Wow what a day. Today I got set an assignment by Joe McNally to photograph the lovely Alessia – an up and coming musician. The goal was to get two photographs suitable for a magazine (one landscape and one portrait as a cover) in order to show Alessia as a very quirky but likeable person (think Biorke). How on earth do you do that? And more to the point, how on earth do you shoot and edit those in under 3 hours? Keep on reading to find out how and how this turned out to be one of my most expensive photos to date…

Story and more photos after the jump…

I decided to take her to the cafeteria I’ve been eating in all week. We got a few strange looks but I asked Alessia to get up onto a table and have some fun. Low and behold she did it and we got some amazing shots. I love the lines on this one and all the empty trays in the background.
For all you closet strobists out there lighting is from a Quadra into a Deep octa high above, an SB900 into a golden reflector down low as a bit of a floor kick, a gridded SB900 into the eyes to pop them and another SB900 on a table behind for the backlight. Quite a lot of strobes but overall I think they worked out well.

This is where it all got a bit ‘fun’. The cover was shot just to the side of the road with Alessia standing on one of the bollards. Boy did we get some looks from cars driving by! I used a 10 stop ND in order to darken the ambient mid day light and then stretched the shutter in order to blur the moving cars. Alessia was great holding still between pops of the flashes and pulling some great shapes.

Here’s one of the gang helping with the shot…

Lighting was from a bare Quadra held high camera right by Fadi, an SB skipped off a gold reflector held by Jonnie and another heavily gridded SB expertly aimed into her eyes by Dominic. Phew, keeping it easy then!

Then disaster struck. At the time Fadi (on the right) was standing a little closer to Alessia. I popped the flash and all seemed well. Then suddenly from nowhere smoke started billowing out of the Quadra head. This was followed by a few little flames and Fadi quickly handing the flash back to me! Thanks Fadi, what on earth am I meant to do with a flash which is burning? Crap. I quickly unplugged the thing and gave it a lung full of air. That seemed to stop the problem but we were still left with one very much toasted flash. Here’s hoping the Flash Centre come through again this time when I send it back. Not quite sure how I’m going to explain the scorch marks!

Anyway a ‘brief intermission’ later and we were able to carry on with a replacement head. Alessia was a trouper and opted to carry on despite almost going up in smoke; I’m not sure I’d want to be next to one of those after that!

Well I think the photos were worth it despite the fact that, depending upon Elinchrom customer service, it might end up being a very expensive photoshoot!

More adventures (although hopefully not like this one) to come.

Alex 😀


  1. Love these! She looks fantastic and such a great pose! Hope you are having a fab time in Dubai.

  2. Fun shoot! The pose on the post is fantastic – her balance is amazing! 🙂

  3. Terrific shots and sounds like lots of fun.

    Plugging or unplugging a head cable into a powered up pack can cause arcing which can result in sever damage and scorching.

  4. Nice shots! Sorry about the Quadra, that sucks. I wish I was in Dubai for GPP 🙁

  5. Hey Mark, Yep I know hotplugging can cause issues. This had been plugged in for a while though and hadn’t been touched since the last few pops where it went off without a hitch.



  6. Wow! Beautiful shots & Alessia looks amazing , stumbled on after sending a message to A!
    Reminded me of jumping dunes in the desert a few weeks ago
    again Amazing pictures hope to stumble on again
    much regards, steve kaos x

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