Lately, I haven’t been really motivated to shoot or do anything specific with my photography work. With the rainy and extremely hot summer, there’s not much I’ve been compelled to shoot outdoors. I wanted to do something special for the new Canon 5DS. This camera was released with the 5DS R and they both have been creating a lot of buzz. I decided that I wanted to do a simple portrait project titled “The Beautiful Women Project” of any woman who was willing to participate or friends of friends I found through Facebook.
The response I got from people on social media was great, I really didn’t expect people to be as interested as they were and I ended up with 14 participants over two different event days. After posting some on social media from the first shooting day, I had a woman message me and tell me she never gets photos taken of herself because she usually is behind the camera. Her and her sister ended up being my favorites from the next shoot.
I was excited to see people come out who I don’t know well or at all. The first day there was a slow flow of people, so I ended up shooting my friends Kristen and Megan for longer than I planned. Before the shoot, I barely knew anything about them-they were friends of friends that I had hung out with before in a group setting, but never really one-on-one. They were just as goofy and fun as the pair of sisters I mentioned, and I had a blast! They were just having fun with each other and were excited and so supportive of the project. After the shoot, I asked Kristen what beauty meant to her, and it really stuck to me:
“Beauty is feeling completely comfortable with yourself and with your body/body image. Beauty is having confidence in yourself. Beauty is not caring about what other people think of you and doing things that make you happy and make you feel good inside. Beauty is not artificial! Brand name makeup items don’t make you beautiful. Your personality and what’s inside does.”
As photographers, we always want our subjects to feel beautiful. But what we see as beautiful, they may see flaws. I frequently asked people what they were insecure about during this shoot, what were they uncomfortable with? What could I do to make them feel beautiful? The responses I got from participants were shocking, the littlest things like cheeks, noses, arms, etc. were the biggest issues people had with themselves. I wanted to minimize their insecurities and let their beauty shine without heavy Photoshopping.
My setup consisted of two Profoto D1’s, a LumoPro stripbox camera left, the 24-70mm Canon lens, and the 5DS. One of the D1’s was situated camera left with the strip box while the other one was pointed into the backdrop (sometimes I modified this light with a strip box). This light was placed to create a vignette and minimize the need for post-processing. I wanted to use this type of lighting because it wasn’t standard beauty photography lighting but I also didn’t want it to look like a cookie-cutter school picture. I wanted these beautiful women to look like themselves without heavy editing. The last thing I wanted was posed smiling pictures with no personality. I tried to make everyone laugh at some point and to have fun with their friends.
I wanted my pictures to stand out and to have the best possible quality. The 5DS has 50.6 MP, making it the highest megapixel count among its competitors such as the Nikon D810 (36.3 MP). This is going to allow you to get incredible detail and photographs worthy of large prints. Although I wasn’t printing with this shoot, it would be easy for me to do so. This camera is perfect for getting detail and clarity in pictures that will look beautiful on your client’s wall (especially those shooting senior pictures and family photos!).
Even the cameras crop modes offer an insane amount of megapixels with a 1.3x and 1.6x option (only reducing megapixels to 30MP and 19MP). This is perfect for getting that up-close, detailed shot of wedding rings, or getting the detail in an old antique object. With what I was doing in studio, I sometimes had to crop in post-processing in order to get the right framing or to adjust my subject in the frame and I didn’t see much difference at all in image quality once cropped. These shots could easily be turned into headshots. The strip of pictures to the left are my friend, Linda, in the same picture at different cropped areas. Can you tell the difference in quality?
The feel of the 5DS body and the location of the buttons, information, etc. are much like the 5D Mark III, which I liked. I was able to pick up the camera and use it without complications or needing to read through a new manual, and was able to easily set up on the tripod for my self-portrait work. The battery life was noticeably long considering I was shooting several hours at a time in the studio and firing strobes.
This camera isn’t the best for higher ISOs (it has a lower ISO range than the 5D Mark III), but what it lacks in ISO, it makes up for in megapixels. My images in studio turned out great due to the fact I was shooting at ISO 200. Shooting at a low ISO allowed me to minimize the noise in my images and turn out really clean black and white photographs.
Although I didn’t use the 5DS R for the shoot in studio, I wanted to point out the difference between the 5DS and 5DS R. The only thing different is that the 5DS R has a low pass filter cancellation effect. This reduces the blur that the low pass filter usually provides, meaning a higher level of sharpness which may be good for architecture, but is not as necessary for the portraiture work I was doing. To the right is an example of an architecture shot of the Columbus skyline taken with the 5DS R.
I originally intended my project to be a self-portrait black and white project. Being a photographer, I never get to step in front of the camera unless I’m doing some test shots for one of my friends or taking a selfie with my iPhone (yes I’ll admit, I do this all the time with my friends). But this idea morphed into what I ended up doing- making women feel beautiful in their own skin. I wanted to do something good on my social media and showcase beautiful women of all types who wanted to take part and come out to the studio for a day. It’s common nowadays for women to be bombarded on social media with what beauty is or what beauty means. I was glad that I got to use such a high quality camera for such a classic-style shoot and definitely recommend the 5DS to those looking to do studio shoots!
Overall, I was very happy with my results and so were my subjects! The black and white, I think, added a real classic look. A bunch of my subjects are displayed below, check them out!