Scenes Around Jackson Photoblog

[Model Shoot] Thuy Tran – Vintage Shoot @ The Commons (5.13.10)

Posted in 2010, black and white, Color, Digital, model shoot, Photo Post, Vintage Shoots by William Patrick Butler on May 17, 2010

this is a shoot i’ve been wanting to do for a while.

i’ve had the idea of doing a vintage 1930s/1940s/1950s style shoot, but having the idea is just the first part of the process.

a lot of things had to fall into place for me to turn that idea into photos.

so i’d like to thank: Jonathan Sims (for providing the location), Katie Drummonds (for providing the clothes), Tom Beck (for letting me use his lights), Lizzie Wright (for letting me use her strobist gear yet again), Christina Cannon (for letting me borrow some last minute hats which we didn’t end up using but didn’t know that we wouldn’t at the time), Michel Herrington (for introducing me to the model), and to Thuy Tran (my model)

Melissa Rodwell, a fashion photographer i really admire (and whose photo blog i’m addicted to), is always saying, in that same blog, how important it is to have a good team.  and how that helps produce great photos.  she’s completely right.

it also helps to have good friends too. 😉

let’s get started 🙂

the location i had picked out to shoot at was The Commons, a place i’d shot at before.

but this time, instead of shooting outside around the grounds and/or shooting inside the Tattered Pages Bookstore, i was shooting inside the nearly fully renovated Commons Hall.

(yeah, it’s a cell phone pic.  just wanted to grab a super quick shot of it.)

a shot of one of my set-ups.  that softbox wasn’t the only light that tom let me use.  i was also using a beauty dish for some of the shots too (but i didn’t get a photo of that).

i actually wish i’d taken more set-up shots.  i’ll try to remember to do that for future shoots.

the actual first shot i took, after taking a few for lighting tests.  for the first series of shots, i’m not even using the set-up in the previous photo.  i’m actually using the beauty dish, which i now love.  i ‘d never used one before, but now i see why everyone likes them.

i really like how it gives a nice over all light and how it fell on her.

this was the first outfit (out of the many) we picked out to start shooting in.

the glove right there was, actually, provided by thuy and i’m glad she brought them.  they were a great touch. (esp in some of the upcoming photos)

this was the shot where i finally felt like i had finally started to get into my groove.  i’ve found it always takes me a few shots, during the start of a shoot, to start to get into that zone, and i always remember the shot(s) that do it.  and this was the first of them.  the other one is coming up.

(the suitcase there was the suitcase that katie gave me all the old clothes in.  it also makes a good prop!)

the suitcase gets put back up and i start to pull back some, to get more of the background in the shots.

i really dig this shot.  it’s one of the few where i actually had her smile (heh)

and this, this was the other shot.  the second, and final one, that let me know i’d finally hit my groove.

this was also shot without the beauty dish.  it was just me using the ambient light.

also, it shows something something i rarely do, when i’m editing.

normally, if i start editing in color, i edit all the shots in color.  if i start off converting to black and white, i convert them all to black and white.

in other words, i stick to one color theme for an entire shoot.

(oh, used the beauty dish for this one)

but, when i sat down to edit this shoot, it became obvious fairly early on that i was gonna have to break myself of that.

some of the photos just either looked better or more successfully brought across the mood i was going for in black and white.

(back to ambient light here)

and sometimes color just really brought it home.

(beauty dish)

(ambient light)

and this wraps up the first outfit.

next up, different outfit, different lighting set-up, and another editing first for me!

now i’m using the lighting set-up i showed in that third photo, using the softbox.  i also, as you can see, changed up the editing style again.  now that is really rare.

but after i figured out this antique look, i knew it fit the mood of these shots and the soft lighting i was getting from the softbox.

i should mention, at this point, that thuy did all her own make-up and hair.

when i told her what the theme was going to be she went about researching the make-up and hairstyles of those eras and then did it.

now that’s the kind of fellow creative you should always want to work with.

a little behind the scenes info; we didn’t know until she changed into it, but that dress was actually pretty see through LoL

which led to this exchange (paraphrased):

Thuy (calling down from upstairs where she would change at): uh..pat…?

