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Category Archives: Modeling

If you have ever read any Hunter S. Thompson then you will get this. If not, then read more….

Purpose in life. What is yours? Does life make you or do you make life? Do you make art or does art present itself for you to make? I’m not sure what happens but I know for me its something I don’t pursue, but happens. Life on the other hand I’m still not sure if I’m swimming upstream or floating. Read the article….

http://yourfriendshouse.com/uncategorised/hunter-s-thompson-on-finding-your-purpose/

All the worlds thoughts and wants and needs and pets and babies… are on social media. Pictures and photoshoots and on and on and on…. I don’t mind the connections, the ability to find family and don’t forget the images you have to see, (you won’t believe the 3rd one). But putting my works online has suddenly hit a skid. I think hitting the IP server with all the images over and over might create a desensitized following. Maybe seeing every shoot and every model might just make your following mondaine. I think a few here and there might intrigue, but a gluten of images just makes it not so special.

Again, just my opinion.
Now for a shameless plug..

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Style. What is it? Do you have it? Do I? Style in this sense is defined by Merriam-Webster as : a particular way in which something is done, created, or performed. So as I read it, it can be anything. It can be consistent, in the same “style” as others or it can be just a way to do a certain “thing”.

When I was in photo school, I took some black and white classic nudes on film, ( you remember that right?) I developed them at school as I was want to do, and left them hanging on the drying rack and went home. The next day my instructor approached me and asked me if they were mine. I said yes and smiled, then he said “I thought so, they look like your style.” MY STYLE”? I thought, I’m sure grinning from ear to ear! I have a style!?! I wanted to dance like Steve Martin in the movie “The Jerk” when the new phone books arrived. (Sorry kids, ask your parents). I. HAD. A. STYLE. I was so proud.

A few years have passed….. I still like my style, but I think now I have discovered that its not a certain, trait, or edit or lighting technique. It could be I guess, but it doesn’t have to be. I think you can have a style and still branch into different looks and genres. In my opinion, doing the same “style” over and over again is boring. But…. my style can be seen in any of my images I hope,  you just have to look for it.

Look at mine, and see if you can find it.

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Great words said by a great American President. These word resonate in many minds of photographers, models or creatives. Fearing to take the shot or print the print, because we are afraid. Afraid that it is, or won’t be good enough, it might make someone mad or cause a uproar, or “I don’t know how to light it”, “I’m not sure I have the look.” So many things cross our mind,  fire in our synapses so fast, that we don’t even know its happening.

But fear is a big road block for so many that want to create or want to express. I  struggle still with it and it seems to overcome me at times. Not only fears of a shoot or the planning, but the fears of underlying concerns, like family pressures, finances, all have an impact on what we as artists do. It sometimes causes a block, or cause a shutdown all together, when what I really need to do is crerate more.

It sounds like an easy problem to over come, but to many, it is a concern that can leave your life unfulfilled.

My solution? Remember why you do what you do by doing it. Pick up the camera or brush, say yes to the shoot, even if you have a doubt about  its outcome. The worst that can happen is that you learn what not to do. The positives can be overwhelming.  A great result, a great new technique, meeting a great new person or finding something about yourself that you never knew.

Don’t hide who you are because you are afraid of what others will think. Be the person you know you are, and put it out there. Losing the fear of  having a fear is a truly freeing experience.

Take the demons that you face everyday, and show yourself that you can conquer them with strength that you now know you have.

Don’t fear the fear.

Many people in the industry work with models on a trade basis. To those who don’t know what that means, it means a model and a photographer, Make up artists or MUA’s, hair stylist (sometimes one and the same as a MUA), clothing designers and stylist, all work for the same images they produce , hopefully good enough for their portfolios. No money is usually exchanged  between artists although some may be spent on materials (which could be split among participants). Some might want to sign a release, but this is not always nessesary, or a legality in most states but thats another blog coming soon.

this shot is from a collaberation where the model was the MUA as well.

this shot is from a collaberation where the model was the MUA as well.

Many times a new photographer will reach out and find new models to work with. SOMETIMES the models aren’t so good, photographers either. Most of the time these sessions can lead nowhere. You get a good shot or two out of several hundred or maybe a thousand. They can be good for all involved if they are used as learning tool, but many times they are frusterating for all parties involved, but they don’t have to be.

A trade should be called a “collaboration”.

If you approach it in this way it can be a great experience for everyone. A collaboration should be treated as any other paid shoot or job you work. Preparation, planning, creativity and follow through. Now having said that, you probably think I am talking about the photographer. I’m not. Here is where the collaboration comes in.

If and when you contact models, MUA’s etc..  you should be ready to listen, negotiate, communicate ideas and then decide whether to shoot. Just because you like a look of a model doesn’t necessarily mean you have the same goals or ideas of what you want. If you do connect on a level then here is where you start. Show up a to a shoot with no idea of what your in for, and you’ll get the same out of it.

A model should be as involved as the photographer in this shoot. They can contact MUA’s bring outfits and even help find locations and network. If a model or photographer balk at any of this, just walk away and look for someone who will. If you are going to give your time, which we all know is valuable, then why not make the very most out of every click of the shutter.

