Sunday, December 17, 2006

Model Revelations

I always engage in frivolous small talk with models before I shoot them. Most of you probably do the same. Sometimes I'll tinker with the lights or putter with my camera just to buy some time; keeping the seemingly innocuous banter going. I don't do this because the lighting needs tinkering or the camera needs puttering, or to fill dead air with noise or to merely be friendly... which I am... friendly, that is. But that's beside the point. I also do this in hopes finding something out about the model that might help or impact what I'm about to do, i.e., get the most out of her.

Sure, I have to be a little careful. I don't want to come off flirty or as if I'm trying to hit-on her. And I don't want to sound too inquisitive and risk over-stepping the polite rules of coversation with someone I might barely be acquainted with... even if they might be naked, or soon will be naked, in front of me. What I'm doing, besides working to develop rapport with the model and helping her feel comfortable with me, is I'm hoping I'll stumble onto something about the model that will help me to make some interesting pictures of her. I'll admit, it doesn't always reveal all that much but, sometimes, it does.

Take Katarina, for instance. If I didn't engage in some purposely-extended small talk with her--somewhat difficult as she speaks English as a second language--I wouldn't have discovered that, before coming to the U.S., she was a performer in a circus!

Whoa! You don't meet circus performers everyday on the set! Making her even more interesting was the fact that she was a trapeze artist. A freakin' trapeze artist! Who would'a thought?

Apparently, this Russian beauty spent years with the circus. He career was cut short when she took a terrible fall. Showing me the scars that run up the insides of both arms, from her wrists nearly to her elbows, she told me about the steel rods that now help support her arms. Her dexterity and strength are still tip-top, but not good enough to make her living swinging from a trapeze.

So now I'm thinking, if she was a trapeze artist, she must be super comfortable "performing" in front of strangers and she also must be very strong and flexible. This could result in some interesting poses that you're simply not going to get out of many models. So that's what I did-- I asked her to really exagerate some of the poses and, IMO, some of them came out pretty cool. Sure, I still shot all the requisite glamour stuff, but these exagerated poses were incredibly fun to shoot. I wish I had more time with her. Hopefully, I'll have an opportunity to shoot her again. Next time, I'll make some plans to take better advantage of the physical prowess I now know she possesses.

But I wouldn't have stumbled on any of this if I didn't work hard at making small talk.

As noted, model is Katarina. Images captures with my Canon 5D w/85mm f/1.8 prime, ISO 100, f/5.6 @ 125th. MUA was Lilian.


jd said...

The pose in the second-from-the-top picture is fantastic. It took me a full second to figure out what was going on. I have never seen anything like that before. It works perfectly.

Who came up with that pose? Did you borrow it from somewhere else or did you or the model come up with it?

jimmyd said...

Who came up with that pose?

well, me, actually... altho is was fairly spontaneous, i.e., not planned. ya think i should apply for a pose-patent?

katarina was bending around, kind of contorting and flexing her body this way and that and i asked her to keep doing that plus over-exagerate a scream or a shout which i kind of demonstrated for her. that was pretty cool but then i asked if she could repeat it while also reaching between her legs from behind herself and cover up her cookie which, as you can see, she could do. there were others on the set and they were all encouraging her with "wows!" and such when she went after this pose. it's my favorite of everything I shot of her.

Det said...

Hey Jimmy,

- this isn't really a comment, but since I couldn't find your email, I'm using this function :)

I'm reading your blog for about 2 months now and I simply had to write a response - man, every damn word I read here is so true! Sometimes reading your lines is like hearing myself talking.

I came back into photography about 2 years ago with two friends, and we're started doing some portraits. In the process, I soon got into thinking, what makes a good shot differ from an not-so-good? And there it goes: Tech-stuff: you can buy. Learning to use the stuff - you can learn. And that's where a lot of people stop - they forget about the most important thing: the model. Out there in front of the camera, this is a very lonesome, frightening place. Beeing kind, geting the model comfortable - that's what makes the difference between a good and a bad shot.

I'm not making a living out of photography (but I'm trying to get there) and as the story developed, currently I'm the guy of us three doing the glamour-stuff, and I'm loving every bit of it. And as the proove your theory - the more you undress a chick, the more important it is to get her comfortable. By working with non-pro models around here this is even more important - and there are more than enough people out there who don't care about the model's attitude as long as there's enough t&a.

Keep up the good work - sadly my friends don't speak english, so I'll keep telling them about your oppinions and how much they reflect my own. It's really great to know that there are more people out there who think like we do.

Greetings from germany - DET

Orhan Kahn said...

Nice shots.