Model Behavior: Trust the Model

She’s back – due to popular request. Briana has a new article on Model Behavior. She calls it “Trust the Model”. Thanks Bri, for the article.

On the Lighting Essentials front, it has been pretty hectic lately. I have several things to review and will get them reviewed as soon as possible for you all.

This month of August will see me doing a workshop in Seattle, an assignment in San Diego, a couple of product shots here in Phoenix, and the first ever Lighting Essentials Advanced Lighting Workshop. Very excited about that.

I am also starting to look at next years workshop schedule. We wanted to come to England and Spain this year, but scheduling needs to be farther out for that. I am planning on Bahamas, Panama, Canada and Alaska for some workshop dates, and if you have any ideas for me… well, bring them on.

I have started something I call LE Pick of the Day, which is a screenshot if a website, and a link. When I see something that’s really cool, I just want to share it with you all. This format doesn’t allow that. You can see my Pick of the Day on Twitter, and Facebook. You can subscribe to it at Posthurous. And my other little much updated blog is It’s What I Do on Blogger. It gets about 6 updates a day… photo and design mostly. Me grouching occasionally… heh.

I will be in San Diego doing a cool job that I will share with you all soon. Watch for my interview with Chris Bohnhoff on Monday.

Remember you can save 10% off purchases at MPEX if you use the link to the right, and be sure to visit my sponsors for your photographic needs.

Trust the Model
By Briana Shaker

Part I:


Ever play that game Trust? You know the one. The one they play on business retreats and at personal development workshops? Yes, the cheesy one. “Trust me, just fall back and I’ll catch you.” Yeah, right. If it’s not in dance, the only person I’d trust if I was falling is me… or Superman. But since he’s make-believe, let’s make believe I can get by my trust issues if you can get by yours.

Yes, you.

Whether you’re in front or behind the lens there has to be trust. The model has to trust that the photog knows what he or she is doing. Further, the model has to trust that the photog wants the shots to look good and won’t do anything that may compromise the model or her work. It works both ways. Photogs as well need to be able to just fall and know that their models will catch them. It’s the essence of creativity. It’s the essence of photography. Letting go.

Briana Shaker from the Calendar: Dance

Control Issues

We all have control issues. We like control. Or even the illusion of control. Put a steering wheel and pedals on a roller coaster and the lines at Six Flags would be that much longer. I even know a guy who would be more comfortable flying a plane than being flown (he doesn’t know how to fly by the way.) It’s all about control. When we’re in control, the responsibility for success or failure is on our own shoulders; we have no one else to blame and… no one else with whom to share our successes.

How sad.

All of it is meaningless without someone to share those failures and those successes. We need an audience. Artists need audiences. There is a certain amount of trust even in that relationship. A relationship we often take for granted or, as often, just ignore. For instance, in dance, trust is second nature for me. The other dancers and I have similar goals, to perform for an audience. Thus all of us let go of our inhibitions and trust issues and just dance to make the best performance for our audience as possible. But outside of dance, it’s different. My goal, I soon realized, was to figure out why I can do it in dance so easily and how can I translate that skill to other fields. So far, it’s worked for me in modeling. Now… how do I learn to trust that the calories in a Carl’s jr. bacon-burger really will keep me as fit as the model on the T.V. commercial?

It has been argued that maturity is an acceptance of responsibility for one’s own actions. I like that. It makes sense. But it also creates problems. Inherently, such philosophy is self-defeating. It prevents trust, trust in others being responsible enough or capable enough to do their jobs. It’s like sitting in the passenger seat and constantly checking blind spots. After a while… It just hurts your neck.

"Trust the Model" by Briana Shaker on Lighting Essentials

Creativity and Trust

Creativity is about trust. To be creative one has to go beyond the bounds or limitations already established by others. The artist has to trust in his or her craft and in his or her audience to… “Get the point.” Sometimes that doesn’t happen though until after the artist is long gone and passed. That’s where the expression “ahead of the times” comes from I think.

Now this isn’t a discussion about art or what is good art, it’s a look at how creativity is enhanced through trust. And an easy way to see that process in effect is to go no further than the recent summer blockbuster, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. (Yes, I looked up the title. I just wanted to call it Transformers 2, but…)

Imagine being an actor in that movie. (Yes, they’re actors. Regardless of whether you think working with CGI effects counts as acting. In fact, I imagine it’s much harder to react believably to not yet existent effects. We models do it all the time.) But my point is about trust. The actors work about 8 weeks on the film. 8 weeks with often “non-existent” co-stars. These actors are putting a lot of trust into the crew behind the scenes to ensure that they “look” good in the final product. That’s a lot of trust for playing make-believe.

Now, imagine you’re the director. Your actors put in 8 weeks. You… you put in another year for your vision to come to fruition. Seemingly, the director has a lot more at stake. The director puts a lot of trust in his actors to pull out believable performances. And once they’re done, there is no calling them back to redo scenes. Film budgets will not allow it.

In the end, without the actors the director has nothing. And the actors have nothing without the director and the crew’s year long work. Each has to trust the other for there to be success. Each has to just let go of his or her illusion of control and trust that both want the same end result… great art (or, at the least, a lot of money 😉

Briana Shakeer: "Trust the Model" Read more of her articles on the Model Behavior page here

Letting Go

Art is about letting go. It’s about breaking the rules. It’s about being a kid.

On one hand, you need to trust in intangibles, like skill, instincts, and all the effort spent in preparation. But on the other hand, that hand you rarely use, you have to put trust in others.

Yet, how many times have you wished others had a little common sense? Well… common sense is not a great trait in artists. The problem is that too many people share the same sense. Imagine… without innovators we’d still think the world was flat.

Put it this way… by letting go of convention you can create new possibilities in art. One of those conventions is in not trusting others. But that’s where change happens. Another’s unique set of life experiences are brought together with yours. So if you set a shoot up and just trust in the model, the shot you want will be there, but so too will a number of shots that may change the whole way you’ve ever thought about your own work. Just in looking at a few of the pictures in this article, I’m sure you’ve already formulated some ideas for new things. You do it all the time. You’ve trained your eye to do so. But it’s important to realize that you too can find new approaches in your own work. Trust leads to mistakes, mistakes to experience, and experience to… greatness.

You can read more of Briana’s “Model Behavior” articles on the Model Behavior Categories tab above. Her website is and watch for her first book to be announced soon on these pages.

See you in a few days with a new article.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email