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Award Winning Photography, Steve Thornton

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These advertising beauty images were shot in Nesso, Italy, on Lake Como. When I was in Italy in 2007, I rented a car with the intension of driving from Milano to Bellagio, some 60 miles (95KM) away and rather taking the fast way I decided to drive the scenic route, from Como to Bellagio on the road that is beside Lake Como. Being Spring, it had been raining and most of the streams, rivers and lakes in northern Italy were swollen. While driving through Nesso, I crossed a small bridge, maybe 12 feet long (4 meters) , I noticed out of the corner of my right eye, a waterfall. I parked the car and grabbed a camera and started shooting, and shooting, and shooting. While trying to find a better spot, I noticed a narrow path between 2 buildings, so I took it to the top. What I discovered was a set of community wash tubs. I'm guessing there was a time where the women, and some men, took their laundry to wash and rinse here. It is this spot that I decided to shoot this image.

Award Winning Photography, Steve Thornton

The first 3 images were shot using a Lumedyne battery powered strobe system with just a reflector and was about 3 feet away (90 cm) see below, from the model. The fourth, and bottom image, is when the strobe sync system failed to fire the strobe. All of these are good images but I prefer the ones that look like sunset light is present.

One element that is very important in shooting any advertising image where people are in the photo, is to have models that know how to move and project. I can't explain how to project, but I know it when i see it.


This industrial lifestyle advertising image was shot for a major industrial client in Mississippi, USA as a part of an advertising imagery library building project. The challenge in this type of imagery is to design the lighting, set up the lights and light control devices and shoot the imagery as quick as you can, while still being safe.

Award Winning Photography, Steve Thornton

There are 2 reasons time is important:
1-The clients always want more shots than time permits and
2-We are delaying production while we are shooting, and sometimes while we are setting up we can delay work.

It took my crew about 45-50 minutes to set up all of the lights and get the light values close. Then the art director and I got into the bucket of the boom truck and I directed my lead assistant to dial the power up or down to get the strobe power set to the final settings and I then shot for about 8 minutes.

Click on the "industrial lifestyle advertising" link, above, or on the photo, to see a full screen photo and behind the scenes photos showing how I shot this.

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This personal project was shot in Bellagio, Italy on Lake Como. I was staying with friends in Lenno, also on Lake Como, and they said we were going to go to Bellagio for breakfast. This was a chilly day so we grabbed our coats, walked to the boat house and Emiliano was our pilot. After eating outside we walked about the town and while my friends were shopping, I took photos.

Award Winning Photography, Steve Thornton

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3-26-2018 - This Street Scenes personal project was shot in NYC. I really loved the different colored chairs in this park. I walked up, found where I wanted to be, grabbed a chair, sat down and 20 seconds later I was done.

Award Winning Photography, Steve Thornton

The Gear 
A Canon camera using a
Sigma 85mm f1.4 lens

The Light:
The sun

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3-3-2018 - This Personal Project was shot just before an aborted landing at NYC's LGA (LaGuardia) airport. We were so low we can see the faces of people walking. We could tell the wind was an issue. Then we heard the jet engines spool up when the pilot applied full throttle, followed by the retraction of the landing gear and the slow raising of the flaps. A "Go Around", free flying!
Award Winning Photography, Steve Thornton
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1/15/2018 - This editorial fashion image was shot in Milan, Italy for "Cowgirl Magazine". The arched doors are part of the train track supports that lead to Stazione Centrale, Milan's main international train station.

Award Winning Photography, Steve Thornton

This fashion editorial shoot had an "Issue" and was delayed about 4 hours. Steve had had two models on hold until the day before the shoot date, at which point he then confirmed his "A" choice. Unfortunately around 3:30 the morning of the shoot, "A" model sent Steve a text message saying she was experiencing a lower GI "disturbance". When Steve woke at 5:00 a.m. to prep for the shoot he got the message and knew that his A choice was now not going to work. So he sent the agent an e-mail asking if his Plan B model was able to shoot. Around 9:45 a.m. the agent called Steve apologizing profusely. It seems the model told Steve but did not tell her agent, so she was clueless about the problem until she got Steve's message.

"Yes", she said "the other model is available!" so Steve asked the agent to send him the model's address so he could pick her up along with the make up artist/hair stylist. By the time he had collected all of the players and started Hair & M/U it was noon and he did not shoot the first look until 2:15 p.m. and finished the project's last look at 8:10 p.m. having shot 9 different looks in 3 different locations 6 miles apart (9.4Km), most of it being in Milan's traffic, in just under 6 hours.

Steve said that he really wanted to shoot something that said "Milan" (Actually Steve says "Milano", but that is just due to him having lived in Italy on and off since 1985). But due to the disastrous loss of time in the morning, coupled with Milan's incessant heavy traffic, not to mention the extreme difficulty in parking in the center of town, he decided to shoot the train station vs. the main cathedral, called the Duomo.