Me: oh no, is it too big for you? (thuy is really tiny you see)

Thuy:  uh, no…but…well, it’s really see through.

Me (surprised):  it is?!

Thuy:  yeah.

Me:  well, we need to do something about that then.

Thuy:  LoL, yeah.

as you can see, we figured it out.  and by “we” i mean thuy, because she’s always prepared and had brought a slip with her. 🙂

the prop for this series of shots was a really cool old book i found on the fireplace in the other room

i love this shot.

for this one, and for the rest in this series, i stopped using the softbox and went with straight ambient light.

the spot we were in was perfect for ambient light shooting.  a nice big window behind her and two long, vertical windows on both sides of her.

and leaving them in color gave me a really nice, soft, ethereal lighting i just loved.

the gloves really complete it

(many thanks to Chinco (i think i’m spelling that right), one of the grounds keepers, for finding the other glove.  you rock man.

the only tough part of shooting thuy in front of that big window was that i always had to make sure that i timed the shots so i didn’t get any cars in the background.

small price to pay for such a great spot though.

(love this shot)

and this will wrap up the white dress series.

next up, new outfit, new lighting set-up, and different room.

we’ve now moved into the front room of Commons Hall, in front of a beautiful fireplace.

thuy provided the clothes and hat. (the only time we didn’t use any of katie’s clothes)

i’m back to using the beauty dish (and these are the shots that made me fall in love with it)

and that’s my Rolleiflex 2.8d that we’re using for a prop.

the instant i saw thuy in this outfit, i knew i was going to convert them to black and white.

(of course, i also just had to leave one in color)

this shot, the idea of this shot, is something i’ve had in my head for months.

it’s one of the main reasons i wanted to do a vintage style shoot in the first place.

it’s great finally seeing it outside of my head.

in front of the front door that leads out of Commons Hall.

ambient light.  i wanted it to have a film like feel to it so i pumped up the ISO to increase the grain.

another shot that i had the idea for, for months.

still ambient light and high ISO.

last of the ambient light/high ISO shots for this series of photos.

switched back to the beauty dish for the remainder of this series.

and also did something new with the editing.

i wanted to keep the color, but i wanted it to be a bit softer.

(see what thuy is doing with her pinky there?  that was all her.  i simple said: “hold the suitcase like a lady”.  it’s the small things, y’know) 🙂

heh, also, by this point in the shoot, thuy and i had gotten to the point were i was pretty much speaking in cliff-notes and she knew what i wanted.

Me:  ok, turn to, right ok now i…

(thuy poses)

Me:  yeah, there! right there, hold it!


and this is the last of the light, color shots.

back to black/white.

i knew i wanted to shoot her on this couch (which is also in the front room, right in front of the front door) the instant i saw it.

i knew i wanted these in black and white too.  wanted that old hollywood feel.

it was thuy’s idea to take off the hat.  good call thuy! 🙂

the beauty dish continues to live up to its name.

that’s a great look.

that pose she’s doing, with her hand, really made this shot.

and this will wrap up this series.

truth be told, i almost decided to wrap the entire shoot at this point.  when i saw what i was getting on my camera, i wasn’t sure if we could get any better.

but thuy was still game and there was one more of katie’s dresses that i wanted to shoot her in so we kept on.

and i’m glad we did.

when i saw her walk down the stairs in this dress i wasn’t sure about it at first, but i knew that was mostly because my head was still all full of seeing those shots from the previous series.

but then, watching her move in it, it reminded me of this old photo i’d seen online before.  it was of this Japanese-American woman, taken during WWII, in a dress very similar to this one.

once i had that thought in my head, it crystallized how i wanted to shoot her.  no artificial lights.  all ambient light.  high ISO to get that film grain look.  standing in front of that big window, waiting on the homefront for her brave love to come back from the war.

