Aug. 1, 2021

NSFW Pod 017 - Libido Ergo Sum Studio

NSFW Pod 017 - Libido Ergo Sum Studio

In this episode we interview Darci Brennan from Libido Ergo Sum Studio, and after discussing her erotic photography, we talk lighting!


In this episode we interview Darci Brennan from Libido Ergo Sum Studio, and after discussing her erotic photography, we talk lighting!  

Darci can be found online at:
Fetlife - LES_Studio
Portfolio Website - https://www.duncanbrennan.photo/

Help us reach new listeners by rating us on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite place you get podcasts!  Visit us at https://www.thensfwphotographypodcast.com/

Transcript

Transcript provided by Descript via AI.  There are errors, but it provided anyways for reference and accessibility.  

[00:00:00] Matthew Holliday: Good day, everyone. And welcome back to the not safe for work photography podcast. Today we're interviewing Darci from libido or go. Some studio. Darci is a veteran and former army photo journalist out of Atlanta. Farsi is L E S studio on FetLife hurried in today. Darci.  

[00:00:29] Darci Brennan: I am doing fantastic. It actually happens to be my birthday. So this is a really awesome birthday. 

[00:00:36] Matthew Holliday: Excellent. So I met Darci on FetLife and she wanted to talk about lighting. Now. Lighting is probably the most important thing from the perspective of a photographer. So it's definitely an important subject. This episode will probably end up being a little more technical and dry than some other episodes. 

So we'll start off talking a little bit about Darci's current erotic photography work, and everyone who's not interested in the technical part can listen up until that part. And then you guys can drop there. So Darci, how long have you been doing erotic photography?  

[00:01:08] Darci Brennan: Oh, goodness. I think the first time I shot anything that was erotic, it was mid to late 2013, I think. And that was many years after I started being a photographer. I started. Really shooting and bought my first camera in 2006. When I was on leave from Iraq. 

[00:01:30] Matthew Holliday: So what made you want to pick up photography?  

[00:01:35] Darci Brennan: Oh goodness. Back when I was a little kid, we were me and my brother were home one day because it had snowed and mom and dad were off to work and we were limited to PBS shows and they were doing this the special on a guy named doc Egerton. He was a professor of electrical engineering at MIT and an amateur photographer. 

And if you've ever seen the photos of the bullet going through a playing card or the bullet going through an apple, he was the guy that first did that, like way back in the fifties and sixties. And he designed a microphone trigger that. Pick up the sound of the gunshot and then he could tune the delays so that he could get the bullet where he wanted it. 

[00:02:26] Matthew Holliday: Yeah, I've definitely seen those pictures. I didn't know who did that. That's cool.  

[00:02:29] Darci Brennan: and it was like mainlining crack. I was addicted right off the bat. 

[00:02:37] Matthew Holliday: So what made you want to take pictures of naked people?  

[00:02:42] Darci Brennan: I loved the human form. I went to a performing arts high school and I was around a lot of dancers. And that gave me an appreciation of the FIM of women's bodies that were healthy . And as I talked to my friends, a lot of whom are female. They. They gave me the sense that the images they saw on the media did not make them feel beautiful. 

And when I talked to them about wanting to do nude photography or erotic photography they said, go for it. I think you have the talent for it, but please don't be that guy. And so I set about trying, leveraging my experience as a photo journalist, to capture who these women are and how they feel confident in themselves being nude and erotic. 

So it was a bunch of different factors and none of them completely make sense, but they're stuck in my mind and I'm just trucking along with it. 

[00:03:55] Matthew Holliday: So to pull a thread from there, it sounds like you definitely have a consistent belief that runs through your work in terms of taking realistic erotic, or is that, am I reading too much into.  

[00:04:09] Darci Brennan: No you're absolutely on point. I want the images to feel real and posed to a certain degree because it's fetish photography, but I want them to feel authentic to who I am and my experience as a photographer and my experiences in life, but also consistent with someone that, the model that wants to be in front of the camera and wants to come out of their shell. 

This isn't about what it started.  

As a period interest, but now I've seen the dynamic between the photographer and the model, and I want that to be part of something bigger. Waffles, the one of the models that I, I work with that got me into it really early on, and I've worked with many times. 

You'll see her as a tag removed because she wound up getting a bunch of creepers, but I've worked with her and she really helped me tailor that vision of bringing the women to life and bringing their desires to life. 

[00:05:31] Matthew Holliday: Yeah. I definitely feel like an awful lot. And it's, I don't know how to phrase this. An awful lot of the models are coming very standard body forms. And I think that it's been improved in the last couple of years, for sure. As a lot more people have despite what you may or may not think of only fans. 

It is encouraged a lot more people are varying body styles and, looks and backgrounds to get into doing adult work. For sure.  

[00:05:58] Darci Brennan: I think only fans is a fantastic entity. It fills a need both on the content creator side and on the consumer side because there are a lot of people out there that love women with four figures. And your quote unquote, normal modeling sites, simply aren't picking up on that and giving the public what it really wants. 

I think the explosion in trans porn has satisfied a huge market demand.  

[00:06:37] Matthew Holliday: I know I'm a bit.  

[00:06:38] Darci Brennan: go ahead. 

