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A Model’s Shoot – Part 2
By Gary Bernstein

This column is part 2 in my series about the photography of a young model-actress by the name of Casey Williams.  It was her first photo shoot ever.  If you missed my last article…here is some quick background to the shoot:

I rented a studio in L.A. and hired the great hair and makeup talent Jeff Jones for Casey’s session.  Jeff did the styling as well.  I decided to use the classic studio elements and surroundings as the background and props for the images.

All the shots were made with a 6 mp Nikon camera ( and a short telephoto lens.  I shot jpgs at E.I. 1600 and used small hot lights for the entire session, and Lexar Media SD cards to record the images (

Quantaray Lens

We left off last column with Casey’s favorite shot:

Casey Williams

Casey Williams

Casey Williams

Photo 1 is unusual because the light source (a single, small hotlight in a small white umbrella) is actually coming from below the level of Casey’s eyes—and that’s dangerous because it’s easy to create “monster” lighting if you’re not careful.  The younger the subject, the easier it is to use this technique.  Because the light is so close to Casey (about 2 feet from her), there is dramatic falloff to the white background, causing it to record dark gray to black.

Photo 2 is a variation on the same theme…with a bit of a different attitude on the part of the model, and showing a bit more of Casey’s figure—which is important career-wise:

To make Photo 2, I moved the same single light higher and to the right, and raised the light so it is farther from the subject.  The result throws Casey’s eyes slightly into shadow (although the main catchlights are still there); and because the light is farther from the subject and background, the white walls record a light gray—meaning that when a light source is farther from the subject and surrounding elements, the exposure tends to be more consistent.  In front of Casey—just out of camera range is my trusty Bernstein-Chimera Reflector (, which opens up the shadows and adds glow to her skin.

We changed wardrobe, hair and makeup for Photo 3; and I asked Casey to lean on a C-stand ( (is there a better stand for photographers on the planet…for holding reflectors, panels and backgrounds?  I don’t think so!).

Photo 3 Setup:  Two small hot lights in small 30” translucent umbrellas…one to camera left…the other behind Casey and directed at the lens—illuminating her hair, and placing that hot white compositional area behind her.  Her eyes were “popped” even more with the GB-Chimera reflector creating the skin glow and second catchlights in Casey’s eye.  The reflector is placed beneath and to the left of camera, slightly out of camera frame.

Next month we’ll look at some of the outdoor images I made of Casey (simple techniques you can use in your own photography around the house).  I needed a quantity of prints from this shoot for a variety of sources.  And I know that more and more of you are printing your own pictures, because each week I get more and more emails asking specifically about printing.  This week, in fact, I put together my specs and went shopping for a home/professional quality printer that could deliver up to 19-inch prints (until this week, I had only done up to 8.5 x 11 in my home office).  I got the HP Photosmart 8750 (  All I can say is “pretty amazing.”  It’s plug and play (perfect for me, since I’m not a techie).  And truly—the best looking prints I’ve ever seen.  More on my printing escapades in future articles.

Now let’s talk about the value of a photograph…a commercial photograph… especially if that image is of a true, classic beauty.  The beauty I’m talking about is my wife, and my favorite subject, Kay Sutton York AKA Lena Harris.

Kay modeled (and acted) for years under the Kay Sutton York name, but when she opened her own acting workshop in Beverly Hills (after winning the DramaLogue  Critic’s Award) she took a family name, “Lena Harris” (because of the stigma often associated with models going into acting at the time).  Now the Lena Harris Studio is on the lot at 20th Century Fox, her name is lauded, and her new book just came out (  Now about that photograph…

It started as an advertising shoot for Hasselblad ( cameras.  Below is the image and the advertisement.  The setup shot was then used as an advertisement for Bogen (

Lena Harris

Lena Harris

 It became the logo shot for Lena’s workshop, and most recently, her publisher selected it for the cover of her new book, Twenty-Five 5-Minute Power Scenes.  For the cover, the publisher opted for a real tight crop and some sepia toning.

Lena Harris

Lena was seated on a director’s chair in a rented studio against a gray canvas backdrop.  The photograph was made with a Hasselblad camera on Plus-X (that’s film…remember film? and a 150mm Zeiss Sonnar Lens, 2 – 1200 watt-second electronic flash units—one light behind Lena on a boom (in a softbox) delivering the hair light and edgelight, and the other in a 20” pan reflector delivering the main facial lighting.  The image proves a number of things:  A thing of beauty is a joy forever.  Images have lasting appeal.  Images may be cropped a number of different ways each creating graphic impact.  Perhaps other things I can’t think of at the moment.  But most importantly, how darn smart was I in marrying this lady (huh?)?  And to finish with a blatant plug:  For a good read, regardless of whether you’re an actor or not, check out Lena’s 25 short scenes in her new book.  They are great!

See you next month.  Keep on shooting!

Editor’s note: 
You can write to Gary Bernstein at

All Photos © 2006 Gary Bernstein . All Rights Reserved. |


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