Here are 95 classic photographs of Riona Neve by me, Damien Lovegrove. I have included lighting notes and photography tips throughout. Enjoy…
Event: Lovegrove Adventures Fashion and Fashion Nudes workshop for 6 photographer guests in the south of France. Venue: A pristine chateau in the Lot valley and locations in the surrounding countryside. Model:Riona Neve Styling: Riona Neve and Damien Lovegrove Makeup and Hair: Riona Photography: Damien Lovegrove
01. I lit Riona with the Lupo Dual Colour Superpanel light. I warmed up the light and let the daylight in the background render cooler in the image. This gold dress is heavy and fabulous. I particularly love the leopard print lining. I bought it from the designer Molly Mishi May of Bristol for shoots just like this. It was perfect for this workshop and it looks fabulous on Riona in the chateau.
The planning for this event started back in November 2018 when I asked Blaise, my PA to look online for a striking chateau in France for us to rent as a shoot location with accommodation combined. Once she had found our venue I then scoured Google Earth for nearby shoot locations. I had created my custom Google map and off I went to France to do a recce. That was in December and we put our workshop online for booking in January.
Riona and I flew out to France two days before the workshop to do a final check out of the locations and to do a mini test shoot then we were ready to receive guests at our immaculate chateau.
02. This was a simple one light set up with the Lupo. I set the light so that it scooted down the door and I kept it off the wall as much as I could. The subtleties in controlling the contrast and setting the shadow level are where the real skills lie. I share my settings and system with my clients so that we all get the shots in-camera. This event attracted seasoned pros and keen hobbyists alike. The camera tech was easy to master. The lighting, styling and creative vision were the main skills that I taught.
We had the fabulously restored chateau to ourselves with its 9 en-suite bedrooms and a pool. The times spent in the evenings over dinner with a glass or two of something wonderful are just as important as the photography on a Lovegrove trip.
Riona and I had worked together a year before on my workshop in a burned-out factory in Charleroi, Belgium. That was hardly the glamorous start to a working partnership so I was intent on making things up with this trip to France.
03. I controlled the natural daylight in this bathroom using the shutters and curtains. The white balance and exposure settings needed to be spot on to get this look in-camera. I used ‘K’ mode for the white balance and adjusted it to taste using the live output on the camera LCD as my guide.
Post Production: There are minimal tweaks by me using Lightroom Classic CC. I set ‘Pro Neg S’ or ‘Acros G’ film simulations both in-camera and in Lightroom and matched the look to the camera jpeg output. I’ve done no skin retouching or body reshaping because I love natural beauty in my photographs and I’m not good with Photoshop these days. Camera: I used my trusty Fujifilm GFX50s with the GF32-64mm and GF110mm lenses. I used a tripod for all my photographs but my clients mainly worked hand held. Lighting: I used the easy to pack, super-powerful Lupo Superpanel Dual Colour panel light with battery kit, softbox and grid.
04. Riona had the idea to put the flowers in this set and the splash of colour is perfect to balance the warm tones in the image. I wanted the colour palette of the Dutch master painters so I dialled it in.
The weather could have been kinder to us as it was unseasonably cold for June. We were forced to shoot in the chateau for two out of our three days but that was sort of the plan anyway so it wasn’t really a problem. The chateau was a warm safe environment so we cracked on and worked at quite a pace. My guests had come from far off lands including the USA and Norway so we made the trip worthwhile for them in every way we could. We spent the whole of day two shooting on location and the pictures from that day are at the bottom of this post.
05. Sunlight on the flowers in the picture on the left and just overcast light for the shot on the right. I worked my lenses wide open for pretty much every shot and I drove up the ISO where it was needed to keep the shutter speed sensible. Riona was continually moving in order to keep the poses natural so I used 1/125th of a second most of the time.
06. We used a pile of coins under the leg of the cabinet to level it up. The pose was created by Riona. The GFX cameras capture so much detail and the files are a pleasure to work with in post-production.
