Spring, Mornings and Mondays

I was commissioned to photograph the Portuguese model and tv hostess Andreia Rodrigues, which is the ambassador for a new jewellery line named “Forever”.

The briefing was very clear: colorful, fun, classy yet casual.

The jewels are very Spring(ish) and colorful and even the all gold and diamonds ones have a casual feel to them, perfect for an outdoor session. I really don’t like shooting people in a studio and I most certainly don’t like to feel I’m in control of everything (there’s always room for improvisation).

Each model have a style, each one feels more comfortable doing things their way so it’s always a combination of respecting their way of working while trying to throw into the “game” also my ideas.

I only had one idea: it had to be an outdoor session and I wanted a blast of color and Sunlight.

I wanted something very light and colorful. The team chose a public garden, in Lisbon, but my major concern were the shadows. I don’t mind that “chiaroscuro” feel when it comes to my own personal film sessions but… I was worried about the shadow parts becoming a bit too dark. These were not supposed to be “arty”, these were supposed to be commercial shots.

Let me share one thing with you guys, I have never and I mean ever, ever, used a flash light in my life. Ever! My fault of course and flashlights are obviously of great help, and can be used in so many creative ways, but when it comes to people I like natural light and, in the studio, I always use continuous light, hand held 99% of the times. I’m not a flashlight kind of guy.

On a personal note I have to thank Filipe for talking me out of getting a ring light thing and for insisting on using reflectors. Of course he was right. I hate artificial light on people but I truly don’t mind modulating natural light. So off we went, 11 am, a bit late, the Sun was already too high but it was a beautiful morning.

The spirits were high, Andreia is so cool, so down to earth and fun to be around. So guys… I had nothing else to do but to enjoy the moment. I had a beautiful woman and professional model in front of me wearing beautiful jewelry, under the most glorious light a Spring morning can deliver.

We started off in the shade to keep things smooth. Here’s the very first shot. 50mm lens, set at f4, f5.6.


Andreia Rodrigues para © Espiral do Tempo/Torres Joalheiros

I knew that, at that distance it would be hard to get both the hand and the face in focus using f5.6, but I really wasn’t looking for focus or sharpness but an overall softness and yes I don’t mind sacrificing depth of field for that. These are not product pack shots, we were looking for a mood.

Andreia’s skin is perfect, the hair was beautiful and her hands are long and elegant but I wanted a warmer feel, more “cozy” Something like a “hidden secret” on a late Summer afternoon. The gold part of the reflector did turn that clear sunny morning into something more dramatic yet gentle and smooth.


Andreia Rodrigues para © Espiral do Tempo/Torres Joalheiros

These were also taken using f4, f5.6. The gold part of the reflector does reflect a blast of light! My friend Carolina was holding it and I rather have it slowly passing over the model, and shooting along, that striking a pose and insisting on that fixed location.

This is the set up for the all gold and black jewels.


Andreia Rodrigues para © Espiral do Tempo/Torres Joalheiros

And the beautiful result from the green and red jewels set up. I absolutely love the shadows on the skin and that “chiaroscuro” feel.

The white makes everything so much lighter visually and the jewels just pop out.


Andreia Rodrigues para © Espiral do Tempo/Torres Joalheiros

As we moved on to the black and silver rings, we kept white as the main color but I want to capture another kind of mood so we went to another part of the garden, with lighter greens and I used the white part of the reflector.

We had a lot of green around so everything became a bit colder visually but the contrast was there. I set the EV compensation to +1. I didn’t mind blowing up the jacket or the t-shirt but I wanted lightness. Here is the result.


Andreia Rodrigues para © Espiral do Tempo/Torres Joalheiros

I love the above shot. That’s a true capture of a real expression and everything came through: the light, the focus, the greens, the whites and blacks, her skin and above all, that beautiful smile.

So guys as you can see i’m totally burned out but from doing what I love the most: taking pictures. Sure, making it my prime source of income brings along the responsibility of having to deliver results to clients, and when the clients deal with luxury products, which is not the most visually disruptive industry in the world, the key thought is “to deliver”.

On the other hand there’s always this… joy of creating or capturing an image. It does not matter if it is something on Trix pushed to 3200 or a beautiful scene on a Monday morning… The more pictures I take, the more I realize that… it’s the taking that motivates me. The action itself. Sure, I may like (or not) the results but it’s not really about the destination but about feeling excited about having something or someone to photograph, may it be a ring, or a watch, or a beautiful model.


Andreia Rodrigues para © Espiral do Tempo/Torres Joalheiros

Just a quick note to finish this post. Cooking Film was always about sharing the little that I know and it will continue to honor that spirit. I’m not sponsored by Fuji or Leica or whatever brand and I always speak my mind.

For the above session my gear was a Canon 5D, some call it “original” 5D, with the cheap yet amazing 50mm/f1.8 lens and a 150 cm reflector. I’ve used both the gold and the white part.

Want my honest opinion? If you are looking for a cheap yet still great camera, get one. They are old and many have endured a professional work flow but if you can find one in good shape it still is an amazing camera.

  1. Mark said:

    Just one word, beautiful.

  2. The reflector really does make a huge difference. Thanks also for the “blow by blow” description of how you did it. Great text and photos.

    • Thank you a million times and, as usual, sorry for the poor English.

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