Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Stop Posting Serial Photographs

Avoid those serials. You know what we mean - the serials. Putting up two or three and often more of the same series of photographs back to back to back. It diminishes their effectiveness and awe factor. 

Photographers can get carried away with serials as well as models. We fall in love with a model (happens all the time. Don't worry, it's platonic but it will never lasts because we're artists. We're passionate and intense but we bore quickly ๐Ÿ˜€). Or we fall in love with a look or a series and we want to put up three four or more of the same garment from the same model in the exact same location with very little change between each shot. We're not talking a complete pose change or location change. We're saying a subtle change like she's leaning to her left side on this shot and then the next she leans to the right. Trust us when we say people bore pretty quickly and unless that image offers a unique look or perspective not seen in its preceding image you had better leave it out completely.

People want to be shocked, awed and surprised. The more you feed them the same, the more you'll bore them to tears and they'll quickly lose interests. As a photographer, we have to keep pushing ourselves to be more innovative, creative and forward thinking which is why one of the greatest attributes of the best artists in the world is that they hate sameness. They need to keep pushing boundaries of expressiveness and always wanting more - more sensation and more variety. But when anyone, including models, puts up two or three of the same picture from the same look without staggering them it gets old pretty fast. This is more pronounced with social media. Upon first seeing a picture the reactions are near instantaneous, plentiful and  immediate  especially if it is unexpected; followed up with a very similar barely differentiated image of the same you can likely expect about a 50% to 70% drop right off the top in the number and time of reactions. What can I say? People just have short attention spans. They're already looking for the next shocker. 

If you have a lack of work then stagger the looks or wait awhile between posts. If you lack the patience then you really need to shoot more variety with more frequency. If you still can't do that then you need to shock your audience beyond words. You'll want them to gasp and you'll want to blind them in waves of mind numbing awesomeness with each posts despite those long spans of time between each one. It's one more reason why runway pictures get old really fast. I mean just how many angles of the same runway, in the same dress of the same person do we need to see? Ok runway - got it - check - let's move on. One is ok. Two is bad. Three is horrible. When we saw the first image we got it. Great, you do runway. Bored already. Trust me, they'll wait for you between post if you're good enough. But if you're predicable and keep doing the same thing you're gonna irritate them and your audience will not come back.  

Monday, August 29, 2016

To Model or Not to Model Lingerie

To Do or Not To Do Lingerie

It's a question that any and all aspiring models ask themselves at some point during their career. It doesn't matter if a model is in to it for simply the art of it, or just the money - at some juncture the question will arise as to whether or not he or she will ever model lingerie.

People have their different reasons and I've heard them all. Let's start with the "I will never model lingerie" group. The most common reasons given are as follows:

1. I do not wish to objectify myself or my body for the sell of any product.

2. I have too much respect for myself to parade around half naked for anyone else's benefit.

3. I don't have the appropriate body type for lingerie modeling.

4. My spouse would not approve of me modeling lingerie despite me considering it.

5. have a family with kids that would not respect me for showing that much of myself publicly. 

6. I have a day job and I risk shaming my employers and potentially losing my job for anything that might reflect negatively on the company. 

7. I'm not confident enough or brave enough to show that much of body.

8. I believe that lingerie is intimate and not morally fitting to be publicized to anyone but my spouse. 

9. I don't trust anyone to behave respectfully toward me after I model lingerie. 

10. There are too many perverted people and I'd hate to see or hear what they think of me.

11. People that dress this way for attention are little more than sexual solicitors. They do it for money or attention or both.

12. These people have no self respect. 

The aforementioned are a few of the reasons we've heard and I'm sure there are many we've missed or simply forgot to write down. Modeling lingerie is an extremely personal choice. No one should convince you. No one should inhibit you and no one but the model themselves and their immediate family should be privy to even discussing the possibility of doing so. But even so it's deeply personal and the consequences and rewards of doing so is different for every single person. 