07. I set up the Lupo Superpanel in a bedroom and lit Riona through an open door. I set the exposure for the ambient light coming up from the floor below and set the power of the light to suit that exposure. It’s systems like these that I show in real-time on my workshops. Reading about them and doing them are quite different things.
08. The black and white film simulation Fujifilm Acros G is simply superb and from the large sensor GFX50s camera, it renders sublime print-ready images. I print all my work on Hahnemulle Photo Rag paper using my Canon wide format printer. It gets bound in these portfolios and I like to keep them up to date.
We all worked together moving and removing furniture to set the perfect scene in each room to shoot. We then restored the room before moving on to the next one. It’s a real feeling of teamwork on events like these and the rewards are jointly earned.
09. I rigged the light in the next room at about 100° to the camera position. I set the exposure for the ambient and added the light to taste. It was a tough job to keep out of the mirror in the far room so we shot one at a time. Having a bit of time to review and discuss images is vital in order to get the progression that is needed. Once I have identified where a shot can be improved it’s a simple task to reshoot it with the necessary tweaks to composition, pose, exposure or lighting.
10. These were very simple pictures to get our morning session on day one underway. We establish the rotation and group dynamics during the first shoot on any workshop. There are always camera settings to be tweaked too. I set up the Lupo light for these shots of Riona.
11. A splash of light from the Lupo worked a treat for these simple boudoir shots. We explored the camera to lighting angle and how that changed the picture. Top right: A frontal light is a fashion nude style. Obviously lit and would look right at home in a glossy magazine like Tatler or Vogue. Bottom right: This 90° lighting gives a more natural, lifestyle look. The lighting hasn’t moved but the camera has.
12. I used simple window light and minimal styling for this playsuit sequence. I removed the bedspread and the artefacts from the shelves to create a bare setting. The lack of wallpaper was a bonus.
When I’m assessing the suitability of a location as a workshop setting I’m looking at room sizes, wall coverings, carpets, furniture style and overall condition. Some places are so bad that they become good again.
Photography for me is about capturing moments. These moments need creating and fun is a key ingredient. If photography is fun it shows in the pictures. In a workshop environment, the energy in the room needs careful management. I keep a dynamic pressure on the shoot and a fast pace. That way we get to the end of the day with a sense of satisfaction having achieved a lot of setups and we are ready for a glass or two of wine.
13. Connection: I really think the desire to strike is in Riona’s eyes :)
14. The narrative is an important ingredient in a lot of my work. Top: We borrowed the book from the library downstairs and it helped to create the mood for the shot. Bottom Left: We created this evening scene in the middle of the day using the Lupo to simulate the light from the lamp. Bottom Right: The Lupo was used here to recreate soft sunlight on Riona on what was an overcast day. You can see the direction and strength of the light by looking at the shadow of Riona’s legs on the carpet.
These workshops attract photographers with an open mind, a creative heart and a sense of adventure. All of the people with me in France had been on previous Lovegrove events. It’s not vital but it does help if guests have read my book on portraits, done an urban portraits workshop or a 1:1 shoot session with me before embarking on a big adventure or workshop. This way less time is spent knob twiddling and more time being creative with the moment. I have Urban Portraits events coming up in Bristol UK, New York and Venice Italy in October. Details of the NY and Venice ones will be online soon. You can get advanced notice here.
15. We’d been out all day shooting and we took some time out before sunset to relax. We were scheduled to shoot the blue hour ouside the chateau on the gravel drive but the sun disappered behind a cloud a bit too early. Riona had taken the trouble to get prepared and had the idea for this series of silhouette shots instead. It’s great having a creative team that can generate ideas.
16. I set the exposures in-camera without using any kind of metering or histogram. If I had used a histogram here it would have been off the scale. I like to asses my tonal range in the EVF. I’ve not used the highlight alert function of a digital camera because I like white and when those blinking black shapes flash at me it’s as if I’ve done something wrong.
