Well before we bring Rhonda back on let's do this, cause this is actually how I work, right? I guess I was a model for a few years, and when I started I would get on set like other models, I've got to be careful I don't ruin this backdrop, but I would look where the light is. I'd look at the set, the whole scenario. Don't forget that when you're shooting you see beautiful Rhonda against this white background. That's my vision. What's her vision? She's looking at me with the camera, but she's also seeing the back of the studio, hair and makeup artists looking at her. It's very interesting when you put yourself in the model's position, to get an idea of what they're looking at, because when you're shooting them, you're expecting them to look and feel a certain way. You don't necessarily have any idea of what they're feeling. By putting yourself in that position, I'm seeing what's happening, seeing what she's looking at, trying to imagine what she's doing. I'm looking at the light, feelin...
g that light on me. I'm gonna just bring it round a little bit there, adjust it a tiny bit. I wouldn't have done that, as a model. Adjust the photographer's lights. As the photographer now, obviously, that's what I do. I feel that light and I often will have Toby take a shot of me. If you wouldn't mind. I do this regularly, I have Toby or my assistant, whoever's there take a shot of me in the lighting, and I'm just feeling the whole process. That was Magnum. (laughter) Definitely Magnum. Blue Steel will be coming, by the way. And I might just break out something completely new from my Zoolander days. (laughter) Okay, actually the light reading looks good for me. Let's get Rhonda in here now.
Can you just talk us through the lighting setup, too?
Absolutely. Sorry. Absolutely. Rhonda, come in here, please. Yes, I always get carried away. One of my favorite toys, this is the ProFresnel Spot. One of the reasons why it's one of my favorite toys is because learning how to shoot and learning about lighting as a young photographer, I started like we all probably did, with daylight. We use that HMI in the sky, the sun, and it is that very directional light source that of course you can bounce and you can do things with. One of the things it gives you is those great shadows. Nothing gives shadows like the sun. It's so strong, it's so powerful. The very next lighting I moved to was hot lights, and HMIs, tungsten and what have you, because it's the easiest light to shoot with. You can see it, you don't have to imagine what's gonna happen with the strobe. How you make it more powerful is moving it in and moving it out. Some of the very first pictures I took as a young photographer I was literally inspired by light bulbs hanging by people. I would put light bulbs up because I could see that light, and if I liked it, I would then try and capture it. As I got better at things I actually moved into swapping that out for hot lights, swapping that out for a strobe, so I could be faster. I could be quicker. What the ProFresnel Spot does, basically, as it looks, it basically mimics a hot light. It has the same feeling, very directional, the bulb is right in there, super focused. You know those Hollywood type pictures, super dramatic? Back in the old days of Hollywood they actually would use hot lights. I can do the same thing now with these, and I use this regularly in advertising. Dramatic, clean, crisp, sharp, and wonderful shadows. Toby is so good. I'm still at 400 ISO, 160 at f11. I think I'll be there all day, knowing Toby. Beautiful. There. Let's have a look at that light reading. You can see these really great, dramatic shadows, and the further you move the fresnel back, obviously, you can even light up the entire backdrop with it. We've done shots where we move it really far back. We'll get another light reading in there I guess. Or should I just shoot one? I might open up, Tobes.
I was gonna give you a little third, here.
Thank you. He's gonna give me a little third. As we light it up you actually get to see the shadow. Why don't we-- we'll move this out a little bit, I'll move you across a little bit, Rhonda, there you go, just there. The great thing, too, with this particular modeling light I can actually see where my shadow's kind of gonna go. That's nice. Boom, beautiful. On a big CYC, if you're in a bigger studio, or if we had more room to our left, I love to play with the whole shadows. I love that other story that's being told on the ground with the shadow. It's a gorgeous light like I said, used for advertising and it's super simple, it's a spotlight. Finding lights that mimic your happy place is always kind of a way to go and I like drama. So that's the ProFresnel, all right. Let's change it up, shall we? I'm free for a question.
So that's a hot light on a model. Do you worry about... At what point do you start worrying about that messing with the color or skin tones of whoever you're shooting?
