Shooting Fashion in New York City

Last Wednesday, the day before my New York City seminar, I did a fashion shoot for an upcoming book project (it’s one I haven’t announced yet, but it’s due to my editors in two weeks, so it’s getting close to being wrapped up).

I wanted a really cool location, so I contacted my buddy David Teng, a NYC-based photographer who has he’s assisted me in a couple of shoots up there, and he turned me on to an absolutely incredible location called “The Metropolitan Building,” just across the Queensboro bridge from Manhattan (link). We had the entire third floor, which was room after room of amazing walls, furniture, accessories, chairs, couches, chaise lounges, you name it. It was photography paradise!

We had three professional models for the shoot (that’s model Katy Beal above) , along with Hair stylist Chuck Olsen (above left), working with Jackie (right), who was an assistant to the Fashion Stylist working with us on the shoot, and Jackie helped with props and set design) along with Make Up by the amazing Cassandra Renee (the coolest MUA in New York. This was third time working with Cassi—she rocks! Here’s her Facebook page).

(Above: Here’s an iPhone shot of our first shooting location. Well, actually it was our second, as we started each shoot on a gray seamless set-up nearby, and then we’d head to this room for our first shoot with each model. This is before we set up the lighting).

Here’s a shot of model Sophia Niekrasz, and although I took this shot above with my Nikon D3s using my trusty 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, as you’ll see in the production shot below, I tried something completely different for me.

Above: That’s right, I’m shooting a Phase One 645 DF with a Leaf Aptus-II 80-megapixel digital back, with a Phase One 150mm f/2.8 lens (I talked about this rig the day I first got it [on short-term loan] over at my Facebook page. I haven’t had a chance to look at what I captured yet (I’m working on those tomorrow), but I can’t wait to see how they came out. 80-megapixels. Yikes!!!! :-)

For this shoot, I had a really kick-butt Fashion Stylist, Emily Bess (seen here fashionizing Katy on a different set). Emily was amazing, and she created our story for the day, told through the outfits and accessories she put together. Here’s the link to Emily’s site (highly recommended!).

We were also lucky enough to have Stevie as one of our models for the day (that’s her getting fitted by Emily before one of the shoots). She was with us for the NYC “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it” tour and I asked if she would be one of the models for this shoot for the book, and of course, she was awesome!

Above: Here’s Stevie on Set #2 and that’s me with the Phase One. It’s definitely a different experience shooting with a medium format body, but after just a few minutes, I started to get really comfortable with it, which could wind up costing me a lot of money. ;-)

Above: We also had a male model on the set, the incomparable Braddo, seen here flashing his trademark “Blue Steel” look. Poor Brad has to stand in for the models while we’re testing out the lights, and I have about 1,200 or so similar shots of Brad, that one day will come back to haunt him in a book I’ll call “The Many Moods of Beautiful Brad.” ;-)

Where are all the rest of the shots?
Well, the main shots were for a book project of mine that hasn’t been announced yet, so I didn’t want to show too much at this stage, but I still wanted to share a little behind-the-scenes look at our day in New York. The location was truly amazing—probably the coolest place we’ve ever come across, but unfortunately we did it on the hottest day I think New York has had this year so far, and of course there was no air-conditioning whatsoever, so it got crazy hot in there. By the end of the day, Brad and I could barely walk (we got there at 9:30 am, and didn’t leave until after 7:00 pm, going non-stop the whole time—building sets, moving furniture, and hiking to get water).

I’ll have a whole lot more about this shoot very soon, along with some of the photos from the 80-megapixel Phase One, but until then I want to thank Emily Bess, our awesome Fashion Stylist for taking a handful of my loosely illustrated ideas and turning it into something very creative and cool (also, thanks to her assistant Jackie who was absolutely invaluable during the day with her ideas and input).