What are some of the reasons for modeling lingerie? We've heard several of those as well and they are:

1. My body is my own and no one should have the authority to tell me what I can and cannot do with my own personage.

2. It is not a sexual issue unless you make it one. I do not do so for sake of anything sexual but more so to demonstrate that a person can be beautiful, tasteful and attractive without shame or objectifying themselves.
It is ultimately liberating and freeing and I am more marketable as a model and have had more paid assignments and jobs as a result of being more versatile.

3. My body type is more suited to modeling lingerie than it is for fashion or runway work.

4. have a very supportive family and they respect me, my decisions and they always strive to not just support me but also help me make informed and smart decisions. They participate in my work and there is zero shame in anything I do because I always consider what jobs I will take or not take based on how feel.

5. Lingerie modeling is as much or more so about articles of clothing as fashion modeling depending on what it is being used for. It simply depends on how well it's done and who is doing it. I prefer the fashion-lingerie modeling because of great styling. 

6. I've seen swimwear modeling more trashy than any lingerie modeling I've ever done. So the idea that lingerie is bad or objectifying is a matter of taste, quality and perception. I only so high end work so I never have some problems I here about.

7. I work with great people and I know I can trust them and they always have my best interests at heart. They would never do anything to debase me or themselves for a quick buck. I'm also allowed to take part in the look and direction of what is being modeled so as not to be potentially embarrassed about what I see later.

8. There are swimwear lines I would never wear because they're overly revealing and yet there are several lingerie garments that I would wear. As long as it's styled well and suited to my body it works.

9. Society has far too many stipulations about what is and is not appropriate. I'm just gonna do what's good for me and the people that love and support my aspirations.

10. I only want to do high quality work no matter what it is. Quality is key. I've seen short shorts and dresses more inappropriate than some lingerie.  

11. I don't want my kids growing up thinking the body is something to be feared or hidden away like some sort of object of ownership. That's part of the problem. We create our own stigmas and often times the more we try to project our own sense of morality onto others the more we negate the positives of being free, being beautiful and having a strong sense of self and authority over our own bodies. It's why their is so much body shaming. We hide ourselves behind these lies; behind veils and stereotypes.

12. It's just not a big deal. We don't live in the 50s anymore. I've seen some of these new dresses models wear and they look like street walkers. These dresses don't show an ounce of skin either but somehow they can still look indecent. Then I've seen lingerie that looked like a sculpted piece of art and when it's modeled and photographed well it's beautiful and I'd be proud to show anyone. I believe it's styling and posing. 

Well there are several models that have made great careers never modeling a single thread of lingerie and they have their reasons for doing so. Yet, there are more models that cross style boundaries and delve into many types of modeling, maximizing their portfolio and seizing endless opportunities. Most Victoria Secret models tend to do high fashion, lingerie, casual and even some very very well placed artful nudes even as they got older. In fact, it could be argued that we have seen more VS models model implied nude or nude in the last yer than ever before. Many of these models have families and other sources of income but modeling remains their primary career. 

Their situation isn't like everyone else's. Modeling is their life. It's all they do and their fortunes are built on it. For most people starting out, the lines aren't so clearly drawn. It's a tough business and some models feels that modeling in lingerie for nothing but the absolute best designers and for the best photographers simply isn't work the risk despite how much it pays or the potential uptick in marketability.

We believe that anything worth doing is worth doing well. In our humble opinion, lingerie does  requires a higher sense of caution when compared to other types of modeling. I recall a model contacting me a few years ago about wanting to do a series lingerie photo shoots. According to her, she had been following our work for some time and she felt like it was time to try lingerie modeling. She knew we shot lingerie but mainly fashion and portraits. In her words, the ideal photographer was someone who could shoot lingerie but with the eye and style of a fashion photographer. "Perfect" we thought. But after sitting down with her a few weeks prior to shooting just to discuss what she had in mind I learned that what she wanted was considerably more risquรฉ then I originally thought. I took it as a paid assignment and did the session in a manner befitting our shooting style and her want of daring looks. It turned our spectacular. We attribute that to taking the time to really establish beforehand what our expectations were and to get a sense of hers. You see, with lingerie you don't get any do overs to clean your act up. It only takes one bad picture to come across looking like trash forever. Therefore, that sitting down and talking about what is and what is not the goal and look is paramount to achieving stellar results.

