Thanksgiving theme? Christmas theme?
A preliminary calendar of upcoming 2014 Photography Workshops is now available. I tried to place them every 4th Sunday of each month. Themes and details will be filled in soon, but have a look for now.
”Photography! Acquiring the knowledge and tools to express your artistic vision.”
– Wayne Paulo
Most beautiful women don’t know they’re beautiful.
If you’re a woman, you already know this. But guys find this hard to believe.
Even models, who have their moments of awareness, usually suffer from low self-esteem for one reason or another. And haunts them with seeing flaws in themselves that others would never notice, or at the very least, overlook.
They may wear a brave outer shell, but many times that is just a defensive wall for what’s going on inside.
I once had an photographer who drove overnight from Michigan to San Antonio, TX just to attend a one-day photography workshop. I was skeptical when I first talked to him on the phone, but he assured me that he wanted to attend one of MY workshops. And he paid, showed up, participated, learned, and took that knowledge and confidence back with him and applied it to his own studio and style.
More than a few have traveled from Laredo, Houston, and even Dallas. But Steven has always held the record for ‘distance furthest traveled to attend’. That is, until this month when I’ll be beating his record distance by travelling from Toronto, Canada Lol. But he’ll still hold the student record.
The point is, how far will you go to invest in yourself? Are you satisfied with the photographs you’re producing now? Have you ever looked at others photographs and wished you knew how to create them?
I used to be in the same boat. I had all the gear (or so I thought). I had bought a full set of studio lights, had 20+ years pressing the shutter; yet still I my studio photographs lacked that ‘ooomph!’ that I saw coming from photogs such as Tracy Hicks, and others.
So, when I saw Tracy putting together a workshop, I jumped on it! Even though the 1st one I attended was 3 hours drive, and the 2nd was a 5 hour drive, I felt the ends justified the means. And you know what? It did.
And it was easy. Once someone showed me how, and I got the hands-on experience. I knew what gear I needed, I knew how to use it; I was confident in experimenting with new lighting recipes, etc.
Invest in yourself. You deserve it. And it’s easier than you think. What have you done lately to improve your photography?
In the words of one model:
(My version may be modified and/or out of date.
Please Read the original & updated posting by Model Rachel Jay, with examples of her own work, on her site here: http://racheljay.wordpress.com/2008/10/15/the-home-studio/)
There are some models who say a photographer who has a home studio is creepy, unprofessional, and is one to be wary of. There are even some who say that a photographer who has an actual studio (as in one separate from his place of residence) is far more legit, safer, and more professional. The reasoning is often, “I don’t want to be alone with a stranger in his house”. What’s even more mindblowing is when people say things like, “a home studio is fine as long as there’s backdrops, lights and other expensive-looking stuff, it can even be in the basement… but just shooting out of the living room with none of that is creepy!”.
And to all that I say: BULLSHIT! Why?
Studio rental can be expensive. Not everyone can afford to rent space to shoot in (especially right now). And why should someone who has the space available in their home/apartment be forced to fork out more dough to rent more space? They shouldn’t. Renting space doesn’t automatically make someone a pro… it makes them someone who can rent space.
Space is space. If there’s room for a backdrop and lights to be set up, there’s room to shoot. Heck, a lot of the time, you don’t need the backdrop and lights to get a beautiful shot–a space lit well with natural light can create amazing images. And sometimes, the lack of space and the uniqueness of it might force the model and photographer to get creative, which can result in some great stuff as well.
When did expensive equipment and a “legit-looking” place start meaning that the person who owns it all is safe and professional? Spending a lot of money on something doesn’t automatically buy that person talent as well, so why would it eliminate their creep factor or make them conduct themselves in a professional manor? It wouldn’t.
So, home studio versus rented space…
What’s the big deal where someone shoots? Models (especially those building their portfolios) should be more concerned with portfolio quality, professional conduct, and communication skills than where the photographer shoots his/her pictures.
If a model is insecure with being alone with the photographer, even after she’s checked references, she has a couple options. She could make sure it’s ok to bring a MUA (or ask the photographer if he has one he works with often), and book one. She could ask the photographer to meet ahead of time, at a place like Starbucks. Or she could just not shoot with that photographer.
I installed Easy Release from http://www.applicationgap.com awhile back while it was in it’s infancy. The latest update allows for custom logo’s, custom releases, etc. You can bring up a release, add the model’s photo, have her, you, and a witness sign it on the iPhone, and have it send you and the model a PDF version of the release. See the screencap below of a sample release.
Of course, they explain it better:
Easy Release by ApplicationGap replaces inconvenient paper release forms with a slick, streamlined application designed by professional photographers for professional photographers. Easy Release lets you collect all the data and signatures you need right on your iPhone, then mails a PDF and JPEG of the release right to you. Easy Release uses industry-standard and proven legal language that is accepted by the world’s leading stock photo companies, like Getty Images and ALAMY. Plus, Easy Release supports 12 different languages, so you can get the release you need, no matter who, or where you are shooting.
Recently I did this photoshoot and decided to add another light as an experiment. Now usually I shoot with 4 strobes, all of which are AB400’s. I added a 5th light which had a great brand name, very heavy and should have been able to handle the job.
Unfortunately it did not. With my shooting style I shoot quite rapidly. I allow the models to free pose in order to avoid stiff poses. I shoot frames whether I think the pose is good or not, because sometimes, once you look at it on screen it really WAS a good shot. Why miss it? But the point is, when I really see a model HIT the right pose, something that looks so super sexy and just ‘right’, I snap very rapidly: a slight shift of the hips, flick of the eyes, raise of the chin can make the difference between a ‘keeper’ and a shot that pops out.