17. I use the Lupo in another room to light Riona.
18. This is the same mirror and the same light but re-rigged to the right of the camera.
19. I warmed up the colour of the Lupo Superpanel for this mirror sequence of Riona.
20. It’s surprising how much light you need to create shots like these that have both interior bare bulb lights and outside detail in the middle of the day. I think the Superpanel was on full power here. It gives 22,000 LUX at 1 metre. The most powerful 30cm panel light out there.
21. I pumped up the contrast for these shots by closing one of the curtains. Taking control of the ambient light is one of the first things I do when I’m shooting on location.
22. A simple one light set up with the Lupo.
23. You can see from the light pattern the semi spot effect of the Lupo. It has a calm but definite fall off. It is easy to spread the light by using diffusion material or a softbox but it is not easy to create a spot of light and that is one reason I love this particular light unit.
24. Right: Just window light was used for this teasing shot of Riona.
25. I like shots with eye contact to have a deep rapport and connection. Get this bit right and everything else comes good. This is Riona’s place and she has taken ownership of it in this shot.
26. The light below a window is wonderful to use. I included the curtain here to give a sense of grandeur.
27. This is one of my favourite shots of the workshop and it is a touch abstract. I had a similar idea on the mood boards that I made for the event and the idea worked well. I love the roll of the woman’s eyes in the portrait.
28. Variations on a theme created by Riona and under the direction of my fellow shooters. I was using 1/60th of a second hence the foot movement. I love it.
29. I bought the jacket and skirt from BooHoo in the UK. I had this grid in mind at the shooting stage. I like white to be white and I’m not scared to expose to the right in-camera.
30. This skater dress with the Bardot neckline came from BooHoo too. We had just had a leisurely lunch at a fabulous traditional French restaurant and we shot in the streets of Temple Sur Lot for half an hour before moving on to our next location.
31. A white dress in full sun or dappled sunlight creates a challenge that I’m used to, having shot over 400 weddings. It’s great when it all comes together.
32. I did find myself lying on the ground to capture these shots. I needed to use the EVF so that I could accurately set the exposure.
33. An old barn on a nearby farm was the perfect contrast to the sleek chateau.
34. The shadow detail is key to hold these pictures together. Wonderful control of shadows is one of the main benefits of using a camera with a bigger sensor like the GFX50s.
35. Superb texture lit with natural light coming through the doors of the barn.
36. Natural light shots. Right: I rarely use out of focus foregrounds but I think I got away with it here. GF110mm lens wide open at f/2.
37. I bought the hat at a street market in Rimini, Italy about 6 years ago and it’s still going strong. The sun was going in and out so we had to time our captures well.
38. Another old barn that I found on my recce in December and revisited with Riona before the workshop. I deemed the location too dangerous to shoot with a group so I captured this one shot on our recce and found a safer barn for the workshop.
39. Natural light.
40. I love working with full sunlight. Not only for the contrast in the pictures. It had been just 16°C on day one and on day two it reached a welcome 28°C.
41. I found this tree plantation of poplars on my recce and we spent an hour or so here on the workshop.
42. A few pictures from our recce that I lit with a Godox AD600 in a 70cm softbox. We had very flat light on the recce and it needed a boost. I could have used the Lupo here as it was quite dark under the trees and the Lupo runs for up to 2 hours on its battery.
43. Sunlight and shade.
44. Capturing the moment. I find the EVF and LCD on the GFX50s slightly laggy so I have to use my eyes on the subject to identify the peak of the movement. The new GFX100 EVF/LCD system is much better and is a big improvement.
45. A handy orchard provided some shade. GF110mm lens at f/2
46. The GF 110mm f/2 lens is the best lens that I’ve had and I must have owned over 100 lenses since I started my professional photography in 1984 :)
47. I kept the colours calm by using the Pro Negative S film simulation.
48. I like poppies in monochrome too.
This was a classic Lovegrove workshop. Three days of shooting and fun. Work hard and play hard. If you would like to join me for a workshop or adventure sign up for our Lovegrove Adventures mailing list. We won’t spam you but we will let you know when new events are added. I might go back to the Chateau again next year. Do you want to join me?
Please feel free to comment on these pictures below.