Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Blogging by Proxy

I don't know how many of you read the comments from PGS readers but, sometimes, a reader provides in-depth, well-said, take on my bullshit and/or emotional outburst which, in my opinion, ought to be on the front page. Besides, I love it when someone else writes the update for me!

PGS reader, James, responding to yesterday's rant regarding glamour photography as a "lesser art," had this to say:

"For some people glamour = porn and porn != art, so via the transitive property glamour != art. Me, I've seen some arty porn and porny art, but some believe that the two can not coexist in the same expression. I think maybe you missed an important part of the issue. That is the *treatment* of the subject. Glamour sensualizes the subject and to say porn eroticizes the subject is an understatement. :) There are purient interests in both glamour and porn and it's the close tie between the two that makes people say neither can hope to be art. "Artistic Nudes" however do not attempt to sensualize the subject, in fact they strive to depersonalize them to make us wonder soley at the beauty of the human form.

What TGS (Timothy Greenfield-Sanders) did was actually quite interesting. He didn't shoot glamour or "artistic nudes". He didn't sensualize or depersonalize his subjects. His project made a series of nude portraits. In this book I'm reading (The View Camera Made Simple) there's an interesting quote. "He [the portrait photographer] must be a diplomat, yet not a liar. He must tell the truth, yet make that truth appealing and persuasive." That's what TGS did, he told a truth about pornstars and made it appealing. He didn't lie, he didn't put them in a ton of make up (some but it looks pretty natural), use slick lighting and have the subjects put on the "I want it/you" face. He prods the viewer to make a personal, yet non purient connection with people who happen to work naked. Just in case that's not enough he heaps a spoonful of art down your throat by purposely quoting a theme developed by Goya. This actually follows my theory that (in the US) if you want people to consider nude/erotic expressions art, then the closer something is to porn, the more art you have shovel onto it. So when you think about it, TGS's work contains socal commentary by forcing viewers to acknowledge on a personal level people who are sexualized (or objectified if you want to go that far) for a living. And it can be appreciated on multiple levels in the context of Goya's work. That beats the bujeebus out of my glamour work in terms of arty-ness.

I've never called or even really thought of myself as an artist. Usually if someone calls me that I correct them and tell them I'm a craftsman. I do my best to make darn fine images but (at least currently) there is no larger purpose to them. Those are my thoughts on the subject anyways."

Thanks, James! Well said. BTW and for the record, I also generally refer to myself as a craftsman rather that an artist, although the definitions of each closely resemble each other.

The image I crafted for James' update is the lovely Charmane, captured last year in the studio.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Lesser Art of Pretty Girl Shooting

A fair number of people perceive glamour/nude photography as a lesser art. They relegate it to a lesser art because of (what they consider to be) the prurient aspects of images of nude and semi-nude, feminine beauty. Although it's obvious this is more of a morality-based judgement than an artisistic critque, they often let their judgements seep into their perceptions of the aesthetic value of the genre.

The proliferation of the internet, as well as the dSLR, has meant there's more people shooting and making available glamour and nude images of women than ever before. And it seems to mean there's more women willing to model their charms than ever before.

Unfortunately, it also means there's more publicly-available crappy images of those willing models than ever before.

I don't know how most of you react to this, but when someone trivializes my work because of the subject matter, rather than its creative, technical, and aesthetic qualities, I get a bit perturbed.

Throughout history, when artists have painted or sculpted nudes, it's often been considered high art. That notion is still with us. But when photographers shoot nudes, it is considered, by many, to be little more than smut. Interesting dichotomy. To make matters more troubling, it seems this dual-standard is growing, rather than diminishing, in recent times.

If you're a successful fashion photographer or portraiture shooter who occasionally photographs nudes, you're simply an artist experimenting outside the boundaries of what you normally shoot. The great portait guy, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, recently put out a book of nude portraits of nude porn stars. It was a big success for Mr. T-G-S. That's great for Tim and probably didn't do much to lower people's perceptions of him as a genuine artist. But if you're, principally, a glamour/nude photographer, people tend to percieve you as something else. And the words "art" or "artist" don't often creep into the minds of many of the people making those morality-based judgement calls regarding what that "something else" might be.