[00:06:40] Matthew Holliday: I was going to say, I definitely know personally that when I'm looking at erotic, I very much prefer women that I feel like I could actually, have a chance with in real life, not these F the real creatures who, have personal trainers and dieticians and people who, chastise them. 

If they're five pounds over.  

[00:07:00] Darci Brennan: Yeah. Being, I could never be a model. It's a, it's an absolutely brutal existence and I absolutely salute the people that can do it. I've I do this for fun and it brings the mind to an episode. I was working with waffles and another model at waffles house and we were doing a shower shoe. 

And they're both tiny women. Waffles is like five, two, and the other woman was I think four, nine and a half. And that happens is important. And I had gotten, I went to lay down to, to make them seem taller. And of course the beautiful women they're doing these wonderful things. And I had an erection and I piled her of that sucker into the tile floor. 

And, I'm on the four groaning sputtering and they asked me if I was all right. And as soon as they realized that I was mostly okay, that's when the laughter started. And we laughed about it for a good 20, 30 minutes, because it's just so ridiculous. And. It's a story that we tell a lot, because it's part of, having fun is part of the fabric of the shoot. 

If we're not having fun, the shoot ends. And that's part of what I try and bring when I'm photographing these models. 

[00:08:36] Matthew Holliday: All right. So you mentioned that you had spent some time doing photojournalism working for the army. How has that affected the type of erotic work you've.  

[00:08:45] Darci Brennan: I actually don't know. There  

[00:08:48] Matthew Holliday: Yeah.  

[00:08:50] Darci Brennan: being a photojournalism doesn't necessarily having been a photo journalist doesn't necessarily affect what I choose to photograph. It really affects more of how I direct the issue. What poses do I go for? The standard, model ish poses and the , they're fantastic. 

They're beautiful. They're not really my style. So I try and find something that the model wants the poses that the models want. And sometimes I give give ideas where it's like, Hey, I have this idea. Let's see if this works. But it's the the fact that, of that I was a photo journalist really affects me in the fact that I either get it or I don't. 

I try not to shoot the same pose a bazillion times, unless, I'm too early or too late like with the ballet photos there's a certain point in the movement that I'm trying to capture. But outside of that either get it or I don't and I move on. And because of that, that really affects how I like things. 

What kind of prep work I do and so forth and so on, 

[00:10:14] Matthew Holliday: Yeah, I can definitely see. I know that I've heard, I've spoken with some photographers at some points that are very mechanistic about it. They've got like the shot list and they're going to get the exact shot they want. Versus, we're trying to capture what's going on and like the fleeting moment,  

[00:10:32] Darci Brennan: Especially, and this is especially true. If I've got models that are interacting with each other on FetLife, I see these gorgeous women in these fantastic situations and their faces tell me they're doing their taxes. 

[00:10:51] Matthew Holliday: that sounds like the first time I went to a strip club, I was so happy and so excited until I looked at their faces. Is there dancing? And then I was like, oh, wait a  

[00:11:00] Darci Brennan: is a job.  

[00:11:01] Matthew Holliday: Yeah.  

[00:11:03] Darci Brennan: If they're interacting, I let them interact until there's a natural pause and I just shoot and I shoot. And then once that natural pause hits, then I gently interrupt. If they continue going, I let them, because they're doing what they're enjoying. I'm just along for the ride. 

And the pictures will be amazing because it will be as real as it gets. 

[00:11:37] Matthew Holliday: And I think there's a lot of, there's a lot of wisdom in that style of shooting, for sure. Especially if you're going for that realism or a more real erotica for sure. 

[00:11:46] Darci Brennan: And since I'm not, shooting at the pinnacle of models, These are real women with real lives and I want them, I want their eroticism to be just as real and come across in the photos. Sometimes it's a little more fantastical. I think there's a couple of shots that I did and they may not be on this profile, but on my personal profile I was working with a young lady and she was just wearing a simple little black dress, had a nice deep black background, but I had put some reflective tape on her back and had illuminated that. 

So it looked like she had a cyber tattoo on her back. And sometimes we'll do stuff like that. But if there's a black and white picture on my profile, on my Les profile where she's sitting on a stool. And that's waffles. She's sitting on a stool, she's got a glass of whiskey and she, it looks like she's pulling something out of her hair and she's just calm. 

And that was after a long day of work, we had just done professional headshots for office and she wanted to do something fun. So we thought let's, take it easy. And I, I thought that shot would work and we went with it and to me it works. It's soft, it's intimate. And it's about as real as it gets. 

That's one of my favorites working with her. 

[00:13:27] Matthew Holliday: All right. I see that on your profile, you have some hard limits described. Do you have any interesting stories about why those hard limits are there?  

[00:13:38] Darci Brennan: Yeah. So one of my hard limits is working with a little. My first marriage was to a woman that had a pre-existing family. And she was psychologically abusive, very psychologically abusive. I've been to therapy. I don't know how many times dealing with the PTSD and children and childlike acts seem to be the triggers for that. 

And so I was going to a group shoot and I was contacted by a model and I saw that she was a little, so I was going to at least try and accommodate, but she wanted pictures of her and her daddy in a dynamic that I knew was going to just send me down a rabbit hole. And I said, no, I know. I initially said, I really don't want to go there. 

