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Vivid Light Photography, digital and film photography online
Locations for Glamour Photography are Closer than You Think
by Joe Farace

The second question photographers ask me is "where do you find locations for your glamour photography." (The first is "where do you find models?" which could be the subject of a future story, if anybody is interested.) As fellow Baltimorean, the late Frank Zappa told me: Necessity is "the mother of invention." Living in Colorado, it gets cold in the winter and sometimes it snows, lots of snow. If I lived in my wife's home state of Florida I might have a different way of choosing locations, but for much of the year I shoot most glamour and nude images in my home or close by. OK, so maybe I'm lazy too.

Old Hollywood 

Tasha is a young model fascinated by the look of 1940's and 50's black and white Hollywood movies, so although captured in color, this digital image was converted to monochrome using nik Multimedia's B/W Conversion filter. 

The photograph was made in a loft area with a North-facing window and is five steps from my home office.

Canon EOS D60 set at ISO 400, EF 85mm f/1.8 lens, set at f/3.4 with 1/60th using natural light and fill flash from a Canon 420EX with head tiled to bounce of wall.

When some photographers see photographs that were made in my house they'll ask, "How big is your house?" the truth is it's an average house in a working class neighborhood. I believe you can make photographs anywhere, by following some of the suggestion you'll read here, including cropping tightly, using wide apertures to simplify the background, and by making the most of what you so have. Instead of complaining that you don't have a studio, so you can't make the kind of images Peter Gowland ( made, keep in mind that he has been living in the same house for over forty years and that's where he created many of his classic images.

Photography-no matter where you produce it-is all about light, so you should start by looking for places where the light looks good. When the weather is nice, I'll shoot at a local park that's just a few blocks away, and while the park works great for bikini shots discretion in choosing locations for glamour photography is important, if only to keep you from being arrested. I also shoot during the week when there is far less activity in my neighborhood and the park.

Yes, In the Kitchen! 

Emeril never had it this good. Leslie was a college student when she came to me with a goal of appearing in Playboy. 

My kitchen has a large North-facing bay window and is, perhaps, my favorite place to shoot in the house. The center tile sections are really green, but clashed with the model's outfit, so I used Adobe Photoshop to bring the colors into harmony to make them the same color as the outfit that Leslie is kinda wearing. 

Canon EOS D60 set at ISO 400, EF 28-90mm zoom lens, set at f/3.5 with 1/60th using natural light and fill flash from a Canon 420EX.

There are downsides to shooting in these kind of tight spaces. I would prefer to use longer lenses but when shooting 35mm film but find that the 85mm focal length, especially a fast one, such as the Canon f/1.8, makes a wonderful indoor lens when you don't have lots of space. The Canon EF 28-105 zoom is another favorite, and I've been known to use the inexpensive EF 22-55, when shooting a Canon EOS D60 or 10D because the dreaded multiplication favor kicks it up to a 32-88mm.

The other conundrum with working with my preferred available light is that it can be fickle and may come and go at a moments notice. I typically work with ISO 400, mostly color negative film, or sent my digital SLR at 400 and sometimes even at 800 or 1000. Yikes! I can hear some of you saying but when working in the digital darkroom there are lots of ways to deal with the noise and even film grain. One of the easiest is a Photoshop-compatible plug-in called Grain Surgery (

The biggest problem with shooting glamour in your or anybody's house, is that it's difficult to do full length shots and often the space you need to place a model to get full--length poses isn't well lit. When you try to make the pictures where the space works but the light doesn't, the pictures end up looking like hell. Don't do it. The truth is if you have a window anywhere, you can make a successful glamour or fashion image. Get into the habit of looking for natural light sources that emulate artificial ones. Why buy lots of expensive lights when there's a freebie right in your living room.

Visual Infinity's Grain Surgery works with film-based images to minimize grain or can be used, as in this situation, to minimize the digital camera noise created by my Canon EOS D60 shot in low light at ISO 400 with a fairly slow shutter speed. A split preview window lets you compare the noise reduction choices that you've applied next to the original image.

Look for the Light 

Megan had a specific idea for a photograph and described the kind of lighting she wanted. It sounded like a strip light - a long thin light bank. But in addition to not having one; I hate working with electronic flash. 

I looked around and saw a pair of long skinny windows in my living room next to the fireplace, and that's where we made this image, using a "natural strip light".

 Photograph captured with Canon EOS D60 set at ISO 400, 22-55mm zoom (at 53mm) set at f/5.3 with 1/80th of a second using nothing but natural light.

If you want to save the hassle and expense of working with studio lights, let the quality and quantity of the existing natural light determine where you make images. Work using lens focal lengths that are appropriate for your style of fashion or glamour and maybe crop a little tighter than you might. Some shooters like wide-angle shots, and I use them occasionally, but I find myself going back to 85mm focal length. Sometimes, I find that I can work with my favorite Canon EF 135 f/2.8soft focus lens. I love to use that lens outdoors for full-length shots.

The main thing is that it doesn't matter what I say, if you like shooting with a 14mm, go for it. If there's any secret, it's don't give up. Don't say "I can't shoot here". Hell, you can shoot anywhere. Take the time and look.

The Non-nude Nude 

Everybody has his or her take on nudity. 

Some models want an image that makes them look nude, but don't want to be nude in front of the camera. Thea doesn't mind being nude, but doesn't want images that are explicitly nude. See what I mean about taking the time to talk to the model. Nudity is not just in the mind and eye of the beholder. 

The chair she is sitting on is in my office. To stage left is a medium-sized south-facing window. Depending on time of day and year it can create interesting light. I asked Thea to sit comfortably in the chair and picked a camera angle then asked her to slowly move her hands and legs until she got into this pose. It's a different way of posing models but created a photo we both liked.

 Photograph made with Canon EOS D60 set at ISO 800, 135SF lens set at f/3.2 with 1/200th using natural light.

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