Noema Erba is an emerging soprano singer, performing big, well-known operas. After three successful years in Italy, Noema gets more and more involved in the show biz and the industry it is connected with. The raise and push of her career created the demand for new photo sets to promote her in different (digital) channels and media.

Noema Erba: Personal Brand Building

Noema Erba - Opera Singer - Portfolio Photo Shoot Set 1 - 1

As a classical singer, Noema is subject to the same principles like anybody else in the glitz and glam biz: She needs to have an attractive photo portfolio. Even if one’s not a model, nowadays the beautiful smile, alluring charisma, sexiness and other teasing attributes have to be displayed and made available around the clock.

Of course Noema needs to sing, act and perform in a most excellent way. Yet those are just the basics to keep her job in this very crowded and competitive business field. Using pictures for (self-) marketing purposes most evidently builds a person’s public brand – it’s the packaging of the many unified talents of this certain individual. Noema’s business-autumn in Italy will be a very busy one with lots of new commitments. Therefore, she needs new PR images in order to support her brand.

For her portfolio expansion, she naturally chose me as photographer – I am her husband. We are married for over 5 years now 🙂

Sexy Women Photography Is Not Equal To Nude Photography

Noema Erba - Opera Singer - Portfolio Photo Shoot Set 1 - 3Noema Erba - Opera Singer - Portfolio Photo Shoot Set 1 - 2

This blog is dedicated to Sexy Women Photography (SWP). SWP (not to be confused with the “Socialists Workers Party”) embraces all forms of styles that depict and resonate with sexy/teasing/alluring women photography. That’s why I decided to present and breakdown this shoot here.

After all, the goal here’s to talk about my ongoing shooting experience with my small flash units, the speedlights. This is post #2 after publishing my opening article on using small lighting gear: “My Small Flash Units: A Very Portable Lighting Kit – Part 1/2”.

Production Parameters: Concept, Tech, Execution

Look-Concept: The demand for Noema’s portfolio expansion was quite clear: Creating as many different looks (sets) as possible in a very limited timeframe.

My wife and I planned every move and desired outcome very carefully upfront. Not only does Noema need photos for her PR activities but the imagery also has to be suitable for various other purposes such as posters, press, postcards (fan article), Demo-CD cover and more.
We had to produce different moods, compositions and styles like “Classic”, “Casual/Cheeky”, “Representative” and more.

Noema Erba - Opera Singer - Portfolio Photo Shoot Set 3 - 3

Location: As always, an on-location shoot and the scenery it comes along with is a solid setup for creating different scenes/moods in a short time without too much own effort. I rented a few floors in a city palace here in the middle of downtown Prague. The fee was quite high so the given shooting-timeframe had to be rather limited. The production budget was paid on a private basis. That’s the dilemma when you are an “emerging/rising star”. Marketing collaterals have to shine and be comparable to the big ones out there – yet you still have to pay everything out of your own pocket at this point…

Anyhow, the location offered a vast variety of manageable spots suiting our needs to produce many different styles on a tight program.

Lightweight & Tactile Lighting Gear: The intense schedule did not allow for very elaborate and time-consuming light settings. Carrying heavy luggage packed with endless gear was no option either; the team only consisted of Noema, MUHA and me. Lightweight and tactile gear was of the essence here.

During the conceptual planning I had already decided to heavily rely on the given ambient light, falling through the numerous big windows the palace provides. Electronic lighting was meant to be a supportive element, used for fill-ins only (except for one set) – so no need for heavy machinery.

My 2 small flash units provide enough lighting power anyway: 180 Ws respective 360 Ws.
As mentioned before, read all specs and the experience report from my first shoot with this gear here: “My Small Flash Units: A Very Portable Lighting Kit – Part 1/2”.

The Balance: Available Light, Fill-In, ISO

Noema Erba - Opera Singer - Portfolio Photo Shoot Set 3 - 1Noema Erba - Opera Singer - Portfolio Photo Shoot Set 3 - 2

Except for one set, the basic imagery style was defined to be soft in light quality and overall atmosphere. The available light played an important role for providing the series tonality. However, the ambient created by the sun was not intense at all and I had to dial up the ISO quite a bit to achieve a decent shutter speed. I set the ISO to 1000 most of the time. Since the flash lighting – that usually freezes everything up – was not the main light in these settings, I had to ensure that the minimum shutter speed was at least 1/60 (and faster with longer focal length). This way I did not risk any blurry images caused by Noema moving or me accidently shaking the camera.

Raising the ISO has another nice general impact: The available light immerses better into the scene and the overall lighting (natural & electronic) gets more balanced and smooth.

We shot 6 sets in total. Here are three of them in full tech detail:

Romance

Behind The Scenes - Photo Set 1 - Noema Erba Photo Portfolio 2015
Lighting Set 1 Plan - Natural Light & Speedlight Fill-In - Portfolio Noema Erba
  • Purpose: Posters, post card, PR imagery
  • Key: Ambient light (sun through window)
  • Fill-in: Speedlight @1/16 power
  • Modifier: Shoot-through umbrella
  • Focal length: 85-150 mm
  • ISO: 1000
  • F-stop: 2.8
  • Shutter speed: 1/160
  • 4150 °K

Playful

Behind The Scenes - Photo Set 2 - Noema Erba Photo Portfolio 2015
Lighting Set 2 Plan - Key light with Speedlight - Portfolio Noema Erba
  • Purpose: Social media, PR imagery
  • Key: Speedlight @1/8 power
  • Fill-in: Ambient light (sun through window)
  • Modifier: Shoot-through umbrella
  • Focal length: 85 mm
  • ISO: 800
  • F-stop: 4.5
  • Shutter speed: 1/200
  • 3800 °K

Ambassador

Behind The Scenes - Photo Set 3 - Noema Erba Photo Portfolio 2015
Lighting Set 3 Plan - Natural Light & Speedlight Fill-In - Portfolio Noema Erba
  • Purpose: Posters, Demo-CD cover, PR imagery
  • Key: Ambient light (sun through window)
  • Fill-in: Speedlight @1/8 power
  • Modifier: None. Flash bounced over a silver reflector to create a balanced artificial volume with the key light.
  • Focal length: 28-185 mm
  • ISO: 800
  • F-stop: 4
  • Shutter speed: 1/160
  • 4150 °K

Conclusion: Speedlights With Endless Power

Noema Erba - Opera Singer - Portfolio Photo Shoot Set 2 - 1

During the shoot, speedlights were not forced to excessive action. Regardless, I’m happy to report once again that the battery power of these units is simply endless. I flashed-out about 20% of their capacity.

Overall, the small lighting equipment worked like a charm, without any hiccups. It really is an awesome set regarding versatility, light power, reliability and (low) weight.

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