I had a chance to create some off camera flash portraits with a local model and I loved the results. Meeting new models is a curious thing. You never know what you’re going to get or who you will meet.
Table of Contents Hide
- Model Introduction
- Off Camera Flash Portraits
- Model Highlight Video
- Step-By-Step Portrait Shoot Breakdown
- How I find my models
- Gear for this shoot
- Sony a7riii Mirrorless Camera
- Sony 55mm f1.8 Zeiss Lens
- Gobe Variable ND Filter
- Profoto B2 Strobe w/ Profoto Air TTL Remote
- Portrait Shoot Breakdown
- Location Change – The parking garage
- What I learned from this portrait shoot
- What I would do differently
- Posing models for test shoots
Take the case of Andrea M. She is a local aspiring Dallas model who loves being in front of the camera.
I met Andrea for the first time on location in downtown McKinney, TX. We setup a small portrait shoot with street style vibe.
The model test shoot took place on a Sunday evening around sunset and we both had a great time.
Off Camera Flash Portraits
Shooting off camera flash and getting these Sony 55mm f1.8 portraits was a breeze while I was working with the model.
The sunset gave her a beautiful glow and I was able to get some amazing shots with the sun as a rim light behind her.
I’ll go over each shot and how I positioned my model Andrea including lighting, camera settings and more.
Model Highlight Video
Before we dive into the final photos, check out this sneak peak behind the scenes highlight video of our portrait shoot.
Step-By-Step Portrait Shoot Breakdown
In this next section I’ll discuss the pre-production process. This will include the concept, gear and how I planned my shoot with Andrea.
If your interested in my full-detailed breakdown of setting up a shoot, check out my article Portrait photography workflow article here. It goes into detail about my process from start to finish.
The pre-production process is just as important as the day you shoot. Getting everything planned in detail will help make the process more seamless and easier to handle.
How I find my models
One of the biggest questions I get is how do you find models? Honestly, many models will reach out to me to collab.
I mainly use Instagram to showcase my portfolio and I use hashtags like:
These hashtags are popular for searching for Dallas area photographers. My work shows up and more and more models follow me from the Dallas and surrounding areas.
Using hashtags for local markets is a big part of growing your network.
Gear for this shoot
Let’s start with the gear I used for this shoot. I usually have a main camera and single strobe for my off camera flash photography. This shoot was no different.
Sony a7riii Mirrorless Camera
I used my main Sony a7riii mirrorless camera for this shoot. It provides high resolution and great dynamic range when processing my RAW files.
It’a a great portrait photography camera and also does some high quality video for my model highlight reels.
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Sony 55mm f1.8 Zeiss Lens
I usually carry 2-3 lenses on a portrait shoot. Especially when I am shooting primes.
These normally include the Sony 35mm f1.8 FE Lens, Sony 55mm f1.8 Zeiss Lens, and the Sony 85mm f1.4 GMaster Lens.
For this shoot, I packed simple and lightweight. I used the Sony 55mm f1.8 FE lens for portraits and no other lens.
Gobe Variable ND Filter
I knew I would be using the sun as a main light source for backlighting my subjects so I brought along my Gobe variable ND filter.
This helped cut out extra light and let me use my strobe at lower powers to extend the battery life.
Profoto B2 Strobe w/ Profoto Air TTL Remote
My main light source was the Profoto B2 Strobe with 2×3 OCF softbox and diffusion.
This combination gives me plenty of power from the 250ws strobe and soft light from the softbox.
The strobe is triggered by my Profoto Air TTL Remote for Sony.
Portrait Shoot Breakdown
Now, let’s break down each set and how I was able to get the final shots. All .RAW files are processed in Adobe ACR and then brought into Photoshop for final edits.
Starting at the Museum
For this first set, I had Andrea in front of the downtown McKinney, TX Collin County Museum.
The front light was being blocked by the large columns in front of the building but the rest of it was able to fall on the background and create a nice soft glow.
I had the Profoto b2 Strobe about 3 feet from Andrea on the left side of the camera.
I had her move around in the small hallway type area until I could get the final shots with my Sony a7riii and Sony 55mm f1.8 lens.