Thanks to Cassi, MUA rock-star, and to Chuck our new hair stylist who came up with some very creative looks, and of course our models, Sophia, Stevie, and Katy. My thanks to Amanda at The Metropolitan Building for being so easy to work with, and to Jeffrey Kolsrud at Q. Management (link) for all his help in finding some fantastic fashion models for our shoot. I can’t wait to share the rest with you guys! :)

      1. Of course if you wanted to get one of those Roof of the Stadium detail shots and be able to identify every one of the 75,000 fans, the MF might be the weapon of choice. ;)

  1. What a great charismatic scene, indeed a photographers paradise.
    It would be interesting to hear what you think of the Phase One in some way, perhaps in another post sometime. It´s a great camera, no doubt about that, but it´s not for every shoot.
    I know a guy that shoots everything with his Hasselblad, and i mean everything. Of course, he does not shoot sports a lot, because that would be kinda hard, especially if you need to deliver pictures during the game. :)
    But the pictures do stand out a bit from the average kind of pictures.

    By the way, you should release a book about Brad. ;)

  2. I just can say, it’s amazing, nice location, nice models, nice photographer (dear Scott)
    it’s a liitle like the castles in Iran (Niavaran castle-Tehran) where I visited on Feb. While I was there, I remind Scott and I wished he was here for fashion shooting. that was great as well.
    fashion photography is my favoriate, but unfortunately it’s not common and easy here.

    Thank you again Scott for making my feel with your nice shoots.
    Have fun.

  3. Great post Scott. I agree with Ken, don’t go over to the dark side. :) Question that I’ve been meaning to ask you that has nothing to do with this post. At your live training do you ever get asked a question about Photoshop that you cannot answer?


    1. Hi Dave: Absolutely. In fact, I had a Lightroom question in New York last week that I couldn’t answer, so I called Matt right there with the person waiting in the question line. Also, if I don’t know the answer, I generally get their email address and then do the research afterward and email them back. If I still can’t find it out, I send emails to other instructors to see if they can help, and that usually does the trick. :)

  4. Hi Scott

    I did not find any other way to contact you but to answer on this blog. Sorry for changing subject…

    I do wonder how to approach LR3 with a NAS and two computers. To begin with I used to have only PC’s. One at home and a lap top. The NAS I have all my photos on. And I have LR3 on both computers. I take a backup of LR3 on home-PC and then I reading it in on the lap top. i.e. the NAS hve the same “letter” the path to the photos stay the same (and yes, I do take backup of the NAS also).

    When out in the field, I usually made a new temporary .cat in the lap top and then exported the good photos on a USB-disc and when at home I did the process like recently described.

    My lap top got a one wat ticket to the recycling dumpster and now I am a newbie owner of a MacBook. It is all great but my working process is not functional any more. The Mac does not use “letters” in the path, therefore all paths are broken. It does not take to long time to correct but it has gotten me to really think about this.

    So, here is the core, what on earth is the best working process for LR3*, several computers and a network storage area (NAS)?

    Personally I think that groups of photographers should rally like if the LR3 workflow became more integrated in the group working process. LR3 is a great tool but it, imho, is very much a one man tool.

    //Regards Jonas Berggren, Sweden.

    * Yes, I have your books and I do really use your way of exporting as catalogue from lap top to “studio computer”. But when I am at home is great to have the same view regardless of wich computer I use. Secondly, I use LR always. I mean always. It would be easier in LR to just have all the photos in one catalogue. I mean everything is in collections and such other powerful tools that the catalogue structure is not necessary anymore. But I do not dare, old habits… :)

    1. Jonas, I think the easiest thing to do would be to convert your Raw Photos to the .dng format. Then under the Metadata Tab in Catalog Settings turn on the Automatically write changes into XMP (this option will save all of your metadata to the .dng file).

      Then you can maintain a catalog on your PC and a catalog on you Macbook and you will need to import to both, but because you are saving your metadata to the .dng file the work you have done on your files in one catalog will be updated in the other on import. It isn’t an elegant solution, but it should work.

      This video by Julieanne Kost explains this concept in depth.

      1. Ah, I am converting to .dng when importing the photos.

        When I had pc (i.e. windows) then I just imported, edited, did backup in LR and then I read that backup in to the lap top and viola I had the same LR at both PC. With a Mac I have to point out where the folders are on the Nas. No big problem.

        But as I said, it got me thinking, this go to be “old way of thinking”. So what is the best way to work with what we got today and is itn’t it something we should ask for in the future?

