My First test/training shoot with Deirdre

My first shoot with a model is about finding out what make them tick and how they interact with me as a photographer. The key I believe to creating a great image is not so much about the lighting, but more about the model and your ability to get a unique look out of them. If you look at some of the masters of shooting natural beauty, for example Patrick Demarchelier and Peter Lindbergh, they manage to capture unique never seen before looks from some of the most photographed women in the world i.e. Angelina Jolie, Kate Moss. They tend to mould and manipulate the models looks to their own style of photography. Just by looking at the models expression you can quite often tell who the photographer is.


So Lets get started, The Stunning Irish Model Deirdre arrives at the studio with her hair and Make up done just the way she likes it. So we sit down for about 1/2 an hour looking at images so I can find out what style she likes and what looks we are going to do.  The first thing  we decided to do was a really natural look with 100% Natural light. So I set up an area near a large window  and put some music of her choice on, I took a test shot and this is what we got.

Natural yes, Pretty yes, Boring yes, this is what you will get out of Deirdre if you just lift the camera and shoot, giving her no direction at all and letting her stay in her pre rehearsed comfort zone. And this look  will be exactly the same for every photographer that gives her nothing in the way of direction and emotion. This is not the look I was after at all so I decided to take Deirdre out of her rehearsed comfort zone. I noticed the freckles on her shoulder and that she had covered them up on her face with a layer of foundation. So I begged  her to take of all her make up, we came to a compremise that she would take it all off expect her eye make up. Now that I had done that battle I decided to shoot this as a green channel black and white to bring out every freckle on her face. I put on some emotive music (Ludovico Einaudi’s Primavera) then I described the emotions I wanted Deirdre to feel while she listened to the music. by half way through the song  I had taken complete control of her look and posing, the next 3 photos are a cross section of what we had created. Natural beauty yes, emotion yes, boring no.

Natural light, no make up, no photoshop straight out of hasselblad raw
Model:Hasselblad H4D-50
Shutter Speed:1/100 second
Focal Length:100 mm
ISO Speed:100

Now it’s time we stepped it up a notch. Most models would like to expect 3 hours of amazing hair and make up, a $50,000 one off creation and some to die for heals, not when I’m training them. No make up, an over size shirt and some daggy mens underwear, Its not the clothes that make the model, it’s the model that makes the clothes. A good model can make a dogs blanket look amazing. Below is what Deirdre and I created over the next hour or so just working with her emotions. No hair and make up, No photoshop, straight out of hasselblad raw and she looks nothing like any of her previous photoshoots. BTW Deirdre is AMAZING and I can’t wait to shoot with her again.

Lighting: Large Octagonal soft box
Model:Hasselblad H4D-50
Shutter Speed:1/320 second
Focal Length:100 mm
ISO Speed:100


Kelly Defina

Most inspiring blog post ever! We just love seeing what you do Peter – this post conveys so perfectly the truth in the absolute skill that you have of drawing out the unique qualities in every woman – it captures what photography is truly about! 🙂


    awwwwwwww thanks heaps Kelly 🙂


Really beautiful photography. That shows what can be done with a great model and with the simplest of setups.

vicky papas

gorgeousness captured! love deirdre’s smile, she’s a doll! love the images!

Annie Gelhaar

Sensational!!! I am so looking forward to doing your Natural Light workshops.

The oversized shirt idea has been sitting in my head to do for the past few months and I have been dying to try a shoot like this. However I did not think to add men’s undies … too cool.

I love how the background just disappears because of the backdrop and the dop …. I simply can not wait to learn from you … a great blog to get me excited!!!

Ellenor de Boer

Thanks sooooo much for sharing Peter, really enjoyed your last natural light workshop and look forward to doing your model posing /ws in Melbourne when it comes around. Love your work, it is a skill that not many seam to take the time to achieve.


M a s t e r

Benjamin B

Thanks for sharing with all of us Peter. Reading your post reminds me to slow down, connect and create. Oh yeah and stunning images!

Naaman Brown

Thank you for sharing. Very beautiful and inspiring. You are truly great.

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