When it comes to lighting, EOS Professional and EOS World Council Member Barry Seah, believes the key in getting a good studio shot lies in having a thorough understanding of lighting and bringing out expressions.
He shares a tip with aspiring studio and fashion photographers, “Lighting can make or break a shoot. When I was starting up, I have always had trouble controlling my lighting techniques. One has to be disciplined when it comes to practising – pick up a speedlite and do not stop till you master it.”
EOS Professional & EOS World Council Member Barry Seah
Barry is a firm believer in being meticulous during photo shoots. “Many photographers have that mentality that Photoshop can solve everything – which is not a good habit to have. It is important to get it right 90% on camera before post processing,” he says.
EOS 5D Mark II | F/11 | ISO 100 | 1/200s
Having been in the business of commercial photography for some time, Barry’s insights gleaned from his industry experience is something all new and younger shutterbugs can learn from. When we asked him what makes a great fashion portrait, he did not hesitate to say it was more than just the clothing. “There must be an element of mood and expression.” he adds, explaining that a model is key for a good fashion portrait and looking beautiful is not necessarily the qualifying factor. “I search for models who know how to express themselves through body gestures and facial expressions. Most importantly, they must have a positive learning attitude and open to new ideas and suggestions.”
EOS 5D Mark III | F/4 | ISO 2000 | 1/640s
EOS 5D Mark III | F/11 | ISO 100 | 1/200s
For that reason, Barry is also well-organized when it comes to maintaining a good portfolio. As such, he spends a fair amount of time planning and researching for his photo shoots. Usually, inspiration comes from fashion magazines as well as the music that he listens to. “One of the biggest struggles I faced during my early days of commercial photography was building up a portfolio – it is really challenging when you have nothing to start with and no benchmark to work from. I had to create my own ‘ideas of advertising’ when it comes to commercial shoots and to make sure that my clients are satisfied,” he shares.
EOS 5D Mark III | F/6.3 | ISO 200 | 1/125s
Barry’s humble days began as a car styling designer before he ventured into commercial printing where he shot products like handbags and clothes for online retail boutiques, lifestyle and corporate portraits for his clients like Hewlett-Packard. One of the highlights in his career so far was the magazine fashion shoot for ECO-Mode Magazine for Miss Earth 2012. “It is an awesome feeling to see your work being featured in a publication!” he recalls fondly.
EOS 5D Mark III | F/8.0 | ISO 200 | 0.8s
His all-time favorite shot is the ring of fire portrait done outdoors at the back alley behind his studio with the help of his assistants. According to Barry, it was a simple shot but they had a lot of fun rigging up for the shoot.
Barry was also ecstatic when he was invited to be the official photographer for Singapore Manhunt 2013. It turned out to be a memorable experience for him since he had done the studio photo shoots for the contestants and winners at his own studio. “It was a collaborative process with the makeup artists and stylists. Do check out the behind the scenes photos and videos on my Facebook!” he chirps.
EOS 5D Mark III | F/5.6 | ISO 125 | 1/60s
When it boils down to his camera equipment, Barry swears by his EOS 5D Mark III and his lens: EF50mm f/1.4 USM , EF135mm f/2L USM, EF24mm f/1.4L II USM, and EF85mm f/1.8 USM. For accessories, he depends on his strobes, Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 and Speedlite 580EX II.
EOS 5D Mark III | F/6.3 | ISO 200 | 1/160s
Besides being a photographer, Barry also runs his own commercial studio and print lab. For him, time management is vital. “Sometimes I do work “overtime” and my schedule is often packed with photoshoots and other events. But hey, when you enjoy what you are doing – it will never be a burden,” this busy lensman tells us.
Despite being in the commercial industry, Barry still contributes back to the photography community – holding workshops and sharing sessions for budding photographers. As an EOS World Council member, he has always played an active role in attending member events, as well as guiding members along with his unassuming and approachable nature. When it comes to sharing his knowledge with the photography community, Barry is always committed. “I am planning and preparing to do even more studio photography lessons and workshops for aspiring photographers out there,” he promises us.
EOS 5D Mark III | F/9 | ISO 200 | 1/125s