Saturday, May 23, 2015

Head Shots That Don't Suck (Part Two)

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For my Part One on this subject, I wrote about the importance of determining the primary specific purpose of the head shot. In it, I mentioned that, once you've determined that specific purpose, many other questions about the head shot practically answer themselves-- things like posing and expression (you know, the stuff that projects the emotional impact of the head shot) and on to more practical things like wardrobe, shooting environment, lighting, and more.

Still, there are a few suggestions I'd make about those practical elements of head shots I listed above. I'm going to save talking about posing, expressions, and emotional content for Part Three because, bottom line, that's the most important stuff for shooting head shots that don't suck, i.e., the importance of getting the right emotions, expressions, etc. out of your subjects, plus some ideas and advice for doing so.

When it comes to things like wardrobe and shooting environment, always remember who or what the most important element of the head shot is-- that would be your subject, of course. That means that things like wardrobe and environment, even your masterful skills at lighting and processing, should never "upstage" the subject.

"Upstage" or "upstaging" is an acting term, if you didn't already know. It's a term that refers to when something or someone, often another actor, does something, says something, or is something that draws an audience's attention to themselves or to itself at the expense of the actor or actors being upstaged by them/it.  It's said that W.C. Fields hated performing with kids and dogs. Not because he necessarily hated kids and dogs, but because he believed kids and dogs, by virtue of the audience's built-in feelings about them, couldn't help but to upstage him, and that they did so without even trying.

Okay. Some tips about wardrobe:

1. Solid Colors Often Work Best. (Except White!) Avoid "busy" patterns and prints. They
distract.

 2. Avoid Brightly Colored Wardrobe: Bright colors can also sometimes distract. (Unless your finished image will be B&W) Pastels and shades of gray are generally preferable. Muted colors and earth tones also work well.

3. Wardrobe Should Be Clean, Freshly-Pressed, and Free of Wrinkles: A head shot featuring a subject wearing clothing that appears as if they may have slept in it is generally not a good thing. A good idea for head shot photographers is to bring along a lint brush or one of those sticky-tape roller-things to remove lint, hair, dandruff, or whatever else might be revealed on your subject's wardrobe.

4. Avoid Jewelry or Other Shiny Distracting Things That Compete: That's not to say jewelry should be altogether avoided but the bigger and shinier the jewelry, the more distracting it will be. In
general, jewelry in headshots is best used when it's kept at a minimum.

5. Your Subject's Clothing or Wardrobe Should Fit Properly: I don't think much of an explanation is necessary. Have your subjects bring wardrobe that properly fits: Nothing too big and nothing too small is usually the best advice. Also, comfortable clothing is often best. There are many reasons your subject may be uncomfortable when being photographed. Their wardrobe shouldn't be one of them.

How about props? While props might sometimes be something the subject prefers to use, I think
they should generally be avoided. More often than not, props compete-with and distract-from the subject's face and the intent or purpose of the image. Props can also be cliche.

As for backgrounds and locations, avoid backgrounds or locations that compete with the subject. Avoid environments that are cluttered, overly busy, or might somehow “upstage” the person featured in the head shot. Backgrounds should compliment but should never distract.

The B&W head shot at the top is one I snapped for an aspiring actress. It was Golden Hour when I shot her and I used a single strobe, modified with a shoot-through umbrella set on-axis in front of her to help balance my exposure with the hard intense back-lighting the late-afternoon sun was producing. I like her subtly mischievous smirky expression. But then, I like mischievous people in general, as long as they know where "the line" is and they don't cross it.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Head Shots That Don't Suck (Part One)

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Although most of my work has been shooting pretty models in various stages of dress and undress for the past couple of decades or so, I'm no one trick pony, photography wise. No siree. I have a range of skills. A range that goes beyond pretty girl shooting. A range that also includes shooting head shots and, uhh, head shots and...  Okay, most of my photography boils down to two genres: 1) glam, tease & nudes, what I like to call pretty girl shooting, and 2) head shots.

Head shots -- IF. YOU. MUST. KNOW. -- were how I got started shooting pictures for pay. That was way back in the day, like 35 years or so back in the day. Thirty-five years ago wasn't when I first started my life-long love affair with photography, that began when I was 12 or 13, but it was when that love affair started turning some profits. Cash profits.