That brings up some uncomfortable memories and she pushed and I said, no, and she pushed again. And so I said, I'm terminating this exchange. We will not work together. And I blocked her and ever since then, it's been a hard limit because the model was not respecting my limits.  

And that was absolutely going to be a no-go  

[00:15:05] Matthew Holliday: that's fair.  

[00:15:06] Darci Brennan: the other hard limit is anyone who says that they're that their location is Antarctica. 

[00:15:15] Matthew Holliday: I say that seems like that's pretty common for for some people.  

[00:15:18] Darci Brennan: Yep. And that's great if you're trying to hide your location. I absolutely understand. And that's not someone that I want to deal with because that is dishonesty. And if you're not willing to be on. Then I don't want to work with you that it, and that's the soldier and be talking if you're not going to be upfront. 

Now, if you contact me and say, Hey, my profile says this, I'm trying to hide my location. I'm in, X, Y, Z location. Okay. We can work together. But if you're just, if you're not going to be forthcoming with the with the information and you're trying to be deliberately be dishonest about it, even for valid reasons, that's not where I'm at. 

[00:16:11] Matthew Holliday: Alright. I see also you have a hago. I don't even know how you feel. That's how you pronounce it. I've seen it so many times. I've never actually heard it said.  

[00:16:19] Darci Brennan: I think it's a hag out. It just it's over overdone. I don't think there's any artistry in it. And. For the people that like it, Hey, vehicle deals  

[00:16:34] Matthew Holliday: Yeah.  

[00:16:35] Darci Brennan: for me. Nope. And if I'm working with a model and she deliberately does it, that is the end of the shoot hard stop. I packed my gear and I'm out. 

[00:16:48] Matthew Holliday: That's funny. That was very, yup. Yup.  

[00:16:53] Darci Brennan: My, my ex-wife was big about not respecting my boundaries. And now that I'm not in an abusive situation, I'm not going to put myself through that. 

[00:17:02] Matthew Holliday: No, that makes sense. You have your boundaries and you got to enforce them. All right. Also, since we're talking about your profile, I see you have some strong feelings on guys with camera. Would you like to elaborate on that. 

in here?  

[00:17:15] Darci Brennan: Yeah. Everybody starts somewhere and I started as a guy with a. The big thing is you got to progress beyond that. You're playing in a pool that has real consequences for real people. And especially if you're working with amateurs, they have day jobs, they have day jobs that may be sensitive to their employees making these kinds or creating this kind of content. 

And you have to bring a certain level of, I believe that you have to bring a certain level of professionalism when you're doing it. If you're there just to take nudies, just be honest about it. If you're using photography as an entryway to having sex with, or having sex acts with a model, be honest about it because. 

Vacuum, send somebody down a rabbit hole psychologically because, especially the models, almost every Mo working model that I've had I've known has stories about a predatory photographer and it can have real and serious consequences for the models. And that's not okay. So I want to welcome the guys with cameras, into the fold and elevate their game. 

It's not that I have anything against them, because like I said, everybody starts somewhere, but you gotta have, that even though you're not getting paid, you've got to have that professionalism. 

[00:18:54] Matthew Holliday: And a couple of the models that I've spoken to being, of course well aware of the GWC phenomenon, they are fine with people that just, some of them are fine with people that just want to take Nudie pictures. Somebody that I interviewed like 10 episodes ago at this point, she was saying, like she said, she saw it as being somewhat tangential to sex work where she's not there and a lot she's there sometimes to make our, and she appreciates that opportunity that she has with photographers where she's there to make art. 

But, sometimes it's the guy with camera and sometimes she's there to fulfill his fantasy in many ways, within her boundaries and, within kind of the negotiated boundaries there,  

[00:19:34] Darci Brennan: and I am a hundred percent for that. I am I love sex workers. They're wonderful people. The ones that I've met, wonderful people some of them enjoy what they do. Some of them stay doing what they do because it pays the bills. It pains me greatly that there is such a stigma against sex. 

And if, and as long as people are being honest, nowhere where the left and right limits are, stay within the lines a hundred percent go with it, 

[00:20:08] Matthew Holliday: I think it, comes down. I think it comes down to what you were talking about, where it's about being honest. You're not lying to the models and being like, I'm going to get you in whatever I'm going to. I'm a model agent or whatever. It's  

[00:20:21] Darci Brennan: Yeah.  

[00:20:21] Matthew Holliday: To take pictures of a pretty girl.  

[00:20:23] Darci Brennan: and I am absolutely relentless when I see posts where I think someone is being dishonest. I call it out a hundred percent of the time.  

[00:20:33] Matthew Holliday: I'm seeing a theme here.  

[00:20:34] Darci Brennan: That makes me an asshole. You know what, I've been called worse and I'm a hundred percent okay with that. 

[00:20:41] Matthew Holliday: No, I'm definitely seeing the theme pair. And what drives you and your boundaries and honesty is a big one.  

[00:20:47] Darci Brennan: That was something from my dad. And I'm just like, and mom reinforced it, just as much. And so that, that's my nod to them in this work. They don't they don't necessarily agree with what I do on my free time, but they understand it fulfills a certain role and it brings me a lot of happiness. 

