As the summer approaches, swimsuit glamour is often a favorite of many photographers and models. There are some things that help to make images fantastic and memorable. A little planning goes a long way. Some things to think about for both you AND your model prior to the shoot include:
When shooting around pools, particularly on a sunny day, EVERYTHING is reflective. This means the water, the concrete, metal chairs by the pool, even nearby buildings. What can be worse is intermittent clouds changing lighting conditions every few minutes. It is very easy to completely overexpose the skin, have the model with raccoon eyes, or a myriad of other issues. A 5 in 1 reflector is great in these cases. These accessories not only have white/gold reflectors that can fill in shadows, but also a translucent sheet in a frame that can filter nasty over head light.
Instead of leaving your camera in "evaluatative" meeting mode, consider spot metering or partial metering. This will limit chances for overexposure. Placing your camera in Aperture Priority mode and framing your subject close also will increase the chances of a good exposure. Shutter speeds in this setting can be very fast up to 1/2000 sec on sunny days. Keep an eye on your histogram in the even of clouds or shade.
If you happen to be shooting by a waterfall, things listed above such as foot protection and bug spray become even that more important. Scout the area for other things like poison ivy so that you and your model don't come home with a nasty surprise. Especially in early spring/early summer a waterfall can still be cool to cold. Plan your shots and if the water is cold, give your model a robe to warm up in after a set. Foot protection for both you and your model when walking even in the water can prevent falls and damage to equipment (Yes, more than one photographer has damaged a camera or lens by falling).
In waterfalls, obviously you will shooting with rapidly moving water around your model. Consider do you want to freeze the movement of the water (Fast shutter speed, higher ISO), or do you want the water to look smooth (Slower shutter speeds, as much as a 1/4 second). Keep in mind, that if may be difficult for the model to hold perfectly still for long exposures especially in larger falls. You may want to also consider a neutral density filter for smooth silky falls (with or without the model). This filter can help you achieve longer exposures or wider apertures on sunny days.
The other thing to consider is larger falls can be very noisy and it can be difficult for your model to hear. Large hand signals can be very helpful.
If you are planning topless or nude photography, keep in mind that hikers can show up with little notice. It is often helpful to scout out your area carefully and shoot quickly, having your model with a cover-up that she can slip on as necessary. Depending upon the jurisdiction, fines can be imposed by law enforcement.
Summertime shots can be fun and rewarding with a little planning!
Bob Barford is a publishing award winning photographer based in Pennsylvania.