You see, my ex was an aspiring actress and actors (I'll use the word, "actor," as if it's gender neutral) are always needing new head shots for their acting careers. Regularly needing new head shots meant regularly spending money (we didn't have) on them. Worse, it seemed to me that every time she got some photographer to shoot new head shots for her, those head shots sucked. Leastwise, I thought they sucked.  So, I decided to start shooting her head shots myself. After all, I had a live-in guinea pig to learn with. And that's what I did.

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As a result of that decision, I've been shooting head shots for actors and others to this day. I don't pursue it the way I did back in the day, but I still shoot them from time to time. Mostly, for aspiring actors and, for the most part, as a result of word-of-mouth marketing.  (I love word-of-mouth marketing because it means I don't have to do much, practically nothing in fact.) Also, lest you might think otherwise, I don't limit my head shot shooting to female victims subjects. I shoot guys too. On the right is a head shot I snapped for an actor of the male persuasion just recently.

So, why am I writing about shooting head shots on this 9-year-old, 1,000+ updates, glamour photography blog?  Because it's something to write about; about photography, that is. In fact, I'm already thinking this might be a multi-part post because, even though I wrote an 111-page ebook on the subject about three years ago, GUERRILLA HEADSHOTS,  I want to post some info about shooting head shots here, on the blog... cuz I'm a sharing caring guy that way.

Okay. So how do you shoot head shots that don't suck?

First off, you need to do a bit of pre-shoot planning: in concert with your client but also a lot of it in your head. What does that planning begin with?  Questions. Questions regarding where you will  shoot the client's head shots? How will you light the client's head shots? What kinds of production or post-production trickery you might throw at a client's head shots?

Nope.

Before asking yourself those other questions, important though they may be, you first need to ask (and answer or get answered) one simple-yet-wildly-important question. Once you do, once you answer it, all of the rest of your questions will fall into line. In fact, often enough they'll practically answer themselves.

The question is -- drum roll please --  WHAT IS THE MAIN PURPOSE OF THE HEAD SHOT? (i.e., what, SPECIFICALLY, is the PRIMARY purpose of the head shot?)

Most people don't want or need head shots just for the sake of having some head shots. They have SPECIFIC REASONS why they want or need head shots. They have SPECIFIC NEEDS for those head shots and for what, they hope, their head shots will achieve... FOR THEM!

I know that sounds awfully simple. I know it sounds rather no-brainer. But I've seen more than a few head shots that were technically good, even great, but they sure didn't seem to match the purpose the subject was using them for.

I also understand that the purpose of a head shot doesn't sound like it has much to do with the art,  craft, and science of photography but, believe it or not, many things you might do when shooting photos for pay have less to do with the art, craft, and science of photography than they do many other things. For instance, when you're getting ready to scehdule a client's head shot session, there are some things you need to know about said client's needs for those head shots; things that transcend (or predetermine) how cool, artsy, crafy, technically-superior, or stylized your skills at shooting head shots, or anything else, might be.   Once you know the answer to that question, other questions about shooting a client's head shots, e.g., what the client should wear, where you should shoot the images, how you might light them, all become so much easier to figure out and a successful head shot session becomes so much easier to take place.

The pretty girl at the top is Tera Patrick. I've snapped many, sexy, glamorous, nude and non-nude pics of Tera but, for that shoot, she needed some head shots. She had some very specific reasons for needing  head shots, business and marketing reasons, and those reasons did not include featuring her, in the pics, as the sensuously-beautiful, knock-out glamour model that she happens to be.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Fine Craft Nudes

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I've been shooting nudes and semi-nudes for a long time. In all that time, I've never perceived my work as being art. (Fine Art Nudes, Erotic Art, or otherwise.) But I have and do perceive it as craft. In fact, I'm going to dub my work, Fine Craft Nudes or Finely Crafted Nudes, Crafted Nudes, or whatever floats my boat at any give moment, as long as it has the word craft in it.

While there are people who label my work smut -- finely crafted smut or some other kind of smut -- I could give a rat's ass about those folks. Their judgements roll off me like water off a duck's ass... sticks-n-stones and all that. And even it some of my work is smut. So what? At least it's craft-driven smut. So there! GFYs, ye who love tossing those judgmental stones.

Yep. I like the word craft.  I like it a lot. As a noun, it means, "An activity involving skill in making things."  As a verb, it means, "To exercise skill in making something."  That's not to say I don't like the word art. I do. I like art a lot.  I even sometimes try to make art, albeit not when shooting the sorts of pretty girl pics my clients pay me to shoot and I later feature on this blog.

