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Quick: You Have 5 Minutes to Get the Shot. Where Do You Start?

She got me thinking

I saw this beautiful girl walk by for a second time. I loved her outfit and her carefree attitude. I asked myself, if she were a celebrity and I only had 5 minutes to photograph her, where would I start? Then I thought what the heck, let’s see. I smiled at her, lifted my camera and said hey do you want to do a quick photo shoot? We both laughed knowing it was a weird request but it sounded like fun. Remember, we were strangers in an airport.

Self talk while breaking the ice

I told her I’m a professional photographer and an author for Photofocus.I explained my idea for an article that she could help me with. I asked her where she was heading and how long does she have. While she answered, I quickly engaged in self talk and asked myself, what is the most import element I need to capture this shot. Light was my first thought. As I’m listening to her, I guide her over to a window and dialed in f/2.8 for my aperture. Using a fixed 85 mm lens, I knew a shutter setting of 1/125 of a second would work fine leaving my ISO as the last element to figure out. Hmmm what ISO do I need to get this shot that was lit with beautiful natural window light? I don’t care was my reply so I chose auto ISO. I let the camera intelligently figure it out. I knew my camera was set to matrix meter the scene, meaning it meters the entire scene and balances it. If the scene came out too bright or too dark, I would have relied on exposure compensation to help me. In this case, I didn’t need to and was able to interact with my new friend, Alisha instead.

Working on a self imposed 5 minute time limit

As we ripped a few frames, I gave her minimal direction. I made sure she faced into the light and I tried to balance the whites of her eyes. Once we had that set, I noticed her hat interfered with my shooting angle so I asked her to lift her head just a touch. Perfect, this is the shot, I love it. I could have stopped, but we were only 2 minutes into the shoot. She suggested a pose and we ripped a few more frames. I showed her the images and her smile told me she was happy.

Signing a Model Release form

I had her sign a Model Release form so I could use her image for this article. As she signed the electronic form on my iPad, she joked, if you make money off of my photo you better cut me in. We laughed but that brings up a great point. I took this image for my article with no intention of selling it. It was a TF shoot. TF is slang for “Trade for”. It could be TFP (Trade for Print) or TFCD (Trade for CD). The model agrees to relinquish their rights to the photo if the photographer agrees to give them a copy of the image to use for their personal use. Money does not change hands. That’s fair, but what if a stock agency wants to buy your image? Legally the model is not entitled to share in the profits. In my opinion, ethically you should pay her something. If a make-up artist was involved in the TF, then they should get paid too. If you want to avoid this, paying ahead of time makes the shoot a work for hire. If they agree to be paid $150 for the shoot and you sell the image for $1,150.00, you are entitled to the profit. You took the risk, you deserve the reward.

Quick recap

You only have 5 minutes to get the shot, quickly do the following.

  • Find a quality light source. In my case I used window light.
  • Set your Aperture. I chose f/2.8 to blur the background.
  • Set your Shutter speed. I had a small lens so 1/125 second was good.
  • Figure out your ISO. I kept mine set to auto ISO in case the light changed. This allowed me to think artistically instead of technically.
  • Have fun with the shoot, make the subject feel comfortable.
  • Last, have them sign a model release form. I use Easy Release.
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