Does my subject matter say anything about my level of skill and artistic and photographic abilities? Apparently, to many, it does. It seems to say, to many people, that I must be less skilled, less artistic, and less of a photographer. But in reality, do I put as much personal love, time, caring, and effort into the images I capture? As much as, for example, your average, super-star, fashion shooter? Many people might not think so. Of course, these many people are wrong... close-mindedly wrong, judgementally wrong... wrong, wrong, wrong.

I read something the other day-- Someone was commenting on the current state of glamour photography. This person wrote, "...the style of photography and what is possible has changed from Suzy's (Suze Randall's) time, its now not necessary to make people the slave of lighting and set up. USM focus lens, portable flash and being fluid with the camera, freeing your eye from the viewfinder is what DSLR has brought us."

Well, that might be true for some who pursue the art of pretty girl shooting these days, but it ain't true for everyone. Your's truly, as an example, puts as much thought and applies as much know-how to the lighting, the set-up, and nearly all aspects of the work as anyone else, Suze Randall or even Timothy Greenfield-Sanders included. I've not yet attained their status as shooters--perhaps I never will--but that doesn't mean I don't put as much creatively-motivated effort into the process of capturing images as they do. Many of you probably are the same way. That's part of why you're reading this blog.

Okay. I'm done ranting and venting my frustrations. The gratuitous pretty girl in the images is Faith, shot a few months ago. I had faith that Faith would make for some decent pretty girl pics and she didn't let me down.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Is Good Enough Ever Good Enough?

Al Nowak, a Glamour1 forum member, has posted an interesting, food-for-thought bit of photo-philosophy on G1 he titled, The Imperative to Improve.

In his post, Al hopes to exclude, as a group, commercial shooters' growth imperatives as he wishes, instead, to focus on discussing the photo-growth and development of hobbyists. "Let's leave the commercial side of photography out of this discussion since it brings in competitive factors that cloud the issue tremendously," writes Mr. Nowak.

Al seems to take this position because, as he explains, commercial shooters hope to advance to that next (economic) level whereas a hobbyist is not driven by financial gain and, therefore, might simply arrive at a level of skill that's good enough and satisfying enough.

Economics aside, I don't see much difference between a serious hobbyist's "imperative to improve" and a pro's. I also don't see how, with something as subjective and creatively-driven as photography, "good enough" can ever be good enough for anyone. Maybe that's just me?

Competitive factors notwithstanding, the need to improve one's skills and hone one's vision -- to creatively evolve -- is equally important and not very different for those people making a living with cameras as those who pursue photography as a hobby and creative outlet.

Plus, it's possible for a shooter to work professionally in one genre of photography while being a hobbyist or (if I can write plainly) amateurish in other genres. I'm an example of that notion.

My MySpace friend, Leesa, whom I wrote about some time ago, has become a RealLife friend. Leesa is an outdoor photography shooter. I'd label her a semi-pro if labels are needed. Yesterday, she invited me to tag along with her on one of her photo-field-trips. We went to the beach, late in the day, to shoot... uhmmm... whatever.

As an outdoor/nature photographer, I'm a complete novice. While we were shooting rocks and waves and birds, I'd ask a question here, make an observation there, and Leesa, playfully and with an impish grin, sometimes added to the end of her explanations: "...but your a pro."

Ouch.

Yeah, I'm a pro when there's a nude or scantilly-clad pretty girl in front of me. In more than a few other areas of photography, I'm not much past clueless. Is there an imperative for me to improve as a pretty girl shooter? Unquestionably there is. Is there an imperative for me to improve, assuming I want to pursue the genre in any meaningful way, as an outdoor/nature photographer? Well, at this point, I couldn't be much worse at it.

The pretty girl peeling her panties and about to let me shoot "nature" as she goes au natural is Leah.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

My Take on Modeling Sites

Yesterday, in my "scam" report, I mentioned Model Mayhem and referred to it as "...one of my not-so-favorite modeling sites."

A reader, Jeff N, left a comment and, in it, he wrote, "So whats your beef with MM? I'm trying to build my portfolio and am using MM without any issues.(yet?) I'm sure GWC scenario's are abound in combo with flaky models, but what site isn't?"

The truth is, I have no specific, personally-experienced "beef" with MM. I also don't have a specific problem with One Model Place, or, for that matter, most any modeling site. My "issues" with these sites are more generic.