Craft, of course, can be applied to many things: things that aren't often referred to as being art, artsy, or artistic in the traditional sense of those words, e.g., "Sailing Craft" refers to a sailor's skills in sailing a sail boat. Could you refer to sailing craft as sailing art? Sure. Why not? Knock yourselves out. But it wouldn't be a traditional use of the word art.

What I'm doing when I'm shooting pretty girls is craft-- that is, I'm employing craft skills when I'm making photos of nude, semi-nude, and scantly-clad women. There's an art to making craft. (There's also, of course, plenty of craft involved in making art.) But as words which describe things, art and craft aren't synonymous. One often refers to the process while also referring to the results. The other refers, mostly it seems, to the results.

Does it take talent, true talent, to be a craftsman? Probably not. What it takes is learning and practice. Lots of practice.

Does it take true talent to be an artist? Again, probably not. What it takes is learning and practice. Lots of practice.

Sure. There are people who are born with natural talents for producing art. All kinds of art! (The visual arts, music, writing, and more.) There's not a lot of them but a few, no doubt. But here's the deal: If art depended solely on people born with some natural, innate, overwhelming and obvious talent for producing good art, guess what? There probably wouldn't be much good art in the world.

Being born naturally-talented as an artist is not the same as being born with a natural desire to produce art. That notion explains, of course, why there's always been more people producing good art than people born with some natural and innate ability to produce good art. It also explains why art is taught. If all good artists were born with natural abilities to produce good art, we wouldn't need no steenkeeng art teachers or art schools, now would we? And we definitely wouldn't need experienced, skillfull, and craft-knowledgeable photographers teaching other photographers, new and new-ish photographers, to photograph in skillful, craft-driven, ways.

Anyway, just some thoughts on art and craft.   I'm currently reading the book, "Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking" and it's got me thinking about this sort of stuff because, in my mind, I've been reinventing myself as a photographer lately -- now that I'm semi-retired and all -- and, sooner or later, I'm going to try my hand at shooting art instead of craft. But when I do, I'll definitely be calling on my craft skills to attempt some art. We'll see how it goes.

The voluptuous pretty girl at the top, crafted in a studio by me with a Canon 5D and an 85mm prime lens (ISO 100, f/5.6, 125th) while employing three light sources, is Cody. My main light was modified with a 5' Photoflex Octo and set nearly on-axis, plus I used a pair of Chimera Medium strip boxes on either side of Cody from slightly behind.






Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Reinventing My Photography

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I've been going through a slow, methodical, process of reinventing my photography. Much of that reinvention is going on in my head, more so than with cameras in my hands. (At least at this point.) Please note I didn't say that I'm reinventing photography. I'm simply saying that I'm reinventing *MY* photography, i.e.,  I'm reinventing myself as a photographer.

What does that mean?

For me, it means I work a lot less as a photographer these days -- paid work, that is -- but since I love photography (and I certainly don't want to give it up simply because it's become more of an avocation than a vocation) it means I'm steering myself towards different sorts of photography to satisfy my  photo-lust.

I'm not much interested in making a living from shooting these days. If I were, I'd reinvent myself as a wedding or event shooter, a seniors photographer, or something like that. Sure, those genres make more than a few people a few bucks. Some of them, quite a few bucks. Me? Not interested.  Not even a little bit.

I still get occasionally hired to shoot pretty girls. And I do like earning money well enough because, you know, I can then buy stuff with it. But my life isn't guided by money. It never has been. Leastwise, much beyond making enough to take somewhat comfortable care of myself and my family. So, since it's mostly just me I need to take care of these days -- my children being adults plus I'm unmarried and unattached -- I don't really pursue scoring much in the way of paid work. (If/when opportunities present themselves I'll take advantage of them, but I'm not really looking for those opportunities.  Color me lazy I guess.)

I'm far from being independently wealthy. In fact, I'm not too far into the plus side of the plus side of independently surviving. (Financially, that is.) But I am surviving. (Thanks to paying into Social Security for all those years, a private pension annuity from working 15 years for a large corporation, sales of my ebooks as well as other ebooks and photography training programs I occasionally promote, plus not having much debt.)

None of this reinventing stuff means I've forgotten what I know how to do. I can still shoot a decent pretty girl pic. I can also shoot some pretty good portraiture of various kinds. But that's the sort of stuff I've shot for a lot of years. That was work. Now, for me, photography is about play, not work. I was going to say it's about art but whether or not what I will produce represents "art" remains to be seen. Art is the goal. I'm just not overly confident it will be the result.

