Welcome to "How to Stock," a new short series of articles on how to do some stock basics. We'll ask the big names in stock for their tips and opinions on how to get the best out of your stock shoot!
For the first article, I asked faestock
, and kirilee
all about how to set up a shooting area. Let's see what wisdom they have for us!
What are the best kind of lights? How many should I have? What kind of bulbs give the best light?
If you have access to studio lighting then I prefer to use a large Elenchrom soft box. The soft box provides a soft flattering light for most subjects. A direct flash can be harsh, using some kind of filter, like a beauty dish, grate or soft box is better. I would also suggest rigging the stand with wheels so it is easily adjustable, as one inch to the left can make all the difference when you are really looking at light placement in photos. You really only need one light if you know how to use it well. Natural lighting can be so beautiful as well, it is just about using it at the right time of the day.
You can get lights from a hardware store and they will make do, but they won't be the same as the ones designed specifically for taking photographs, but they will be better than nothing. If you're wanting to treat yourself to fancy stuff, I have softboxes which are amazing. I don't really use the umbrella option that came in the set. My lights also have a flash setting, which creates a sharper image and means you can do action shots indoors. Which you know, is rather fantastic. Unless I'm trying to create dark/light contrast, I always have two softboxes set up. As for bulbs, I know the ones in mine are different from what a couple of other stockers use, they're not as bright by themselves but they will do the whole flash thing (no I don't mean streaking). (You might have guessed, I'm pretty terrible at technical lingo). If you can get a softbox, they are well worth the investment.
The best light is natural light - outside on an overcast day to be precise. However, as we can't always decide the weather I would strongly suggest investing in some soft boxes. They come with either constant light source or for flashes to be inserted. The latter is a brighter light - however it can end up being much more expensive. I recommend looking on websites like ebay - you can tend to get some good deals on kits for a constant light set. I have a total of three softbox lights with constant lighting and use at least one in every shoot I do.
I also try wherever possible, to shoot where there is already ample natural light present.
What should my backdrop be like? Do I really need one?
The background for stock photos should be clean with nothing to distract from the main subject. A studio backdrop (painted studios are easier to maintain, paper backdrops react to light beautifully), a wall in your house or building exteriors and also hanging fabric make good backdrops. Please clean up before hand and remove anything that doesn't need to be in the photo. If you are hanging fabric to use as your backdrop, try to pick something with one block colour (i.e no patterns) and please iron out any creases.
If you are shooting on location try to match the background to your subject, it will help to enhance the overall appeal of the image.
For stock, try and get a longer backdrop so you have more room to move around and pose. As for whether or not you really need one, that depends on what space you're working in. If you're lucky enough to have a large white wall and enough space to work against that, maybe you don't need one. But then with a backdrop you can easily change from white to black. And you don't need to worry as much about sticking up bedsheets. It really depends on your space as to whether you need one.
Backdrops are tricky. Sometimes shooting on location can help the "feel" of the piece but can also play around with lighting and can be a hassle for artists to cut your image out. The backdrops I use when not on location are something plain. It doesn't have to be a "backdrop", but a blank wall.
If you use a sheet hanging behind you, try to ensure that the sheet is pulled tight to create a crisp model image.
Where should my camera and lights be in relation to the model/object/whatever?
Usually 1-2 meters is the estimated distance for most light-to-model-ratios. If you have extra backlights behind the model, to light up a background, then your model should be far enough from them so that no back light spills onto them. It depends on what type of lens/camera you are using to determine how far away the camera/photographer should be from the model. For a 24-75m lens photographing a full frame model shot, I would recommend somewhere around 2-4 metres.
Make sure that you can fit the entire model in the shot for full body images. If you cant fit the whole model in the shot, recompose and move closer so that you can shoot portraits.
Depends on what you're shooting and what effect you're going for. For the standard stock, camera should be in front, about middle height, (if you're shooting full body stock, and you shoot at eye level for example, you are going to get foreshortening where the legs look skewed and shorter than they should be. Again, if you take the shot too low your head is going to look small and your legs too long.) If you have softboxes, I usually have one at each 45degree angle to the corners of the backdrop/working space. if that makes sense. that makes no sense. i need a diagram. D: OK SCREW IT DIAGRAM TIME
A rule that I once was taught by a friend about softboxes is that however wide the soft boxes' diameter is should be the distance it is away from you to work in optimum capacity. AKA. As close as possible but not in frame.
The camera should be as close to you as possible as well.... providing you can get the entire subject in frame! Nobody likes a full body stock with the feet missing!
Do I need a photographer, or can I take model photos on my own? Do I really need a tripod?
If you would like to be a model, then you don't need a photographer.
Most stock models take their own photos and use a tripod and remote system. If you don't know much about using cameras it can be fun to have a friend help you figure it out. I would definitely recommend using a tripod, it will stabilize your shots, and as the camera doesn't move will create consistency with a photoshoot.
For some shoots I would stress yes. It really depends what you're shooting. But no, you can do it on your own, but yes you will need a tripod if you're going solo. You can get a cheap one and they are so worth the money. I would also really recommend if you're shooting solo, a remote for your camera. They aren't expensive at all, you just need to make sure your camera is remote compatible and get the right kind. Seriously, you don't want to be running back and forth from the camera after every shot to reset the timer, your shots will also be slightly out of focus if you do this.
Photographers are great... if they know what they are doing. Remember, stock photos are different to normal photos. For full body stocks, they should be shot at around waist/ chest height of the model, or the image becomes morphed in artistic creations (unless, you want to do perspective shots which is a whole new kettle of fish!)
Otherwise do it yourself. Invest in two things:
- A sturdy tripod (I have actually lost my first camera due to not having a tripod. I had a complete balancing act of a stool, a tub, 4 phone books and a hair comb. And one time... the camera fell onto the tiles. So... I learnt my lesson)
- A remote (this will allow you to take photos that are in focus as you as the model. Best. Thing. Ever. And they are not expensive - I got mine off ebay for $3 AUD INCLUDING postage)
Thank you very much, ladies! And Kirilee, we mourn for your camera
Thanks for reading, everyone! Hope you learned something you can go put into practice! Look for the next article soon!