In this case however, the rapid recycling times of the AB400 were able to keep up with my shooting style, but the extra ‘quality brand name’ light could not. In fact, after a few rapid fires it would signal an ‘overheat’ condition and we’d have to stop for a few seconds to allow it to catch up to us. This totally threw off my timing and the whole creative process.
So, just something to learn from my experience. Try to make sure your lights can keep up with your style. Even if they aren’t all the same watt-seconds, at least they should be close enough so it doesn’t slow you down. I know I’ve had a few people at my workshops comment on the difference of shooting studio strobes vs. speedlights; once you see the difference you may switch too.
But a few beers in me and I was telling that I knew how to photograph women, and could talk any of the waitresses into ‘getting some pix done’. So they said, ‘How about her?’, referring to our waitress, Briana.
Truth is, I had bought some studio lighting using a bonus I had gotten from work. I didn’t really know how to use it….just practiced on family and stuff. And the first time I photographed Bri using it I royally messed up by having one critical setting wrong. I was so nervous. The photos were salvagable, but I wasn’t happy with myself. I vowed to make myself better. This girl really inspired me to pursue my photography of women again. I took workshops, read, bought more lighting, etc etc.
Now it’s 3 short years later. And I’m grateful to have a muse. We don’t always see eye-to-eye on the same poses, the same outfits, which photos are better, or just life in general. But we make a good team. We feed off each others creative energy. And we come out of the studio with some bangin’ photos. Maybe not always what we went into with planned, but that is part of the creative process.
Briana has a certain je ne sais quoi mixed with a joie de vie! I think anyone who has met her will agree. And that is the reason I still photograph her as much as possible. Like a Buddhist who has not yet reached Nirvana, I have failed to capture Briana’s true essence in a photograph. Until that day, I’ll be inspired to become a better photographer.
As a photographer of amateur and professional models alike, there are a couple of main things that help the model-photographer team make a photograph go from just good, to outstanding.
Those things are:
1) Relaxation – The photos will reveal when the model is not relaxed. And relaxation comes when the model has confidence in the photographers skills, trusts the photographer to give her direction and help make her appear the best she can be. Relaxation also comes with time. Most often the best photos come at the end of the session, when the model has become more relaxed. But also after they’ve changed outfits a few times, thus missing those great shots.
2) Posing – Good posing comes with relaxation. But, there are some basic rules and techniques that we can put into practice right from the start of a shoot.
a) C-S-I poses
Once you know and put into practice these three simple things, every photoshoot will produce outstanding results; as long as you have a skilled photographer that can handle the rest.
C S I
Although this is actually a reverse ‘C’, we can see the models head pointed in the same direction as her leading leg. The ‘C’ is accentuated by leading the eye along the curve of her bent arm. We can see parts of the ‘S’ pose mingled in here, but the overwhelming pose is still ‘C’. The pose is also aesthetically pleasing due to the triangles formed by the model’s arms.
In this classic subtle ‘S’ pose below, the model’s head is bent slightly to her left, her hips are accentuated forward, and the weight is on her right leg.
The ‘I’ pose is quite simply a straight up and down pose. But notice how the model brings one leg forward of the other to slim her hips. The raised arm incorporates the start of an ‘S’ pose…these are not hard and fast rules, and many good photos incorporate a hybrid of two or more of the basic poses. The model was slightly tilted for effect using photoshop.It’s not as easy as it looks. Try one right now…or all three. If you can’t seamlessly transition from one pose to the other it just means you’ll need to practice more! And, if you practice, you’ll be more confident in your own body, and more relaxed, enabling the photographer to do what he does best: make outstanding photos of you!Here’s a link to a video with some other standards in posing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFKrrdJxakE
Hands can make or break a photo. If they are not positioned correctly they stand out like….well, like a sore thumb. And the general rule of thumb is: keep the fingers together and uncurled. First, we don’t want to amputate the fingers by curling them. And second, we don’t want to exasperate the problem by combining the curl with spread fingers, producing the dreaded CLAW. Using the above photos as examples, we see an exception to the rule where the model is gripping a football: perfectly acceptable in the context. The other hand could have benefited from avoiding the slight spread. In the middle photo, the model is gently gripping her top. The keyword here is gently. Notice that the fingers are slightly amputated, but acceptable. In the third photo however, the model is covering her nipples (which were covered with a piece of black gaffers tape), but her fingers are spread. This photo would not only look better if her fingers were together and gently cupped, but also avoid the extra work of photoshopping the nipple (or in this case tape).
The second most important thing when dealing with hands is to avoid placing hands at the same level. As with anything, there are certain exceptions, but the best photos will have always have the hands at different levels. Whether on your hips, waist, or legs, shifting one hand up or down just a few inches can not only change the whole flow of the photo, but make you look trimmer and slimmer at the same time.
c) Expression – Please, no Zoolanders
In the movie, Zoolander, the main character has one signature ‘look’. In reality, shooting 500 frames of a model with only one look is not only boring, but leaves fewer choices when picking out which photos to edit. One thing you can do to give your expression a sensual look is to practice whispering some vowel. In particular, try whispering I O U in an exasgerated, drawn-out manner. Give it a try and look in the mirror as you do it. IIIIIIIIIIIIII, then OOOOOOOOOOOOO, and UUUUUUUUUUUUuuuuuu. ONE of them may look like the zoolander expression, but not all three! What your lips do, the rest of your face will follow.