Looking beautiful and like something that stepped from the pages of a dark comic book, model Bree Arkham arrived to meet my assistant and myself at Eastern States Penitentiary (ESP) for a walk through before the actual photo shoot. Given the fact I had never actually met or spoken with Miss Arkham prior to our meeting I really did not know what to expect, other than I knew I wanted her for this shoot. First I have to back up and give a little history; I never plan a project shoot with a model whom I have not first had a “test shoot” with. A test shoot is more of a “get to know each other” meeting. Maybe we don’t work well together? Maybe we just don’t connect on the same level and that’s ok if we don’t. Not everybody I meet is going to like me and vice versa. In my previous post I talked about the challenges I expected to face for this shoot at ESP and one of them was that I had never met this model before, so “yes” this was Bree Arkham’s test shoot. And well… Bree delivered on que.
Having followed Bree on social media for over a year I felt she was genuine and down to earth, but more so I found her to be very interesting and I mean that in a good way. So yes when we first met it was a little awkward, but we soon got past that and got right down to business. Doing a walk through the old penitentiary was perfect and it gave the two of us time to become acquainted and draw our focus together for the shoot.
My shoot last month at ESP was with Nicole and we came away with some really nice images. Nicole with her natural beauty and the vintage dress was awesome. But this time I wanted to head in a different direction, so enter Bree Arkham, we still have beauty but it is beauty with… well purple & silver hair, lots of tattoos and body piercings.
I’ll spare you the all the details of the shoot, but let’s just say this “Bree was right at home” at ESP. After all with a name like Arkham and an amazing Joker tattoo on her upper right arm… not only did she feel at home, she made ESP her home. She was having a lot of fun and you know that is my number one rule, “If we’re not having fun, then we’re doing something wrong”. She made ESP her stage and like all photo shoots it takes a little time to get into the groove, once in that groove we had a lot of fun and captured some great images.
Heat & humidity were not a big issue, yes I was sweating and who cares? But Bree and her makeup held up great. We didn’t get any “creepy guy” syndrome as I had expected and it’s a good thing we didn’t, because Miss Arkham is packing some wicked guns and most likely would have sent him crying for mommy. Seriously this girl works out and has the body to prove it.
Lighting was a challenge as always at ESP. We are shooting late in the day and behind those huge walls you lose light quickly. My wonderful niece Alyssa was my lighting assistant and using a single radio speedlite and a Westcott Rapid Box I was able to get ample light when needed. Last month I shot Nicole strictly using ETTL, this month I went strictly manual flash. However most of my shots were using available light and riding the ISO into higher than normal ranges. Although I kept my ISO as low as possible I did have two shots at ISO 12800. Are they the best shots of the night? Of course not, but they’re not too bad. With the flash I had my ISO between 100 & 400 and with a full crop sensor they look great.
As for finding good locations; I did use my favorite window and the big gate leading out of the central tower. But I was also granted access to an area not used by the public called the “Officer’s Courtyard”. It was not the most interesting or special place, but it was different so we used it and I did get a few good images there.
When all was done and said, the shoot was a success. Bree’s test shoot yielded some great images. But the bigger story is we will move on to and epic project. Having met this wonderful young lady and seeing how well we connect Bree Arkham will be perfect for a composite project I have planned for later this year and I can’t wait to head to the studio with her.
Thanks for reading and have a great day.