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The Richness of Peru: Fashion Photography with Joe McNally

Fashion Photography in Peru - Joe McNally—On Location in Peru, shooting fashion photography.

I can’t imagine any area of the earth better suited for a series of wonderfully high resolution fashion photographs than South America. The exuberance of culture and life, plus the sheer color in this region, make perfect subject matter for NIKKOR optics and the Nikon D810 camera. The Nikon D810, with 36.3 megapixels and an FX format sensor, yields files of extraordinary detail and outstanding color response.

A New Angle on Fashion Photography

In early spring I traveled with my studio team to Peru. Having never visited this area I immediately experienced that extra dimension of excitement one feels when seeing something totally new—especially when looking through a camera and lens.

Joe McNally fashion photo of a model against a yellow wall, wearing a pink dress

© Joe McNally

Created with the Nikon D810 paired with the AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens, at f/10 and 1/200 second. It was lit with three Nikon SB-910 Speedlight units placed on a Lastolite triflash and shooting through a soft 51” umbrella. This light source doesn’t really “light” the scene; it merely sparks the model and perks up the color of the gown.

This setting was a found situation. I loved the wall and the improbable nature of the worn, blue shutters. The model was able to use that space to frame herself and become a dynamic curvy object in the midst of all the straight lines and angles.

Vibrancy of the Moment

I found myself in the warm embrace of a people and a culture that is not only rich in history, but vibrantly in the moment. Colorful sources of inspiration were everywhere—such as when we chanced upon this beautiful mural.

Joe McNally photo of a model in front of a mural in Peru

© Joe McNally

The Nikon D810 and AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens was set to f/10 and 1/200 of a second. The light is very simple. Overhead is a 12’ silk, or diffuser, to soften the sunlight. At camera right is a 51” shoot through umbrella with three Nikon SB-910 Speedlights firing through to give the light just a little bit more direction.

Joe McNally photo of a model with a bunch of pelican birds in front of her in peru

© Joe McNally

The Nikon D810 with AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II lens was set to f/13 and 1/250 of a second. The light comes from an off-camera flash that is firing camera-left and hand held by my assistant who was hidden behind some pillars.

A wonderfully spontaneous moment—you never know what a group of pelicans will do, but when you place fish around a model there’s a good bet they’ll gather. Be ready! This is a fluid sort of situation to be sure. Don’t get fancy with the light or try to overly stage things. Frame up, get ready and look for a moment of sheer exuberance or laughter.

Colors of the Coast and Country

I found color, beauty and life everywhere I went, ranging from the streets and beaches of bustling Lima, to the stark stretches of the desert of Paracas National Reserve, to the lush coastline of this astonishing country.

Joe McNally photo of a model in front of a boat in Peru

© Joe McNally

This frame was produced with my Nikon D810 and the AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens set to f/9 and 1/200 of a second. Lighting was a 5’ Profoto Octa softbox to camera-right, plus an off-camera flash unit.

What I looked for here was a lovely contrast between the elegant model and the roughness of the abandoned boat. Color palette is important to observe when choosing wardrobe. You don’t want something too bright or out of range for the scene. The blue gown was the color of the sea, and the feel of her pose and the clothes are very serene and appropriate for this setting.

Joe McNally photo of a model with the sea in the background, in Peru

© Joe McNally

Captured with Nikon D810 paired with the AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens, set to f/11 and 1/200 of a second.

This is a lovely setting looking out to sea. The model’s posing was smooth and serene. The sea green nature of the gown looked wonderful in this environment. A picture is a bit of a puzzle. You have the scene, the subject, the wardrobe, the light; they all have to work together. It’s up to you at the camera to get all the pieces to flow together. Compositionally, I used the classic rule of thirds here with the model to the left and the cliffs and the sea dominating the rest of the frame.

Enduring Nikon

We shot in the harshest of sunlight, in wind whipped deserts and on the rocks of the shoreline amidst cascading waves. I was never more impressed, all over again, by the responsiveness and durability of my Nikon gear. For me, these pictures are a wonderful and colorful reminder of how much I want to go back to this amazing place.

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