Paris Photoshoot, How to Travel Light and Make Beautiful Photographs - KAG


Recently, I had the good fortune to travel to London and Paris. I'd not been to either location, and I knew this would be a great opportunity to create incredible portrait images and take advantage of architecture that we don't have in Southern California. Months before leaving on the trip, I already had the images in my head that I wanted to create.

In planning this photoshoot I had a specific checklist in my mind:

1) A beautiful and colorful flowing dress

2) Stunning "old world" architecture for a backdrop

3) Blue hour ambient lighting

4) Great lighting on the model

5) A beautiful model

6) My gear had to be light and portable enough to lug around in Paris without an assistant, or a car. I.E. one backpack.

Fortunately for me, I happened to know a beautiful and fun model who was "willing" to travel to Paris with me to create this image. Before we went, I asked her to shop and pick up a flowing dress. That wasn't TOO hard of a sell. Next, for the lighting, I reached out to one of my sponsors, Manfrotto Imagine More. They are incredibly supportive and sent me two of their new Lykos LED's. These are great lights because they are portable, very powerful, and lightweight. One of the things that I really like about the LED's is the ability to see the light and adjust it. Although you can do that with a flash, it takes much more trial and error, and I knew this was going to be a fast shoot. I put the light on the compact, strong and lightweight Manfrotto be free tripod.

These images were created in the Courtyard of the Louvre, the world's largest museum. It's truly massive. People travel from all over the world to view the Louvre's incredible collection. If you don't know, the Louvre was actually the King's palace before Versailles. We found this quiet courtyard behind the entrance to the museum and set up. 

For glass, I used the Tamron Lenses USA 16-300 on my Canon 7D Mk II. The 16-300 is a terrific travel lens, it is very light and quite sharp. It's range is great for a wide variety of images.  It's predecessor, the 18-270 was my first zoom and I loved the versatility of that lens. The 16-300 is not only longer, but sharper. I could have brought my 24-70 f/2.8, or my 70-200 f/2.8 (I have both the Tamron and Canon), but I opted for the 16-300 because it is so light and compact that it allowed me to fit all my gear in one bag. In case you were wondering, I also brought the Tamron 15-30 for wide angle images (see the pyramid shot in front of the Louvre) and the Tamron 35 f/1.8. Those lenses, two bodies, lights, chargers, cables and a laptop all fit in my bag. If you are looking for an all in one travel lens, the Tamron 16-300 should be on your list. Most of the images in my Paris photo gallery were taken with this lens.

To be honest, when we arrived, I was not sure where we were going to shoot the image. We explored the Louvre inside and out one afternoon after a great meal. I made sure not to have TOO much wine or my pictures tend to get blurry. :-). Our first images were in the corner of the courtyard, I wanted to use some of the leading lines from the cobblestones in the image. I put a warming gel CTO on the Lykos LED to match the setting sun. As the natural light began to dim, some amazing things happened. A violinist appeared out of nowhere and began playing a beautiful piece by Chopin, which made my pianist wife very happy. I think that joy is reflected in the image. Just when we thought it could not get any better, unexpected lights came on in the background which beautifully lit the architecture in the courtyard. Sometimes fortune smiles on you when you are well-prepared. We quickly moved to a new area and recomposed to take advantage of the architecture.  Many thanks to my patient model for risking a broken ankle by walking on cobblestones in very high heels.

The blue-hour image means a lot to me because I created the image I had in my head, and created a snapshot in time of my fabulous and beautiful wife. This is an image we will have for the rest of our lives. That's one of the great things about photography, you capture images to be treasured forever. I encourage you to bring a simple lighting set up with you the next time you travel to a beautiful location. You don't need a lot of gear to create a beautiful image. I'd love to hear your comments, feel free to send an email to me: Thanks for taking the time to read this!

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