I recently shot for Nina Canacci. They are a high end couture prom gown designer. It was a three day shoot at 10 hours each day. We shot over 200 gowns with three models. I have never talked about stamina because it’s just something that a photographer must have and I assume all photographers have enough stamina to shoot for a long period of time. However the other day I was talking shop with a colleague of mine and he mentioned a friend of ours that would never be able to last 10 hours, never mind three days in a row. Now that is not a good thing. I mean let’s face it, any catalog shoot or advertising shoot is going to be a long day. There are exceptions of course but the majority of jobs are 8-10 hours.
In this video you can see how hard I work and I think most photographers do work hard. You can see my intensity. I have a game face and I make sure that game face is on from the moment I step on set to the wrap of the shoot. Photographers must have mental, emotional and physical stamina to execute a successful shoot. We are the leader. Everyone on that set looks up to us. If we show any sign of weakness or uncertainty, then we have just lost our shoot. The good news is we can get it back. Grab the bull and come out like a lion in the second half and I guarantee that you will get your set back.
For this shoot I walked on the set and the first thing I saw was racks and racks of gowns. Instead of letting that intimidate me, I remembered why I am in this business, and that is because I love women’s clothing and I love to capture the beauty and style of fashion. So I greeted everyone with a big smile and looked over the gowns and got to work on lighting the set. This was an easy set up. One 6 foot silver lined umbrella to create a soft shadow on the BG and two strobes to light my white BG. Some of the gowns were very light and were made to flow with the wind of a dancer. It is a models job to put on a dress or outfit and know what to do with it. It is the photographers job to know what the fabric is capable of and make sure the model is “working” the gown or outfit. In the video you will see examples of this.
So sit back and enjoy the video. I hope you have many questions that I will be happy to answer.
This is a behind the scenes video of a catalogue shoot I did for Nina Canacci couture prom gowns. We shot 250 gowns in three 10 hour days.
What do photographers expect from a model and what do models expect from a photographer during a shoot ? I hear many arguments on this subject and after finally getting tired of hearing many photographers and models give their opinion that THEY think is correct I decided to tell you all how it really is in hopes that I can provide a little less friction in this lovely world of the model and fashion photography industry.
Ok so this is how this discussion is broken down.
We have photographers and models who shoot test shoots, paid and non paid but aren’t at the level yet to shoot commercial paid assignments, editorials or advertising.
Then we have photographers who shoot commercial assignments like catalogs, advertising, editorials and look books. These photographers also shoot test shoots and model portfolios. I fall into this category. I have had many girls come to me from all over the country who want to get into modeling and some girls that are already modeling and they just need to update their books. Like I said, I also shoot advertisements, editorials and look books.
Now when I shoot an ad gig or a catalog I am expecting the model to already know what he or she is doing. This is NOT the time for modeling 101. I am not going to tell you how to pose, where to look, what angles you look better shooting. That is the job and responsibility of the model. She is being paid because she knows how to “model” and I am being paid to photograph her. My job as the photographer, is to direct her on what kind of looks I need her to emote. I will help her “give good face.” I will also talk to the model and give encouragement and keep the set “alive.” The model is expecting me to direct her like a director would direct an actress and I am expecting that the model knows how to take direction and turn my direction into the emotion I am asking for. But you know as sure as the sun is gonna rise that the director on a film is not going to start giving acting lessons just as I am not going to give modeling lessons. We are both professionals and expected to give our client what they are asking us to give them. Let me remind you that there is a make up artist for the shoot, a hair stylist and a wardrobe stylist. So all I am expecting from the model is to show up on time and ready to pose and take direction.
The other kind of shoot I do is model portfolio shoots. This is where a girl will pay me good money to start her portfolio for her. I shoot five different looks, in studio and on location. I have a make up artist there the whole time. I tell the model what kinds of outfits to bring and I ask her to practice posing in the mirror so she has some kind of a head start. I DO NOT expect her to know what she is doing at all. She has never modeled before and she is coming to me because I am a professional and I know what modeling agencies are looking for. So I WILL tell her how to pose. I WILL tell her where to look. I WILL help her know what her best angles are and of course I WILL direct her to emote and “give good face.” I also give the model encouragement and constantly talk to her and give her accolades throughout the whole shoot. I will also point out what she is doing wrong and show her how to do it the right way. So in this case one could call this modeling 101. That is fine with me. I get paid good money for this and I like to help and educate.
There is another kind of shoot that happens where we have “wanna be” models and “wanna be” photographers who are building their books and they both think they know what their role is in this kind of shoot when in fact BOTH of them are wrong, at least from the stories that I hear. PLEASE DO NOT TAKE OFFENSE TO ME USING THE TERM WANNA BE. I am not discounting these models and photographers in any way. They have not reached the professional status yet and earned the right to be paid for their services because they have not perfected their craft up to a level where a client can depend on them to deliver. They “wanna be” professional. I was there at one point as everyone is. Someone going to medical school wants to be a doctor, however they have not had enough experience and perfected their skills enough to be trusted with a real human life. Can you get the analogy ? I hope so.
Ok so now that we got the politically correct bullshit out of the way let me go on. So as an example we have a girl who has created a profile on one of these amateur model sites. We have a boy who has created a profile on this site as well. Boy “photographer” meets girl “model” and they schedule a test / creative shoot that will hopefully benefit both their portfolios as well as the make up artists portfolio. Now because these three creative souls haven’t been exposed to the professional world of fashion photography and modeling maybe because they live in a city somewhere in the middle of the Bible belt, the only expectations they have come from their own little world of these online amateur modeling / photographer sites. They look in on the chat rooms, the forums and read what everyone else is quoting as the Gospel of the modeling industry in this little bubble world community and bingo, instantly our “photographer” and “model” think they both know what is expected of them and what is not. The problem we have here is that our “photographer” is reading what the other “photographers” are griping about and our “model” is reading what the other “models” are griping about and both sides are not working as one.
So on the test shoot our photographer is expecting our model to know how to pose, give good face and know all her good angles and our model is expecting our photographer to tell her how to pose, give good face and help her know all her good angles. Well, well, well. Can you see the train wreck about to happen ? Not a pretty scene. They start to argue, it gets uncomfortable and the shots end up looking like crap because NO ONE worked as a TEAM and COLLABORATED ! So listen up ! On shoots like these neither the photographer nor the model has enough experience to handle the shoot all on their own. Therefore the solution is to help each other and if the model is not posing the way you want her to pose, Mr. Photographer, then simply tell her and show her what you want. I’ve actually struck a pose to show the “model” what I want. Talk to her through the whole shoot. Don’t just sit there like a dummy waiting for someone to pull the string on your back for your mouth to move. And ….MOVE AROUND. Look for good angles. Don’t site in one place capturing one point of view.
Miss Model ? If the photographer is not directing you and you need help, then tell him. Your job as a model is to come to the shoot as prepared as you can be. Don’t expect the photographer to give you every single pose. If you want to become a professional model then do your homework and study ! Study magazines, fashion books, watch Americas Next Top Model. Some of that show is totally ridiculous I know , but much of it is actually insightful. Bring nice clothes for shooting. You AND the photographer and the make up artist should all be involved with selecting the outfits for the shoot. Have a theme and shoot at least four images with a different outfit and tell a story.
So in conclusion, professional models and photographers both know their roles and what is expected of them. Amateur models and photographers don’t have enough experience and knowledge to know what to expect from each other. So help each other out and do your homework so that each of you can bring some level of professionalism to the shoot and everyone wins and leaves the shoot with a smile on their face rather than a frown.
Ok now it’s time to beat me up, praise me or both ! LOL I would like to hear your sides and happenings. And as always if you think this is an interesting article, retweet and Share and Enjoy down below.
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Photography lighting for catalogs is different than lighting for advertising or an editorial. You rarely get the chance to get creative because the objective is to make the clothes look good and show details in the fabric. Many fashion designers use some very nice fabrics and the designers goal is to sell their clothes to buyers of department stores and get them seen in magazines. Therefore the photographer doesn’t really have the freedom to use radical lighting ratios with dramatic shadows. So what kind of lighting is recommended for shooting catalogs ? Well I like very nice Rembrandt lighting. This is where you see the triangle of light under either the left or right eye. The reason I like to use Rembrandt lighting is because it isn’t flat and it isn’t too dramatic and shows the details of the clothes at the same time. Now for this shoot you can see I did a little variation of Rembrandt. It’s not a perfect typical triangle of light under the eye. You can see the shadow is more opened up so there is a little more light on the model’s face. I chose to do this variation because when I originally showed the designer the actual Rembrandt set up, she felt it was a little too shadowed. As you can see in the images that the model’s LEFT side is in a light shadow. Look at the tighter shot and you see her LEFT cheek looks sculpted and my variation of Rembrandt lighting.
I accomplished this by placing a black V-Flat close to the model about three feet away from her. This gives you a negative fill. What’s happening is the large soft box is feathered away from the model a bit and some of the light is actually bouncing into and off of the white wall that is to the left of the soft box. Then that light hits the model, then hits the black V-Flat which soaks up some of the light giving you the negative fill and a nice shadow. You control the darkness of the shadow by moving the V-Flat closer into the model or farther away. Closer in gives you a darker shadow and moving it away lightens the shadow. So what’s cool is I only used one light for this ! I combined the natural light and one strobe to create a lighting scheme that isn’t that flat ugly typical catalog lighting like you see in JC Penny. Please ask me questions and comment ! Click the lighting diagram and you will see it larger.
You can learn techniques like this and much more when you take my two day one on one private fashion photography work shop. Click here for more info.
Ok so Day two of my private photography work shop with Kevin started off with looking over the images on my large monitor and critiquing when necessary. Kevin will admit he was amazed at how often I pointed out little things that could ruin a photo. For example, every single little tiny detail matters especially when it comes to the hands. Experienced models know how to place their hands and make them look soft and pretty as they use them to pop a collar or rest them on the hips or running them through their hair. However, an inexperienced model often develops the “claw” look. This is when she might pop her collar with her hand and grab it with her palm facing out and her fingers bent so that her hand resembles a claw. This is a major no no and so is palms facing camera. Now I know what you’re going to say. Sometimes you see models in magazines with their palms facing camera. Well so what ? Does that make it right ? No it doesn’t. I could open a Vogue and point out at least 20 mistakes that a model made in her shoot. My God I have seen hundreds. Don’t get into that way of thinking that just because you see it in a magazine then it’s ok. So I told Kevin that when a model gives you the claw, it’s your job to point it out and have her correct it. If you are shooting an experienced model it is still your job to point out a mistake and correct it.
Going over Kevin’s images I also pointed out things like the bottom of the shirt is folded up or a bracelet was sitting too far up on the arm or the bra strap was slightly showing. If you had a wardrobe stylist on the shoot it would be their job to watch for these things BUT he or she might miss it and it is YOUR responsibility when looking through your viewfinder to look at everything before you click that shutter. We also went over how he directed the model and he did a great job. Many photographers get intimidated by the model and are afraid to direct them. The reality is the model expects you to direct them and it is your job to direct them. Overall Kevin really nailed some great shots.
Next thing we did was talk about how to find jobs and market yourself to potential clients. I also went over how to approach agencies and obtain models for free test shoots. Putting together a team of make up and hair is another step in the process and I showed him how to establish a good solid team. By this time the make up artist and the model for the second day arrived. Again Kevin observed the make up artist and this time he told her how he would like the make up to look. He also used this time to get acquainted with the model which is a great time to break the ice.
Kevin wanted to learn a bit of glamor photography so in this case the make up is going to be different as well as the hair and wardrobe. So we picked some outfits for our model to wear and we started to light for our first set up. I showed him how to incorporate flair into his images and also how to use smoke for a cool effect. I have a small fog machine that is great for this. This image shows the result from our first set up.
When looking at this image remember that flair is real and shot in camera, NOT done in post. As Kevin kept shooting he is constantly giving encouragement to the model, directing her expressions and poses and keeping that photographer to model connection flowing. One bad habit I had to break Kevin of was looking at the image on the LCD after every single shot. That is a surefire way to not create that connection and IF you have created that connection it will break it instantly. DO NOT LOOK AT YOUR LCD . I turn mine off after I know I’ve got my lighting set the way I want it. It’s no different than shooting your first few Polaroids and then shooting until your next set up. Kevin eventually took her off the stool and shot some fabulous poses in true glamor pin up style.
This image has it all, great expression, the wind blown hair, great make up, great styling, great lighting. It’s like cooking a stew, all the ingredients have to be there otherwise the stew won’t taste just right
This is another clothing change we did. Kevin went in tight on this shot and you can see how beautiful the make up and hair is as well as the edge light on HER left shoulder and arm. That strobe is doubling up as a back light for the smoke and to also provide a nice edge light. The model’s expression is really what makes this photo, all the other stuff just accents it and adds that special touch. It’s important to not over use the bells and whistles. By that I am talking about the edge light, the smoke etc. In any photograph you make, the expression is what will sell the photo to the viewer. To dig into the model’s soul and extract her inner most thoughts and capture them on film is the magic that happens when the photographer and model are in sync with each other. This cannot just happen. It takes many many shoots and much practice shooting with a variety of models to nail that skill. I provide you with the psychological tools to give you a head start and start creating beautiful images.
The second part of our day was spent learning how to shoot on location with reflectors and a speed light. Using the sun as your friend and combining it with a speed light can get you very nicely lit images. I also taught Kevin how to use the hi speed sync mode for his flash and also how to deal with the model who has to deal with the elements you encounter when shooting outdoors. If it is summer then you have heat. If it’s winter then you have cold to deal with. Models don’t have much fat on them and they can’t wear a heavy jacket. They still have to pretend they are in a fabulous mood even if it’s 40, 50 or 60 degrees outside. By the same token if it’s 100 degrees outside and they are tired and sweating, they can’t just pour a bucket of cold water over themselves. So you the photographer must make her feel like she is doing just fine and keep her interested and excited all the while making sure your technical details are correct as you watch the sun go down faster than a speeding bullet lol. Not as easy as it sounds. This is one of Kevin’s images from that outdoor session.
This was shot with the model facing the sun. How did she keep her eyes open and not squint ? I held a 60 inch white convertible umbrella up to scrim the sun. Kevin also used his flash to add some snap to the shot. By using the high speed sync mode he was also able to hold the blue in the sky behind her. By this time it was getting breezy and cold. The model doesn’t show it at all. Kevin did a great job talking to her and keeping her focused.
The shoot finally ended and we went back to go over the images. Kevin learned a great deal of information, more than I shared with you here of course and had a great time. He was a pleasure to work with and a wonderful person.
This is where the photography workshop takes place. I show you how to set up an in home photography studio with very little expense. It’s also a huge write off ! If you would like to know more about my private one on one photography workshops please call or email me firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also view testimonials and information about my private one on one fashion photography workshops here.
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As a working professional fashion photographer I love to give back. I love to share my knowledge with other photographers and help them learn and get a bit of a head start in this competitive field. Some people think I’m crazy but it really does make sense What you give is what you get. Listen up guys, there will ALWAYS be someone better than you. So instead of keeping your “secrets” which aren’t even secrets , all to yourselves, learn to share and you will be surprised how good it feels and what comes back to you.
My private one on one photo workshop with Kevin Miller was great ! Kevin came all the way out from Ohio to spend two full days with me learning and having fun shooting. As I have said before, my private workshops are specially prepared to suit your level and skill. Kevin messes around with his dslr however he really wanted to get to the grit and learn the right way, learn fundamentals and learn how to work with models and put together a fashion shoot all by himself. His particular area of interest is commercial fashion and glamor. So the first part of day 1 started with me and Kevin only. We went over the basics of how aperture effects shutter speed, ambient light, and the mechanics of the camera and how and why it does what it does. I went over the zone system with him which is very important.
I then went over the basics of studio lighting explaining lighting ratios and depth of field, and where to place your lights etc. As we progressed, Kevin took diligent notes and referred back to the lighting diagrams I provide. I showed him soft boxes, grids, reflectors, umbrellas and even gels.
It was then time to bring in the make up artist and model. It’s very important for the photographer to have a vision for the make up and relate that to the make up artist. When I began shooting I must admit I was intimidated to tell the make up artist what to do. Well I soon learned that I had better tell the make up artist what to do and to let he or she know what my vision was. Kevin listened and observed as I directed, yes directed my make up artist on how I wanted the make up to look. A professional make up artist is used to this and will not be offended. IF your make up artist gets offended, you pull them to the side in a calm manner and explain to them how you work. If that doesn’t work, show them the door lol !
As the make up progressed I started to set up the lighting for our first shot. Kevin helped me hands on which is very beneficial so he learns as he is actually doing. We set up a medium soft box, reflector etc. During this period we went to check on the make up to make sure it was coming out as we planned. The hair was now being styled and I directed my make up artist on how I wanted the hair to look. I do this by showing tear sheets or images from the web. I do the same with make up.
Ok so now the make up is done, the lighting is all set up so we go over to the wardrobe rack and try on clothes so we know what we will be shooting the rest of the day. Very important part of the process. On large jobs I have a wardrobe stylist to do all this BUT don’t you think for a second that I am not involved. All this prep with the make up, hair and wardrobe is to show Kevin that you must be involved in every aspect of the shoot AND you the photographer have the last word OR on a large job, the art director or designer will have the last word. Every situation is different.
Now it’s time to get down to business. After picking out a nice outfit, I start shooting and Kevin watches and listen how I interact with the model. From time to time I call the make up artist in to make adjustments etc. Kevin took many many notes which was great. After I shot it was time for Kevin to shoot. He did great. I let him do his thing and when he got stuck I helped him out like a good instructor does.
So for our first day these are the images Kevin shot. We see a great example of side lighting on the second photo.
As you can see, the styling, make up and lighting is perfect. And let’s not forget the expression from the model. Kevin wanted to come in tight on Nadia’s beautiful face so we shot this wonderful image.
A nice example of Rembrandt lighting.
Stay tuned for DAY 2 of my private one on one photography workshop with Kevin Miller.
Please ask any questions or comment.
Recently I shot a catalog or sometimes called a look book. A designer will call me asking me to shoot their new creations. Normally if everything on the designer end goes smoothly, I will shoot two seasons ahead. So this shoot which is for Simply Mimi, we shot this in August of 2010. The collection is Spring 2011. The time table isn’t always exact but everyone does their best to get the designs manufactured in time for the shoot. This will give the designer enough time to design the catalog / look book, send it out to her buyers and ship her orders to the various stores in time for the season they were meant for. Trust me, it NEVER runs that smooth and on time lol.
So this is a small sample of what I shot. Now let me explain something to you guys. You might be saying to yourselves that it looks really boring. Well, it is ! Shooting look books is boring UNLESS it is a look book for Gucci etc. You get my drift I’m sure. However, the bare bones fact is that I would rather be shooting than sitting in a cubicle all day answering a phone or working the drive through window. ” Welcome to Kentucky Fried Chicken may I take your order please?” as I spit my gum out that I’ve had in my mouth for the past 8 hours !
Catalog / look book shooting is easy, quick and you make a pretty penny for a days work or two. Do I put all my catalog work up on my site ? Heeeelllllll no !
I show my artistic side and creative side on my site. IF the look book is cool enough then I will put it up on my site.
So what is involved in shooting a catalog / look book ? As you can see the lighting is all the same. You MUST bring out the texture of the clothes and show them well. This is not about being fancy and artistic with your lighting with dark shadows and moods. These look books are for buyers of major department stores and they want to see the garments they are investing in. Sometimes I will also shoot a lifestyle shot or two or three etc. to go along with the look book if the client asks.
So there ya go. One of my recent catalog / look books. Hit me up with any questions you have. Trust me, I haven’t included every detail in this post because I am trying to get you all to think about what else is involved and ask me questions so we can get some interaction going
I love to shoot fashion. There are so many reasons why. I love the couture clothing, I love to photograph women and I also love to create a mood. One of my favorite techniques to create mood in an image is to use a fog machine. You can pick one up for about $25. In these photos I used a medium soft box as my main light and placed it camera left. To light the fog I placed a strobe behind her and off camera. My assistant ran the fog machine off camera right. The back light was about 2 stops brighter than my main. You have to tell your model to be in character all the time and to NOT look back at the machine. The fog dissipates rather quickly and it’s difficult to get just the right pattern of fog so it doesn’t look like it is being shot out in a stream. My assistant used a piece of cardboard to blow the fog around and “shape” it so it looks the way it does.
Now if you look at the photo on the left you will notice an edge light on her cheek. That is coming from the back light that is illuminating the fog. So in essence you can kill to birds with one stone. It’s actually a very challenging shoot. If you get a model in that is inexperienced she will want to always look back at the fog machine because she is so in awe of it, why I have no idea, but I go crazy because the fog will be perfect and the model will decide to make sure it looks perfect and will look back and I miss the shot. Oy vey ! lol So reinforce to your model to stay in character and DON’T LOOK BACK at the friggin machine ! Sara, the model in these photos is an experienced model so I didn’t have to remind her to not look back.
Yes these images were retouched. The model’s skin was smoothed and of course contrast, levels etc., the standard stuff was done. My lighting however, was just how you see it. And that’s really all there is to it. A two light set up and that’s it. Please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions, comment whether you like it or don’t. You won’t hurt my feelings.
You can learn how to shoot like this and much more by taking my private one on one photography work shop.
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When I am shooting a fashion assignment I am disciplined to the point where I only shoot the amount of images I feel I need to capture my vision or the client’s vision. There is absolutely no reason to shoot until you fill a card, which these days could mean 400 or more images per card. I’ve heard of some photographers who will shoot a thousand images for a portfolio shoot! That is pathetic! You know what that translates to? A VERY insecure photographer who has no idea what he or she is doing and has no vision. The photographer doesn’t have a plan, can’t see his vision unless he shoots it. Doesn’t know his technical skills or communication skills. It could be any of these or all of them that is causing this long drawn out shoot as a result from over shooting.
I used to work in the movie industry behind the camera. On episodes where we had an inexperienced director we knew the days were going to go in to overtime which was good in a way because more often than not we would go into triple over time……..big paychecks. But for the production company that meant over budget and the main reason was because the director would over shoot by thousands and thousands of feet of film, which also led to the obvious major over time for the crew ! It’s no different for a still photo shoot.
Many photographers are shocked when I tell them the size of my CF card I use most often is 2 GB. That’s because with my 5DMark 2 shooting at 100ISO I get about 72 – 76 frames which gives me two different clothing changes. When I was shooting 35mm film we got 36 frames per roll. At the end of that roll you had to reload. Now let me also say that if I am shooting an editorial or an ad campaign I use the same small cards and also have much larger ones on hand just in case the client wants to see more.
For this post I will use a portfolio shoot as the main example. So a model would come to me and back then we charged per roll. And one roll equaled one look. After the first look / 36 frames we moved to the second look and so on. If you as a photographer couldn’t capture that great one shot the model needed in 36 frames you had to use another roll at your own expense! You couldn’t tell the model she had to pay extra because she was paying per roll and it was just expected that you got the shot after one roll. Everyone worked that way. All photographers worked this way. If she bought a 3-roll shoot that meant we shot 3 looks and no more. If at the end she wanted an extra look she had to pay my fee for an extra roll. It was that simple! So someone please tell me why it should be any different now that we are shooting digital. Just because we have the technology to shoot a thousand frames for a portfolio shoot does not mean we should. Who wants to sit at the computer all day and night editing out the bad shots? I sure don’t. My place is behind the camera, NOT in front of a computer. Sure there are certain little things I need to do in the computer, however, I wanna be shooting more of the time than sitting at the computer.
I personally feel that many many many photographers of this new generation have not only lost discipline, they haven’t even learned it! If the shot doesn’t look right then don’t hit the shutter button! Simple! If the model isn’t giving you what you want, then you stop, pull her aside and have a short heart to heart just like a catcher does with his pitcher in a baseball game. The catcher doesn’t let his pitcher just keep throwing pitch after pitch with the same or worse results. Do you see the comparison? You don’t just keep shooting and hoping for the model to read your mind as she gets more tired and frustrated. You use your people skills that you are supposed to possess and constantly fine tune just as you are constantly fine-tuning your photography skills.
By the way this is also good practice for when you do shoot that ad campaign and HOPEFULLY the client, art director, creative director are not all sitting around getting bored, frustrated and wishing they hadn’t hired you because they’ve realized that each image they saw in your portfolio came about from shoots like this where you had to shoot thousands of images to get a few usable ones! Portfolio shoots and creative tests are great for training your eye and fine tuning your skills for that day when you do get that big ad campaign and you run your set like a five star general with confidence pouring out of your ears and you are directing your model or models and shooting efficiently, shooting only the amount of images you need because you KNOW when you have gotten that shot you need to satisfy your client.
I had a model friend who told me that for a large ad campaign he was shot by Horst P Horst. All the lighting was done, set dressing, make up etc. it was time to shoot. The model gets on his mark, strikes a pose, Horst shoots two frames and says “That’s a wrap!” And everyone started to wrap as usual thinking nothing more. That’s because Horst was confident, the client knew it and trusted him. If Horst says he got it, then he got it. In the end no one knows how many or how few shots it took to get that campaign shot. In the end what matters is if you kept your shoot on budget, didn’t stress the model, pleased the client and have a fun relaxed shoot. This can only happen when you are a disciplined photographer, who does not over shoot, spray and pray and lose control.
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When a fashion model calls me asking to shoot for her model portfolio what does that involve ? I get this question often and I love to answer my fellow photographer comrades.
ASK QUESTIONS – GAIN INSIGHT – GIVE ANSWERS
The first thing I ask the model is if she is new and has no photos at all or is she a working model and just needs to update her portfolio. If she tells me that she is just starting out, doesn’t have an agency yet and needs to start a portfolio, then I ask her how tall she is, what color hair , measurements etc. That will lead to her emailing me a couple of snapshots of herself so I can get an idea of what type of modeling she should get into. If she is 5′ 6″ – 5′ 7″ then I know she is not going in to high fashion. If she has a beautiful body and great hair and is physically fit then what I would do is:
1. Shoot a beauty shot that emphasizes her beautiful hair and skin.
2. Shoot her in a swimsuit. It can be in studio or on a beach or even the desert.
3. Have her bring a running outfit or a tennis outfit. Maybe she does yoga. A fitness shot is important.
4. Shoot a commercial fashion / Hollister/ Abercrombie type shot. Commercial fashion is big in Los Angeles and actually it’s big everywhere. You can’t go wrong with this look.
5. Lingerie is popular and pays good money for a model. If she doesn’t want to do lingerie then I would change it to something in the look of a catalog “Gap” looking shot. So that is five different shots. I shoot in studio and outdoors at a couple different locations that suit the shot.
This is a nice variety of images that show the model in enough situations for the agent to get an idea of where the agency can place her and which castings to send out on.
Now some might not have a home studio and can only shoot outdoors. That’s ok. I just shoot both because I have a home studio. The more variety you can offer the better. I know what agencies want to see because I have been doing this so long and have seen hundreds and hundreds of model portfolios.
MAKE UP ARTIST
I ALWAYS include a make up/ hair artist and keep the make up simple, not over the top. Remember that the model is a product to the agency and the agency is selling the product. When I hold a casting I wanna see what the model looks like and I don’t want to see photos that the photographer has retouched so much that she looks fake. Do not over do the retouching guys. Save that for your advertising clients and editorials.
The standard print size for a model portfolio is 9″x12″ Some agencies do use smaller books but the majority use 9″ x 12″ prints.
As far as clothing is concerned I have the girl bring her own clothes. I email her examples of the look we will be going for so she can plan. Always have her bring twice the amount of outfits. So five looks she should bring ten outfits. That way I have choices and I can mix and match if need be.
You DON’T want to use flat boring lighting, but you also don’t want to light too dramatically either. Remember as you are going through the day that she is going to try to get an agent and the agent wants to see what she looks like.
Now I want to remind you that this photo HAS NOT been retouched yet and the model did have slight acne, but with the combination of a great make up artist and soft beauty lighting, this image will only need slight retouching. I can’t stress enough how important it is to light your work so it doesn’t have to go through hours of retouching. It only creates a bigger budget for the client no matter how small or large the client is.
To sum up, when you get the call to shoot a model portfolio you want to:
1. Ask questions – gain insight – give answers
2. Shoot five different looks.
3. Shoot in studio (if you can) and shoot on location
4. Include a make up/ hair artist
5. Use clean flattering lighting.
Talk to your model during the whole shoot. Direct the model especially if she is new and never shot before. You need to help her feel confident and sexy. You are the one person she is counting on to make her shots great and that those shots get her an agent !
Now get out there and shoot shoot shoot ! Ask me anything you would like and share with everyone !