World Photography Day today.
A perfect day for the Maldives Complete recipe for the perfect pix, at least from a fashion shoot side. This piece is not about general photography or even just shooting in the Maldives. I’m not covering tips on some of the most popular subjects in that paradise like…
- Underwater Photography (but make sure you have a good light and red filter for deeper shots)
- Seascape Photography (but get yourself a polarising lens filter to bring up some of the underwater)
- Sunset Photography (an art in itself with hordes of guests mobbing the west side of the resort island every evening)
This post is just tips for fashion shooting based on the extensive research into the Maldives Complete Fashion Base. As Insta-mania and the popularity of the Maldives as a photoshoot destination continues to grow, the bar for top shots is set even higher. When I select showcase shots, it is always about the photo itself. I do give points for profile prominence (because people do get enchanted with celebrity), but the first question I ask is “how good of a photo is it?” I find myself scrutinizing what makes one photo better than another. Same winsome models, same alluring backdrop, and yet often dramatically different quality and impact.
Here are the Maldives Complete top tips for fashion shooting in paradise…
1. Lighting, Lighting, Lighting – This is photography 101 really. First of all, avoid backlighting (see below). Either through posing the subject or through use of flash and aperture. For best results, do your shooting when the sun is low in the sky (early morning or sunset). It imparts a whole different hue on your subjects that makes them glow and fills out their features. When you have overhead sun, too often the features (eg. face) are spoiled by shadows. Most professionals do almost of their shooting in a frenzy of early morning and late afternoon.
2. Take off the sunglasses – You might think sunglasses provide a “cool” look, but really they make you look detached. They are cliché and the dark spots in the middle of the bright, colourful picture doesn’t work aesthetically. They take away all the personality. They turn the subject into something cartoonish like Little Orphan Annie. Yes, the bright sunlight can hurt the eyes and make the subject want to squint. First, see “Lighting” point above as the softer crepuscular light alleviates this issue. Also, simply give the subject a countdown so they open there eyes just when you are ready to snap. And on the subject of black eyewear, for the underwater shots, don’t choose the black mask. Choose something more colourful. Or for the truly pro shot, a mask that matches the swimsuit.
3. Choose your sky – The backdrop is the whole reason you are shooting in the Maldives. And the ocean-counterpoint of the sky is a huge portion of your picture. In a place like the Maldives, blue skies complement the azure sea for a dazzling background. Some bright white cloud highlights are fine, but too often people do shots with grey skies in the background. Wait for the skies to clear or position the shot in a direction with fewer or brighter clouds.
4. Fill the frame with the person – Yes, the Maldives backdrop is unique and enchanting, but don’t forget that the human being is nearly always the most important part of the shot. Maybe your focus is the background and the person in the shot is just meant to be a small touch, but most people are more interested in the person than the backdrop. Yes, if you fill the frame with the person, one will see less background square inches, but actually you will still get plenty of a feel for the background. Most people who fall into this trap, I think, are simply trying to have their cake and eat it too. They want a shot of their subject, but they can bring themselves to cut out any part of the gorgeous background. That’s where the editorial discretion and artistic input comes in – deciding which part of the background to feature as the best complement to your foreground subject.
5. Twist the body – Armography. Nothing more boring than a straight body standing or lying there. Get the body into an interesting shape. Do something. The shape gives the photo visual interest and even a sense of movement.
6. Enough with the Selfies – Can I have a quiet word, please? Selfies are photographically ridiculous. Maybe if you are with a friend and no one is around and you want a quick snap to capture the moment spontaneously, they can be tolerated as a last resort. You can’t be model and photographer at the same time. The composition sucks with arms and selfie-sticks (oh my god, how dreadful) jutting into one of the lower corners. Just say no to selfies. They look ridiculous, contrived, self-absorbed and awkward. A decade from now, they will be one of the things we look back at the Teens and say “what were we thinking” (as we do today with mullets and teased hair styles). Digital photography is so easy. Mistakes can be fixed with multiple shots and imperfections can be touched up in Photoshop. Just ask a passer-by to click the button. Several times to get it right if needed. Staring at the phone instead of the audience.