Southwest Fashion with Sarah Sommers and the Panasonic GX7

While visiting home I was able to run off to the mountains of Ruidoso, New Mexico with my brother (Noel) and sister (Sarah) to practice a bit of fashion photography. My sister is an aspiring model and this gave us both an opportunity to add to our portfolios. We got to Ruidoso around 11am (after I got us lost by wanting to take "the scenic route" = dirt road to nowhere), and spent around 30 minutes scouting for locations. After I decided which looks were going to be shot where and waited for my sister to do her makeup we shot until 6pm, with breaks for snacks and wardrobe/makeup/location changes every few hours. It was a long but very fun day.

I used my Panasonic GX7 whose hot shoe randomly gave out last month

(apparently I'm not the only one who has experienced this)

so rather than trying to rely on my speedlight's slave mode I decided to shoot using a 5 in 1 reflector as my main "light source". I only recently purchased this and it was my first experience using one of them. Throughout the shoot I used the reflectors' shiny silver side which I think mimicked a bare flash pretty well. Since this is the look often sought after in high fashion I was pleased with the results. However, there are a few caveats I encountered:

  • The sun needs to be out.
  • Works best if you have an assistant - Noel was a great sport and ended up calling himself "the lighting guy" throughout the day haha.
  • Sun needs to be behind or to the side of your subject.
  • Works best if when you place the subject in the shade and then illuminate them.
  • When using the shiny silver side, the reflector is hot and blinding - Sarah was a champ, but there were times when she needed a break.
  • It can be difficult to control in the wind.

I used Olympus' trusted 45mm portrait lens for most of the shoot but also used an OM Zuiko 35mm f/2.8 coupled to a generic focal reducer (translates into a 50mm f/2 lens). It was very sunny out and I was extremely thankful for the Panasonic GX7's ability to shoot up to the 1/8000 shutter speed. This allowed me to shoot wide open for most of the photos. Below are my favorites from the shoot. It was a pleasure working with Sarah and seeing what a beautiful woman she is growing up to be. Having my brother there was also a blast because he knew exactly what to say to get her to laugh. Of course the bonding time was priceless and I can't wait to do it again. Hope you enjoy our efforts, Sam.

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