Well that's a strobe in there, not actually a hot light, just a hot light casing on the ProFresnel. We play with color all the time. Obviously, in this day and age, it's not such a big issue because you can tweak it in post. Actually, what we love to do in my other class, Lighting the Scene, specifically, there are certain colors and filters that I love to use. I use a filter called the Chocolate Filter. It's a fantastic filter for skin tones, especially the darker skin tones, and then once you add that color into the picture you can then tweak from there and it brings out the reds and the yellows and the browns in a beautiful way, but also if those colors aren't there, which often they aren't-- Oh, sorry. (laughter) Thank you, I could feel something coming up behind me. Yes, I play with filters and stuff like that. But in general I don't do them to balance skin tones. I kind of do them so that I introduce colors that I can then tweak later, in post.
I think, just going back to what you were talking about earlier, I work for a modeling agency here and we actually, I guess, used to represent you. Andrew was one of the bookers here and used to bring you in to shoot for Macy's a lot, on direct bookings?
My goodness! Well there you go!
So a lot of them are still there.
What's the name of the agency?
Seattle Models Guild. SMG.
Seattle Models Guild, that's right.
They're still around and doing amazing things. I work on the new faces side so we work with a lot of photographers coming in, aspiring photographers. I always try to challenge them on what makes their work distinctive, so I'm curious on your side what, if you could describe your work in a few descriptive words, what makes your work distinctive and memorable to what other photographers produce?
I can certainly give you words that describe my pictures. This is almost a different question, but I'm gonna answer it as well. When I started testing and I went into agencies like Seattle Models Guild and Click in New York, other agencies around the world, one of the things that I kind of knew was that because I was a model I knew that there were pictures that were missing out of people's portfolios. You know how I said, when I go to try to get a job, I look at what they've currently done, and I think what's not there, and present that idea. It's not about doing what everyone's already done. Yes, you get inspired by other photographers. Yes, you get styles and things you like to do. But if you're like everyone else, why would they hire you? Other than the fact that they know you, or you're perhaps cheaper, which are all legitimate and you can get hired for those reasons. I doubt very much that you are gonna become The Guy doing that because you're one of many. And The Guy is probably the guy or the girl who first decided to do that and change things up. I would go into the agencies and I would look at the boards and look at models and go, okay, this is what they're known for, this is what they do. I'm gonna do something different, I'm gonna fill the gap. The screaming and the motion, the movement and the drama, those were things that people didn't often do, but it showed potential and I think clients loved it because they would see things and be like "Wow, this guy, he's willing to do anything!" The model, not me, the photographer, but the model. That got the model the job because people were excited to work with this person who would jump and laugh and shout and scream and move and be alive and it translated back to me. It's hard to describe one's own work. I've obviously been around for many moons, and shooting for almost twenty, but I like to think that there is passion. I describe it as personality being key to my pictures.
<span style="background-color: transparent;color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Nigel Barker is an internationally renowned photographer who opened his New York studio in 1996. He served 18 seasons as photographer and judge on the hit TV show, </span><span style="background-color: transparent;color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">America’s Next Top Model</span><span style="background-color: transparent;color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">, which airs in over 150 countries, and hosted Oxygen Network’s modeling competition series, </span><span style="background-color: transparent;color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">The Face</span><span style="background-color: transparent;color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">, starring alongside Naomi Campbell. Barker’s latest hit show </span><span style="background-color: transparent;color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Top Photographer</span><span style="background-color: transparent;color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"> premiered to rave reviews and a second season is in the works.</span>
This is one of my favorite Creative Live classes so far. The storytelling and human interaction parts were my favorites! The ability for Nigel to get such amazing expressions in such a brief time shooting was amazing. Everything he demonstrated seemed almost effortless, and all without a shred of ego. Great class!
Nigel is a wonderfully engaging instructor. I like that he walks his students through his photoshoots. The set ups. How to interact with the models. Even though there are a couple of genres I'm most active in, I appreciate that Nigel says that you can have different photographic interests, so long as you brand yourself properly. I like taking photos of lots of things, although my outdoor photos generate the most interest. I highly recommend all of Nigel's classes.
a Creativelive Student
Passion, personal, inspiring! Nigel, thanks for amazing class and a lot of great advices.