There is a reason the national flag of Finland is blue and white – and never is that more evident than along the Baltic coastline.
Here, model Heidi Moijanen is wearing a 60 year old Japanese wedding kimono (shiromoku) at a stretch of beach outside of Helsinki. Hair and makeup was done by Cemille Nismetdin and I was fortunate to have a great assistant in the form of Richard Hernigle. And he had his hands full not only keeping the lighting rig from blowing away a la Mary Poppins but also keeping the wind-damaged umbrella open enough to spread light onto Heidi.
And Heidi was amazing – modeling to perfection despite gale force winds and a frigid -10c along the sea. She’s also standing nearly knee deep in heavy snow yet still manages to look elegant.
Oftimes shooting in Winter can be a bit more difficult; but the beautiful soft feel of blues and whites truly make for extraordinary imagery.
This was a special session with model Heidi Moijanen and assisted by make up artist Cemille Nismetdin. She is wearing her mother’s hand sewn wedding dress – a sweet bit of vintage and a special present for her family.
When Heidi contacted me about doing the shoot, I was very eager. She was looking for a magical, nostalgic type of feel using her mother’s hand sewn wedding dress from four decades previous. Now, usually I would be very apprehensive to shoot a wedding dress – they tend to be shiney satin and reflect light back heavily – making it difficult to keep the whites of the dress in good tonality for the rest of the image. But Heidi reassured me the dress was not made of satin and would photograph beautifully. And she was right!
Typically, with models I prefer to bring a lighting rig and really control all aspects of the tonality of the image. But in this instance, I didn’t want to be limited to 2-3 locations and having to set up the rig for each location. I wanted to get much more natural shots and use the location’s fantastic lighting sources to bring the drama and mystery to the images.
To really create drama within the images, I did go for very directional lighting, avoiding flat lighting for the most part and letting the light play across each scene and enhance the subject and let her stand out from the busy-ness of a forest. One challenge was to keep white birch bark from glowing unnaturally and distracting from my subject. And some areas we used meant climbing through areas off the paths and a bit difficult to get to without hiking boots!
For the water shots, I am standing in the water up to my knees. The bottom of the lake is strewn with mossy covered slippery small and large rocks. It makes navigating and moving difficult for both the model and the photographer. I am very lucky that Heidi is such a pro and was able to navigate along the lake bed without slipping and falling in! The rocks don’t feel too nice to step on either. I’m fortunate that in all the times I’ve shot in lakes, I still haven’t go in with the equipment!
For the lake shots, we did have to do them at the very end of the shoot after the sun had set. When the sun is in the sky, it blasts the area with full sun that is very difficult t shoot in. So if you see Heidi in the water, it is after sunset and I ended up having to use a rather high ISO due to the lack of light.
We finished the shoot with some images in a gorgeous red dress Heidi had bought from Thailand. It was a great way to highlight the hair work done by MUA Cemille.
The one drawback of not having the lighting rig is that there was no way to get all the colors of the beautiful sunset in the image. But in all, I was quite pleased with the end result. I thank Heidi and Cemille for the 2 hours in hair/makeup and then also for trooping all over the forest and lake to get those unique locations!
And from earlier in the evening: