Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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NOTE: I can't post more than 2 links since I don't have at least 10 reputation hence some links need to be copied and pasted.

I asked a photographer to do a fashion shoot for some garments and I asked him to achieve the look and feel of the following Dolce & Gabbana photo shoot:

dolcegabbana.com/dg/woman/collection/

He agreed and said that he could achieve the look no problem.

I just received the low-res pictures from him (hi-res CD is being shipped to me after I pay the other half of the shoot). I'm not really satisfied with the results.

Here's an example picture of the D&G collection: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/13398409/dolce-and-gabbana-fw-2014-women-collection-82.jpg

And here is a similar outfit I got photographed: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/13398409/nk_original_123.jpg

dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/13398409/nk_original_126.jpg

dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/13398409/nk_original_127.jpg

enter image description here

You can clearly see the difference.

My question: Can the photographer edit the colour/contrast/etc... to achieve the look I want? Or is this to do with the camera/lights/studio/etc...? What should I do since he hasn't been able to achieve the look he promised?

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I think this is a grand example of the problems described in PSA on “What's this effect?” questions, but here applied to a real life assignment rather than just Q&A. That is, when you tell the photographer you want the "look and feel" of something, you really need to carefully spell out what exactly your perception of what's seen and felt, because the person you are talking to may look at the exact same original and take away a different aspect as essential. –  mattdm Sep 12 '13 at 19:44
    
The D&G softbox is about 4-6 times larger than the one that the photographer you hired used. The background has been gobo'd/flagged so there is very little spill from the subject lighting. From my experience, I'd say that you could get very close with photoshop. The shadows near the floor will need some work, too. The devil is in the detail. Good Luck. –  Stan Sep 12 '13 at 21:08
    
The camera looks to be around waist-high judging by the perspective. And there appears to be another 6-8 feet behind the D&G model in addition to a lot of real estate to either side. –  Stan Sep 12 '13 at 21:40
    
@Stan what do you mean the background has been flagged/gobo'd and hence there's little spill? Also guys, does any of you live in the UK and potentially want to shoot for me next time? You guys seem to know what you're talking about lol –  D-K Sep 13 '13 at 14:04
1  
Probably the bit we've also neglected to ask about is how much was the job negotiated for... did the photographer you hired have the budget to match the D&G shoot? –  James Snell Sep 13 '13 at 21:03

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Without knowing for sure of course, but it looks like the D&G shoot used at least a large soft box to the upper left of frame. I say large because the shadows are fairly soft and there is a lot of fairly even lighting on the subjects. The photos you received look to be set up the same, only with a smaller light source. You can observe this by noting the harder edges of the shadows.

A good example of the difference can be found here: enter image description here

Note the hard shadows on the subject's face. Unfortunately they were lighting the head instead of the entire subject, so you don't get much down angle light, but the concept should be perceptible.

Here is another example that might help, only it is illustrated against a glass subject: enter image description here

In summary, if the lighting is your issue (and the most noteworthy from what I see), then post production isn't going to be much help for you.

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Wow, that is a really REALLY large XL softbox. Not sure I even want to know what it runs cost wise. (Hmm, only $230, not as bad as I expected considering it is basically a camping tent turned on it's side.) –  AJ Henderson Sep 12 '13 at 19:14
    
Thanks kheric. I was at the studio with him and he was using a large soft box. So for next time, should I tell him to use an extra large soft box? and maybe a larger studio? what about the height of the camera? It looks as if the height in the D&G shoot is a bit lower as well. Any other tips to achieve a more professional look (high-end fashion brand look) will be appreciated. Thanks! –  D-K Sep 12 '13 at 20:50
    
The D&G appears to have been shot from further back and lower, as well as with multiple large light sources. The D&G appears to have used a VERY large soft source up high and much wider to the left, but also fill down low and not as far to the left (below the camera position) as well as a fill on the right. –  Michael Clark Sep 12 '13 at 21:05
    
@MichaelClark could you explain what you mean by "fill down low..."? And when you say multiple light sources, does that mean 3 or 4? should I get the photographer to use 3-4 extra large softboxes in a much larger studio then? Thanks! –  D-K Sep 13 '13 at 14:01

The lighting does appear to be a large portion of the difference, though the model's positioning is also part of it. The shadows are mostly downward and run across the image in the D&G shots where as the first sample has the light going much more directionally backward which produces a rather harsh and unpleasant shadow.

If that shadow is what you don't like (it's the main problem with the image that I see) then that isn't going away. It also matters to make sure that the model posses such that they extend the curve created by the shadow and the dress. You can see that in the D&G how the shadow goes along the ground then blends in to the dress which goes up the leg and then up the person.

In the outfit that you had photographed, the model is leaning in to the shadow creating a harsh, acute angle. Also, since it isn't a full length dress that goes to the floor, the overall look of the image may not work well in general since the shadow is going to break up in between the gap where the feet are, but it might be possible to work around that some by altering the angle of the shot, but it is more of a departure from the specific look of the D&G shot.

Based on the fact he went portrait instead of landscape, I'd guess he does not have a particularly large studio either, so he may not be able to address the issue with the shadow very well if that is the case, but I'd still think it should be able to be closer than it is. That said, it is also arguable that he replicated the look close enough that you might not have a case for going after him to get your money back either. He can make a valid argument that the garment itself isn't compatible with the exact look.

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