Behind the Image – Swimwear
Sam Coran

Behind the Image – Swimwear

I was approached by a client to shoot a swimwear editorial on location at a private villa where we would have the pool to ourselves.

The shoot was scheduled for 3-5 pm.

I chose the following gear:
2x Sony A7RMII cameras
FE ZA 35mm F/1.4
Batis 85 mm F/1.8
Broncolor Move 1200W Strobe + Beauty Dish
Macbook Pro 15″.

Whenever I’m shooting an editorial, I find it’s critical to have my camera tethered to my Macbook for the duration of the session – this way my clients know what images they are getting right away. Also, it helps me catch trouble spots early on since a larger (and calibrated) screen helps me see the images more clearly than just relying on the LCD of my camera to check focus, framing and colour.

I find it’s crucial during a shoot to take time to do test shots and socialize with your model. The more you connect with the people on the set, the easier it is for them to feel comfortable with you as a photographer, which means you’ll get more compelling and authentic images.

For the final frame I had in mind, I chose a spot where the background is dark in order to make the subject pop. Since she’s already wearing something bright, choosing a bright background would have been a poor choice to make her stand out. Of course we were shooting swimwear and had an attractive pool to shoot with, so we have to make sure to include it – this helps give a sense of place to the shot.

Something to remember when shooting on location during the day is that the sun is an available light source. You should think about adding this awesome (free!) light to your set. Most of my shots are backlit using the sun, which gives my subjects a rim light effect without forcing me to set up a second strobe.

Prepping the gear!

My lovely model

Sony A7R II, FE ZA 35mm 1.4 , @ F/5.6, 1/125 sec, ISO-100

The image above is one of the shots I took as I was nearing my final setup. The subject is lit with a Broncolor Move 1200 pack with a beauty dish as a modifier. If there was no artificial light on this set, the subject would be underexposed since I metered the exposure based on the background.

While the shot above technically works, I felt it was missing some crucial details for the background; I also wanted to get the sky into the frame.

Action on set!

So I just tilted my camera up to get the sky into the frame, and…

Sony A7R II, FE ZA 35mm 1.4 , @ F/5.6, 1/125 sec, ISO-100


There we have it! I was much more satisfied with this frame because of three main elements:

1. The inclusion of sky in the shot.
2. The presence of lens flare/sensor flare and ghosting.

The spot right above her head is called a red dot flare. The red dot flare is not just light getting reflected by the lens elements and diaphragm, but also light getting reflected from the imaging sensor to the lens, then back to the imaging sensor. It seems like the newer mirrorless cameras with short flange distances are particularly prone to this happening.

A lot of photographers see this as an issue, but for me it’s an added element of realism and interest. It’s like looking at someone when the sun is just behind that person, giving you a blinding effect so that you have to squint your eyes just to see the person’s face.

3. The sunglasses make the model look cool.

Once you have the setup where you want it, you can just swap models and grab another frame before moving to another set.

Sony A7R II, FE ZA 35mm 1.4 , @ F/5.6, 1/125 sec, ISO-100

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