For some shooters, perhaps many, MM, OMP, and others sites of that ilk serve a purpose. I know of more than a few photographers who mine these sites for willing models. Their success rate in procuring victims, I mean agreeable models, seems to vary widely: Some do quite well and others rarely pan a nugget from these sites. I assume there are many factors for this: The quality of the shooter's work, his or her approach, geographic location, and so forth.

I've never spent much time on these sites with the intent of seducing models into gracing my viewfinder. Usually, I hire models or someone else hires me to shoot models they've hired. On a few occasions, I've logged onto OMP and MM and others and have perused a number of pics of pretty girls who've aroused my photographic interests and, because of this, cyber-sent a message with an offer to shoot them with a TFP arrangement. For the most part, the models have never responded. Oh well. I see it as their loss. I hope that doesn't sound egotistical but, generally, the sort of models who have aroused my interests (and I was willing to shoot for free) are ones who possess, in my opinion, a unique look but have posted lame images (in their ports) which don't exactly showcase their beauty or uniqueness.

At the risk of rambling, here's a short, anecdotal, true story: A friend of mine, who is/was a nationally-known, "feature dancer" in gentlemen's clubs, a.k.a., strip clubs, as well as a glamour/nude model regularly featured in many men's magazines, was performing locally and invited me to catch her show. She graciously had left a pass for me at the door and, after arriving, I went in and sat down, waiting for her show to begin. Almost at once, one of the "house dancers," a young, plain-speaking, beauty whom I've shot before, came bouncing up to me. "Jimmy!" she shouted over the club's music with a big grin, "What are you doing here?" Before I could answer, she blurted out, "You don't pay to look at p_ssy. You get paid to look at it!" I'm only telling this because her ribald comment sort-of, and in a round-about way, illustrates why I feel it's me who should be getting paid to shoot an inexperienced, wannabee, never-done-anything model and not the other way around.

That aside...

While I do spend a fair amount of time on photographer forums, the forums on most modeling sites are sophomoric in terms of their content. Plus, they often seem to discuss the same, lame, sophomoric shit over and over ad nauseum.

The many GWCs and wannabees that infest these sites also perturb me. That's not to say all the members of these sites fall into those two categories. Mostly, it's the wannabee models that annoy me to the greatest extent. Many of these girls desperately need to take a course in Reality 101. Quite often, it's not that they aren't cute or hot or, potentially, have a shot at making something of themselves in a modeling career; it's their attitudes and expectations that are out of touch with reality. Sure, most of them are young, naieve, and have little experience or real knowledge regarding their modeling aspiratons. But that's no excuse for not investing some of their time learning about the real world of modeling, glamour or otherwise.

I know it's a cliché and often-heard complaint, but to post low-res, grainy-looking, lame, cell phone pics of themselves in an online portfolio and then demand to be paid for any modeling opportunity that might come their way is ludicrous. Using myself as an example, if anyone should be paying anyone they should be paying me. I'm not saying I'm the world's greatest--far from it--but I can guarantee I'll give them images they can take to any agency and not be laughed-out on their asses. And they wonder why they end up having bad experiences with GWCs? Beyond being inept at "reading" people, you think it has something to do with the fact they don't have a clue what makes a good image or which shooters, by virtue of their posted work, have a clue what they're doing?

Okay. I guess I should get off the soap box. The pretty girl at the top is Brooke. I shot this a year or more ago. I like this image for a couple of reasons: 1) Brooke is quite easy on the eyes and 2) It has a voyeuristic feel to it.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Pretty Girl Shooting Scams

Probably, most of you have received scam emails wherein you've either won a lottery you didn't buy a ticket for or someone you don't know (or have never heard of) tells you they need your help collecting some large amount of money and, in exchange for your help, they'll generously share some of it with you. These scams fall under the general heading of, "If it sounds too good to be true, it is."

Interestingly, many of these scams originate amongst the population of the good people of Nigeria. Why Nigeria? I might be able to shed some light on that.

Recently, I was in a Goodwill Thrift Store looking for wardrobe, props, whatever. The clerk behind the counter was a young man who, when he spoke, possessed a decidedly African accent. Being I'm a friendly sort who enjoys meeting new people, I asked this young man where, in Africa, he hailed from. He told me he was from Kenya. We chatted a bit and, during the course of the conversation, I asked him if he knew why so many internet scams seemed to come from Nigeria. He told me that the government of Nigeria is quite wealthy--even if much of its population is not--due to its oil industry. Because of this, Nigeria's government makes higher education readily accessibile to it's young people. According to this young man, Nigeria has the highest number of college grads of any nation in Africa. The problem is, the young man told me, there are few jobs in Nigeria and the unemployment rate is very, very high. So, you have all these young people with college degrees and nothing much to do with that education except, it seems, devise internet scams.