[00:21:10] Matthew Holliday: I don't think I could tell my parents about that. Actually I could tell my dad about doing this kind of work. Don't think I could tell my mom 

so let's get to the lady. One thing that I don't want to talk about is I don't want to talk about like speaker specific lighting scenarios, like Rembrandt lighting or three point lighting. 

Cause you can find all kinds of YouTube videos on that and all kinds of stuff on that. So let's talk more about getting started in lighting and lighting specifically around erotic. So why is lighting something that we should talk about?  

[00:21:41] Darci Brennan: Okay. I'm going to go ultra abstract. The human body at its most basic is a three-dimensional object. It has form, it has volume. It has shape and there's somebody attached to it. So a lot of the images that I've seen and Playboy tends to be the most egregious offender. Although there are others Playboy has a specific book. 

Their lighting is entirely too flat for my taste. Excuse me. If we're going to light a person, it serves a couple of different functions. Number one, we have to be able to see the object and there has to be enough light to make the actual exposure. It sets the tone for the image. If you're in a dungeon, if you use really flat light, it doesn't make sense because you've got, a lot of times Dungeons are dark and they're moody. 

So you need that kind of lighting to set the scene. And you're trying to show the shape of someone's body. We'll just take breasts. For instance, breasts are awesome, but if they don't have shadow is very hard to tell, are they big? Are they small? Do they perk up and say hi, and you can do that with lighting. 

Now as for my personal tastes in lighting I use everything from speed lights on up to studio strobes. I use softboxes. My current favorite is an inverse parabolic and I love it because I can get hard light. 

[00:23:42] Matthew Holliday: What's an inverse parabolic.  

[00:23:44] Darci Brennan: So you've got the parabolic bull and the light fires into the modifier and then comes out and usually the light is a Mount or the light is mounted on a rod so that you can focus the light so that you've got a really tight beam  

Or you can defocus it and get this beautiful wash of light. So think the brown color para I can't afford a brown color pair. 

So I wound up buying the globe profonde from Adorama and I am so fucking lutely loved. It is a, is an absolute bastard to haul around and to use, but I put up with it because the light is just that fucking awesome. 

[00:24:34] Matthew Holliday: Before we dive into that real quick though. Cause there was something I want to talk about on camera versus off-camera lighting before we really deep dive into kind of the gear part.  

[00:24:44] Darci Brennan: Okay. I am, depending on the situation I am 99% likely to use off-camera flash. I now there was a shot that I did, like the one I was talking about earlier with the reflective tape, for that image to work, I have to have a light at the camera position because. The tape will only reflect back to the source. 

So I can't light it from the side and have it come back to the camera because it always reflects back to the source. And I had seen some cyber punky art, and I was like, I really want to do that in a picture. How do I do that? And I was thinking about it. I'm like reflectors, like bicycle reflectors. Now those won't work. 

They won't stick. Wait, think they taped like that. So I got on Amazon, bought some tape and then I did it. I'm like, holy crap, this works.  

[00:25:52] Matthew Holliday: That's pretty cheap too.  

[00:25:54] Darci Brennan: Yeah. But don't get the 3m stuff because it's the way it's designed. You'll see a an artifact pattern in the actual tape, the cheap off-brand stuff. Beautiful. So I love off-camera flash because it allows me to control where the shadows are. 

And I actually think that the shadows are as important, if not more so than the actual light. 

[00:26:25] Matthew Holliday: That makes sense. Especially if you think that a Playboy style tends to be a little too flat.  

[00:26:30] Darci Brennan: Yup. 

[00:26:32] Matthew Holliday: All right. So why did you choose off-camera flash versus LEDs or fluorescents or anything like that?  

[00:26:39] Darci Brennan: Power versus weight and cost. At the time I started I bought a set of policy buff Einsteins. 

[00:26:48] Matthew Holliday: Wow, starting off expensive.  

[00:26:51] Darci Brennan: Yeah. At the time I was debating between the Einsteins and some pro photo kit. 

[00:26:57] Matthew Holliday: Okay. Yeah, there's expensive. And those expensive.  

[00:27:00] Darci Brennan: And the Einstein's gave me the most value for my dollar at the time, because this was before the explosion of the Chinese brands like goat ex and its various rebrandings. So policy buff had the best quality of device, the best warranty, and the fact that their customer service was right here in the U S yeah, that, that was, I was all about that. 

And so I bought these three lights and some umbrellas and just started going with it, but it wasn't really, until I read a book on that was specifically about light, that I really started to do the deep dive and there's a book called light science and magic.  

[00:27:53] Matthew Holliday: I have That book. 

[00:27:55] Darci Brennan: That jumped my game forward, leaps and bounds. 

It was literally night and day. And that's how I got into actually let me go back and finish answering the question because I started a rabbit trail. So what flash allows you to do? It allows you to control the light in your image and the Einstein's had a nine stop range. I could get a quarter watt second, all the way up to 640 and get pretty consistent color for about $500 a stroke. 

And that allows me to construct my vision versus what the camera thinks that I want. I got the controller, which had a built-in meter okay. And I got used to that meter. And when I switched over to the go docs, I was lost. I could not do anything in TTL. And then I finally bought a meter and then I was like, okay, this is where I want to be. 

[00:29:01] Matthew Holliday: that's interesting. I I started off with the LP one sixties, like those manual flashes from 10 years ago or so.  

