Saturday, June 23, 2012

New Locations

Sivonna at Sauvie
I'm seeking new locations in which to shoot and to shoot for their own beauty. The former for my model photography and the latter for more landscape and nature photography. I've asked some of my fellow photographers and my models for suggestions, but thus far I've only received a few that I'll be able to use this year.

One location that I definitely want to visit is Opal Creek and Jawbone Flats. It's located east of Detroit Lake and is about a 3.5 mile hike in from the trailhead. I'm hoping Wanda and I will be able to check it out next Sunday and then perhaps I'll be able to revisit it later in the summer either alone or with a model. I'd love to do some HDR images of some of the old mining equipment and abandoned vehicles at Jawbone Flats.

Another location I'd like to try to visit is the semi-ghost town of Shaniko, Oregon. I've visited one ghost town before (Bodie, CA) and I think it would be interesting to shoot another. Fossil, Oregon is also on my list, but it's more of a very small town rather than a ghost town.  I'm seriously considering a trip by motorcycle through Eastern Oregon to Lake Tahoe in the late summer. That would be a fun and exciting adventure for me.

Given opportunity and willing models, I'd like to explore art and figure nudes on location at Sauvie Island. I've shot there a number of times, but I've only visited a very few locations.  The nude area at Collins Beach is quite large and I think it would be interesting to explore more of the area and photograph the weathered logs, root bundles, and the river traffic. It can get crowded int the summer with all the sunbathers, but it's usually easy to work around the people.

Finally, I'd like to take a trip up to Windy Ridge in the Mount St. Helens area. On the way, I'd revisit Ape Canyon and the lahar area south of the mountain. There are a couple of waterfall that would be wonderful to shoot, especially the one in Lava Canyon and another on the east side of the mountain. The name of the falls eludes me at the moment, but I've visited it before and would love to shoot it in better light.

With any luck, I'll have some great new images this summer in some new locations. I'll wrap up my model shoots early in the summer and then move into landscape and nature photography as the season progresses.

Sivonna - Chains at Sauvie

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Summer Shooting

Jenn from Summer 2011
I love late spring, summer and early-to-mid fall for shooting glamour in the Pacific Northwest. While I also enjoy shooting in the studio and in environmental settings, just being able to enjoy a warm day shooting with a lovely model is a real delight for me. The light is more challenging and often the rewards are greater because when you nail the shot you can truly capture the essence of the natural world.

I'm fortunate to live is such a beautiful area of the country, and even more fortunate to have a wonderfully supportive wife who modeled for me for many years, and who still supports my passion for photography with few complaints and much encouragement. I'm also luck to have a good friend who lets me use his property for shoots almost anytime I ask. He often helps me with reflectors, props and by shooting the behind-the-scenes images.

Let's not forget the models. These ladies gallantly hazard stinging nettles, mosquitoes, bees, poison ivy or oak, sand, dirt, gravel, freezing water, and sunburn to help me get great images. Some I've shot with only once, while many of them have become my friends through multiple shoots.

Lindsay at Sauvie Island
I'm winding down my model shooting this year and focusing more and more on different genres. I have a few shoots to complete during the summer shooting season so that I can wrap up several projects. Other shoots are at the request of models that really want to be part of one project or another that they particularly like (yes, Floofie, you will get to be a fairy).  Finally, there will be the shoots that support a model or two in their commercial endeavors.

It appears that this summer will be warmer and drier than last year's so my shooting opportunities will be expanded even if I'll be shooting fewer models overall.  With any luck, I'll get my lovely wife to do a few shoots with me as well.  I've also promised to shoot with a couple of friends this summer and I hope to be able to fulfill those obligations as well.  As the summer progresses, you can watch this blog to see what the lovely ladies and I are able to accomplish.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I'm So Ready for Spring and Summer

Krisa as the Combat Fairy
This is the 5th wettest March on record for Oregon. The ground is so soggy that I can't mow my lawn for fear of sinking to my ankles in the soil. I'm so ready for warm and dry weather - I need to be able to shoot outside again. I hope to be shooting more landscapes and nature this year, but I'm also working on helping a couple of models get started on Zivity, so I do have a few glamour shoots planned for the warm weather.