The other day, I received an email that included an offer to participate, as a photographer, in some sort of model expo that was to take place in France in April of this year. According to this email, the expo's organizers have seen my work, were quite impressed, and wanted me there, shooting some of the many pretty girls who will participate. In exchange for this, the organizers would be taking care of all my travel, food, and lodging expenses and would pay me 5,000 Euros for my participation.

Sounds great, yes? Probably too good to be true, yes?

Yes.

Since this (alleged) scam seemed a bit more personalized than the usual cyber-scam and since some of the principals involved claimed to be located in England (although the forthcoming expo is, supposedly, to be held in France) and further since there was a U.K. modeling site listed as one of the expo's organizers, as well as a Cambridge, England, modeling agency, I enlisted the help of Richard and Lin, who reside in the U.K. and who author a favorite photography blog of mine: Fluffytek Photographic Art. (Whether the modeling site or the agency are cyber-grifters and in cahoots on this, I have no idea.)

Lin did a bit of investigating on my behalf and, while both Richard and Lin (like myself) thought the scam email seemed to contain more credible factors than most internet scams of this ilk, Lin thought too many things just didn't add up. I agreed. I also did a bit more research only to find a couple of links, on one of my not-so-favorite modeling sites, Model Mayhem, that seemed to identify similar scams as just that... Scams!

In a nutshell, here's how these scams work: You respond to the scammers inquiries and provide them with some personal info. They, in turn, are delighted that you're interested in participating and will be sending you a bank check that includes some of your pay, as well as monies for travel, etc. You are instructed to deposit the check in your bank account, keep the advance, withdraw the balance and send it to the their travel agents who will then arrange for your travel and accomodations. Later, the bank discovers the check is a fraud, the travel agents disappear, and you're on the hook for the entire amount. What is somewhat clever (and nefarious) about this scam--and why it might sometimes work--is the way it not only appeals to basic, human greed, but also the way it plays on our egos as photographers or models.

A few simple words for all of you: Be careful out there, people!

The pretty girl on the stairs is Devin. As you might guess, Devin is neither an internet scammer nor is she from Nigeria.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Everything You Wanted to Know About Canon EOS But Were Afraid to Ask

A big nod and a hat-tip to RonC, a member of the Glamour1 photography forum, for providing a link to an excellent Canon EOS FAQ site.

The Canon EOS FAQ site is chock full of answers to, uhhh... a plethora of frequently asked questions. It's one of the best I've seen. Don't let the title fool you: While it says it's aimed at beginners, its lengthy list of FAQ-answers are a practical resource for many levels of Canon shooters and worth perusing, exploring, and bookmarking. The site also includes links to other resources, like PhotoNotes.org: A Dictionary of Film and Digital Photography. Although the term, pretty girl shooter, is not listed amongst its many definitions, PhotoNotes.org is another excellent resource for all levels of shooters.

As long as I'm providing links today, the Strobist also deserves a hat-tip for posting a pretty girl shooting-worthy link to a detailed explanation of the history and artistic use of Chiaroscuro.

The pretty girl with the big headlights accompanying this is Jada. I shot this in my studio about 6 months ago. As you can see, I kept the mainlight centered and up high and drove the exposure on her face. In post, I decided to play around with a somewhat different approach -- at least for me -- to processing the image: I converted to B&W using the Channel Mixer. After that, I used the Photo Filter tool to add and blend both sepia and yellow tinting. Not sure if I'm sold on doing this and I'm far from perfecting it but thought I'd throw it up here anyway.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

One Light, Two Lights, Three Lights, Four?