We eventually moved to the front of the museum and it featured a large stone walkway with stone barriers.
I positioned Andrea facing away from the sunlight and had my Profoto B2 strobe camera left.
Moving to the Shopping Center for sitting portraits
This allowed me to fill in the shadows that were being cast by the sun light on the right hand side.
When were were finished, we moved to a small shopping area and found a great little wooden bench to take the next shots.
I positioned Andrea again facing away from the sun. By this time the sun was being hidden my the large 2-3 story buildings int he downtown area so I knew I needed to move fast.
I positioned the lighting camera right and had the Profoto B2 strobe about 2-3ft away from her.
It was slightly above eye level and also at a 45 degree angle down.
I had Andrea moving her legs and making small adjustments while I was shooting. I loved the bokeh that the came out in these Sony 55mm f1.8 portraits.
The beautiful and smooth backgrounds came out just right with a balance of shadows and highlights.
Location Change – The parking garage
With the sun being covered by the buildings, I knew I needed to get higher for more light.
Texas time was about 7:45pm so I knew I only had about 30-40 mins before sunset.
We moved to the 4th floor of a public parking garage and also moved to our next set of clothing. I had Andrea bring 2 looks for this shoot so I could get 2 different sets.
The first set I had Andrea sit on top of a small column barrier in the middle of the parking lot. She had some glasses as an accessory that added a small detail to the look.
I moved the Profoto B2 strobe camera right and raised the stand to just above her head.
I had the light about 3ft away from her so I could get wider shots.
Andrea moved around that small pillar as much as she could. She needed little direction for her posing and I set the pace for the shoot.
I tend to shoot pretty quickly so I kept her moving much of the time. To compensate for this, I set my Sony a7riii shutter speed to 1/250sec.
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Walking around the portrait location
After all the sitting poses, I did a small walking sequence. I set my Profoto B2 to TTL so I could let the camera and strobe unit decide on power while I had Andrea doing a small walk towards the camera.
These are not easy as you try to capture the subject in motion and hope to capture some lifestyle based shots. I love having my models interact with the location.
The strobe was stationary but I moved back about 2-3ft when she started walking around. These next portraits are from that sequence.
Final portraits with sunset
The fun was pretty close to being set so we decided on one small set with Andrea sitting next to a pillar.
I started with TTL on my strobe and then moved to manual power once I got my settings dialed in.
I grabbed these 2 final pics and loved the composition of horizontal full-body shots.
The power on the strobe was around 70% full power in order to get the even lighting on the subject.
What I learned from this portrait shoot
My Sony a7riii and Sony 55mm f1.8 are a great combination, but I feel a little overkill for this session.
I considered using my Sony a6400 with Sony 16-55mm f2.8 but I didn’t end up taking it with me. I wanted to stay minimal and keep my gear bag light.
Andrea was already great at posing. I gave her minimal direction and this made the portrait shoot very easy to maintain a good pace.
I have her small instructions before we started about her hands and movements, but overall she did really well.
What I would do differently
I think next time I will try to leave the flash on TTL instead of trying to dial in the power on manual.
I kept changing the power so often that I don’t feel like there is a consistent lighting strength on the model.
Some shots have more shadows than others but I still like the outcome.
I was able to fix some of this in post processing by raising the shadows and turning down the highlights as needed.
Posing models for test shoots
This is an issue I originally struggled with as a beginner. Not knowing what to tell the model or how to get her into position was a a big barrier for me.
I got around this by studying more photographers and seeing how they interacted with models on shoots.
If you’re interested in learning more about posing, check out these tutorials here from ProEDU.
I’ve personally taken all these tutorials and invested in myself and my portrait photography.
Have fun and make sure the portrait shoot is a full collaboration. This means taking into account the ideas and feedback from the model and others on site.
I make sure to also give feedback and show the models how they are doing by transferring images via wifi to my phone.
This is a great feature to have while on location as it’s easier to see the larger images on my phone versus the back of the LCD screen.
Either way, I hope you enjoyed these off camera flash images and Sony 55mm f1.8 portraits. The shoot was a blast and I can’t wait to work with Andrea again.
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