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When I set out on this shoot with Jessica I had thought about it quite a bit beforehand. I wanted to try and do something different. I had a done a fair amount of shoots in the same manner. On location I would use generally a one light set-up, and shoot mostly tighter shots. I would still mix in some full-length, but not a whole lot of negative space. So for this shoot I wanted to shoot more natural light (I HAD to shoot some flash, come on..) and leave more space in the images. The one other thing I wanted to do a bit of was focus on the details.

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I had been to this same location in Sackville a week before with a few friends. We went out to just shoot some landscapes. Anytime I’m out shooting landscapes (which isn’t very often these days) I’m also scouting locations.

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What I like about this location is all the different spaces that can be used, and how expansive it can look. I didn’t even scratch the surface of the different available possibilities…

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I had to keep reminding myself throughout the shoot to approach the images in a different way. While I know it’s important to develop a style, at the same time I want to have variety through my images.

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The light just kept getting better and better as we went along. Harsh sunlight, turned to golden light, which turned to a beautiful sunset. I couldn’t, with good conscience, stop shooting. So this will be an image-heavy post. Dan MacDonald came along to take some documentary behind the scenes photos (click to see his images). He offered to hold a diffuser early on which helped me avoid using off camera flash too much, right away.

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I have worked with Jessica a few times before, and she just keeps improving every time we shoot. She was fantastic on this shoot and moved very well with little direction. We had actually chatted about doing this shoot about a month before it actually happened, so I had quite a bit of time to really think about it. I wanted to do a bit more of a relaxed feel, with not so much dramatic posing.

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I had gone over this shoot in my mind quite a bit and had some specific shots I wanted to try and do. I knew which parts of the location I wanted to use, but the one thing I didn’t think about was lighting. I’m going to try and have an assistant, if I can, on some future shoots, especially when I plan to shoot natural light. There are times when a reflector would really add to an image, and I didn’t want to ask Dan to help me for the whole shoot.

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While I did want to primarily do more simple looks as far as posing goes, I also wanted to do a few shots with motion.

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Having another photographer present can be a very good thing. At one point I was shooting in a certain direction, thinking it was giving me the most dramatic sky. All of the sudden Dan said “Denis, turn around” and when I turned around I saw the sky had turned to an extremely dramatic & colourful backdrop. We re-positioned and quickly began shooting in that direction.

one direction compared to the other - click to enlarge

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I had no choice but to use flash for these as it allowed me to bring out the sky. I really wanted to use negative space with this type of sky (I’m a sucker for a sky like that).

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The light was fading very quickly so I knew I had to wrap it up. I took a few more shots, trying as many different angles as I could before the sky changed too much. It’s not everyday I get to shoot with a sky like this. When I’m booking a shoot ahead of time, I don’t necessarily know what the light is going to be like. I have to take what I’m given and I always try to take as much as I can.

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The pink hues had pretty well faded from the clouds, and we had wrapped things up. As we were walking back to the car, I saw one last thing I wanted to photograph… as I usually do. Honestly I think I could just shoot non-stop, day after day… I just wanted to take a few shots then head off.

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The above images show the difference between using natural light and off-camera flash. They were taken a few frames apart with Jessica in pretty well the exact same spot. It was actually because of Dan’s suggestion that I used flash. I wasn’t planning on using it, but yes Dan, I am very glad I did.

All in all I don’t know if the shoot came out exactly how I saw it in my head, but I’m quite ok with that. I was able to get a good amount of variety in the shoot and shot way more natural light than I usually do. I’d like to do a few more shoots like this as it pushes me to really think about trying to do things in a different way.

Make-up: Sarah-Jane Bastarache

Hair: Francine Benoit

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