In terms of what I want to do now,  my reinvention as a photographer does not include continuing to shoot what I've been shooting for a long time. (No art nudes for me.) Besides, why would I do that? Been there, done that is the best answer I can give. I'm more interested in moving forward, not sideways or staying where I've been.

What I plan to shoot will certainly call upon the skills and knowledge I already have, but it's also going to mean developing new skills and knowledge that I didn't need when nearly 100% of my photography was shooting models of one sort or another, mostly of the "pretty girl" sort.

I'm excited! I love new challenges. Especially creative challenges. And I do plan to creatively challenge myself. Whether I'm up to the task... well, time will tell.

Anyway, sorry for the self-focused update. I'll try to get back to writing stuff that's more about helping this blog's readers elevate their skills and knowledge when next I blog.

The pretty girl at the top is Jennifer, snapped in a location house in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles.  The Silver Lake district is built around a reservoir in that part of L.A. The area was also home to Walt Disney's very first studio. It's something of a "hipster" neighborhood. I lit Jennifer with a 5' Photoflex Octo for my main, plus another strobe (modified with a small umbrella) camera left and behind her. (Actually, in front of her in the particular image I decided to post with this update.) The ambient in the room, courtesy of indirect sunlight from the window, provided some soft and gentle fill. I was shooting in fairly tight quarters in that small room. But hey! You do what you gotta do, right?


Monday, April 27, 2015

Come Fuck Me

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Some time ago, I spotted this comment (next paragraph) on a photography forum. I'd credit the poster but I have no idea who it was or even which forum or FB page it was on because I neglected to save that info. I thought it might make an okay subject for a blog update so I copied and pasted it into a file and saved it for a later time. Apparently, that time has arrived because, at the moment, I can't think of anything else to write about and I do like to write. Well, make that I like to have written.

The comment: "I was reading an article on portraiture in a 1981 issue of Camera Arts magazine that a friend just gave me. The writer made the observation that when the image of a skilled photographer is poorly conceived or lacks something to say its very easy for the photographer to make that image one where 'technique dominates meaning.'"

The commenter went on to say, "Making pictures that have meaning is not easy to do. Saying something through pictures is difficult work but when it succeeds the result is exceedingly satisfying. There seem to be a lot of images out there that have a blank feel. They are technically good but don't seem to have much to say. I think meaning and having something to say are good goals to strive for in our portraiture."

Amen to that!  And please believe me when I tell you I know a thing or two about portrait images that are fairly okay, technique-wise, but have a "blank feel."  I shoot them all the time. I've shot a gazillion of them. Well, maybe not a gazillion of them and not all of them with a "blank feel," depending on what you consider or define as a "blank feel," but you probably get my drift.

Perhaps it's mostly me who believes so many of my pretty girl pics have a blank feel? Perhaps believing that is a product of familiarity and shooting the same sorts of images over and over and over?  Perhaps it's because the "feel" that many of my photos have is the same "feel," that is, they mostly say the same thing? What's the thing they say? They say, "Come fuck me."

Yep. "Come fuck me." Not me, of course, but the models in front of my camera. And they're not saying it to me, although it's directed towards me. But only because I'm pointing a camera at them. Anyway, that's the "feel" or vibe or the thing my models often say (in my pics) without speaking. They do so, of course, via pose, expression, and by projecting attitudes and emotions that say "come fuck me." They don't necessarily say it automatically. More often than not, I need to direct them, i.e., ask them to project  that "come fuck me" feel, vibe, or statement. Otherwise, most of them will simply smile,  pose, and look cute and naturally attractive. Nothing wrong with smiling and looking cute and attractive but cute and simply attractive isn't what my clients are usually looking for in the pics I shoot for them. My clients want "come fuck me" so, "come fuck me" is what I try to give them. Make that I try to get the models to give them.  How do I do that? Well, for me, it's pretty simple. I simply ask.

Me:  "Give me your best come fuck me look."

Model responds with a 'come fuck me' expression. Whether it's her best, I really don't know but when it's there, I know, if that makes sense.  

No apologies, by the way. A photographer's gotta do what he or she has gotta do to get the shots and, if that means being direct, blunt, to-the-point, etc., that's what this shooter is gonna do. Besides, I'm not a beat-around-the-bush kinda guy, especially when I'm shooting. Plus, I always manage to say stuff like, "Give me your best come fuck me look," in ways that don't offend or make models feel like I'm being flirty, hitting on them, or the kiss-of-death when shooting models, perving on them.  It's a talent. Of sorts. I suppose.

