Making it Work – Steampunk Style

On February 11th I had the opportunity to shoot a steampunk event here in St. Louis. The Steampunk Broken Hearts Ball was a combination art exhibit and fashion show, produced by Victoria L. Sculz. It was held at 1900 Park in historic Lafayette Square. I knew that amazing costumes would be on display, not only on the models but the guests as well, so I was excited to shoot it. 

(Not sure what steampunk is? Check out the Wikipedia entry about it to learn more. The short answer of interest to a photographer is: steampunk = amazing, creative costumes and fun people who love to be photographed.)


Steampunk Fashion Show Photos

To give you an example of the costumes on display, here are a few photos from the fashion show – styled by Victoria L. Sculz.


The Venue

1900 Park is a gorgeous performance and event venue, absolutely perfect for the event, but with one glaring exception that I knew was going to impact me. Since the space would be filled with artwork, vendors, food tables and guests, there was very little space to set up a proper photo backdrop and shoot.

I walked in that night unsure as to where exactly I’d be setting up, and it was a tad daunting to see the cramped space I’d be working in, but in the end I was able to create some really strong images, despite the challenges. And that’s what it’s all about, right? Making it work, making great images, every time. 

I was working in pretty cramped quarters, for sure. The only way anyone could get to the venue’s bathroom was to walk between me and my subject. Fun times!


The Images

What I wanted for the photo-booth aspect of the night was to create some appropriately vintage-feeling portraits. The processing for these fell right in line with the amazing costumes.

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What a great night – I met so many fun and interesting people, both steampunk newbies and old-hats in the cosplay game. I love to capture the enthusiasm of cosplayers, and do justice to the incredible amount of work that goes into their costumes. Hope you enjoyed the images!

Tech Specs

I was shooting APS-C, (Canon T6i) that night, which made the close quarters a bit more of a challenge. I had two 24′ gridded softboxes w/speedlights. Grids were essential as I had no distance between the subject and the background, and no space to add a rim light – so I really needed to control the light I did have. I shot most of the 3/4 length  and couples shots at  24mm (35mm equivalent) ISO 100, about 1/80 sec at f4. I switched to 35mm for the close-ups. Post-processing done in Lightroom CC and Silver Efex Pro 2.

Questions? Shoot me an email

Susan Bennet is a St. Louis-based photographer and videographer. Her work has been featured in the Riverfront Times, on HEC-TV and in a recent solo show at SOHA Gallery. To find out more or book a session or event, click here.

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