Fashion photoshoot: Gyaru!

Fashion photoshoot: Gyaru!

Also known as the “black and gold” shoot! I expressed an interest in expanding my portfolio of fashion-related shoots and Hehalana graciously suggested another shoot with the gyaru style fashion. Unlike the pink colour scheme of the lolita shoot, the idea for this shoot was to darken the atmosphere. The image I had in mind, then, was that of a slick bar. Since it was not feasible to even try to obtain access to a bar at such short notice, we decided to use the Black Room of the Secret Room Cafe.

Hehalana brought along two outfits, a leopard print skirt, and another with marching band inspirations. She matched the colours really well and during shooting and in post, I noticed the dominant colours were uniformly gold and black – the walls we chose to use as some of the backgrounds, as well as her wig reinforced this colour scheme.

I don’t think I have shot at the Black Room before (though my memory is notoriously bad). However, from comments by other cosplayers and photographers, that place has horrid lighting and it’s difficult to construct good lighting. This is true by virtue of the fact that the place is entirely black. The ceiling is painted black. Three of the walls are covered with black wallpaper with some gold highlights. The other wall is a black tile surface, which has mirror-like reflectivity.

Immediately, bounce is negated due to the dark surfaces, which will swallow up any light that comes in. Then there is that mirror-like tile surface which means photographers have to be careful to keep themselves and their equipment (as well as incidental items in the room like bags) out of the picture. It’s of course possible to just umbrella everything but in this case, for the look I was aiming for, I wanted to light Hehalana with glamour lighting without necessarily dispelling the inherent darkness of the room.

My solution was to keep my lighting under control. This means grids. Gels to match any ambient (merely as a precaution) and setting the camera to absolutely negate any light within the room. Thus, everything visible in the photos came from my flashes – in sharp contrast to the earlier lolita shoot, which made use of the ambient light. My big silver reflector on a light stand served as fill light by bouncing another flash suspended from a coat stand I found in the room.

By eliminating ambient light and controlling splash from my flashes, the reflections from the black tile surface became invisible in the photos. The only reflections that the camera would capture would be that of the subject lit by the flash.

Overall, the shoot was a bit rocky due to equipment failure and the constraints of the space, but Hehalana was a consummate professional throughout and I think the results reflect this.

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