Briana Shaker adds a new article on having fun and getting the job done. It is good reading for photographers and models alike. More after the jump as they say.
I want to take a few minutes and let everyone know how much I appreciate the great emails and comments you are all making on the site. And to my workshop attendees, I can only tell you how amazingly humble it makes me feel that you come to the workshops. I work hard to make them pretty special. And the feedback seems to indicate that you feel the same way. Thank you.
I am preparing next years schedule and want to get that up as soon as possible. This week for sure… (yeah… we’ll see – ed) but know that I am on it.
We still have openings for Boston (1), Pittsburgh (2), Vegas (4) and Boise (2). The Toronto and Florida workshops are full at this time. Woohoo! If you are thinking about getting toned up for the holidays, come on down and join our merry band of talented photographers.
I want to link to a few articles that I have been excited about on other blogs.
Heather Morton’s Blog is just a fantastic source of great information. This post on Email marketing by photographers is a great read.
David Hobby (Strobist) has a timely article on creating a color pallete for your work. It is something a lot of photographers don’t think about, but they should.
Selina Maitreya’s audio book is now available on her site. Wow… it is a fantastic look into the world of creating a kick-ass portfolio, finding your voice, and living your life with photography. Check out the free chapter and you will be sold.
And Robert Wright has a post on the use of digitally alteration and the news on his great blog Wrighting.
BTW, my friend Kirk Tuck has a new book out, Commercial Photography Handbook: Business Techniques for Professional Digital Photographers, for those of you thinking about starting out in the crazy world of commercial photography. I will be reviewing it soon, but I think you should check it out as a great source book for the move into commercial.
Well, let’s get on with Bri’s great new article on having fun and being professional in front of the lens.
Say, â€œCheese?â€ Pleaseâ€¦ Say, â€œNatural.â€
â€œAmateurs focus on the model, pros focus on the shot.â€ – Don Giannatti
By Briana Shaker
As Don says, pros will focus on the shot, so if as the model, youâ€™re bringing the â€œcheeseâ€, itâ€™ll disrupt the shot. Itâ€™s about blending or contrasting with the environment, harmony or disharmony, but never amateur. For instance, if the shot is comprised of some form of architecture with numerous vertical lines, the model can either stand tall and reflect the image, maintaining the shotâ€™s feel or work horizontal or angular lines to create a disjointed shot, making both aspects stand out so it â€œpops.â€ But the amateur? The amateur smiles likes sheâ€™s on vacation. Just think of the stereotypical â€œignorant American touristâ€ complete with Hawaiian shirt, camera, and straw hat. True, he stands out. But not in a good way… heâ€™s bestâ€¦ behind the lens, right, Don? 😉 Or even think Florida. Spring Break. Drunk girl. Big smile. Good for MTV, but not for the runway. (You got a problem with Hawaiian shirts, kid? –ed)
Now why do we act so cheesy when first in front of the lens? Simple. Itâ€™s natural. Itâ€™s how we were raised. Our parents pointed a camera and said, â€œSmile!â€ And thus we smiled. Weâ€™re conditioned to behave this way. A philosopher I once read wrote that we see the world before we name it. And it is those names that label or place something in its category. We see a camera and we say cheese. Conversely, we want to be models and we see a camera and we exaggerate our looks. But which is right? Or is there a better place? Somewhere in the middle? Orâ€¦ is it as I suggest? A chameleon effect? That effect where the professional model knows how to blend and how to make something stand out. Yet, how does she do it?
Now some shoots, like high fashion, demand such exaggeration, but, equally, some shoots prefer that â€œgirl-next-doorâ€ look or the â€œlifestyleâ€ image to gain a desired effect. Yet those shots never really seem natural do they? You really think that woman in the Wal-Mart ad hangs out with her friends in their underwear smiling at each other? Sorry guys donâ€™t hate me, but we donâ€™t. But it works. It blends with the environment created in the ad and it plays on stereotypes to stand out and thus get a desired effectâ€¦ you to buy the product. The point is that modeling is seemingly anything but natural, but a good model can train her self to do itâ€¦ naturally. Because it actually is something very basic and something we all already know how to do. Make sense?
