How I Got The Shot by Brad Olson

Posted by: on May 21, 2019

How I Got The Shot by Brad Olson

Brad Olson is a PhotoVogue Artist and Nikon Pro who specializes in fashion, editorial and commercial photography. Check out his site and follow him on Instagram @bradolsonphotography.

This session was a collaboration with two very talented ballet dancers, Juliet Doherty and Slawek Wozniak. I wanted to capture their unique talents in a dynamic location. I had worked with Juliet previously and we traded some thoughts about creating images with her dance partner, Slawek.  Our ideas were to combine a very technically executed ballet pose with simple wardrobe, some sensuality and an unusual background.  We wanted a wet hair look and we actually got rain on this day, so the wet hair and muddy ground were authentic.

This day started as very overcast and alternated between rain and partial sun.  This photo was taken at about 12:40 pm with the sun almost directly overhead, which is typically not a favorite for photographers.  We used this to our advantage by placing the dancers in the full sun in front of the wall which was in shadow.  This allowed the subjects enough contrast to separate from the background and define their forms.

Using the Case Air Wireless Tethering System enabled us to view and make adjustments as we shot.   For the dancers, they were able to see and critique their positioning and decide on the best combination of poses as they appeared to the camera. For me it was very helpful to see a larger, clearer image to assess the composition, depth of field and exposure.

My typical post processing workflow begins with RAW file adjustment in Lightroom and I was able to increase the contrast by lowering the black level and creating a Tone Curve.  In Photoshop, I used a variety of techniques to further darken and enhance the character in those  walls.  I kept the editing on the subjects to very minimal dodging and burning.

The location was new to us and we were exploring many rooms on several floors as well as the rooftop and courtyard, so it was important to be mobile and for me to be able to keep up with the dancers.  I maintained portability by using the Case Air Wireless Tethering System on my Nikon D810 and mounted a 10″ tablet to a light stand.  In my camera bag, I had 35mm, 50mm and 85mm prime lenses and a backup camera body.  This image was taken with the 35mm lens at ISO 500, f/16 at 1/160 sec. 

On a typical commercial shoot, I do have a camera assistant and work with makeup artists, hairstylists and often wardrobe stylists and creative directors.  For this day, we decided to simplify to just the subjects and myself so that we could explore, react and create as we were inspired by the location and the changing weather.