One shoot I've got planned is a variation of the military glamour shoot with Krisa. We had a great time shooting the Combat Fairy, but I haven't shot her strictly for military glamour and I think that will be a great shoot. Although I've shot at least twice in the studio this winter, I really haven't been doing much photography at all. It's definitely time to get creative again. With any luck I'll get my wife in front of the camera for a couple of shoots as well.

I have a couple of other ideas planned as well, but I think I'll primarily be shooting landscapes this year. I haven't given up glamour and nudes totally, but I do need to stretch my horizons and this seems like a good way to do so.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Erosnyx - My 4th Studio

Jenn C at Erosnyx
Well, I'm in my 4th studio in three years. I've gone from a space in the old Columbia Sportswear building in Cathedral Park, to a dedicated studio space in the Pearl District, to a community space in NE Portland, and now I'm leasing space and time at Erosnyx in SE Portland. In every case the move was required because the photographers who I was sharing the space with moved to different spaces that were inadequate for my needs or the space was converted to something that wasn't appropriate for use as a photography studio. I have high hopes for the space where I'm currently working. The owners seem dedicated to make the space available to a variety of creative people and are working to upgrade the space to make it even better.

So far, I've only used the space once, but I'm scheduled for at least two other shoots in the studio in the very near future. It's worked quite well for my needs and I'll even be shooting a full band in the space in about a week. The larger main room has enough space for my more elaborate settings and other appurtenances that can be utilized for my shoots. Since most of my shoots include full body shots, I need adequate space to frame the model with sufficient distance between the model and the backdrop to allow light falloff and background lighting control.

There is a smaller studio space off the main room which can be utilized as well, and indeed I may find myself using it from time to time for less elaborate setups, and more specifically when I plan to shoot high key lighting sequences and the plan is to have a cyclorama wall in the space in the near future. All in all, the space is excellent for my intended usage and with any luck, I'll be able to shoot there for quite some time to come.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Respect Your Models

Audi in the Woodlands
I recently completed a small project during which I shot with several models, including two very lovely ladies for whom the project was our first shoot together. During the course of the shoot those two models, as well as two of my regular models, told me how nice it was to work with me.  I have received this compliment many times over my years of shooting and I had really never given it much thought. After all, I’m a good person and I try to treat people well, so I certainly had hoped that shooting with me would be a “nice” experience.  The first model that said this to me during this most recent project, however, said it with such intensity that I simply had to ask her what she meant. Her response surprised me.

She told me she had recently worked with a photographer who continually commented about what he didn’t like about her body or her poses. He made snide comments about her weight, though in my opinion she has a very well formed and toned body; how he didn’t like some of her poses and generally was not pleasant to her during the shoot.  This young lady is one of the most pleasant people you’d ever want to meet. She has a gorgeous smile, is always ready for a shoot, shows up on time and puts great effort into giving the photographer what he or she wants. I’ve worked with her four times over the last year and she’s just a real sweetheart.  I’m shocked that anyone would treat her so.

Her story made me think about the photographer to model relationship and what it means to me. So when I received the next such compliments, I asked the question, “Why do you say that?”  In every case the model was able to tell me specific aspects of shooting with me that made the experience pleasant and an event to be repeated rather than to be avoided.  Two of the models also related experiences they had encountered with other photographers which made them unwilling to work with those individuals again.  Once again, I was surprised that these ladies would be treated with such disregard for their feelings.

Now, I certainly hope these photographers are the exception and not the rule. It’s certainly been my experience with the few other photographers that I’ve occasionally worked with that models are treated with respect though, of course, shooting with a group of photographers and models is quite the different dynamic than when a model and photographer are shooting in a one-on-one situation.  Still, it doesn’t benefit photographers as a profession or avocation when models are treated poorly by someone who professes to be a photographer.