Retail Clerks and Baristas
Now some people really do like their jobs and are naturally cheery, butâ€¦ we know itâ€™s falseâ€¦ no one is that happy. But we can still learn something here. The clerk or barista gets us to buy. And we expect them to be overly happy. They stand out. But we remember the coffee, not the guy who whipped our latte. So they blend too (metaphorical joke intended.) Thatâ€™s natural. The clerk is what we expect, annoyingly there to start us a dressing room, but thatâ€™s where her role leaves off. We still have to try the stuff on. The barista is there to wish us a good morning, but doesnâ€™t come with us to make sure it is truly a good morning. But they are what we expect and what we want; a natural part of the process. They got us to look at the products and thus buy.
A model is the same. Weâ€™re there to sell a product. Early in our careers weâ€™re selling ourselves in the portfolios we create for agencies to view. And later, weâ€™re there to sell the product our agents set up for us to sell. For instance, I just finished a campaign for a gum manufacturer. Will my name roll in the credits? No. I was just paid to bring attention to the product. To get potential customers to look and then get them to see what I have to sell. And I did my job well. It comes naturally.
Model Naturally: A Guide
- Environment â€“ the set â€“ what is it? A Zen garden? Then feel it. Be Zen.
- Assumptions â€“ the theme. What is it? Zen? If so it makes you think of Zenâ€™s purpose in our lives. Most people are stressed and need a moment of happiness. Zen offers happiness. If itâ€™s linked to the product. Then show that connection. If chewing gums leads to Zenâ€¦ show it!
- Curiosity â€“ itâ€™s a natural thing. So use it. Let people formulate their own opinionsâ€¦ well, opinions you lead them to see through your manipulation of their assumptions. If your look arouses curiosity in the viewer, theyâ€™ll look at what youâ€™re doing. And want in.
- Draw Attention to Self â€“ seem a part of the experience. Be one with the set, product, and theme. If youâ€™re part of it and seem that way, itâ€™s believable. So act the partâ€¦ believe youâ€™re there.
- Draw in Viewer â€“ make them feel as part of the experience too. Let them know if they have what you have, then they too will experience what you experience.
- Know the product â€“ knowledge is power. The more you know about what youâ€™re selling the more youâ€™ll be able to sell it. It allows you to enter the world of the individual that is using the product. Itâ€™s hers. Itâ€™s yours. And soonâ€¦ it will be the consumerâ€™s.
Fashion is Exaggeration â€“ Naturally
Yes, fashion models stand out. But thatâ€™s natural. When we buy clothes itâ€™s not because we want to hide. We donâ€™t shop at ninja stores, seeking the best camouflage for our night out clubbing. No we shop for the look that makes us â€œlookâ€ good. We want to stand out. We want to be seen. Now how does a model do the same? If she just wore the clothes would we see the clothes? Or do her exaggerated poses make us pay attention to the lines of those clothes? The colors? Do we see the product and not the model? Quick test: open your Victoria Secret catalog. Turn to page 7. Look. Now shut quickly. What color was her bra? What color were her eyes? Gotcha 😉
Nature is about adapting. Evolution if you will. And being natural is the same. Itâ€™s about evolving to meet the needs of the environment you find yourself in. The carnivore stands out and the herbivore blends. The model can naturally be both. Itâ€™s as simple as pretending weâ€™re something other than what we really areâ€¦ a process we are all quite good at: The worldâ€™s a stage and we all play our parts. Now go play yours, sell some stuff, and make some money 😉
P.S. This article is dedicated to the Canadian photographers I met recently in Toronto.
Thanks Bri. Glad you are having a great time up in the Cold North.