This is from Steve about the lighting: "I slid a Lumedyne round head onto the hot shoe of my camera using a LightwareDirect Mini Mount."

Note: Steve sent one of his flash heads back to the Lumedyne factory and had them add an additional ¼-20 threaded insert at the rear of their round head. This allows you to be able to look into your viewfinder by moving the strobe head forward making this process MUCH easier. (See the bottom photo).

Award Winning Photography, Steve Thornton

For Photographers

The Gear:
Canon camera - 1/200 second, 50 ISO with a
Canon 16 to 35mm zoom lens set to f9 (f8 1/3) using 20mm

The Lighting:
Lumedyne Next Generation Round Strobe Head, reflector and diffuser, connected to a
Lumedyne 200 Watt Second battery powered pack set at 100 W.S.

NOTE!!!! You will need a cord to go from the head sync connectors to a PC connection on your camera to make this work with your strobe system. OR you can also use a hotshoe sync that also has another shoe on top of it.

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1/12/2018 - This editorial fashion style image is one of a series of images Steve shot for a very cool art hotel in Palermo, Italy, who wanted some off-beat sexy imagery. In this shot he is squeezed into the shower in one of the hotel rooms (Steve is 6½' tall - 2 meters).

Award Winning Photography, Steve Thornton

He tried to shoot this with a 14mm flat field (rectilinear) lens, but because the door was blocking his field of view he could not move far enough back to get all of the model in the image. Changing lenses to a 15mm f2.8 fish-eye lens solved this problem, see the BTS photo above.

The ambient light is a mix of dim fluorescent, dim incandescent lamps plus the daylight balanced strobe turned to the lowest power level, so we had a fair amount of effort to correct for this color mismatch in post. In the black tile, and to a lesser degree on the shoe on the right, you can see blue light, this is from the strobe and Steve elected to leave it as another color element. He pointed out most of the scene is either neutral or warm colors, so a bit of blue would help.

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1/11/2018 - These fashion & beauty images of Annabell, who is one of my favorite models, were shot in the back seat of an old Cadillac in the California desert about 2 hours out of Los Angeles, USA. It was raining lightly making the dirt on the windows collect in small pools. I really did not have to give Annabell a lot of directions because she is what we call a "Mover". In addition to moving, because a lot of models don't move or move mechanically, she is also graceful and has fluid movements. These are the rare qualities that all great models have. I included several images above to show how great she is as a model.

There is a short video here, about 28 seconds not counting the end credits.

Feel free to share this article. This is the shortcut link:

Award Winning Photography, Steve Thornton

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1-9-2018 - These advertising lifestyle images were shot near Miami, Florida and are quite difficult to shoot. Between having to hold the un1-derwater housing (the camera and lens are inside the housing), the 9" glass dome port and the 45° finder (about 16½ pounds total - 7¼ KG), just above the water, I also have to contend with the waves picking me and the models up and the ocean currents moving us in frequently different directions or closer together or farther apart all the while trying to frame the shot and direct the models.

The models in all of these images had just met maybe 20 or 30 minutes earlier on the beach. We would meet about 30 minutes before sunrise to get the styling done, introduce the models and get into the water. Coupled with all of this, sunrise light will only last maybe 20 minutes before becoming ugly, meaning everyone had to be "On" and stay focused in order to get some cool shots quickly. 

In the top image, the sun was not yet above the horizon, the light is being reflected off of a cloud, the same light that is hitting the clouds above the trees and the models. This why I want everyone to be in the water roughly 15 minutes before sunrise in order to shoot predawn light and give the models time to get comfortable with each other.

Award Winning Photography, Steve Thornton

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1-8-2018 - While in Cologne for Photokina, I shot a couple of fashion advertising images for Alan Michael USA, a client in Beverly Hills, California. I had shot with Esther 2 years earlier while giving a presentation on Guido Karp's "Leading Photographers of the World" stage at Photokina. I knew I wanted to shoot at the train station and had e-mailed Esther about the shoot and she agreed to meet.

I asked a friend if I could use his studio to shoot a little and have the makeup artist/hairstylist work on Esther. We shot some in the studio and then got into the car to drive to the station.

We parked and was able to get to the first location just in time to shoot with the last of the sunset... timing is everything.

Go here or click on the beauty image below to see how I shot it.

Award Winning Photography, Steve Thornton

If you would like to use this image, or any of my images for mock or comp use, please just ask. There is never a charge for this service. Educational use is permitted without charge, unless published, but please ask first. All commercial use is available only with a limited copyright release prior to use from the copyright holder, Steve Thornton. Thanks for looking!

Award Winning  Photography, Steve Thornton

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