Take the model at the top whose name I've forgotten. I snapped her in front of a stucco wall with a single light plus direct and ambient daylight. (ISO 200, f/8, 125th with a Canon 85mm f/1.8 prime on a Canon 5D1.) Nothing tricky. It's fairly straight forward lighting-wise. If it didn't already occur to you, that's the model's (directed by me) "come fuck me" expression. Apparently, she opts for a "pouty" approach when she's silently saying "Come fuck me."  Leastwise, when she's acting, I mean expressing a "come fuck me" attitude in front of a camera.

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Other models say "come fuck me" differently. Some use rather playful expressions. Others call on a certain sexual intensity, almost primal.  However a glam/tease model chooses to express "come fuck me," it's rarely vague or subject to debate. It's there. Obviously there. And it's always said with their eyes and, to a somewhat lesser extent, their mouths. Add the right pose and wardrobe, or lack of wardrobe, and any questions about what the model is saying are laid to rest.


 The two images upper-right are consecutive, back-to-back, SOOC (Straight Out of Camera, albeit reduced in size) pics from the set I snapped of the model at the top. In those two, she's exposing her breasts with near-identical poses. The main difference between the two is her expression. For the (upper-right-left) image the model is simply smiling in a cute and attractive sort of way. It's not particularly sexual. For the next image (upper-right-right) her expression has that "come fuck me" look.  Both are okay shots and nearly identical in many ways but very different in another way, that is, different in terms of the "feel" or what they're saying and/or not saying.

In real life, women have other ways of expressing "come fuck me" whether they're silently expressing it to relative strangers, part-time "fuck buddies," or significant others. You know, when they want a man or *their* man to fuck them but they don't want to come out and verbally say it. You see, in real life it's not always so obvious or in your face the way it is when glam/tease models express it for the camera... express "come fuck me," that is. Sometimes it is but, often enough, it's not. It's how women keep men slightly off-balance and unsure when they're coming onto them, doing so being a decidedly female tactic. Men, as most women know, are generally less coy or subtle when expressing their sexual intentions without words.

My clients don't want the models in my pics saying "come fuck me" in real-life, coy and subtle ways. The photos they hire me to shoot are intended as fantasy after all. Sexual fantasy. For that reason, they don't want the models keeping men who are viewing the images off-balance. They don't want male viewers to be unsure about what the models are saying with their poses and expressions. Instead, they want viewers to know exactly what the sexy, pretty, often scantily-clad or unclad models are saying with their poses, expressions, and attitudes. In other words, they don't want a "blank feel."  They want an obvious feel-- an obvious feel that says "come fuck me" in rather obvious ways.

To get back to the comment I'm using as source material for this update, I should mention that many glam photos I see -- in fact, more and more lately -- are fairly obvious examples of images where "technique dominates meaning."

These days, it seems many photographers are all about technique, nearly at the expense of almost everything else. They don't seem to pay much attention to (or care much about) "feeling."  They seem more intent on producing near-perfect, technique-driven photos with a "blank feel."  In other words, a lot of shooters focus almost entirely on lighting their models in uber-dramatic, stand-out, technique-driven ways, often mimicking the technique-driven lighting of other shooters whom they admire.

Perhaps even more often, they apply copious amounts of post-production processing in ways that often trump whatever feelings might have survived the technique-driven lighting in their photos. (Said post-prod also being very technique-driven and performed in ways that mimic other shooters they are fans of or are learning from.)

Hey! Nothing wrong with any of that. That's how many people learn. Course, once they learn that stuff they might want to think about developing their own styles and techniques and working to convey more "feeling" in their photos but whatever floats your boat.  Who am I to judge? I'm not saying it's right or wrong to continue mimicking the work of others once you've learned how to mimic it. I'm not saying it's wrong to shoot pics that mostly feature lighting technique, post-processing, and little else. I'm not saying that kind of stuff at all.

I'm just saying.

To each their own, right?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

You're a Professional Photographer You Say?

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Some of this might sound like a bitter old shooter ranting but, in my non-bitter opinion, there are too many people these days calling themselves "professional photographers" who, frankly, don't have the skills or experience -- leastwise, at their current, near-entry-level skills and experience levels -- to be marketing themselves as professional photographers for hire and expecting others to part with their hard-earned money for less than professional work.
 
