This is the Blog of Swiss Photographer Nicolas Henri

The 90/10 Ratio

I am guessing that this is not the only photographer’s blog you guys are reading. And if this is true, you most likely will have heard some other shooter rant about the unfortunate ratio of actual shooting versus all the other crap which comes along with it.

It’s the reason why I haven’t posted much lately. I’m pretty much submerged with planning, organizing, scheduling and subsequent re-scheduling, casting, searching (and rarely finding) locations, making calls, drafting agreements and writing up concepts. Sometimes I start to think that my email and Word have taken over for my camera and PS… it all boils down to the much cited 90/10 ratio: 90% office grunt work and 10% actual shooting.

But of course it’s all for a greater cause. Most of this work goes into my solo exhibition this fall and I’m gearing up to shoot all the images for it.  If things go as planned (which as we all know, they tend to not do so often) I’ll be off as of March with one shoot pretty much following the other and by the end of it I’ll wish for some quiet, quality office time. Guess you just can’t have your cake and eat it too…

Posted by nicolas_henri on February 16th, 2009 :: Filed under Exhibition, Making Of, Photogs at work!
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More from the underground (+ video footage!)

A little while back I posted about the promo shoot I did for czech guitar hero Milan Capak. In the meantime we got around to finish post production on the images AND assemble a little behind the scenes video! This also marks the first official NICOLAS HENRI > On Location, a series of making of videos I will be posting from now on. I hope you’ll find them inspiring…

But let’s get back to business first. The briefing of the TC Records Ltd. management was to create an industrial and dark look for Milan. After the creative meetings we agreed on the idea of an iconic fighter, who lives underground and only comes out to play, an enigmatic character if you will. The styling dept. created a sort of uniform all wrapped up with straps of cloth like a mummy. As you’ll see in the video we the washed him down with baby powder to create a dusty and moldy look as if he’d been living down there for ages…

Which brings me the location: An abandoned and drained water cistern, built a century ago. Scouting the place a week before the shoot was a blast. It must be the coolest place I ever shot in. You walk down a small metal staircase into the heart of darkness… the echoes from your steps suggest a large space… until you switch on the light (no, there’s no fluorescents down there or anything - we brought a construction light, 50m extension cord to connect above ground) and this massive space unfolds. Columns and arches, never ending either way you look. Rain water from above runs down the walls, the air humid and freezing cold (in May!).

This is a nice example of what location scouting can do for you. I have made it a habit to scout the places I’m supposed to work in. It’s the first step of the “No Worries - Package”. Obviously you realize it will be dark and you’ll need lights, when your client tells you about a place like that. But when I stood there in the heart of darkness, experienced the vast space, I realized that this was going to be tough to light. In addition to my Elinchrom Ranger, I rented another two Elinchrom 1200 (Ws) RX heads, got extras extension cords, took sample shots at the scout (at ISO 3200!) and used the time before the shoot to come up with a lighting concept - actually a few concepts in case things didn’t work out as planned.

More after the jump!

Posted by nicolas_henri on September 2nd, 2008 :: Filed under Artist Technique, Lighting, Making Of, On Location, Photography, Photogs at work!, Uncategorized, Underground
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Directing Models

Have you ever had a model step up in front of your lens, assume some standard pose and (much worse) put on that modelling face? No matter what you do now, she’s gonna stick to that pose and that I-am-sexy-and-wild-yet-arrogant-and-completely-bland-expression. Perhaps you manage to break the habit for a click or two, but as soon as you adjust your aperture for half a stop and look back at her (or him!!!) things have magically snapped back…

First of all: This is NOT the models fault, it is entirely the photographers fault! Being a photographer is not all about fiddling with your gear, it is to a large extent about working with people, with talent, with crew and getting the best out of them. So you have to be able to tell your model the right things, enabling him/her to perform up to spec.

It has been my experience that many models, when they started out had the bad luck of having to work with some hack photographers. The sort of shooter which got into the game because they thought they’d meet more pretty girls that way and think that the bathing suit calendar at the mechanics shop represents the aesthetic summit of contemporary photography… you get the idea. So they try to get just that out of the newcomer models, who in turn are really just hoping to build their book. After a while, always being asked to look and pose that very same way, things start to stick.

There are a few simple techniques, which actually come out of film directing and will work like a charm on almost anybody. Let’s have a look at the following shot:

There’s life behind Tatjana’s eyes and contact with the viewer in this one. You can tell that something is moving her. Try to figure out what I might have told her to get the performance and then hit the jump to read what the secret is…

Posted by nicolas_henri on August 11th, 2008 :: Filed under Artist Technique, Photography, Photogs at work!
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