Smoke and Models – Shooting on Location for Mirrin Magazine


This editorial was inspired from the beginning by receiving an email from a booker in Los Angeles who wanted me to see a new guy he had just signed. From the moment I saw Tait’s photos, I knew I had to shoot him. I also had my eye on a girl from another agency in LA, Dani. I thought the two of them would look great together and thus a story was born.

I wanted the story to be dream-like, with smoke and movement and shallow depth of field. I didn’t mind a little blurriness, so I shook my camera while firing to create more blur. I shot wide open so I could blur out the backgrounds on some shots, while on others I shot at F10 or around there so I could see more detail in the background. We rented a fog machine and used it the first half of the day when we were shooting at a house and therefore had electricity. Manipulating smoke (or fog, whichever way you want to see it) outdoors can be tough. The wind can blow the smoke away pretty fast. Also, it’s helpful to backlight smoke to get it’s full effect. So, I shot outdoors where I had to deal with the wind but also position the models so they could be back lit in order to see the smoke. I visited the house many times to get an idea when the sun would be the most effective with the models and the smoke. I lit some of the shots with strobe, but mostly this shoot is available light.

The second part of the day was shot on location in Griffith Park. Without a location permit, I was nervous about getting shut down. I think we did have one ranger come and ask us what we were shooting but because we didn’t have any lighting equipment or a ton of people, he left us alone. I wanted a lot of backlit shots on the second location and you can see my assistant forming a human lens shade for my 24mm lens because I didn’t have a lens hood for that particular lens and also, even a lens hood doesn’t work in all backlit situations. I find using my hand or an assistants hands can control how much light you want to come directly into your lens.

The styling on this shoot was awesome, thanks to Kelvin Seah. The story ran in Mirrin Magazine which was a UK publication but no longer in business. This is one of my favorite shoots, not sure why. I think it has a lot to do with the styling and the models. I really loved shooting Tait, in particular. And I used to really love working with Kelvin Seah because he has impeccable taste. This was also a shoot that formed a friendship and working relationship with Robert Mefford, the hair stylist. We have both since moved to NYC and have kept in touch and worked together, most significantly for Ralph Lauren.

Explore the rest of the shoot below:

Melissa Rodwell