Saturday, September 29, 2007

New Blog: Boudoir Photographer

Check out the new, Boudoir Photographer blog. So far, there's only a few posts but I'm hoping this blog will be regularly updated.

After reading BP's first few posts, I've rethought a few of my notions about boudoir photography. I've never shot the genre but I've always figured I could jump right in and be fairly decent at it. After all, I've shot a few women here and there with an erotic twist to the images. Seems to me my skills and experience would translate nicely. And, yeah, most of them will. But this genre has other considerations that are unique to it: Considerations I hadn't, uhhh... considered until reading the BP blog.

If you're a boudoir photographer or someone who has thought about getting into that style of photography, I suggest you surf on over to the Boudoir Photographer blog and have a look-see. And leave a comment encouraging the BP blogger to continue posting. Hopefully, BP will become another valuable resource for pretty girl shooters everywhere.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Leaving Las Vegas

Actually, I'm not leaving Las Vegas... I've already left and have returned home.

I'm toast.

Most of the time there, I was operating on 3 or 4 hours sleep a night. It's going to take me a few days to recuperate. But it was fun! Although we didn't shoot all the stuff we planned on shooting, I did photograph some fun stuff!

One night, for instance, we rented a party bus and took six models to numerous nightspots around Sin City. Those party buses are a trip! They come equipped with an ear-shattering sound system, giant liquid plasma screens, full bar, stripper pole, disco lights and a driver who kept his eyes on the road with little care about what was going on in the back. What more could you ask for? Okay, a hot tub would have been cool but, short of that, the bus was fully equipped for a party. In fact, that's just what those buses are: Parties on wheels.

The party bus night ended, at about three or four in the morning, at a casino bowling alley. As numerous casino security people cautiously watched, six well-lubricated pretty girls tried their best to bowl. It was hysterical! Half the time it seemed like the bowling balls were tossing the models rather than the other way around.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Heading Outa Town Again

I'm off to Sin City again for a few days of pretty girl shooting photography. Not sure when I'll be back, probably Wednesday or Thursday. I'm starting to feel like a part-time local there. Good thing I don't have any serious vices... like gambling. Otherwise, I'd probably be coming home each time with less in my pocket than what I went with plus what I earn while there.

Hopefully, I'll find time to update while I'm in Vegas. It's not like I don't have access to the internet where I'll be staying. Unfortunately, time seems to often get away from me and I somehow don't manage to get on the computer much, except for off-loading images from flash cards to my computer's hard drive.

Oh well.

The pretty girl at the top is Selena, captured some time ago at a location in downtown L.A. She's lit by sunlight coming through the window and a bit of artificial light for fill.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Photographing Dwarfs

In photographing dwarfs, you don't get majesty and beauty. You get dwarfs. -Susan Sontag

I'm not using this quote to offend little people. I'm acquainted with some big people who once publicly offended some little people. My big people acquaintances quickly discovered that the offended little people included a few who work for the IRS. Needless to say, the people I'm acquainted with made public apologies to little people in general: Offended little people, employed by the IRS little people, and little people in general.

Recently, on one of the glamour photography forums I frequent, a member commented about photographers routinely critiquing the relative beauty and allure of models. (Rather than focusing on the craft of photography in those criticisms.) Although, in a perfectly PC world, constructive criticisms of photographic images would and should focus more on craft and less on perceived beauty of the model, this ain't a perfectly PC world.

I'm confident there are dwarfs, I mean little people, who project beauty and majesty, certainly in the eyes of other little people as well as others. I'm also sure there are some incredibly well-crafted images of little people out there. But many people's perceptions of beauty--mostly perceptions by people who are not little people, that is--do not, for the most part, include the physical and visual characteristics of dwarfs little people. The same holds true for beauty and glamour models. If you seek more positive responses from viewers regarding your work as a pretty girl shooter, you'd do well to photograph models who stereotypically fit most people's perceptions of beauty. Simply put, the hotter the model the more wowed people will be by your photographs of them. Leastwise, it mostly works that way.