A lot of shooters ask, when jumping into this pretty girl shooting genre, how much lighting equipment do they need? Here's my take on it:

When purchasing lighting, and assuming you don't have much experience using it, start with a single light. If you have a few extra bucks, buy something decent. (As opposed to those Hong Kong, no-name, specials listed on Ebay.) Yeah, I know those deals seem like great deals. After all, they often offer kits that include a monolight, stand, and softbox and speedring at very attractive prices. But since glass and lighting are the two most important things you'll be buying, and assuming you're in this for the long haul, don't sell yourself short with cheap gear if you can afford not to do so. The better lighting gear possesses many quality features, not the least of which are holding accurate color temperature, the ability to control the power output in very small increments, and fast recycle times. I'm a big advocate of fast recyle times.

Since I'm suggesting starting out with a single light source, I also recommend you purchase some expendables that will help you create cool images with less gear. I'm talking about white foamcore (for bouncing some of that light), Cinefoil (black foil), and gaffer's tape. Gels are also handy, especially a slightly warm gel like Roscoe's Bastard Amber. (1/2 or 1/4 strength is, most likely, all you'll need.)

Black foil, by the way, is possibly the least-expensive, artfully-effective, weapon you can add to your pretty girl shooting arsenal. It allows you to shape the light in almost infinite ways. It also lets you to flag the light when you want to reduce spill.

Since you'll probably NOT want to be shooting everything with a bare bulb, it makes sense to also purchase a modifier. I recommend a softbox. If possible, I further suggest you buy an octodome -- something on the bigger side like 5' -- or a large, rectangular softbox. I like ocotodomes because they're a less expensive way (as opposed to beauty dishes) to get that beautiful, soft, wrap-around lighting. I also recommend purchasing a reflector. Those 5-in-1 models are nice. They allow you to change them from white to black to silver to gold to... uhmmm... i think that only amounts to 4-in-1. There's another way to change them but, at the moment, my brain ain't as functional as it should be. (Gimme a break. It's the A.M. and I haven't finished my coffee.)

There's a lot of incredibly cool images that can be captured with a single light source. After all, the sun is a single light source and certainly it's been used by a shooter or two, here and there, to snap some decent pics. Mastering the use of a single, artificial, light source will make graduating to multiple light sources so much easier.

The pretty girl at the top is Margo, captured a year or so ago with a single light source.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Dear Jimmy

At the risk of turning this into a pretty girl shooting, Dear Abby column, I thought I'd use a recent email as a source for today's update.

PGS reader, Thomas, writes:

"Jimmy: As always, I enjoy reading the column. It's a blast.

I have, however, a request. Is it at all possible that you could do an entry about what the output of those images is? I have a buddy who usually shoots film with a Hasselblad and he really knows his way around it, but when it comes to digital, he's a dunce. He's thinking about getting a Nikon D80 but isn't sure of anything beyond it. He just kinda knows it'd be nice to shoot digital stuff now and again. Anyway, he always asks me stuff and since I work in a traditional processes darkroom, I have no idea.

What'd be nice to understand (from the perspective of the photographer) is how the image is processed in-camera, how it's given to the client, and what - if anything - you do to it between those points. How much Photoshop is he gonna have to learn?

Thanks, man. You're the best."

Thanks, Thomas. Being a Canon guy, it took me a moment to figure out you weren't calling your buddy a dunce because he's considering buying Nikon as his entry into the world of digital photography. That aside, I'll take a stab at answering your questions.

In terms of in-camera processing, I don't do much. For instance, I don't often manipulate color temperature with the camera. I'm not saying it's inherently wrong to do so, I simply, as a rule, prefer not to. If I want to warm the model, I'd rather do so with gels on my lights or, ocassionally, with a warming reflector while shooting in daylight. When I'm shooting with strobes, I use my camera's default WB setting for strobes. I go with the daylight setting for daylight and tungsten for tungsten as they apply to the light sources falling on the subject. If I'm concerned about mixed light sources, I might do a custom white balance for that set. While it doesn't qualify as in-camera processing, I have turned down the LCD brightness on my cameras as, in my opinion, the factory setting provides a misleading image on the camera's LCD screen in terms of exposure. (Note: Learn how to use the histogram!) I've found, when it comes to chimping, using the factory settings can mess you up. WYS is not WYSIWYG, i.e., What You See is not What You See Is What You Get.


A lot of the stuff I shoot will be processed by a graphic designer/Photoshop artist. Often, the model is going to be cut-out and used in artwork with a background other than the BG in the frame I've captured. That's why I shoot a lot on seamless or, when I'm on location, I'll look for a neutral BG if there's one available to shoot against. When I'm shooting for a magazine layout, of course, it's a different matter.

