The Musicians I – Julie Helene

The first of a series of posts I’ll be posting about the commissions I’ve shot this year with London musicians.

April 25th 18:00 – The shoot is on location so obviously we’re hoping for decent weather conditions but that isn’t happening – its absolutely pouring down as the makeup artist (Marina Angel) finishes her work off on Julie. We’re over on the east side of town so I haven’t got the option to move the shoot indoors to studio, and besides that wouldn’t suit the look we’re going for, so we have to work with the elements and use the bridge to shelter under. I’ve only got a couple of hours of daylight left so I’m anxious to start getting something shot, there is lighting kit in the bag but I want to some more muted natural light shots.

The brief for the location was to fit Julies music, we wanted something urban, busy, little bit dilapidated and the theme of travel and movement in there too…

1st Shot of the day – on an 85mm Nikon lens, at F2 so very little depth of field – want to knock all out the background clutter out of focus, also because its such a dark overcast day there is little light around anyway.

Now I’m further back looking to shoot whole body, this is a tricky location to work in because its 5 minutes walk from Liverpool st and at 6pm plenty of people passing through. On the Nikon 70-200mm at 2.8 now way back down the road, yelling instructions on pose to Julie!

We’ve changed spot slightly now, giving me a darker background and thats helping Julie stand out more, also changed outfit, and I’m back on the 85mm lens. I prefer to work with primes whenever I can – they are faster and lighter – that means I can get the shallower DOF and work with a faster shutter speed – increasing the odds of a sharp final image. We’re shooting a mix of poses looking to camera and some away – this is the one that goes on to make the album cover – a first for me : )

The natural light is really dying away now – its time to take a break and wait for darkness to fall..

25/04/2012 – 20:57 Twilight – if you follow my work you know I love this time of day, ambient light fades as artificial comes on. We had planned this shot earlier – have the look of Julie waiting for the taxi, sitting on one of the suitcases. By this time the road was quieter, less passer’s-by getting in the shot inadvertently. Technical bit – Nikon D700 with 85mm Nikon lens at F2.2, Manual exposure mode at 1/50th Shutter. Nikon SB600 Speedlight with Umbrella to camera right being triggered by the pop-up on camera. For a shoot like this I’d be getting my exposure set for the ambient (natural – existing) light first, then adding the flash and increasing / decreasing the power to suit.

As you can see we got a completely different look and feel to these shots at twilight with the flash to the ones a couple of hours earlier with natural light, but thats perfect when shooting for a client – gives them options, and the wet streets worked perfectly for these night shots.

Check out Julies amazing voice at or and Marina the MUA at

All images © Ben Pipe Photography 2012

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