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scottenglishphoto: Skin tones? I'm blown away by how beautiful your color toning is. Especially your skin tones. Can you give me any hints on how you have honed in on the right look? Especially with your black and whites! I love how dark and even their skin looks! I can never seem to get the skin tones to look so clean!!!

hi! Thank you so much! To get a more even tone with b&w, I’m shooting those images in even lighting…aka… in the shade, and zeroing out the meter.  Later in post, to darken the skin overall, bring your orange-mix down after you’ve converted to grayscale… or if you process your b&w’s by just desaturating, bring down the orange-lumiance slider. Also, mess with your white-balance slider in b&w, and you’ll see you’ll get a gamut of light/dark tones you can choose to your taste. If it’s still not dark enough, bring down your exposure slider about a third of a stop or slightly more. 

I also use the tonal curve in LR to raise the base-value of the shadows, so the blacks aren’t quite absolute black (which is more like the film counter-part) and I’ll also do the same with lowering the max value of the highlights, so whites are a tad more milky than pure. Be careful with that one though, as you can go too far very easily.

Lastly, I do shoot portraits typically at a very wide aperture and also re-touch any large skin flaws, which all ads to the overall smooth(er) veneer.  I’ll then go back and dodge the highlighted areas (usually cheekbones and nose) to give it a little more pop.

Anonymous: Hey Lucas! You have awesome work! How did you get your foot in the door for commercial fashion shoots and lookbook work? I have a lot of model tests/ editorials in my book, but I'm not sure how to get more paid work.

Hi! A lot of paid work has come from simply having my images ‘out there’, specifically via social-media: Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook, primarily. A potential client will come across a post or set of images I’ve put up, and then contact me.

Other avenues are direct-referals from modeling agents or crew members I’ve worked with in the past. For example, a make-up artist I test with all the time just referred me to a job (which I landed) just this past week. A stylist who became a good friend after we bonded on a corporate headshot gig landed me my most consist paying client for the last two years. Modeling agents, whom I do tons of free testing for, will often put me up for jobs as a return-favor for doing so much work for them…

…so I guess my point is: work begets more work. I did a lot of free or super-cheap shoots in my beginning years, which has slowly built and become more substantial paying work now. However, while my rates have increased and am now getting more inquiries, I STILL do believe I’m in the ‘building phase’ and will be for quite awhile. I don’t have nearly as many or as big of clients as some of my good friends do… but I know they got there the same way I’m doing it :-)

The next level would be to seek representation, as having an agent will gain you access and exposure to an elevated tier of clients. My good buddy just got signed at a great agency here in L.A., and he’s already done two huge paying gigs in less than a week!

Also, not seeing your portfolio, I won’t be able to say for sure, but despite how prolific your body of work is, does it match the market you’re wanting to work in?

For example: if your portfolio is all close-up portraits, but you’re wanting to work in Los Angeles, which is a commercial fashion market, potential clients may look at your work and see no examples that you can shoot clothing or story. Or, if your portfolio is all natural-light, but you’re in New York where it’s a lot of studio work, a potential client might not think you have strong abilities with studio-lighting. 

So, keep shooting; foster those relationships you build with modeling agents and crew; take a sobering look at your work and see if it truly fits the market your in… and if not, consider starting a series of shoots that shows your ability and voice FOR that market. And if/when you feel you’re ready, inquire into agencies that represent photographers in your city/area. 

…but again, no matter what, keep shooting and posting :-D

Anonymous: Focus settings for the beach? It looks tricky with the model spinning, light changing, and waves.

For that kind of faster motion, on the Canon, using AF-Servo with the top-half of the AF points activated, and of course high shutter-speed.

When she’s moving that fast, I try to anticipate her movements, but in the end, it’s more about getting that lucky shot. We did the action of her running about four times, and probably shot 15-20 frames each time.

Hope that helps!

thedanpowell: How long does it take you to plan and shoot? You do like four or five unique looks with a single model on a single shoot. Do you think about those looks before/during/after you shoot? Your latest one with Bryana (amazing) seems to group the look by what's going on - contrasty bw for the ones in motion, softer bw / colors for the calmer ones.. It's really impressive. Or are you just ADHD when you edit? ;)

If it’s a simple model-test, I don’t plan too much, other than what location I feel like driving to that day, or if I want to try something in-studio. If outside, the time of day I shoot is 4pm to sunset during the fall/winter/spring, and 5pm to sunset during the summer.

The only exception is if it’s an overcast day (which happens maybe 5 times a year in LA! haha); then I’ll plan for the shoot to be entirely black&white.

Wardrobe isn’t much, or really important, as I tend to try to focus on getting something OUT of the model, versus getting something ON the model (again, this is just for basic tests). 

If it’s a styled test or actual gig, much more goes into planning: casting, specific location that will look good/fit with the clothing, lighting aesthetic (or how i’m gonna control the light); I’ll make mood-boards, and recruit a hair/make-up team. I’d say about 1-2 weeks of discussion&prep.

Bryana was a pretty standard beach shoot— if you scroll back, you’ll see I’ve done that same kind of aesthetic/vibe many times before…the only thing that differentiates my beach shoots is the model, herself. And frankly, that’s the only thing that’s important to me, anyway (for these types of shoots). I try to bring out a feel/mood from the model that I connect with— with the hopes that others do too. 

Kesler always does an amazing job of making his repeat locations never feel redundant. It’s an impressive skill I’ve always envied. 

I will say I’m very ADHD when I edit— my test sets are rarely uniform, which is probably a bad thing… but then again, testing IS about trying out stuff :-)

Anonymous: Which current victorias secret model would you like to have a photoshoot with?

Hands down, Martha Hunt! Could do some amazing b&w’s with those eyes.

Anonymous: Please let Josie know that she is gorgeous!

Hahaha— totally will do ;-)

uncomfortablejon: Dude...I am infinitely jealous you shot with Bryana Holly. She is in my top 3 favorite models. I have never seen a bad picture of her.

Thank you! She’s a total sweetheart and super easy-going. I’ve been fortunate that the overwhelmingly vast majority of models I’ve shot have been very nice, grounded people. Also, it’s almost impossible to take a bad shot of Bryana… girl knows her angles and how to work it, like the pro she is :-)

Bryana @ Wilhelmina

shot by Lucas Passmore

Bryana @ Wilhelmina

shot by Lucas Passmore

Bryana @ Wilhelmina

shot by Lucas Passmore

(Source: lucaspassmore)

Bryana @ Wilhelmina

shot by Lucas Passmore

(Source: lucaspassmore)