I know this sounds like I'm saying beauty trumps craft when it comes to pretty girl shooting. (I suppose I am saying exactly that.) If you really want to wow people with your work, shoot the hottest possible models and do so in a way that exhibits the best you're able to accomplish when it comes to the craft of glamour and tease photography. You'll probably find that less-crafty images of truly beautiful and sexy models will be applauded more enthusiastically than very crafty images of plane-Jane models.

It might not be fair but it's the way things are. We don't, after all, live in a perfect world.

The pretty girl at the top is Rebecca.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Some Exciting Stuff Going On

I took a meeting with a Hollywood power-broker the other day. In Hollywood, people take meetings. They don't go to meetings and they don't attend them... they take them, capiche? (BTW, they also don't "eat" lunch. They "do" lunch.)

So what's an old pretty girl shooter like me doing sipping lattes with a Hollywood deal-maker? Well, between latte sips and nibbles on my biscotti, I was pitching a show. A TV show. A TV show that (wouldn't ya just know it?) has a bit to do, in its theme, with photography. And guess what? He loves it! He's all over it! He's on my ass to finish the written treatment all over it! And he wants to quickly set up pitch meetings with the suits at places like Fox TV and elsewhere.

So how did I end up at a trendy coffee joint with a latte in one hand and a biscotti in the other while trying to explain my TV show idea in some sort of articulate way?


Once upon a time I dedicated most of my waking moments to a Hollywood career as a writer and, even more hopefully, to being a director. Back then, I had an agent. And this guy I just met with was that agent. We had some successes back then. Heck, I co-created a sit-com that NBC produced and aired but, sadly, it didn't make it onto the season schedule. If it had, I'd probably be living in Malibu still collecting residuals. Back then, I made ends meet shooting head shots and commercial portfolios for aspiring actors. I had converted my garage into a small studio and had my own darkroom. (B&W only.) Anyway, my (then) wife (who was an actress) became pregnant and I decided I had to be more responsible and so I pushed my Hollywood dreams aside to become a responsible father with a regular income and health insurance and all that stuff. This was like 25 or 30 years ago.

Fast forward to now: I came up with this idea for a TV show and I thought I'd try to locate my former agent and see what became of him. Turns out he's done very well for himself with an uber-impressive Hollywood resume. I managed to locate a phone number and, not knowing if he'd even take my call, decided to give it a shot. Well, he was more than willing to meet and we did and now we're gonna see if we can make this idea fly.

There's no guarantees, of course. I know this well having been down the road before. But the first step was always selling the guy who had to sell it to others. If you couldn't get past that first step, there were no more steps. So, with the first step successfully completed, all I can ask is please do me a favor and keep your freakin' fingers crossed!

The gratuitious eye-candy at the top is Angel from a few months ago.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Another Year Gone By

Thanks for all the email, MySpace, and photo forum birthday wishes! Although I try my best to forget another year has passed, leaving me grayer and stodgier and with less and less room for all those candles on the B-Day cake, I truly appreciate the good wishes as well as the condolences.

I'm finding the older I get, the more my passion for photography grows. The way I look at it, photography is something I'll do till I drop. I mean, even if I end up needing a cane, a walker, or an oxygen tank, I should always be able to hoist a camera to my eye regardless of the infirmities of age.

Okay, enough of the morbid crap. I'm still up on two legs, fairly erect, and sporting most of my hair. Yep, I'm still ready, willing, and able to wield cameras with a curious eye and with little or no physical exertion required.

So, once again, thanks guys and girls for all the well wishes on the day of my birth!

The pretty lady at the top is Devin. I shot Devin last night. MUA was Vera. I captured Devin with my trusty Canon 5D w/ an 85mm prime attached. ISO 100, f/5.6 @ 125. Three monolights and two reflectors were employed.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Working With First-Timers

While I was in Vegas this past week, a few of the models I shot were first-timers. To be sure, working with first-timers can be a lot of fun but, for pretty girl shooters, they sometimes present special challenges.