In another instance we sat down with a totally different very experienced glamour model. She was very clear about her look. It wasn't about garments. It was about her, her posing and her body. Consequently, we photographed her accordingly and again with extraordinary results that went on to be multi-published in a variety of glamour magazines across the country. Another instance, involved a very demure almost timid mature model who physically had all the look of a fashion model but wanted to do lingerie. Sensing her initial anxiety, I sat down with her beforehand and had a frank conversation about the forthcoming shoot and what she can expect and how she can prepare. I even talked about choosing "not" to do the shoot to give her an out because no one needs be pressured into lingerie or feeling committed to doing it just because they'd feel guilty about backing out. Basically I was giving her a chance to back out without hard feelings because we abhor cancellations and no-shows; even the paying ones.  Afterwards, I discussed sexy but extremely soft and stylish looks indicative of that same everyday VS style you see in everyday shopping mall storefront windows. With the shoot weeks behind us I later learned that even her mother was ecstatic with the results and if I can make mom smile without embarrassment then I've done my job well. 

If you're still not sure if we think someone should do lingerie modeling then let me be clear. It's truly up to you. Naturally we support the decision either way and as a photographer, publisher and designer, my advice is that if you do choose to do lingerie modeling DO IT VERY WELL - just look like the supermodel that you are when you do. Get a perfect style. Choose a phenomenal photographer you can work with on the look to make certain it is extremely stylish, well suited for what you want to achieve and in a genre you want to be within. We would say the same on swimwear or any look for that matter. This is your reputation on the line so it's imperative to get it right. I read a model wrote on her Facebook Page recently that she doesn't want to do anything sexy anymore. I wasn't quite sure what that meant because what is sexy is very subjective. Later I learned she didn't want to do lingerie or swimwear any more but only fashion. Well given her past shoots, body type and height, stereotypically she was already in her best genre. Yet, rules can and have been broken before. Her problem wasn't sexy. It wasn't showing skin or lingerie or swimwear. I fear she still doesn't quite understand this but her main problem was styling and posing. If you don't want to look slutty then you can't dress or pose slutty. It's that simple. For example, to this very day I can't say that I've ever seen or even heard of a trashy or ill conceived La Perla lingerie ad in Vogue or elsewhere; none that offended me at least and I consider myself somewhat conservative. Yet, this aforementioned model kept working with the same people and expected a different results. Hire a wardrobe stylist. Hire a photographer and a different makeup artist and hair stylist. If you're not getting what you want from the people you have you have to change your people or change yourself. You can't shoot with the photographer that pays you in a pair of smokes and expect a La Perla quality photo shoot. It doesn't happen. You have to vet new people, study and learn about why you're not getting the look you want and adapt before making sweeping generalizations and say that it's because you're being too sexy and blame the lingerie. That's just weird when you sound that out. Try it. "I'm not successful as a model because I'm too sexy and I'm not doing lingerie anymore because I'm so hot I look slutty." Dumb right?

Still doubt me? Consider this; ever see a long full length gown, skirt or bodycon dress worn by a model somewhere and felt that it was the most indecent picture you've ever seen? Sure you have. Now consider, have you ever seen a huge billboard or sign with a lingerie model on it and thought it was sexy but not perverted. It was soft and approachable and yet not overtly sexual. You thought it was artful and well style and composed. Of course you have. It's not about what you're wearing or what you're not  wearing it's about how well you're wearing it and context. In the right context, the right fitting, styling, pose and light absolutely anything can be modeled well and stylishly. How do I know this? I know because I've photographed and have seen fine art-nudes less sexually provocative than some fully clothed models I've observed online and elsewhere. 

If you choose not to ever venture into lingerie modeling or swimwear modeling that's fine too as long as you're doing it for reasons comfortable for you and not because of someone else's reasons. In other words, be genuine and be honest with yourself because I don't know anyone that doesn't want to be or be photographed like a Victoria Secret's model at least one time in their life; if we're really being honest.  

