Back in college I did an experiment using visualization or “mental imagery” to help improve the performance of athletes. Little did I realize that visualization would play a key role in my development as a photographer years later. You see, some of my best shots have been forged in my mind (and sometimes on paper) well before the studio or model was booked. The photo above is a good illustration.
This shot combines my love of both classic pinup illustration and vintage cameras. I found the 1950’s Brownie Hawkeye Flash camera in an antique store – that was the easy part. Now I needed the right model to fit the picture that I had imagined. I was in a coffee shop one day when I noticed the barista had a sailor Jerry style tattoo on her forearm. Another fan of classic pinups! I shared the vision of my shoot with the potential model and she agreed to pose for it.
I shot these images using three cameras: a Canon digital SLR, a Hasselblad loaded with Kodak Ektar 100 color negative film, and a Mamiya 1000s 645 loaded with a roll each of Fuji Provia and Kodak E100G color reversal film. The images here are from the D-SLR for convenience and overall I think they turned out pretty well. However, the medium format slide film shots are breathtaking when viewed through a loupe on a lightbox. I may post some when I get my own film scanner.
This is a 3 light shot. The key is a medium softbox camera right. A hair light camera left and behind the model separates her from the backdrop and helps add depth to the shot. Lastly, there is a small optically triggered slave flash taped inside the reflector of the Brownie. This metered about 5.6 ISO 100 at arms-length, so I set the “key” on the right hand side 1 stop under that. There is almost no Photoshop on these shots: I needed to get it right in camera so I could get nice shots on film. For the photo below the slave flash was dropped and the model was seated on a chaise lounge.
Best of all, the images on both film and digital were fairly close to what I had visualized some time before.