January 10, 2004

A Candle-lit First Session

It is almost a tradition to start work with a new model with candle nudes; first with Lynn in 1988 (the second model I ever photographed), with Sarah in 1992, and with R_ in 2001. I think there is an implicit comfort in working with candles, because the space is so dark and "warm". From a photographic perspective, candles are sometimes challenging to work with - they are dim by nature, and often have to be very close to the model to provide enough light to work with. This means that they are often in the image - it is quite unusual to having the light-source in the composition when working inside.
Digital original
For this first session with Kylie, I worked almost exclusively with the EOS 10D; the digital camera's lens let in more than enough light (I used a 50mm f/1.4 lens) compared to the 8"x10" (whose 300mm lens is sixteen times slower) and the digital camera permitted me to work fast enough to insure the comfort of the model (always important to make a good first impression...models who enjoy the first session might come back and do it again!).
Digital original, 2 frame stitch
At the same time as candle sessions are good for first-time models, they are challenging for me as a photographer. Given my preference for working with a single candle, I have to work hard from simply repeating images I have made before - at times this is inevitable, and I rely upon the different bodyshapes and language of the models to make the images distinct from one another, but overall, it is quite engaging to work with such a simple approach.
Digital original
Probably the best reason for using candles with first-time models is their reaction to the images; they never seem to fail to please; with Kylie, even the couple of images that I shared with her during the session engaged her enthusiasm and gave her an indication of how the session had progressed. When all the work was processed (just like traditional film images, digital files need processing before being ready for consideration by models and the public) and ready for review, Kylie was very pleased with the result which was the main point of the exercise. The fact that I managed to create images that pushed my candle images further is an added bonus.

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