America’s Next Top Model – A Photography Showcase

Originally posted at

I was so new to photography then. This is from March 15, 2008.  It holds true to this day, though. Since “America’s Next Top Model” started a new cycle this past week, in which I coveted Russell James’ Quantum flashes, I thought it was appropriate to bring this one back out. References to “American Idol” are also timely: Did you see the lighting in the hangar they used for the final cut last week?  The sheer firepower in those lights and the amount of rim lighting they got on the contestants was awe-inspiring.  That had to be a production and a half.

Anyway, onto the original post:

After embracing photography as a hobby, you don’t watch TV the same way again. When I watch America’s Next Top Model now, I pay more attention to the mechanics of the photo shoot. What kinds of cameras are the photographers using? What lighting systems? What lenses? Ring flashes, soft boxes, umbrellas, snoots, barn doors, rim lighting, strobes, strip lights, etc. etc. The problem with that is that the show doesn’t concentrate on it at all, so you’re left trying to spot these things very quickly out of the corner of your eye in the corner of the frame during quick cuts. It’s bizarre, but fun.

Watching American Idol was interesting this week, as all of the video packages with the contestants featured video clips from their photo shoots. Did you get a little dizzy on the upshots of the contestants crouching on a piece of glass while the photographer took their pictures from below? I bet the assistants used a lot of Windex that day. Even more interesting: In the interview segments, the camera sometimes cut away to an odd angle giving you the notion that you were eavesdropping on the interview process. Once or twice, you could see that the contestants were holding white reflectors in their laps during the interviews to help break up the harsh shadows and light their faces from below. Pretty nifty.

You could also see the paparazzi taking shots of the contestants on the red carpet at some event. There’s a nice assortment of white Canon L lenses in there, some ring flashes, Gary Fong light spheres, etc. Some of those lenses looked honking huge, given how close the photographers were standing. It must have been some bright glass, probably f/2 throughout a 70-200mm or something.

I’m jealous of them all.

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