and yes, before you ask, there were, indeed, many Japanese-American soldiers that fought for our country during WWII.  (let wikipedia teach you!)

and i’d just like to add, thuy isn’t Japanese.  she’s part Vietnamese, part Chinese.  but once she knew what i was shooting for, she nailed it perfectly.

told you she nailed it.

just great.

this was the shot.  the one that made me glad that i didn’t wrap the entire shoot.

i honestly love this shot.

for this one, the previous one, and the following one,  i’ve moved thuy from in front of the big window and had her stand between the two windows were we first started our shoot.

that ambient light was just wonderful.

and that will wrap this series.

we now move to the last series of the shoot.  we use a different kind of artificial light.  thuy puts on a swimsuit.  and we also move outside 🙂

i left the beauty dish and softbox inside and used lizzie’s strobist gear (a canon 580EX II speedlite with an umbrella) for these.

with a speedlite and umbrella, i didn’t have to worry about finding a plug and it let me set up quick, with minimal hassle.

i really dig those old style swimsuits.  dig thuy’s shoes here too.

keep ’em flying boys!  (yeah, still all WWII after the previous series)

at the beginning of this series, the sun had gone behind some clouds, which was excellent.

it meant we got nice diffuse, ambient light which the off camera flash filled nicely.

it was nice shooting these as the last series of the shoot.

by this point, we were jut having fun.

(after this shot is about the point where the sun starts to make a reappearance)

heh, can you tell?

without any more cloud cover, it became a battle of fighting with the sunlight and it starting to get hot.  time to wrap this series and the shoot. LoL

and that smile is the perfect way to wrap it.

and that will do it.

i am really happy with how that shoot turned out.  thuy was (and is) a great model.  with each outfit she was like a chameleon, always giving me something new.   she’s also really funny (ask her why she originally got into modeling.  it tripped me out :p).  i look forward to shooting with her again 🙂

musical added bonus!  the soundtrack that i listened to, pretty much on repeat, the entire time i was editing these photos (all editing done in Adobe Lightroom.  Photoshop used for random touch-ups and copyright tag )

How to Destroy Angels “A Drowning”

How to Destroy Angels “The Space in Between”

TuPac “Until The End of Time”

D’Angelo “untitled”

Meat Loaf “I Would Do Anything for Love”

Ludacris “How Low Can You Go”

Ketty Lester “Love Letters”

Cheryl Cole feat. Will.I.Am “3 Words”

La Roux “Bulletproof”

P.M. Dawn “Die Without You”

Odetta “House of The Rising Sun (live)”

Tori Amos “Crucify”

(yeah, my musical tastes are all over the map) 🙂

have a good one everybody.

see ya next week!


13 Responses

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  1. Leah said, on May 17, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    Pat these are awesome! I can’t decide if I like the black and whites or the full color or … oh there’s just too many awesome ones to pick a style I like!

  2. Russ said, on May 17, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Brilliant work, man!

  3. Tom Beck said, on May 17, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Very nice work, Pat! This may be your best shoot yet. 🙂

  4. Gretta said, on May 18, 2010 at 10:58 am

    These are beautiful! 🙂

  5. Ruby N. Butler said, on May 19, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Great work, as I scrolled through them, I kept thinking what great shots for an author to include in one of his literary works. Thuy is a beautiful and talented model and you are a brilliant and talented photographer what a great combination. I never thought I would say it, but black and white photography is such an eye catcher. The gloves , the furniture, the setting and the book from England were great props. Hey as your uncle says, “It’s all Good” and there you go. Your number 1 fan.

  6. […] year, i wanted to continue my vintage theme and i knew sara would be perfect for it.  but, just like with the first vintage shoot, a lot of […]

  7. […] last time we got together we did a vintage style shoot over at The Commons.  i knew i wanted to do something completely different this time around and […]

  8. […] thuy have worked together! it’s time!” (since we seem to only get together to shoot once a year […]

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