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Photography is a People Business

You can learn every single thing about lighting. You can buy the best camera gear, grip and props. Yet, the thing that truly makes your image great is how well you interact with and engage your subject. 

Just this past Thursday I was called upon to photograph a member of a corporate sales team. This guy is the big cheese of financial and sales analytics. He's the number one reporting guy. As you might imagine his professional image is extremely important and he was well overdue for a profile update image for his business page. I was approached directly by his direct manager to make sure he's taken care of from the image perspective. He knew i knew the deal; the upscale, professional, business look with all the fixings. But he specifically added, "give it your special touch." Whatever that means. 

I could tell the guy was apprehensive but he really needed the update. I'd seen the existing pxiture and lets just say it's... Bad would be an understatement. But he knew it wasn't great because he went on and on about how spur of the moment it was when he had taken it etc etc. I wasn't setup yet and I told him it would take a few minutes. I didn't even have a camera immediately on hand; my own was clear across town. But he wanted to just hang around and follow me until I was ready. They didn't have great lights either. In fact, they are atrocious little buggers; weak on power with a terrible color cast that was inconsistence every time you turn them on. The camera they had was also about 14 generations behind the tech curve. I worked very hard indeed to figure out how to set a reasonable white balance on the barely functional paperweight. That's all I had - two weak monolights of two different colors in a room the size of a closet with a prehistoric camera that barely turned on affixed to a generic very loud slow lens stuck on f4 aperture all under weak fluorescent office lights. I had no V-flats and no assistant. 

It took a few moments to setup but my intended subject was chatting me up incessantly obviously as a means to quell his own nervousness. Hey, I get it. Some people have very real anxiety when it comes to having their picture taken particularly when they don't want to. No amount of expensive gear and lights will make him more comfortable. Consequently, if he's nervous it will show and what you'll end up with is a crappy picture even if you used $50,000 worth of gear. Sure it would be clearer, brighter and in perfect color but you'll have a subject with an expression that says I really don't want to be here. I'd rather be getting a root canal. Fortunately, I've had years of experience with situations like this. If i didnt I'd be screwed because the company is about 15 years behind on having the appropriate gear for this sort of thing. I mean to say without exaggeration that a cell phone on a selfie stick could take a better picture than some of this company's stuff. From pure experience, I knew that the best pictures are always from people who are comfortable taking them and from people that trust you unconditionally do make them feel and look amazing. So what could I do?

Well I did what I always do. I talked to him. I'd subtly suggested a spot for him to stand in without him even realizing it. He was following me around anyway so I just lead him right into the light and stopped in such a manner that had him stand where I wanted him to be which was right against a bright white very boring wall. What that wall was to me was a perfect way to bounce the already atrocious lighting so that this weak camera sensor I was working with could pick up a bit more light. So while I'm pretending to look for stuff I ask him about projects he's been working on. It eventually lead to a few jokes, him laughing himself to tears and talking about some family picnic he was reminiscing about. Now keep in mind I'm shooting the entire time but he barely paid me any attention. His anxiety was gone largely because he wasn't thinking about the little ad hoc photo shoot I'd learned about only five minutes earlier. He was too engrossed in the conversation to care. To an onlooker we were just two co-workers having a great chat about absolutely nothing but trivial BS. 

I had changed shooting modes and aperture settings several times even after only a dozen or so captures in to it. You have to do that with sub par gear because crap gear can be so horribly inconsistent. You're never sure which images will be the keepers. I ached for my own gear but I didn't have access to it and quite frankly this gig doesn't cover the expense or risk of bringing out my gear. Besides, it's a very last minute thing. 

I finally showed him the first few pictures I'd taken. He was shocked as to how comfortable and poised he looked and even more shocked as to how much I'd already shot. He said he had always struggled with pictures and never quite mastered the right expression - not until now at least. He was very pleased and even wanted to take more pictures with a variety of backgrounds. Well time was of the essence so I kept it simple and put off something grander for a later date. 