I am therefore going to share my philosophy and process of working with models in the hope that it will help other photographers who may not have much experience in working with models, and specifically glamour models, in front of their lens.  Certainly not every person who reads this will be influenced to change the way they act towards their models.  The ones that won’t change probably treat people poorly because of their personality and their  attitude toward humanity in general. Nothing I, or the models, say will change how they treat others.  I’m betting, however, there are a few photographers out there that simply don’t know what’s expected of them during a shoot and are willing to consider better methods so that they get the results they want while ensuring the models will want to work with them again in the future.

On the Beach with Sierra
I think the most important thing to keep in mind when shooting with a model is that they are your collaborators in the process of creating the image. Yes, you’re setting the exposure, the lighting, choosing the composition and the depth of field, and perhaps even directing the model into specific poses, but without the model, what would be your subject? What element beyond the background, the foreground and the props would you have in your final image? You need the model, otherwise you would be shooting still lifes, landscapes, or bugs.

If you’re shooting with a model, she or he, as the case may be,  is most likely the subject in your image. If you want the most from your model, treat them as a dynamic partner in the creative process. Talk to them, listen to them, and consider any suggestions they might have for the image. If they are experienced, they already know the poses that make them look the best and they often have great ideas about what poses would work well for the image or scenario you’re trying to capture. Consider what they have to offer and make use of it as appropriate.

Models are people too.  Don’t treat them as simply objects or props. Many of my models have willingly put themselves into awkward positions, donned uncomfortable clothing, stood in the cold, soaked themselves in freezing water, and posed with sand blowing in their face while standing barefoot on a hot desert floor because they shared my vision of the final image. They also did it because I explained what I wanted, made sure that a comforting towel and robe, a hot cut of tea, a wet washcloth and a cold drink or a helping hand was available to them immediately after I got the shot. I always keep what I call a “comfort pack” with me when I shoot. It contains a robe and slippers for the model, a pack of wet wipes, mosquito repellant, a large towel, a bottle of water, a washcloth, lotion, paper towels, and a clean brush. Some items seldom get used and some items get used quite a lot. But, they’re always available if the model needs them. Most of the time, depending on the duration and location of the shoot, I have hot or cold drinks available for the model as well. Keep the model comfortable or at least aware that the discomfort will be short, and you’ll get far more out of your model than you could otherwise expect.

Encourage your model. I certainly can stand to improve in this area.  I often get so caught up in the techniques of the shot that I often forget to provide feedback to the model. I’m still working on this, but I do try to let my models know when I think a particular pose or expression is working. I use words like “great,” “gorgeous,” “beautiful” or phrases like “that’s it,” “very nice” and “terrific expression,” to encourage my models. What’s more, I mean it. If I don’t like a pose or an expression I don’t tell them I don’t like it, but rather I suggest another pose or another look. The idea is to keep up a positive flow of energy between the photographer and the model. Reinforce everything that is working and let what doesn’t work slide on by.  Keeping the model happy and encouraged makes the shoot flow better and keeps the energy high.

Keep your hands to yourself as much as possible. In most cases, it’s not necessary to touch the model. Talk to the model before the shoot and let her know how you give directions. I often demonstrate glamour poses to my models and I know it has to look silly for a person who looks like me to strike a glamour pose, but hey, it gets the job done and I can indicate to the model what I want without a lot of words or trying to push her around like a mannequin. Sometimes you do have to move a hand or an arm slightly, but before you touch the model, ask (and get) permission first.

Finally, and I think this is where a lot of photographers get into trouble, understand your model’s limits and don’t try to push them beyond what they are comfortable shooting with you. If in doubt, ask before the shoot or before you get to that particular sequence in the shoot. If the models indicates discomfort with the pose or the concept, don’t push it. If such a pose or concept is integral to your shoot, it’s imperative you discuss it with the model before getting her to commit to the shoot and don’t spring it on her as a surprise the day of the shoot. It’s always okay to ask about a concept, but it’s never acceptable not to take no for an answer and to try to push a model into an uncomfortable situation.

Models are people just like your sister or your mother. They can collaborate with you and help you create some wonderful images if you treat them right. If you don’t, well, word has a way of getting around and you may just find yourself unable to get anyone to work with you at all.

Lindsay by the River