cable for swift previews. We switched the JPEG to Monochrome so we could preview the images in black and white, as this was how Erik intended to edit.
Thanks to the painterly light that falls through my living room window, we first worked with the soft tones on my rustic beige backdrop (using my partner’s plano stool as a seat, as this was before I had my ottoman which I now use as a seat option). I adore the drapes in this image and how they compliment the shapes of my pose.
These next images show how my positioning in relation to my living room window can affect the look of the image. Just a metre of so difference, moving closer or further away from the camera, can totally change the way the light falls, the amount of contrast and the whole mood of the shot. I love the surreal shape we created with me curled over, and the beautiful rim-light effect created by the window behind me.
Erik could view my movements in live-time via our screenshare, and ask me to turn or pause, whilst he took shots, and changed the camera settings if needed. I was able to glance at my laptop screen, helping me improve the angle and work together with Erik’s instruction and experiment with making interesting shapes. Just a few millimetres can make all the difference to the highlights and shade.
We also worked on the blank wall, and against the window, using fabric and delicate clothing as accessories to add texture and interest against the skin. I communicated the options for framing and positioning the camera on the tripod, with Erik giving me his thoughts and instruction on the compositions. Every now and again, we would stop to check the previews, and browse through the images we had taken so far, noting what we liked best and refining the ideas.
After we said our thanks and adieus and the remote session was finished, I cleared away my camera equipment and backdrops, and began uploading the RAW and JPEG results to a folder on Dropbox to send to Erik… which was completed and received a few hours later. As always, the images belong to the photographer and Erik could peruse and edit them in his own way, at his own leisure. He also kindly gave me permission to edit and use any images I like myself in my portfolio.
There are many more amazing shots we took during this session I could add here. It was a very fruitful 2 hours, and I look forward to another session with Erik te Nijenhuis in a few weeks!
Some of my favourites from the set are the ones with the hands. I cropped one of the images to use for the Remote Gallery in my Portfolio page – it seemed a great fit to show the collaborative aspect of working together, and in this case, fused with the magic of technology at our fingertips, allowing us to create together despite limitations…
Take a look at the Remote Gallery in my portfolio for more examples of stunning results made with this innovative method.
You can also find out more about my remote process, my equipment, creative options, availability and contact details for bookings on this page… www.ivoryflame.co.uk/remote