The shot: Natural light

Editorial for magazine, natural sunlight, no reflector
Photographer: Philip’e

First of all, the model did not have much time, so I thought if I was going to do this shoot with natural light, I better move fast.


The inspiration came from the model. I saw the model and was inspired. I wanted something dramatic, mysterious and kind of film noir. I also wanted it to be timeless and not dated. I did not want to do anything that looked trendy or go for a look that everyone else is doing.

More specifically, I wanted the model to look mighty, larger than life, and I wanted the model to look mysterious.

I chose the location because it was the end of summer and wanted to do a pool shot. The model had a bikini, but I did not want to do Maxim bikini style shoot (it just is not my style).

To avoid the typical Maxim bikini style, I give direction to the model to keep her chin up and elongate her body. Fashion is about elongating the body and that’s why shorter models have a problem when shooting fashion.

The style is not about seduction. It’s more like a scene from a moment, a film, or even dream.

The shot

The camera I used was a Canon 5D Mark II, with a 24-70mm lens, and it was shot in JPEG.

The lighting is natural sunlight – no reflectors and no board to bounce light. When shooting in natural light I don’t take breaks because the sun and clouds shift and move. So even taking a five minute break can end the good natural sunlight needed to create the effect I want.


I’m an in camera type person. I shoot a lot and to save time in post I try to do everything in camera. Exposure, light, and even black and white is done in camera.

I shoot RAW too, but, like I said, I try to do everything in camera. It works great when working with clients who want to see instant results, rather than having to wait to see it after post. In this type of situation you can’t hide behind Photoshop. The shot must look good prior to post.

And, that meant post was easy… I deepened the blues and pumped up the saturation, keeping an eye on the skin tone to make sure it did not come up too warm (yellow), which can easily happen when you punch up the saturation.

The result

The shot was featured in a print magazine editorial. The model’s agent was happy with the pictures and the model got tear sheets.

These days everyone is getting tear sheets and it’s much easier than it used to be. But, it still comes down to whether the model and agency like it and if it’s strong enough to add to the model’s portfolio. Just having a tear does not make it better – the bottom line is it has to be a good shot to make a good tear.



Philip'e is a professional photographer and makeup artist based in Upland, California. He's shot for a variety of modeling agencies including Ford, Elite, DNA and L.A. Models. He's also shot several models for the television show, "America's Next Top Model."

More Posts - Website