Here's a couple of examples:

The Deer Caught in the Headlights Syndrome: Models beset by this affliction step in front of the camera and, although they may each have been Little Miss Personality while getting ready for their shoot, they suddenly go stiff, become filled with anxiety and dread, and begin posing as if a taxidermist had arranged their bodies and molded their expressions.

The I've Watched Every Episode of America's Next Top Model Syndrome: These first-timers know it all. They paid close attention to every bit of advice Tyra Banks and her panelists and co-hosts offered to every contestant ever appearing on the show. They won't make the same mistakes those (losing) contestants did! Unfortunately, they're working too hard at putting the knowledge they gleaned from Ms. Banks' TV show into practice and their poses and expressions are way over the top.

The I'm Not Really a First-Timer Syndrome: These models have spent some serious, quality-time in front of cameras. But the people holding the cameras were boyfriends with point-n-shoots and cell phone cams. And while these first-timer's boyfriends are all, according to the models, extremely creative--after all, they're someday going to be "A" List actors, superstar rock musicians, or celebrated poet rappers--they weren't able to produce work that matched their creative prowess due to the limitations of their gear. (Not, of course, due to the limitations of their skill and talent as photographers.)

Yep, working with first-timers can be a challenge. My best advice: Spend less time focused on craft (i.e., the photography tech stuff) and more time focused on the model. (That's why the craft stuff needs to become automatic and second-nature.) Keep the communications between you and the model going at all times. Give direction. Gain rapport. Build her confidence. Stroke her ego. Pay attention to details. Don't wait for the model to trip and fall into a decent pose and sell herself to the camera. Shooting pretty girls ain't gambling. Good captures don't happen by accident. Well, sometimes they do. But don't count on photographic lightning to strike when you want it to strike. It's lonely out there, in the lights, with some photographer pointing a one-eyed contraption at you. You want to kill the moments you hope to capture? Stand there, silently paying more attention to your camera and what you see in the viewfinder, while an inexperienced model emotionally squirms and melts in the lights.

The first-timer pretty girl at the top is Tina. MUA was Eva. Tina started out the set with Deer Caught in the Headlights Syndrome. Fortunately, she wasn't too difficult to loosen up. Image captured with a Canon 5D, 85mm f/1.8 prime, f/5.6 @ 125. Three source lights--a 5' Octodome and two strips--and a reflector were used.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I'm Back

And what's the first thing I spot on the blog? Porn ads.

A company I've been affiliated with, i.e., one that sells advertising for posting on blogs and, I should add, one that never (until now) sold any such ad space on this blog, recently changed hands or management or whatever. I guess the new management team decided to take a new route with their services. I don't remember any mention of porn when I signed on and I also seem to remember something about (me) approving ads before they would be posted, leastwise that's what I remember it saying in my original agreement with them. (Note to self: In the future, keep cyber-copies of online TOS's and agreements.)

Don't get me wrong: I'm not a prude about such things. But there's a place for porn ads and, IMO, this ain't such a place.


Just returned late last night. Las Vegas was fun in spite of the sleep-deprivation I experienced while there. Shot some pics. (Which I really haven't looked at yet, chimping-while-shooting aside.) Partied. Ate a buffet or two. (I highly recommend the seafood buffet at the Rio-- About $40 per person, which is a little pricey by Vegas buffet standards, but well worth it if you have a yen for pigging-out on scrumptious shellfish, choice clawed-crustaceans, and other mouthwatering bounties of the sea.) Partied some more. Shot more pics. Met some cool people. (Twenty-year-old strippers--I mean exotic dancers/models--are fun, at least in small and metered doses and without any expectations of meaningful, intellectually-driven, discussions.) And I hung out with some old friends too.

I'll get back to some on-topic updates with gratuitous, eye candy, pics as soon as I fully recuperate.