[00:29:08] Darci Brennan: Yeah. Those are still great flashes. 

[00:29:11] Matthew Holliday: There I actually just bought a couple of hundred dollars worth of led lights during prime day. So I'm thinking about doing some video work and can't use flash for that.  

[00:29:22] Darci Brennan: Yeah. That is the only downside to a flash is that it's not great for video work, but I'm still shooting on an ancient D three. So video is not in my video is not in the word. 

[00:29:38] Matthew Holliday: I'm actually really impressed with some of these prices. Cause I was one of the, that was the reason I was doing the LPWAN sixties and like the little, those types of flashes. Cause you can get those for about 120 bucks and I was cheating.  

[00:29:51] Darci Brennan: Yeah, my first really good speed light was the the flashpoint lithium ion zoom. I could shoot all day on that and still have battery power leftover. It was  

[00:30:07] Matthew Holliday: at us.  

[00:30:08] Darci Brennan: It was crap for, trying to overpower the sun or do high speed sync, but inside. Oh, it was fantastic. 

[00:30:18] Matthew Holliday: Are there any specifics to erotic and British photography that make you think that you really need to use one specific type of light over another?  

[00:30:26] Darci Brennan: That's a really good question. I don't think it's necessary to. Erotica to use a specific kind of light. It's more what are you trying? What is your creative vision? Because if you don't have a creative vision, then you're just snapping pictures and you're not likely to get something. I like to have a plan. 

It's okay, this is what I'm going for. If that plan completely falls apart, I'm okay. That's, part of my photojournalism, but I need to have a plan going in. And so I'll have ideas of, okay, this is what I want to light. And then the models will either thumbs up or thumbs down. If it's thumbs down, Hey, react to contact and continue mission. 

they give it the green light, then. We roll and react to contact from there,  

But it's, if I was using LEDs, I think my style of shooting and how the workflow would progress would probably be different than using flash. Does that answer your question? 

[00:31:45] Matthew Holliday: I think so. I think, I had always assumed that basically the LEDs and fluorescents were better for video and flash was better for still photography, just because the ability to control the background light and control the freeze the motion, even with a slower shutter speed.  

[00:32:00] Darci Brennan: Yes. That is the vet is absolutely true. Plus you don't have to crank up the ISO as high because even as powerful as the LEDs are, you're still not gonna get a. The same kind of light output, especially if you're spreading it through a softbox or an Okta, you're not going to get that same kind of power that even a speed light will give you. 

So yeah since I've only done stills, that drives the fact that I wanted to get into flash for people that want to do video. It's a whole different ball game and I love you, man. Cause that's going to be a bitch. 

[00:32:43] Matthew Holliday: Yeah. I'm diving into that. Now. I'm hoping to start doing interviews for the podcast in person and videotaping it for, Patrion or something like that.  

[00:32:52] Darci Brennan: Okay. 

[00:32:53] Matthew Holliday: I am going up the learning curve again,  

[00:32:57] Darci Brennan: Yeah. 

[00:32:58] Matthew Holliday: We'll see. We'll see, maybe I should just, maybe I should send back the lights and send back all that and just find a nice big window. 

Just not deal with it.  

[00:33:10] Darci Brennan: Actually, if for people getting started, I think a basic reflector is probably, and a light stand and maybe a grip arm to hold it out on is probably the single best investment. You can make, because you'll be able to use a good 501 reflector in a studio on location outside. They will always have value. 

So make sure you pick those up, first and I made that mistake and I'm wishing that I had our reflector because they are just that useful. 

[00:33:51] Matthew Holliday: And it's definitely, I see those A lot for sure. And videos the models holding it under their chin to fill in under their chin and under their nose, or like you said, put it up on a stand. 

[00:34:02] Darci Brennan: A trick that I learned from a guy named Seth Miranda is to put it on the floor and then fire a speed light into the reflector. 

[00:34:14] Matthew Holliday: What's your overall philosophy of lighting? Do you prefer to overpower the natural light and get complete control? Or are you looking to take natural light and supplement it with a little bit here and a little bit there?  

[00:34:25] Darci Brennan: I neither actually my lighting philosophy is light without shadows is blindness. there are no shadows to tell you what things are, if there's no contrast in an image, then you have nothing. So going back to, showing the human form in a way that represents it as a three-dimensional object. 

The sh the shadows are super important, whether it's, concealing the body and just hinting at breasts hips, the, but it's not necessarily in what you show, it's how you don't show. But you can't do that. If there are no shadows,  

If you're just blasting the model with light, head on, then it's going to be boring. 

Be different experiment. Take risks. 

[00:35:31] Matthew Holliday: for a lot of new photographers, we started talking about this a little bit of. I imagine looking at the cost of like pro photo guaran, 3000, 4,000, $5,000, a flash, it's a real shocker. What do you, what would you recommend that, new photographers do? If they want to get an off camera flash, which should they look at?  

[00:35:53] Darci Brennan: Okay, so to get into on camera or off camera flash, excuse me. You have to understand, or you have to ask yourself, what are your needs, what are your wants? And what's really cool to have. Also, you have to understand what your budget is. If you're trying to get in to off-camera flash and you've got three, four or $500, don't look at the big stuff. 