I don't care if you've spent thousands and thousands on gear, if you don't have the skills to use that gear in ways that consistently produce professional results, you don't yet deserve to call yourself a "professional" and  probably shouldn't be seeking professional work until you have such skills. A human, camera-toting version of a coin-operated photo booth isn't a professional photographer any more than a vibrating Stratolounger represents a professional masseuse.

Just because someone purchases a hammer, a saw, and other carpentry tools, perhaps the best hammers, saws, and what-have-you that are made, doesn't mean they automatically have the skills and experience to hire themselves out as a custom home builder or seek employment as a journeyman cabinet maker.

I somewhat regularly see brand-spanking-new and new-ish photographers on photography forums who obtain paid, professional work and, once the work is obtained, they're asking people in the groups to tell them how to shoot the work they've obtained.

Are you shitting me?  You went after a gig, scored the gig -- probably on price and bullshit promises -- and now you need to ask others how to make good on what you, no doubt, warranted to the client/customer you can deliver? Nice con... because that's what it is, a con. 

Oh? The client/customer suddenly threw a curve ball at you with something unusual for part of the shoot and you haven't a clue how to shoot that curve ball part? Too freakin' bad. You should, at least, have a clue, more than a clue, how to shoot practically any client-thrown curve balls. If not, don't go after paid professional gigs you're not yet qualified to shoot. At what point are you qualified to take on those gigs? That's certainly a gray area. Probably different for many. But here's my advice: don't let your ego (your Twinkletoes as I wrote about in my last update) be the ultimate deciding factor. You know, because you've snapped a few good pics when you were shooting just for yourself.

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Most skilled and experienced professional photographers aren't one-trick ponies even if many focus on a specific genre. Pro shooters, actual pro shooters, are versatile. They can adapt and call on their skills and experience to bat almost any curve ball a client throws. Often enough, bat it out of the park. If not out of the park, they can swat base hit after base hit when clients throw those curve balls. And clients toss them all the time, curve balls that is. Sometimes, they don't toss them till you show up at the gig... which doesn't afford someone the luxury of going on a photo forum and asking others how to shoot it. 

Don't get me wrong. I'm not against asking for or giving shooting advice.  But there's a big difference between seeking advice from others while you're learning and relying on others to tell you how to do something you don't have a clue about, but you already warranted to someone else, a client or customer, that you can deliver the goods. (Either directly warranted by lying about your experience or indirectly by virtue of your hyper-inflated "pitch," selling yourself as the "professional" photographer for the job. Most any photography job.)

I certainly don't know how to shoot everything so, if/when I'm asked about shooting something that I don't know how to shoot with a fair amount of skill and knowledge, guess what? I don't take those jobs.  Instead, I steer the client to some shooters who, IMO, do know how to shoot it. (And that's happened a fair number of times.)

Again, this update isn't me being bitter or angry about inexperienced, unskilled or marginally-skilled photographers going after paid work they are likely too green to competently produce. It's not me complaining there are too many photographers pursuing paid work these days. It's not me saying less-skilled and less-experienced photographers can't become skilled and experienced photographers warranting being paid. It's simply me saying photographers, like any other skilled professionals, should first pay their dues by investing in learning plus spending plenty of time practicing what they've learned. Once they know what they're doing via learning and practice, i.e., they've become skilled, truly skilled, then go after paid work and start accumulating professional experience.

Just because you can do some tricky looking shit with PS, LR, or some other software or apps doesn't make you a professional photographer any more than knowing how to make a few good meals in your kitchen makes you a professional chef. You might be able to handle being a short-order cook at Denny's with those marginal skills but short-order cooks aren't chefs and, just so you know, Denny's doesn't hire chefs. They hire cooks. Similarly, most professional photography clients aren't looking to hire the entry-level short-order cook versions of photographers. They're looking to hire the chef versions. Can most anyone become a chef or a professional photographer? Sure. But it doesn't happen overnight and it doesn't happen without a serious investment in learning followed by plenty of practice.

The pretty girl in the photos is Paris. Snapped it in-studio against a grey seamless using my Mola "Euro" beauty dish for a main light, slightly camera right and also slightly warmed with a small piece of Roscoe's "Bastard Amber" gel attached to the Mola's glass baffle. A pair of medium Chimera strip boxes, either side from behind, provided edge-lighting on the model. I also boomed a small, rectangular, soft box overhead from behind for a hair light, attaching black foil to the bottom of the hair light to flag it, i.e., to keep its light from bleeding onto the seamless.