Ain't as young and party-able as I once was.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Road Trip!

I'm outa town on assignment for a few days, possibly till mid-week. That "assignment" thing sounds official and important, don't it? ;-)

If I can, I'll try to update while I'm gone. If you're so inclined, keep checking back as--naturally, of course--I'll be shooting pretty girl glamour while I'm gone.

Today's pretty girl is Giselle from a quickie, evening, NN shoot earlier this past week.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Good Photography Speaks Through Silence

I'd love to take credit for today's title. The truth is, it's a quote-- An anonymous quote but a quote nonetheless.

"Good photography speaks through silence."

If the blind Master Po were a photo-Master, this is something he might have said to a young Kwai Chang Caine. For any of you who don't *get* the analogy, there was this TV show called, Kung Fu.

There's more than one way to interpret this quote. It says a lot about photography from a number of perspectives. If I were writing my own, personal, Tao of Photography, I'd probably include these words within it.

Since the earliest days of cinema, when nearly every public exhibition of a movie included a pianist who played an accompanying score, moviemakers have relied on sound to underscore and enhance the dramatic moments in a flick; in fact, to enhance nearly all the moments in a flick. Steven Spielberg, speaking about feature films, once said, "Sound is half the experience. If you don't buy into the truth in Mr. Spielberg's axiom, try watching the most dramatic and suspenseful moments of his film, "Jaws," without the sound turned on and "see" how terrifying that shark suddenly does NOT become.

As photographers, our images must speak through silence. To be effective, a good photograph -- whether it's of a pretty girl or a beautiful landscape -- must say something to its viewers without the use of audible communications. It's not enough for an image to be technically perfect. A good image transcends the technical and silently speaks, sometimes with subtlety and sometimes quite loudly, to its viewers.

So how do photographers silently communicate? Obviously, with light, with color and/or shades of gray, with the emotions the subject itself projects, with stylistic approaches, with composition, and more. What makes this so cool is that a photograph -- a still, silent image -- can communicate just as effectively and as powerfully as the images in motion pictures which have the added benefit of sound effects, dialog, and a musical score.

Marshall McLuhan said, "The medium is the message." That's another quote that can be dissected in many ways. The advent of digital photography certainly heralded a new message for all of us. And its afforded many photographers new and exciting ways to communicate an almost infinite variety of messages.

Advertising people have long understood the power of silently speaking with photography. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a really good picture is worth even more. A really good advertising picture doesn't just tell a story, it tells the exact story its creators want to tell. And it tells it without sound, music, or audible words.

Too many photographers, in my opinion, rely solely and wholly on technical skills to produce their images. Many of them do this with the help of the best and most expensive gear. Often, photographers (both those who are new to photography as well as those who have been pursuing it for years) lament their lack of ability to produce good pictures by blaming it on their gear or their lack of gear. I'm sometimes guilty of this myself: "If I only had that lens or that lighting instrument."

I'm certainly not intending to downplay technical skills or good gear. Technical skills and gear are important. But they're not enough. They're only half the journey to a good image. They might be the foundation of that good image but, in the end, a really good image speaks through silent emotions and silent story telling. If the image is of a beautiful model, it's chiefly the photographer's and the model's job to silently convey whatever emotions, attitudes, and stories they intend to convey. Sure, other peoples' contributions come into play, MUAs, stylists, art directors and more, but at that critical and tell-all moment of capture, it's the shooter and the model who mostly tell it all. And they must do this within the confines of one, static image, i.e., one frozen moment in time, without the help of any other human senses, beyond sight, to accomplish it.

Sorry if I'm going off on a photo-philosophy tangent today. Just some stuff to think about after a long, holiday weekend. After all, what's the good of a medium or a message without some philosophy to guide it?

The eye-candy at the top is Aurora, snapped about a month ago with a Canon 5D and an 85mm prime. Aurora's message in this image is fairly obvious and, for most guys, it's one we like to "see."