I personally like to talk to everyone I work with at least face to face. If thats not possible, then by phone, remember that cool feature on your… phone?  Good communication is a crucial element to a successful shoot and without it only luck can make it have good results. Many people have been able to put images like this in their portfolio they use to seek out paid work. besides, someone who looks at your port will never know the difference if the work is good enough. It will also show you know how to work with a team which a plus to most editors.

So start by not calling it a “trade” but a “collaberation”.  At least your perception of what you are doing will start to change.

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This image is one of my favorites that I have taken. It was taken outside my studio in St. Paul about 3 years ago.

And I’m not talking lenses or gear…………

For those of you who live two lives instead of one, although you still need a photographic life, it’s often very hard to keep focus. Work, bills, kids, and many other distractions, as I call them, come to the forefront. Many of these ARE important but thy can take away from or photographic life, but  only if you let them.

I am too in this mix. Although I am moving towards a full time photographic life, there will always be things in “real”  life that I do and will always want to do, I try to find ways to involve them in my passion of photography. Going to the store the other day for a prescription of pain pills for my finger that I crushed at my “other job” I noticed a bird sitting on a light post in the parking lot, singing away. This guy was only about 4 or 5 inches long but he was making noise like he was the king of the air.  I thought “how would I capture that?”  Although I thought of the beauty of nature and the contrast of nature in the city, my lasting intent was how would I capture.

This is how I keep my focus. I am not a nature photographer in my career, but I do love it and shoot it occasionally, but my love for all things photographic keeps me thinking about it. I am always putting the two together. Life/Photography, inseparable to me.  My latest project is a art project inspired by the music of “Nine Inch Nails” which I was listening to at, you guessed it, my “other job”.

This is how I keep my focus.

If you have the desire and passion to live a photographic life, you can live with it within the life that we all have. Using the things that all of us see do and experience is just one way to keep your focus. Reading books and magazines, (that I usually fall asleep to) is a great way to keep the passion alive in times where life gets in the way. I listen to many podcasts, both related to photography and business and that not only keeps me thinking, but sometimes inspires me with new ideas and possible directions I want to go.

Looking at other photographers work. We all do it, we all think someones work is better than ours. Well, it might be more refined, more directed. but it is their work, not ours so it is different. I think of it that way. Not that the images I see are not spectacular, but I try to keep it in perspective. I do get ideas from others, but I don’t want to copy. It’s like a guitar player playing only one artist music. You become a copy of them and no one wants to hear or see that. Woody Guthrie once said, “some people steal from one person, I steal from everyone”.

Staying in focus is the true battle for many photographers, but it can be done.  As a wise photographer, teacher, pod caster and online friend told me,  make a plan and stick to it.

By keeping in focus with photography in either of your lives, you can become a better photographer, and a better person.

In my photographic life I have worked with all types of models, women, men, old, young, experienced and not. The non-pros, amateurs, or what ever you wish to call them, are sometimes the most fun to work with. The people I am referring to are generally people you know, have worked with before in a wedding, or portrait setting or even people you meet in a social setting, either in person or on-line.

The reason I like working with them in some situations, like for artistic projects or if you are doing work for pre-wedding or gifts for their spouse, is that they know virtually nothing. They have seen images or have them in their mind, but nothing else.  This can be hard for an inexperienced photographer, but it is a great opportunity to not only learn how to direct but to improve or hone your people skills. In these situations you have to think. Not only how to pose and get the expression you want, but you have to talk to them in terms they can understand.

If you are using them for your own project you have to be very specific in what you want and guide them to achieve the idea or look you want to have. This take patients and critical thinking to make sure they understand what you are looking for. Seeing a bit of doubt before you shoot is normal, but as you progress they are looking for direction. Be sure to give it to them. Having them “do what they feel like” will have detrimental effects on most models and most shoots.

If you are sucessful, not only will you get genuine exprressions and poses but a image that the subject did not know was he/she was capable of doing. This will without doubt help build your repuataion with them but with the people they talk to and inteact with. Being sucessful with this does take preperation and planning on your part. Take the time to get to know the subject before the shoot if you can, this is crutial to a great photographer – subject relationship during the shoot. If they are comfortable with you and you with them it will truly show in the images.

Working with first time subjects that want to get into modeling, the rules are pretty much the same. get to know them, talk to to them about what they want. Promise NOTHING you can’t deliver. Don’t lie to them. Be honest open and if you promise images within a certain time, deliver. There are many fly by night people out there, so separate yourself by being the one they can trust.  The networking advantages to this can be huge.

Having said that, don’t be afraid to say no to a model that want something you don’t necessarily want to do. Keeping your focus on a certain style builds your brand as a photographer. That doesn’t mean that you can’t grow and change. You should and you will, but having certain look or style will keep future clients looking for you when that is the style they are looking for.

So if you are working with or being approached by “non-models”,  look at it as a great opportunity for you.  Not only expand your market and help you learn, but you might actually produce some images that you enjoy and images that no one else will have in their port.