Trust the Model - Part Two by Briana Shaker

Briana is back with part two of her article, “Trust the Model” and I am sure it will be of high interest to many of you who are starting down the road of fashion, beauty and editorial photography. Briana’s take on the other side of the lens is kinda fun and brings some insight into that perspective.

This weekend is Seattle. I am here as I write this, with gray clouds outside and no real knowledge of what this day will bring. Working from the road has become so much easier with the tools that we have available. I do all my writing in Google Docs, and use for my online storage. With my 4GB thumb drive and my 500GB smart drive, I can move files and bring files from the office on the road.

Of course that means I must keep working even when I am not in the office. Tradeoff I guess.

I have so many things to review, that August may turn out to be Review Month. Lighting modifiers, an incredible beauty dish modifier, some wonderful books and a very clever set of free online tools that can help get the up and coming photographer more organized and productive. And, there will be an editorial shoot dissected as well.

I am hoping to meet many of you as I continue the workshops. In response to many, many requests, we are modifying them to include some real, no-nonsense business discussions as well. Whether you are interested in going into photography as a business or not, some of these insights will help you get focused on what needs to be done. In what order. And how to do them. More on the workshops at the Learn to Light page.

Learn to Light at a weekend workshop

Well, I am turning it over to Briana now. So take the plunge, trust the model and read what this model has to say on that subject – trust.

Model Behavior
Trust the Model
By Briana Shaker

Part II:

It’s been written that trust equals suffering. Yet a great poet once said that to create great art one must suffer. If such is true, then I can’t imagine not suffering a little to create great art. Like wearing heels for an 8 hour shoot. Like dancing and gaining an assortment of new and complimentary bruises. Or even like listening to another’s ideas regardless of their experience or lifestyle or job. In the end, it may create something phenomenal. Then again… you may just want to lose the footage in the recycling bin.

Trust the Model - Part Two by Briana Shaker
Try following these steps:

  1. Preparation – simple enough. Set the stage. Get what you need ready, choose backgrounds, wardrobes, etc. You know the drill. It’s the most natural thing in the world for you now.
  2. Focused direction – talk to your talent. Explain what you want out of the shoot. Then shoot it. Trust your model and just focus on the shot you’re looking for.
  3. Free for all – let the model set the pace now. React to his or her changes in bearing and composition.
  4. Edit what you wanted – simple too. You’re already a master here… right?
  5. Experiment with the new – kind of self-explanatory… just be a kid. Try new things. Break the rules. The end result might get your name in the next cool method, like the “Dave Hill.” I’m looking forward to the “Briana Shaker Method” 😉
  6. Greatness or flop – it doesn’t matter which, it’s all about experience. And that… makes all the difference.

Boldly Going Where You Never Went Before

Letting go of control and picking what to focus on, or what is wanted, may net results beyond your expectations. For instance, on a shoot in Florida (Anna Maria Island – I miss that place), the photogs had taken their shots of me, model in a swimsuit, on the beach, with the waves, and the sun (great stuff) and then I decided to…. Jump. And they shot. The result has become sort of my thing. I use my dance skills to jump. And in so doing there have been a number of spectacular shots that I’m quite proud of having been a part. I’ve even added a few kicks and punches to my repertoire. Nothing like a model that can figuratively and literally… knock you out 😉
Trust the Model - Part Two by Briana Shaker

The Good the Bad and the Inexperienced.

Models? Trust them? What if they have little experience?

Often the inexperienced can offer the most new opportunities. Similarly to children, the inexperienced are not burdened with the norms and conventions of a field. It’s easier for them to break free. That doesn’t guarantee that their break will be original or even good, but it does guarantee a new perspective, and, like betting on a 50 to 1 horse, it’s a chance at a great win fall.

Trust the Model - Part Two by Briana Shaker

Yet what about client based photography? Take a chance there?

Well… that’s different. As the photographer you can offer all the advice in the world, but in the end it’s up to the client and in his or her ability to trust you. But it doesn’t hurt to suggest. It doesn’t hurt to ask if they want to try a few things. They may. But like anything, you have to go by the feel of the situation and the desired outcome. When you’re a pro you have to make pro decisions.

What if the client is only paying for a set time and you have to ensure you get the results you want? In such an instance there is no time for “free for all.”

True. But art is usually (not always) that work we do when we’re not working for a client. This is your passion and your art. Some of it is about pleasing the clients and the rest is about pleasing yourself. I did a shoot with Sexy-Rid and I gave my all… professionally. In the end, I love the results. I didn’t jump. I didn’t dance. And I didn’t punch anyone. I still made art.


Briana Shaker's Model Behavior Column on Lighting Essentials

Trust. It’s a simple monosyllabic word. Yet, this simple word is one complex and problematic concept. From poor foreign relations between neighboring countries to the artist and his or her subject, trust is the basis for change and subsequent potential greatness. By just “letting go” and giving the model a “shot”, a photog can then draw on his or her wealth of experience and interests to maybe… just maybe… create something new. Now whether that “new” is ready for prime-time, that common hour we all tune in our flat-screens… well, what artist really wants to be known as being commonly accepted? None I know. So little kitty, hanging off a branch on that poster on the dentist’s ceiling, just let go… it doesn’t matter where you land, you’ll always land on your feet 😉

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Thanks Bri, well done. For more of Briana’s articles, click the “Model Behavior” category on the category menu. And watch for her upcoming book. We will announce it here first!

Monday we feature an interview with a photographer from England, and Wednesday will be a feature on small strobe modifiers for creating subtle, and very controlled light.

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