They're not designed for the amateur. Yes, they will be Bulletproof. Yes, they have, The best warranty. And, people talk about, white characteristics as if they're, handed down from the gods. But if you can't, if you're not able to shell out a thousand, $2,005,000 for a strobe, if you're, or even more, if you're talking about like the pro photo pro 11, which is a pack packing head, I mean that one tips the scales at 15,000 before you even actually get into a strobe. 

You have to understand what you're doing if, and this was something that I had to learn the hard way is that when you're working in somebody's bedroom, which is a lot of times where you're working, you don't have the space to really crank up the power. So you're wasting money getting power that you're not really gonna use. 

Get a get a couple of good speed. Good, reliable speed lights. The flashpoint lithium-ion zoom by Adorama is a great starter flash. Even though I've been shooting now for eight years, I still reach for my speed lights on a regular basis. If you get stuff that will, work and last it's a good investment. 

And then I, once I got away from the big Einstein's when I went to the go dark speed lights, I got a couple of 24 by 24 popup softboxes and a couple of adapter rings, a couple light stands, and that worked, get us off a small soft box with a grid so that you understand that you create pockets of light pockets of interest. 

And you will be amazed at what kind of images you can do with speed lights that that picture of waffles on the store, the black and white, that was shot with speed lights, a hundred percent. 

[00:38:51] Matthew Holliday: Yeah, this is making me rethink cause I was rethinking doing all my Lights, but my LP one 60 is from 10 years ago still work. I got them out last December and I haven't been shooting much cause of COVID at least not with flash.  

[00:39:03] Darci Brennan: Yep. And,  

Let's see, what other ones the picture of the girl with the burning roses and the leather bra, that was  

[00:39:16] Matthew Holliday: at the prom.  

[00:39:18] Darci Brennan: Nope, not the prom. It's right next to the bi-racial trans flag  

[00:39:23] Matthew Holliday: Oh, a  

[00:39:24] Darci Brennan: A fifties hairdo, black collar. Yeah. That was shot with a 200 watt second pocket flash by go docks in a cheap for now modifier. 

And that's it. That's all. It was So you can create fantastic images and not require, mountains and mountains of power. You just have to understand what are you trying to do? What's your creative vision? I also use a program called set a light 3d. It is a 3d lighting simulator. So I can, when I've got downtime and I'm just fucking around, I'll fire up that and just play with lighting setups to see what can I actually do with speed lights. 

And you can too a lot, you just have to think creatively and not say I have to have a thousand watt seconds of power in a strobe so that I can do the thing. No. And actually that parabolic that I talked about I find myself using my lower power lights more often because they're, it's just so efficient. 

I actually had the, I use the 200 watt second stroke or pocket flash in that, and at seven feet at 1, 1 20 eighth power, I could still get F four and that was as low as it would go. So I think that's like one, one and a quarter of watt seconds and which is next to no power, but in the right modifier, it's a lot of light. 

[00:41:20] Matthew Holliday: Especially, I'm looking at these now. Like a lot of these are coming with built-in wireless  

[00:41:25] Darci Brennan: Yeah. And  

[00:41:25] Matthew Holliday: and  

[00:41:26] Darci Brennan: that is the value of the go docs, lights. They have made leaps and bounds in their quality in the past few years. And I'm a little bit I admit when it comes to lighting, I'm a bit of a weirdo. I love my gadgets, but beginning kit, if you need the power, a 200 watt second go docs, 8,200 a pop-up soft box and a light stand. 

If the transmitter for your camera and a psychotic, I think 308 light meter, dude, you will run circles around people. And I love having a light meter because it's a go in. That first shot is always the right exposure. And then I just go from there. I cannot say enough good things about about light leaders, especially if you're trying to if you're working with someone that has darker skin, I did a shoot with a buddy of mine, non fetish really dark skin guy. 

He was a friend of mine from the military and he was wearing a white karate geek. It is the absolute nightmare scenario, but using a light meter and setting everything in manual first exposure was dead on the money. I think it was maybe not, it was like a third of a stop off. And that was it. That was the only correction that I needed to do to make that exposure. 

What I wanted. If I try that and TTL, it would have been absolute nightmare. So understanding what your creative vision is, what kind of circumstances are you going to be working in are probably the biggest things. And most people will need, 200 watt seconds at the most. If you're trying to fill a gigantic a five foot Octa, you might need a little bit more, but I've used a speed light in my 31 by 47 soft box as a fill, just to open up the shadows a little bit. 

Perfect. 

[00:43:46] Matthew Holliday: Yeah. 

that makes sense. Especially the parts about making sure to get the level of power you need. I've only shot with Speedlights, but all my shoots have been inside and, like living room or bedroom sized spaces and the Speedlights been absolutely fine. What about Shooting outside.  

[00:44:03] Darci Brennan: Shooting outside. You may be better off using natural light and a reflector because I've even run into situations where my 600 watt second strobe wasn't enough if I'm trying to do high speed sync at, and I had to make sure that the light was, beyond a few feet from my subject. 

And that was actually the the photo of the ballerina in the forest. I was basically at max power because I had to shoot a high-speed sync. And because of the way the trail was, I had to put the light about. 10 15 feet away. Yeah, they came out, but the exposure, wasn't what I wanted. I wound up using adding about a stop and a half in post-processing. 

