Shooting outside certainly has lots of challenges. Not unsurmountable ones, of course, but challenges all the same. Which is why many photographers avoid or never attempt to shoot outdoors. But: Nothing ventured, nothing gained!
Setting Up The Project
I have never ever shot an idea like this, let alone in a country that I have never visited before, in a natural environment that I have never experienced. So more than a half year before actually flying “Down Under”, I started looking for a local partner and I found Sydneysider, Stephen Wong , a competent, experienced, keen photographer and a wonderful, humble human being.
What Does “Shoot On The Run” Mean?
Our “shoot on the run” is not about adopting guerrilla-style tactics and applying them to photography. Nothing so dramatic. Instead, it’s about
- shooting lean and mean
- shooting quickly
- having only (very) limited equipment in place
- being on location for as long as necessary and for as short as possible
- and, last, but not least, operating “on budget”.
Finding The Right Location
One of the truly great things about the outdoors is the variety of locations that you can find. Obviously, this will depend on where you live but you will be able to find at least one or two suitable locations. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of looking a bit harder. Persistent can work wonders.
Applying this to our project, Stephen and I had lengthy discussions about location. I wanted to avoid greenery and vegetation in the selection of settings. After some first brainstorming it became clear that we needed a location that would not be challenging logistically, somewhere that we could access easily with a short walk. We anticipated that there would be a significant amount of additional equipment needed to shoot the video. We only had a day to shoot this, so the location needed to be less than an hour’s drive from the city center. The added costs of overnight travel, accommodation, modelling and assistant fees, food, and other items would have made this impractical and expensive.
At the same time, the proximity to the city meant a higher probability of spectators. And, we wanted somewhere that would not require us to obtain permission or apply for permits. To maximize seclusion, we decided that an early morning weekday shoot offered us the best chance of seclusion.
Our shooting schedule was extremely ambitious, with very little wriggle room. The La Perouse peninsula (located about 14 kilometres south-east from the city center) presented us with a perfectly suitable location that offered us the best combination of options to achieve our objectives.
Artistic Nudes With A Twist Of Glam (Styling & Beautifying)
Once we had settled on the location, we needed to decide on the genre for the shoot. Obviously, landscape nudes were the primary objective. But, given that this would be a tutorial, we needed to expand the concept to include variations to keep the tutorial interesting and varied.
Because we knew that we’d be aiming to shoot a few different looks throughout the day, we asked model Taliah Campbell to apply a little more makeup than usual, specifically to create a more glamorous look with strong lipstick – but no smoky eyes, or anything too intense. With the weather conditions on the day, re-applying makeup would be quite difficult, so we decided against altering the makeup throughout the day.
With her hair, we wanted two styles: hair loose and free, and tied back. With her images wearing her ballet shoes, we felt that having her hair in a bun was more in keeping with the general look of a dancer. Other than that, we kept the selection of outfits, props, and accessories to a minimum. A red dress and a purple wrap provided elements with strong colour, which contrasted well against the blander coloured backgrounds. The swimwear items, while they did not have strong colour, had strong design elements.
Weather & Time To Shoot
While we were hoping for (and relying on) stable, even sunny, weather conditions it wasn´t clear at all how the day would actual turn out. As the day of the shoot got closer, and the weather forecast became more reliable, it became quite clear that the conditions were going to be anything but clear skies. Our tight schedule meant that we did not have the luxury of time to reschedule the shoot. Furthermore, the whole premise of the project was to shoot at outdoor locations with an Australian flavour. Shooting in a hotel room or in a studio would defeat the purpose. With few options left, we had to stick to our original schedule, despite the weather, and to do the best we could.
Gear: Bring ONLY What You REALLY Need
Photographers love technology. We love gadgets and we usually have lots of equipment. Cameras, lens, lighting equipment, light modifiers. You name it, we’ve probably got it. That’s great when you’re shooting in a studio. When you’re out on location, it’s a different story. The secret is to bring as little as you need. Remember, shooting lean and quick?
Keeping to the shoot on the run minimalist philosophy, we kept our lighting design to a single battery-powered strobe. In this case, a Godox AS600BM, with radio triggers for Canon and Nikon.
If the weather was fine and calm, we would have attached a shoot-through white translucent umbrella.
However, given the strong blustery conditions on the day, that was out of the question. As it was an overcast sky, the ambient light was soft, diffused and even. Shooting with the hard light from the strobe has helped to add shadow and contrast.
The 6 Sets We Shot
Complete Shooting Timetable & Location Map
Conclusion: Worth an Adventure!
The weather was not exactly what we were hoping for. But hey, shooting with blue skies would be just too easy anyway, right? Taliah did an outstanding modelling job, and Stephen has been a real mentor to me and I would not have missed a single minute of our adventure together.
The location that we finally chose was most versatile and convenient to explore. Let me mention just one more time: Whatever location you might have in front of your door step – cityscapes, parks, desert, mountain, oceans, beaches, farm, rural neighborhood, or cornfield, – just go with it! The fun, experience and excitement is to get creative with the given conditions, nasty weather included.
I learned an invaluable lesson, got endless insights, practical tips and heard about topics I would have never thought about in first place. I have been a good apprentice and for the next time I can plan, prepare and shoot a concept like this on my own…: A model and me, wandering with a bag of supplies, a single strobe, one camera and 2 lenses through the scenery and looking out for the next best spot.
Please try it. It is magnificent!