  5. Scott,

    I have to chuckle a little because I have recently picked up a Phase One 645 AF with a 40 MP back. Some people thought I was N-V-T-S. (Mel Brooks Reference) Using this forces me to slow down -1 frame per second- and really, REALLY think about the shot. The Viewfinder is huge and actually the Medium Format has made me slow down and become a better DSLR shooter. ‘just saying’

    My thing is how are you processing the shots? Can lightroom do it or are you using leafs software? That is my curiosity.

    For those who are probably thinking that this means your switching, from my perspective its not switching but just another tool in the swiss army knife of photography. :)

    God Bless
    Tom Q

  6. Hey Scott, first off I am looking forward to your Toronto visit. Do you think you could have accomplished the same with a D3X? 24 mp to 80 mp is a huge and gigantic leap in file size. SO what is the point of 80 mp unless your shot is going to a Times Square billboard? Hey, not a bad idea eh?
    Regardless they are totally fabulous photos and the whole thing, make up, set design, costume, etc fantastic.

  7. I would pay good money to see 80 megapixel shots of Brad in a book format. The other models pale by comparison. Although, tell him it’s important to make sure he buttons up his ENTIRE shirt while on a shoot to maximize the clean, sophisticated male model look.

    Scott, your wife will be pissed if you buy one of these cameras. A much better idea would be to buy her a new airplane….she would love you for it, plus you would probably save a bundle of money over the cost of this camera system.


    1. Hi Mohammad: Your comment went though this morning, as usual, and there are no pending comments from you whatsoever. I know this is an on-going problem from you, but I can’t imagine why it’s only happening to you. I don’t have moderation turned on—as you post, the comments go up, but if my Spam filter thinks for any reason what you’re posting might be spam, it holds it in moderation until I say whether its spam or not. There is not a single message from you held in spam, so I cannot imagine what the problem is. Sorry about that.

      1. Hi Scott,

        Sometimes your page loads from the cached version of the page in the browser on the local computer than directly from your server. It usually happens more to me on than on the blog, but this may be where Mohammad is seeing a problem. When Reload doesn’t work I sometimes need to delete the cache and load the page again before I see the comments updated.

      2. I always read and write comments with NetNewsWire application on my mac. when I posted my comments, I couldn’t see it after a while but as soon as I post a new comment my previews and all other hidden commnets show up.
        Now I’m sure it works correctly. I thought I’d be a member to post my comments.
        Ok, thank you Scott and thank you Alessandro

  8. Don’t know how you find the time to do it man. Books keep pouring out of you faster than a #3 speedy taco lunch special! You’re either gonna have to offer a subscription plan for your books, or I’m going to have re-dedicate my studio as the Scott Kelby National Library. :-)

  9. Scott,

    I love the images and I love the location. I really enjoy when you post from your fashion shoots. You present them in such an enjoyable, lowkey way that it’s hard to not read them. Keep up the great work. And I really like that you get back to the readers who leave comments I think that’s just awesome!


  10. Scott,
    You’re killing me. I just upgraded to a D3s and now you’re using a MF camera. What’s happening here? Will all your future ‘stuff’ be in MF vs FX/DX? Are all your contributing photographers – Matt, RC, McNally, Peterson, Ziser, etc. moving to MF?

  11. Welcome good friend to the wonderful leaf/phase one world ;)
    The aptusII12 is an amazing back but for fashion I really love the aptusII7 which is faster and keeps in pace.

    Love the shots, would love to see more, you have my mail somewhere ;)

    MF vs DSLR is s non issue by the way.
    It’s horses for courses.
    If you have control over your light MF is without a doubt wonderful, but for most other things the DSLR is more than good. But when working with strobes I’ve never seen something better than the leaf digital backs connected to the Mamiya rz67proII or phase one DF.

  12. Wow, they turned out amazing!!! I’m so jealous that you got to shoot there for fashion. It’s on my bucketlist of shoot locations. One day… hopefully. I can’t wait for more details on your upcoming book. It’ll definitely be on my shopping list as I’m dying to see more images from your shoot there.

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