[00:45:02] Matthew Holliday: Yeah. How about trans cover, bringing your lighting gear with you places personally I've only ever shot in my home. When I lived I used to live in a place that had a really big basement and I could just leave my lights set up all the time. So I've never really had the joy and fun of trying to take my full system somewhere. 

How do you do it?  

[00:45:23] Darci Brennan: Nowadays, very gently being in the military, I really fucked up my back. You don't want to lug around a bunch of gear. You need to understand which battles are you willing to be? Which ones you're not. And don't think about just packing it in. Think about after you've been on location for 5, 6, 7 hours, and you've got to lug that shit back to your car. 

Now to move my lights, depending on what I'm doing. If I think I need everything, I bought a a rolling tool kit that I fill up with lighting gear. It's got big knobby wheels so that I can get it up over curbs. It's modular so that if there's something specific I need, I can get to it and then put it back. 

And it was give us a little expensive. I think it was a Husky set I'll that's a rolling tool chest. I actually got the idea from another photographer in the UK that I met on a discord server. And I'm like, you know what? That sounds really good because previously I'd just put it in her backpack. 

If I'm just taking a couple of speed lights, I throw it in the backpack. I'm on my way. I really have to think hard about what light stands I bring because I realized that I like having lights up high and doing that with aluminum. Most aluminum light stands gets precarious. So I started investing in CS standards and originally I got our junior stand and they're fantastic. 

I love them. They're heavy as fuck. 

They are not that junior stand as much as I love it. It is not designed for on location use, but if you need it. So that's why I say, know what battles you need to fight? 

[00:47:30] Matthew Holliday: I'm looking at that out too. I'm looking at some heavier stands and some booms. Cause if you start swinging booms over stuff, you need a, weigh them down and you need heavy duty stands and cause yeah. 

cause I'm shooting with Speedlights I've been able to get by with basically super cheap aluminum stands.  

[00:47:46] Darci Brennan: One thing that I did learn to do where the Bo a couple of donut waits by this audio company and you can fill them with water and once you fill them with water, there are about 25, 30 pounds a piece.  

The great thing is if you take them on location, once you're done dump them out.  

[00:48:10] Matthew Holliday: Yeah.  

[00:48:11] Darci Brennan: So you don't have to lug that weight back. 

That's a neat trick. 

[00:48:16] Matthew Holliday: Now one of my one of my friends that does rucking, he does that with his weight for rucking. He fills it up with water. So that way if something happens and he used to dump out the weight, he doesn't have to drop a weight somewhere. You can just empty the bottles  

[00:48:31] Darci Brennan: Yeah. Yeah, 

[00:48:35] Matthew Holliday: and you being an army veteran in, like, why would you do that to your back on purpose?  

[00:48:42] Darci Brennan: no. People have different kinks and their masochism expresses itself in different ways. And if he wants to do that, God's blessing, but that ain't me. 

[00:48:54] Matthew Holliday: Alright, we are unfortunately just about a time. So I think we're actually over a bit. Let's go ahead and jump to the last question of the evening. What is your favorite photograph in your portfolio?  

[00:49:06] Darci Brennan: Oh God. My favorite shot in my portfolio bar, none is a shot that I took when I was in the army. My brigade had been tasked with doing the over at Superbowl 48 in 2014 Seahawks versus the Broncos  

In, and it was being played in at MetLife stadium in New Jersey. And we were coming in and the fireworks, the national Anthem was being sung and we're coming in and the fireworks, fire these red flares when she sung the rocket's red glare. 

And I was shooting out the front windshield of a ch 47 Chinook helicopter. And I captured the silhouette of an Apache and a block Hawk set up against the stadium and the flares. That is my bar, none favorite shot in my portfolio, if we limit it to my erotica, let's see. It's actually, oh, here it is. 

It is a picture of a model lit from the side and she is wearing a Monsignor's cassock and she is giving the sign of the benediction and to camera, it's white light coming in and then on her shadow side. There is this purple lighting and her face is split down the middle. That is my favorite erotica photo. 

[00:51:04] Matthew Holliday: Is that one under libido, orga some studio.  

[00:51:08] Darci Brennan: Yes, it is. It from the top, it's not in the first section. It's in the second section right underneath or second line all the way left. 

[00:51:20] Matthew Holliday: I see it all right on my screen. Oh, I seen the purple now. All right. Yeah. When I was looking at the little one, I didn't see the, also my it's after eight o'clock. So my screen has now color shifted, so it's not showing any blue light. All right. Yeah.  

[00:51:35] Darci Brennan: and she was the first professional model that I worked with or that I paid to work with and The day or the week after she went and shot a cover sheet for some magazine. She is the most wonderful person. I knew it was going to be a good shoe when I had made a geeky comment and her face just lit up. 

That was a great shoot. And that was, I shot with her, even though I hired her, but it was within the context of a group shoot. And I had an absolute blast working with her Dakota sky. I found her on model may hem. If you're looking for a model to work with, especially if you're trying to break out, she is a great model to work with. 

If you're trying to elevate your game be respectful and she will make you. 

[00:52:35] Matthew Holliday: That's good. It's good to know. I think my favorite is actually in the same section one road down all the way on the right. A woman looking up at, I assume somebody holding her leash.  

