My friend Guy and I did a shoot not long ago with Cheryl, who’s a cool professional model with some amazing tattoos, and also well versed in photography tricks. I love shooting around neon lights, but there are very few remaining in Singapore, and many are not at street level. The few that we can access are a bit small and underwhelming. Cheryl shared a fun trick that I’ve been enjoying ever since.
Here’s how it works: stand your subject near the neon sign, and make sure to use a short focal length like 24mm or 50mm. Take out your smartphone, remove any case you may have put on it, and hold the face up alongside your lens, right against it. Tilt your camera away a bit, and move your phone until you see the reflection of the neon lights in it. I’m in no way an expert in this, and you may or may not like the effect, but if you get it right, it makes it look like your subject is surrounded by neon lights.
This shot above is from a session with Helena Cho in front of a wall of animated LED lights. The effect is futuristic and funky, give it a try!
Another fun trick is to put translucent objects in front of the lens while shooting. In another scene I shot with Helena, the venue had an old fish tank near the front desk with some small LED lights around the tank. I asked Helena to stand behind it and did a short set of shots with the lights and the tank glass blurred in the foreground. The effect gives it a flashy city-lights look.