Video by Erwan Cloarec

One of the artists we were invited to cover was Cecilio Martinez – a leather mask designer. His work has been featured all over the place, up to the level of the 2012 Superbowl where Madonna herself was wearing one his masks! Pakdi, one of our mutual friends and a fellow videographer actually bumped into Cecilio while on vacation in Ibiza and he sounded like a perfect candidate for our tour so we got into contact with him and began putting things together.

From the beginning, we noticed that communication was going to be quite challenging since Cecilio’s english was quite basic and our spanish pretty much non-existant. We never even managed to have so much as a skype conversation or phone call while putting the entire thing together! Despite the fact that things were not even confirmed after we had begun our Europe tour we maintained faith that everything would work out and… well they did!

Straight from the start we knew that we were going to have a multitude of challenges: Burgos, the city that Cecilio happened to be from, was a small city with not much to offer in terms of local modelling talent so we knew that we were going to be working with a bunch of first time models. The location that we had wanted to shoot in (an amazing set of ruins) also happened to be closed on the particular day that we were arriving, meaning that there was a chance that we wouldn’t even be able to enter the site ! Finally, we would have no studio lighting, or portable battery packs whatsoever with us since we wanted to return everything to rather than pay a fortune in shipping to get everything out!

With fingers crossed, we headed out to the amazing set of ruins that Cecilio had scouted with our models to figure out just what we were going to be able to do!

Upon arriving we were faced with good and bad news – The ruins were partially… but not completely accessible to us. Some areas were merely fenced off, meaning we could bypass them with some fancy ninja tricks whereas others were sealed off with massive steel locks.

Since we arrived relatively early, the sun hadn’t yet reached it’s noon day high so we strategically chose some spots that wouldn’t be exposed to the sun. While the models set up in a small corner off to the side, I began to prepare my lighting setup using a stand-in model: our translator Alejandro.

Small tip:

I find that when shooting with a group of people and you have a bit of spare time, it’s always good to try and gain that advance to scout out your lighting.

Here’s what the scene looks like without any added lighting. Extremely flat and shaded!

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Shade is one of the best things you can ask for as a photographer when shooting outdoors – especially when you have minimal amounts of artificial lighting devices. Shade gives you a nice even shade of light to play with which is great so all you really need to focus on is how to bring out the subjects that you’re trying to shoot.

Since we didn’t have any light stands with us, we had to deal with certain downsides such as figuring out where we could put our strobes. Since we had a pair of Nasty Clamps with us, we proceeded to try and clip them on any available surface to see what options for lighting we actually had. Finally, we settled on leaving them in two grooves a little bit to the side and behind the models. These lights would help simultaneously pop out our models while lighting up the smoke from our smoke grenade! From there we only needed some frontal fill which was provided by our Voice Activated Lightstand.

Cecilio1 by Guest User

Vonwong cecilio

For the second shot that we played with, the sun had already begun to slowly creep forward and was already bleeding into our shot. You can notice how the top of the heads of our models have a slight glow to them. To combat the harsh shadows, I threw in two additional flashes mounted on a Sirui Tripod and foursquare bracket as my key light and left a strobe directly behind Cecilio to give our models that additional glow and separation from the background. In this shot, I really wanted to figure out a way to have Cecilio appear on the photograph because it’s so rare that you actually see designers with their own creations. We figured that transforming all the models into something a little statu-esque would give us the opportunity to set the story of Cecilio actually working on one of his own creations.

Cecilio2 by Guest User

Vonwong cecilio designs

Finally, the third shot had to be completed in bright sunlight. WE threw all four flashes onto a foursquare bracket held by one of my models now converted to a Voice Activated Lightstand. Since we were shooting in harsh sunlight AND lighting full body shots, I really needed to boost all flashes to max power to be able to get that slight surreal “spotlight” feeling. By leaving the camera on a tripod, I was able to simply erase my voice activated modelstand who was standing as close as she could get to get the maximum output from our flashes. This also allowed us to remove the people holding up our the poor Bianca that I was torturing to get the shot I wanted.

The result?
Cecilio3 by Guest User

Vonwong cecilio home

So that’s pretty much it in terms of lighting setup! Hope you enjoyed that.
If you guys head over to tomorrow (update: here’s the link! , I’ll be writing up a post talking about how to deal with tourists interrupting your shoots!

Thanks and please leave any questions/comments.

Special thanks to those who helped us make this shoot possible:


Special Gear used: