Ask Briana: October Q&A from our readers
(This page will be continuously updated throughout the month of October, with newest posts to the top. We hope you enjoy this new column by our resident model/author. — Don)
Got a question for me about modeling, working with models, or anything related to being on the other side of the lens. Well, ask it in the comments below or post it on my Flickr Group. You can see my web site at BrianaModel.com. I look forward to answering any questions you may have. I don’t have to tell you to keep them appropriate, do I? Nawww… didn’t think so.
Before we get started, you may also want to check out the latest post by Don on lighting with totally natural light. We had some great fun in a little town called Miami and we used mostly the natural light for the images. I will be writing about that shoot soon, but you can see the article here:
Now, on to the first QandA with Bri… Enjoy.
as you probably know best, there are several kinds of fotografer: some say next to nothing, some do peptalk all the time, some give you a story to work with, some are bossyâ€¦
What kind of treatment do you like best from a fotog?
What do I look for in a photographer? What do I like best? Hmmmâ€¦ well, as a professional, I learn to adapt to each style. You have to. Each photog does what he or she feels works best. And a model has a job to do. So I do it.
Butâ€¦ if I get to choose, I like photographers with vision. Vision means that the photog â€œseesâ€ something that he or she wants to accomplish as an end result of the shoot. But the photog canâ€™t do it alone. He or she needs the model to perform in a certain way in order to get reality to match the vision. To do so a photographer has to express that vision to the model in a style that works. But like people learn differently, models respond best to different styles, sometimes itâ€™s dependent on mood. So essentially, the photog has to adapt as much as the model does; finding the right way to get the most out of the experience.
So I think that the best photog is the one that knows his or her vision and will do anything to get that vision out. If the model does not respond to one style, then pick another. Essentially, the best treatment is all styles (except â€œbossyâ€ â€“ I donâ€™t like mean people.)
I am definitely what you would call an amateur photographer and am hoping to start doing some paying stuff in the next few months. My question to you is how can I put the people I shoot at ease? I generally have no problem making people laugh or feel comfortable, until I pull the camera up to my eye. Once the lens is pointed at them, it seems most people turn rigid as a board and only want to look directly into the camera and smile. If I ask them to look elsewhere and maybe relax their face, it always looks forced in the photos.
You always look so at ease in front of the lens so I am hoping you can give some insight.
Thanks, Cody, for the question and the compliment
As for shooting a model, it depends. A professional (or even beginning) model needs certain motivators, as itâ€™s always awkward at firstâ€¦ since you donâ€™t know each other. After awhile you both become comfortable and it shows. For instance, Don, in our initial shots, would encourage me and guide me. Itâ€™s extremely important that you both talk to your model and that you are confident. Itâ€™s like youâ€™re the director of a movie. Give the model the motivation, the story, the guidelinesâ€¦ the direction. And sheâ€™ll follow. A way to take control and show that youâ€™re a pro early on is when a model asks you which outfit she should wear. Never say, â€œWhatever.â€ Instead, pick one. Tell her what youâ€™re looking for. Let her become the character the shoot requires. Like photography is directing, modeling is acting. So direct her how to act and youâ€™ll get some good shots. Remember too that with digital cameras, you can a ton of shots to get one or two great ones.
Now with amateurs (you know, families, friends, weddings, company picnics, whatever), itâ€™s a lot different. But againâ€¦ take lots of pics, one or two good ones will sneak in. The problem lies in that the people feel silly around the camera; itâ€™s not their job, theyâ€™re not trained or practiced enough to distant. So the best thing here is to just take the shots. For instance, if they take a breakâ€¦ donâ€™t move the camera from your eye. Say youâ€™re just taking some test shots and that they donâ€™t need to pay attention or pose, youâ€™re just setting the composition. Lastly, some of the best shots out there are called â€œLifestyleâ€ shots. Get pictures of them doing normal things: walking the dog, putting on makeup, or even talking on the phone. Or, if at a wedding, add shots of shoes. Yes, shoes. Women spend a lot of money on their shoes and pedicures, so theyâ€™ll love to see the pics afterwardâ€¦ and you? Youâ€™ll have some creative art.
I have been contacted by a photographer several times and he wants to do a shoot but he doesn’t have any ideas on what we will be doing. He says to just come over and we will figure something out. Is that normal or should I be creeped out?
Well, itâ€™s a first shoot together so there will be a growth period as you both discover how your two unique styles best fit. Butâ€¦ yes, BUTâ€¦
- Check his sites and what heâ€™s done, itâ€™ll show his style. If theyâ€™re all naked picsâ€¦ be creeped out. Unless, youâ€™re fine with shooting nakedâ€¦ but if youâ€™re asking me this question, youâ€™re probably not.
- If I like his portfolio, then Iâ€™d use his contacts and pictures (if heâ€™s on MM or Flickr or Myspace), and contact a couple of the models and ask what their experience with him was like.
- Next, Iâ€™d ask him for a little bit of an idea of what he was thinking, since Iâ€™d need to organize a wardrobe for the shoot (I canâ€™t bring everything! If youâ€™d seen my shoe closet, youâ€™d understand.) This way heâ€™ll be forced to commit to something. Anything.
- Escorts. Not the Vegas kinds, of course. But bring one. For every first shoot with someone I bring an escort. And I keep bringing one until I feel comfortable. If the photog says no to escortsâ€¦ itâ€™s simple. Creepy.
- Last, but not least, if it feels too strangeâ€¦ it probably is. Trust your gut. Instincts are there for a reason.
I shot with this photographer over a month ago and he wonâ€™t give me any of the images we did together. I was there 5 hours and he shot a ton of pics. Every time I call him he tells me he is too busy. What would you do?
This is a serious problem. Itâ€™s one of the biggest problems with some photogs. It may be that the person is just lazy. He likes the process of shooting the pics, but isnâ€™t one for postproduction. Thatâ€™s the part that separates the pros from the amateur weekend shooters. Or maybe the photog is having personal issues and just lacks the tact to send an email. Orâ€¦ and I hate to say thisâ€¦ but maybe the work didnâ€™t come out as well as hoped. No photog wants his or her work out there if it doesnâ€™t show off their talent. Lastly, off the top of my head, maybe he just hasnâ€™t got to the pics yet for processing. So all you can do is wait.
Still, your question is, â€œWhat next?â€ Well, thereâ€™s not much you can do at this point. If youâ€™re an established model with representation, let your reps handle it. If youâ€™re still struggling then you rep yourself and youâ€™re on your own to get the pictures. So, if it was me, on my own, and I was comfortable with the photog, Iâ€™d go and see him. Itâ€™s harder to put someone off when theyâ€™re standing in front of you. Eventually though you just have to drop it and chalk it up to experience. Then get famous and watch those pics surface in the wake of your popularity.
How do you feel about taking ‘escorts’ to a photoshoot? My boyfriend doesn’t want to go every time and I am a little bit afraid of going somewhere without someone to escort. Most of the photographers I have met have been really nice, but how do I know which might be creepy?
Your boyfriend? Doesnâ€™t want to go or canâ€™t? Does he know youâ€™re a model? Does he know how lucky heâ€™s got it? Well, he better!
Kidding. Modeling is tedious. Most just think itâ€™s a simple process of smiling and posing. Click and done. Nope, its hours of hard work. And to escort someone means taking 4 â€“ 8 hours out of a day to sit and watch or, in many cases, get put to work by the photog holding reflectors, strobes, etc. So I guess I can understand, but he better come to the creepy shoots (or better yet, donâ€™t you go to the creepy shoots!)
Now which ones are creepy? Well, thatâ€™s usually pretty easy. Theyâ€™re the ones that make you want to bring an escort. So for me, as a rule, regardless of if I get the creepy vibe or not, I always bring one to my first shoot. Better safe than sorry. If a photog says, no, or is uncomfortable with the ideaâ€¦ heâ€™s creepy. Well, maybe heâ€™s a nice guy, but itâ€™s better safe than sorry. So label him creepy and move on. There are as many photogs out there as there are models. So move on to the next one and follow my answer to Anne Model on what to do with new photogs.
Remember, the escort doesnâ€™t have to be your boyfriend. It can be your mom, best friend, or sibling. Itâ€™s always safer in numbers. And photogs are used to escorts. In fact, they often expect them to comeâ€¦ which is why they give them odd jobs to do. They planned for it. Why would a photog bring a giant reflector on a windy day if she didnâ€™t plan on someone holding it? You canâ€™t hold it. Youâ€™re posing. And the photog canâ€™t. Sheâ€™s shooting. Soâ€¦ escorts can come in handy.
Lastly, if itâ€™s a well known commercial photographer, with stylists, MUA’s, several assistants and clients on set, a model would look very unprofessional bringing someone, anyone to the set. Generally if the job involves being paid, thereâ€™s wardrobe, a stylist, and an MUA, then a model shouldn’t bring anyone with them. It is certainly okay to have someone drop you off, help you with your bags and such, take a look at the studio, meet the photographer and leave, but not to hang around.