[00:52:47] Darci Brennan: Yep. If that was taken just off the cuff during a photo session at fall ICAN,  

[00:52:57] Matthew Holliday: Okay.  

[00:52:57] Darci Brennan: is a an Atlanta based kink convention. It is, it's a lot of fun. 

[00:53:06] Matthew Holliday: Right before a Halloween this year.  

[00:53:08] Darci Brennan: Yup. 

[00:53:11] Matthew Holliday: All right. Excellent.  

[00:53:12] Darci Brennan: Thank you so much for having me. It's been an absolute blast talking to you. 

[00:53:18] Matthew Holliday: Yeah. 

it's been super interesting. It's always fun to get in with another photographer and kinda discuss it's. It's one thing to talk with models, but it's another to talk with another photographer, for sure. So Darcy, where can everyone find you online if they want to connect with you and see your portfolio?  

[00:53:35] Darci Brennan: Okay. Right now I have an Instagram, but it's so completely neglected. So really, if you want to find my work you can find me on FetLife at L E S underscore studio. That is my sort of advanced advanced hobbyist. If you want to actually see a broader selection of my work, you can still find me under my legal name at www dot Dunkin' Brennan, D U N C a N B R E N a n.photo, P H O T O. 

And I've got under on my portfolio. The first one you'll see is that that picture of us coming into the super bowl. And there's a good number of shots that I've done for work. A few that I've done for funsies and just knock generally knocking around with a camera nothing too spicy but I've got some military photographs and cosplay, some portraits, couple of weddings shots that I've done. 

A little bit of boudoir, some landscapes. 

[00:54:57] Matthew Holliday: I can see that. I can see that Superbowl one. That is, yeah, just like capturing like the feel of the moment and just what it must've been exhilarating. Just like cruising through the air to sweep in. 

[00:55:06] Darci Brennan: I was terrified. I was terrified beyond belief because. This assignment out of all of the official photographers in the entire division, at the hundred first airborne, they sent me and basically their, what their orders were get the shot. Don't know what the shot is, what I'm supposed to get it. And up until that point, we were flying and there wasn't enough light to get a photo until the fireworks started going off. 

And I was just terrified. 

[00:55:46] Matthew Holliday: and I imagine on a helicopter as well, like the vibrations have gotta be the vibrations and motion and the shooting at night. 

[00:55:54] Darci Brennan: I was shooting free hand, no monopod,  

[00:55:58] Matthew Holliday: I don't know the mom, what a monopod of help to me. What's a helicopter vibrating so badly.  

[00:56:02] Darci Brennan: it would have, the vibrations would have been just transmitted right into the  

[00:56:05] Matthew Holliday: Yeah.  

[00:56:06] Darci Brennan: Yeah, I was. And we were constantly pitching up because the lady that was singing the national Anthem that year was a trained opera singer. So she could just draw up the notes forever. And so we were constantly slowing down and slowing down, which in a helicopter means that the nose is pitching up. 

So I had to shock, absorb through my knees and keep my camera on the level, both tilt wise and height, because since I was behind the pilots shooting through a tiny doorway, my margin of error was almost non-existent, but I pulled it off  

[00:56:51] Matthew Holliday: Yeah, no, that's brilliant. All right. Do you have any ongoing projects you'd like to mention.  

[00:56:56] Darci Brennan: I do. I am working with a friend of mine who is a designer and we are creating. Four sets of lingerie modeled after the four horsemen of the apocalypse. It's if the four horsewomen of the apocalypse or ladies, what would they be lounging around in before the end of existence? That was the concept of the shoot. 

[00:57:25] Matthew Holliday: That would actually make a cool book. Like not just one sheet with them, but just a whole anyway. Sorry. Distracted.  

[00:57:33] Darci Brennan: Yeah, it's originally, it was supposed to be the four dresses of the apocalypse, but the idea was just to grant it was gonna cost me like a quarter million dollars to to see that specific vision through. But I have a friend that owns a reconstruction era, a mansion that she runs as a bed and breakfast,  

[00:57:57] Matthew Holliday: Nice.  

[00:57:58] Darci Brennan: we can shoot there. 

And the the lingerie issue, that would be pretty cool. And I'm sure that we would do it over and over again to get all the shots that we want.  

[00:58:12] Matthew Holliday: Yeah. That makes sense.  

[00:58:14] Darci Brennan: So that is my upcoming project. And I'm also working with the same clothing designer to create pocket pants for women that have functional pockets. 

[00:58:26] Matthew Holliday: My wife complains about that. So she's gone completely into types that have pockets. 

because they now make like workout pants that make pockets. She just wears that all the time. Cause that's the only kind of pants you can get that up pockets.  

[00:58:39] Darci Brennan: Yeah. So  

That's everything.  

[00:58:43] Matthew Holliday: all right. And with that, we are done. Check us out@thensfwphotographypodcast.com on Twitter. As at SFW photography, Instagram at the NSFW photography podcast, and subscribe on your favorite podcast app. Keep making art, keep sharing art and keep listening to my podcast.

Darci Brennan (Libido Ergo Sum Studio) Profile Photo

Darci Brennan (Libido Ergo Sum Studio)

Photographer

Darci is a veteran and former Army photojournalist out of Atlanta.