The main thing to remember is that really great photography involves more than just standing behind your camera with thousands of dollars in equipment. I've seen those pictures. We all have seen those images; crystal clear, technically flawless in perfect light shot from a $5,000 camera with a $5,000 lens but images that are still boring as hell. You forget about them almost as fast as they left your sight. To really bring out your subject's best you need to engage them. You'll draw more of their personality into the look and that is always more appealing than just asking someone to smile (weird). Remember to stay productive while you're directing, adjusting, capturing and chatting. Remember that you're working. You just make it look easy and that always lowers the anxiet and nervousness of your subject. To the untrained eye you're just having a great time and seemingly rarely firing off a shot. But in reality, you're adjusting lights, changing the aperture and shutter speed, recomposing and adjusting white balance all while having them follow you around the space as you get a variety of backgrounds, genuine expressions and real emotions. It's a win-win because you're capturing amazing images, getting a potential lifelong client and probably making a new friend. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Shooting Themes

As you know by now we're really big into shooting themes or looks that carry a common thread. We chalk it up to experience with publishing. Generally, projects that get the most press follow a general idea or pattern. It is the same reason why editorials are published more than just random images. Furthermore, people that participate in editorials as a model, photographer or even makeup artists and stylists tend get more publicity. But there is another reason aside from just having a theme.

Having a theme is critical for editorial publishing and some periodicals can accommodate several in a single issue. Quite frankly a theme or an editorial can be anything but it will often be slated toward the general audience preference and type of publication. But from a purely logistical perspective shooting themes simply make more sense. I much rather shoot just denim for instance, if denim is the general theme; then I  know precisely what kind of vibe and atmospherics I'm lighting for rather than try to shoot denim, swimwear and gowns all in the same venue and time unless that's the goal. Models tends to perform better as well. Having a central idea is conducive to her posing and manner of expressiveness.
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SIRCUS™ Magazine Double Cover Edition Issue 9
It's also great for MUAS and stylists. Shifting dramatically from casual to formal then chic to gaudy can create a nightmare when trying control foundation, concealer, colors, eyeliner and then clothing and accessory changes. It's bad for the model's hair and skin and quite frankly there is less synergy because there will always be that visual disconnect because everyone may be on a different creative page.

In summary, themes are important. When I want to shoot denim and that's what I cast for then I really want to shoot all sorts of different denim looks, not bikinis and dresses and lingerie and anything else unless it plays into the theme. Let's do that on another day. 

If we're doing swimwear then let's make it a full day at the beach and shoot all sorts of swimwear with different angles, lighting and backgrounds. Let's go to the lake and then to the beach or pool. It's much easier to manage the shoot. The best case for me if we're shooting denim and we want swimwear included then the swimwear should be denim. Oh yeah, denim swimwear exists and it's awesome. Otherwise, I've learned that it's best to have nutlike smaller shoots over a period of time than trying to get all sorts of different looks at once. 

The upside is that no one will get exhausted and start underperforming. I believe it's also why SIRCUS™ magazine Issue 9 was so successful. Superior models, great casting and styling and a central theme. Everyone knew it was gonna be and only be swimwear with a few bonus looks. It made everything more cohesive and easier to manage. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

What NOT to bring to a photo shoot

What NOT to bring to the photo shoot. We always encourage people to bring only the essentials to photo shoots but we seldom tell them what NOT to bring. Here are a few of things.

1. NO CIGARETTES! There is a 99.9% chance that wherever we're shooting (particular indoors) has a non-smoking policy. Personally I'd prefer no-smoking that day (or week) because I personally have a seriously reaction to the smell of nicotine. I'm talking instant migraine just from people smoking in the car in front of me at a stop light. It's all windows up, AC off and holding my breath until the light changes (pray for a short wait). So we'd recommend wearing a patch or that special gum if you just have to have it. For other type smoke you better be passing and shooting at the same time๐Ÿ˜€. Lol! I didn't just write that did I? ๐Ÿ˜€

2. No personal jewelry. Your spouse will understand. You need NOT bring or wear your wedding ring, the special "mom necklace" with your kids on it or other personal jewelry unless it's apart of the shoot. Chances are on shoot day you're modeling other jewelry, not your own. Plus this way you don't stress about forgetting it. Leave it at home or in your purse before your arrive. Ever try to edit out a wedding ring because you want to focus on another ring your model is wearing? It's a severe pain. Trust me. LEAVE IT AT HOME! 

