UK Calendar Girls Cardiff Casting Day
Last Saturday, along side a few other awesome photographers, I spent over eight hours in Pryzm nightclub Cardiff shooting one of the casting days for the UK Calendar Girls competition, an event designed to given women of all shapes and sizes a chance to try out a professional photoshoot with the goal of ending up featured in the annual calendar.
I was told to bring some lighting equipment and that I'd be shooting lingerie/swimsuit shots of each contestant in a designated area of the nightclub. Luckily my friends over at The Flash Centre Birmingham (Cheers Brian!) sorted me out with four Elinchrom D-Lite RX4 heads, light stands, a 70cm Deep Octa, a 100x100cm Softbox, a Lastolite background and a deflector set, allowing me to set up two looks.
For the first look I used the plain white background and set up some punchy clamshell lighting placing the deep octa with a deflector plate above the subject on camera axis, whilst using the softbox on the floor filling in some of the deep shadows. I also placed a third kicker light behind the subject off camera left. This lighting setup produced a nice studio look.
For the second look I used my final head with a white reflective umbrella to light a small booth area of the club. This simple light setup allowed me to shoot two dramatically different looks, giving the girls a bit of variety to choose from.
For the gear nerds out there, I shot with the Canon 5Ds paired with the Sigma 85mm 1.4 ART lens (this setup produces some stunningly detailed and sharp images). I used this setup on the studio look as I shot at a fixed distance for each girl. For the booth shots I used a Canon 5DIV paired with the Canon 24-70mm 2.8II (loaned to me by the legends at Clifton Cameras), which with its faster autofocus system and focal length flexibility allowed me to work quickly in a tight space.
From the moment I started shooting the first girl of the day at around 11am, I shot almost non-stop for about 8 hours! It was easily the most intense shoot I've ever done, working with a range of girls from complete novices to full-time models.
Despite it being an exhausting day (my left arm is still numb) I found the biggest challenge was getting a good shot within a very limited timescale, it definitely pushed to me become clearer with my direction and become more aware of how I connect with my subjects to put them at ease, especially with the newer girls.
All in all though it was an awesome day and I had a lot of fun. I learned a lot about my own skills as a photographer and how I connect with people, I also loved seeing the girls grow in confidence throughout the day and how they reacted when I'd show them the back of the camera.
Firstly I'd like to thank Myles and his team at UK Calendar Girls for the opportunity to shoot the event, I look forward to the grand final later this year!
Secondly I'd like to thank all of the girls that I shot throughout the day, you all smashed it and were a pleasure to work with, I wish you all the best and good luck in the rest of the competition!
I'd also like to thank the guys at The Flash Centre and Clifton Cameras for loaning me some of the gear I used on the day. The Elinchrom D-Lite RX4's worked flawlessly for well over 8 hours, firing off somewhere over 1600 shots without breaking a sweat. The Canon 5DIV was also invaluable on the day as I'd recently sold my second body in the process of upgrading my gear!
Finally I'd like to thank my assistant on the day, Craig. He was an awesome help, not only setting up and tweaking lighting gear, but also keeping the girls relaxed when there was a bit of a queue building up and also for taking some of the cool behind the scenes shots that you can see on this post. You can check out some more of his work on his Instagram.
You can check out an epic video of the day shot by Jon Lo below!