Fashion Photography from my Art Institute of Pittsburgh days

Lynn Agee was an amazing model during my college days at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

Lynn Agee at Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh – posing for a class photo assignment at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in 1978 or 1979.

The route to my degree in Specialized Technology – majoring in Photography/Multi-Media allowed me to explore the field of fashion photography while at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh (AIP).

Two main challenges were finding models on a budget (Hey, I was a student paying for most of my education!) and finding unique locations to impress the profs.

I was fortunate to have a roommate who had an attractive girlfriend who was willing to pose for some of my class assignments.

Lynn Agee was an Interior Design student at AIP without formal modeling experience. She also had a car (which I didn't) so we were able to scout out some pretty cool locations around Pittsburgh.

The location for this particular assignment was Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts – a performing arts center and concert hall located in the Cultural District in downtown Pittsburgh. After all these years, I can't recall how I was able to finagle time at this prestigious location!

Lynn chose her outfit, I lugged in some tungsten lights to match the illumination on Lynn with the color temperature of the lighting in the hall and the result were some stunning photos of a beautiful subject – both the model and the building.

Not only did I get an “A” for this assignment, but I grew to love the challenge of fashion photography created on-location – one of many experiences that continues to serve me well as a portrait photographer creating glamour photos, high school senior portraits and family portraits throughout the U.S. today.

Here are some videos of high school senior girls that show how my portrait style has evolved since Lynn's photo shoot.

High school senior SpokesModel photos created in the Cleveland area.

High school senior SpokesModel photos created in the Cleveland area.

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Low camera angles can add visual interest to portraits

Senior-Pictures-Cleveland-Ridgeville-Olmsted-Tori-Pishkula

Sometimes, you just gotta “take one for the team” to get an interesting portrait. Click the photo to see it bigger. (Photo of me lying on the ground by Colleen Pishkula)

Over the years, I've found some of the best portraits require climbing a ladder or laying on the floor or ground.

Olmsted Falls High School class of 2015 student, Tori Pishkula, her mom, Colleen, and I set out for a “photo safari” in The Flats near downtown Cleveland this summer to create something a little different for Tori's senior portraits.

When we came across this lift bridge, I fell in love with it's massive structure and metal girders criss-crossing at 90 degree angles. When I viewed Tori and the bridge at Tori's level, the size and “power” of the bridge just wasn't obvious. Laying on the ground and shooting up at Tori with the bridge rising up behind her solved the problem.

Notice that I positioned Tori slightly left of the center of the photo so as not to block the view of the entrance to the bridge. I also posed her close to the camera so she stands out beautifully against the background. Most amateur photographers would typically place the person at the entrance of the bridge where they become lost in the photo.

Do you have any photo-related questions that you would like to have answered? It can be about composition, exposure, Photoshop techniques, cameras… the sky's the limit! I will answer them here and sometimes create a video to give a better visual explanation.

Just post your questions in “Comments” under the title of this post.

How to make a fashion book with Blurb

Blurb is a cool company that lets you make books about anything that interests you. (View a sample of my Blurb-made book – Picturesque Olmsted Falls – http://bit.ly/olmsted-book) And if you’re interested in fashion and style—and love to show it off—making a book of your personal fashion is a fantastic way to capture your sartorial genius for all time. Whether you want it just for yourself, so you can look through your greatest hits, or you’re a bit of an Internet fashionista who wants to make a book to sell, you’ll find these tips pretty helpful:

1. It’s all about lighting. To make your fashion really pop, choose natural light or studio light with a soft box (you can even make one from a lamp and last season’s white t-shirt). If you’re using a flash, you’ll probably want to bounce it or stick a diffusion filter on it.

2. Make a shot list. This is a critical step, and even more important if you are photographing models. Even if your model is just your best friend who owes you a favor, they’ll appreciate it if you know exactly what you want to shoot. Think about the poses you want to capture, the outfits you want them to wear, and the details that you want to highlight in every shot. 

3. White balance (WB). Accurate color and skin tones come from making sure the WB function on your camera is set to your lighting situation. (You can check the color looks right on the camera's screen to see if it looks right.) Not sure hoe to adjust the white balance? It will be covered in your camera's manual. You do still have it, don't you? 😉

Be sure the camera's white balance is set to the correct lighting you're shooting under to ensure the models's skin color looks natural.

Be sure the camera's white balance is set to the correct lighting you're shooting under to ensure the models's skin color looks natural.

4. Choose the right lens/zoom setting. If you’re using a wide angle, you’re going to distort your models face and body (and your model may never forgive you). If you have a camera with a zoom lens, zoom out to minimize distortion. You will then have to move farther away from the model to get their whole body in for those full length shots.

5. Keep it stylish. It’s a fashion shoot, after all. Play music, keep things moving, try new angles. Attitude, attitude, attitude. 

Try unusual angles. Shoot down from a ladder or lay on the floor and shoot up to make the subject look taller.

6. Dress it up. Make your book as fashionable as the clothing featured in it. Choose a simple design that doesn't upstage the clothing, but still looks chic. Pick a size and paper type that showcases the work brilliantly.

If you've ever paid attention to what’s on the “catwalk,” you know that fashion means different things to different people. Follow your own fashion obsessions and document them in a fashionable book. If you look good today in person, imagine looking great forever on the printed page with Blurb! Start your Blurb book now and Save 25% on print book orders of $75+ at Blurb.

If you want the best model portraits possible, that's where we can help. Check out some of our model shoots here.

Adrienne Gaggi Senior session was amazing!

Adrienne Gaggi has some modeling training and she obviously learned well. Rarely do I see a high school girl easily show such a wide variety of expressions – and soooooooooo effortlessly.

Adrienne, thanks for a GREAT photo shoot!

Now if I could just find some girls like Adrienne from the class of 2012 to be Facebook models for my studio!