3. NO PETS! If you're there to model or assist, you don't need the distraction of a pet. Believe me that unless your cute little new puppy is in the shot, the little critter needs to be dropped off at grandmas. Don't need a distracted photographer, MUA or model. Besides, we don't need the extra cleanup. NO you can't leave fluffy in your hot car either. If you have a pet lion we can probably work with that. Maybe... ๐Ÿ˜• Just feed the ferocious guy first. 

4. NO Kids. See #3. No we're not saying your cute kid is a pet by any means but same principles - Part of the shoot or stay at grandmas. Get a babysitter and a pet sitter. I hear some people do both. 

5. Your BFF. See #3 and #4 If you don't feel safe then you either shouldn't be modeling or you shouldn't be working with this person at all. You don't take your BFF or your spouse or boyfriend to a job interview or to work with you everyday and his is no different. If you must ask or tell your team what you're doing before shoot day. No one like a weirdo fifth wheel sulking in the corner wondering when this will all be over. Also please don't leave your husband in a hot car either. That's just weird and so very wrong. If the moron is paranoid enough to sit in a hot car then you need to reassess your judgement being with this guy and your relationship. Are they your spouse or your master? Hey, it's your pathetic life. We're not judging. Lol! 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Fitness model Gina Perkins

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Fitness Model: Gina Perkins

Gina gives us another look at how she can rock out some denim mini shorts. We're stunned. ❤️

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Gina Rules the World

It is not only possible but plausible. Gina could become one of the greatest Helios models ever.

It started some time ago; years that we first met Gina. Like all first shoots there was that slight but quieted anxiety in the air about what to expect. It's always that way with someone new. You just don't know what you'll get. I know that's how we felt. I'm sure she felt the same. Our anxiety proved to be unwarranted. Gina impressed us and still continues to do so. Even so, since then we've refined our casting process and usually meet prospective models first to eliminate that first few critical minutes of awkwardness. In other words we cast/interview to eliminate potential problems beforehand, discuss expectations, gauge interests and commitment. But I felt a creative kinship to Gina I rarely feel the first time out with anyone. There's just something about her I thought, just like "There's Something About Mary."

Now it's years later and at least three or four more shoots into our creative relationship. I still feel the same vibe. She's just "cool people" as it is often said. But very recently something changed. It was like an epiphany that elevates one's consciousness. Something evolved this last time around; an unwavering new confidence I've never seen her exude before. She was always good and I had no reason to believe she would get even better. She is already near perfect. Who is this new person because we're crushing hard on her?

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Fitness Model: Gina Perkins
She doesn't know it but she has always been my ace in the hole and one of my most desired people to shoot. Sure I say that a lot about many different people but Gina has always been a little different for me. She feels familiar and comfortable even if you've never met her before; like the friendly neighbor you grew up with. Everything is relaxed and unforced. But now Gina has positioned herself to take over my entire creative world. She exhibited a sense of boldness I've never seen since our first shoot. She was soft and yet strikingly fierce. She was poised and delicate but not vulnerable. She was ready for whatever I could dish out. You could tell she was confident and prepared and it was contagious. We were throwing around looks like confetti and she mastered it all with very little effort.  

I'd always gotten that from her. But this time she came with a fire I'd not previously witnessed. If this is what we can expect from her then I'm game-on for whatever whenever she wants. She scored serious brownie points for just being a bad-ass this most recent time around. 

I only wish I was more available to her. The only hurdle to our taking over the creative universe is scheduling. I'm not exactly walking distance to her and my time of shooting nowadays is limited so people have to get us when they can. When someone asks to change a booking schedule there are seldom any do-overs. It may be weeks, months or years to get back. That's a problem we will have to overcome. But you had better believe that the world is hers for the taking if I have anything to do with it.

The next person up for our "Denimism" series has a tough act to follow. Gina is no slouch on anything and she killed it.