Choose a model that you find interesting. My models are mostly women, so when I want to do some photos with a new model I must feel something about that person first. That means that I saw something worth pointing up and during a photoshoot I’m trying to bring out that emotion as I had it when I first saw that person. So when you are choosing models, try to find someone with whom you can connect in some way, otherwise (at least in my case) you’ll just get lost and keep taking photos not knowing what you actually want to get. Or you can get perfectly good fashion photos (in a technical way) but it won’t make you feel something, and I think that for a good photo you have to have both of that.
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Find what inspires you the most and then use it the best you can. In my case its music, so sometimes if my models can’t understand what mood I want to achieve in the photo I just let them listen to a song for which I think has that mood. It works almost every time.
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If you shoot outdoor, first decide what result you want to get, and then choose a part of the day with that kind of light. If you want to achieve a photo with high contrast chose the sunny days and time of the day when the sun is high up in the sky. For the romantic effect, sunsets are the best and for a melancholic mood it’s the clouds and rain.
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Use a simple portable reflector to reflect sunlight coming from behind. Really simple but effective. If you shoot in studio, you don’t depend on weather conditions and you can play with light however you want, so try to make some sketches before shooting, having a concrete idea of what you want to achieve will save you a lot of time. As far as the reliance on post-production go, don’t ever think that you can fix the light afterwards. Problems with colors are generally easier to fix, but the light – not so much.
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If you work with makeup artist and stylists, be careful that you don’t lose yourself in their ideas. Be there, watch what they are doing and be open to tell them what look you want to achieve.
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Be careful in choosing a location. Think through your whole concept and choose the right location. Choosing the right or wrong location can either make or break your photo.
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Choose the Right Lenses
If you shoot close-up portraits use tele-lenses because they won’t distort the face and will preserve the true anatomy of your models.
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I do think that retouching and the whole process of post-production is very important – if done properly, it will make your photo shine and pop out. It can also be a kind of your own signature, something that makes others recognize the work as your own.
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As for the personal “secrets tools” the truth is that there is never only one thing or a single process that makes the photo look the way it does in its final form, it’s a combination of various processes and each of them is almost equally important as the other one. The only secret tool would the patience.
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Nina Mašić-Lizdek was born in Bihać, Bosnia & Herzegovina. She graduated at Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo, and although her major was graphic design she quickly realized that photography is her true passion. In recent years she’s actively pursuing fashion and beauty photography, as well as high-end retouching. See more of her photographs at 500px or her website.