As a rule, I don't do any processing of the images I've captured and will deliver to the client. I quickly go through them, delete strobe misfires, out-of-focus shots, and a few others, and burn everything to CDs. (My Flintstonian laptop doesn't have a DVD burner, though I'm planning on buying one that does in the not-too-distant future.) I should add that I don't often shoot RAW. Mostly, I capture large, fine, JPGs as that's what most of my clients' graphic designers request.

I keep backups of the images on one of a number of portable hard drives I possess. I usually keep the backups for a few months then, eventually, burn them to CDs and archive them.

After the shoot, I'll go through my backed-up images and pick a few to process myself. (Assuming doing so is okay with my client.) I do this for personal use, e.g., my port, this blog, etc. I don't, as a rule, do too much processing on these personal images. From the perspective of personal use of the images captured, I would recommend your friend learn Photoshop. Even if he does not intend to do anything personally with the images, it's still a good idea for him to learn about Photoshop. Knowing what the post-processing person will be doing with the images will effect some decisions he makes as the shooter, at least in terms of making that other person's job easier and more effective.

I hope some of this helps anyone about to make the transition from film to digital.

The pretty girl at the top is Francesca. I shot this a few months back. As usual, Canon 5D w/85mm prime, ISO 100, f/5.6 @ 125. I used a 5' Photoflex Octodome for the main and medium Chimera strip behind her, camera-left. There was probably a piece of white foamcore providing a bit of fill, camera-right.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Rainy Day Shooting


It was a rainy day today in Southern California. It rained most of the night and into the afternoon. Usually, I get quite lazy when it rains. I'll admit I sleep great when I can hear the pitter-patter of falling rain through the night but, once I wake up, I have a hard time getting motivated to do much of anything.

Finally upright, sipping coffee and at my computer, I exchanged a few messages back and forth with a local photographer who is one of my newest MySpace friends. (Like that really counts a lot in the realm of actual friendships.) This particular shooter is a she and she does seem quite cool and quite interesting and she is a photographer so, who knows? Maybe, at some point down the road, we'll graduate from being MySpace friends to becoming real-life acquaintances... maybe even real-life friends. Ya never know, ya know? I've heard things like that happen ocassionally, even on MySpace.

Leesa, my new MySpace friend, told me she was heading up to the mountains to shoot some stuff for a calender she's working on. I don't know this for a fact, but I got the feeling the calender might be a personal project. Regardless, I wished her happy hunting (for a great pic or two) and sat back only to realize I'd just been guilt-tripped. Not that Leesa guilt-tripped me purposefully, but the result was the same. There I was, sitting on my ass, wishing another shooter well as she was about to go OUT OF HER WAY and DRIVE FAR to get some pics -- possibly more for the love of shooting than anything else -- while I was planning to simply waste the day away doing little more than updating this blog. (Not that updating the blog isn't important.)

Then I went from guilty to angry... at myself. So I cleaned up, got dressed, grabbed one of my cameras and headed out the door intent on shooting something. Anything!

It probably will come as no surprise to anyone that I don't shoot much else other than pretty girls. I've tried my hand at street photography a few times but, last time out, a bunch of homeless people (down in L.A.'s skid row) chased me off with threats of violence. I don't scare that easilly but this one, big, fat, homeless woman put the fear of God in me as she charged me like a pissed-off, out-of-control, elephant-on-a-rampage and that was that. That was the last time I went out and did any street photography.

So there I was this morning, in my car with the rain coming down thinking to myself, "Ya know what? Landscapes are safe." Besides, I figured the low cloud cover might offer some cool skyscapes to go with whatever landscapes I might decide to shoot.



The picture above is the road that leads to Vasquez Rocks. Lonely looking, ain't it? Moreso on rainy days.

Before long, I found myself driving on the slippery mud at Vasquez Rocks County Park. You might recognize Vasquez Rocks -- see the pic at the top -- as it's been featured in more movies and television shows, mostly westerns, than any other location in Southern California. And, it's only about 15 mintues from where I live.

I had earlier noticed, from her MySpace page, that my new MS friend, Leesa, has shot at Vasquez Rocks. She refers to it as a "A big pile o' rocks." (She seems pretty funny.) Anyway, there I was, in the rain and mud at the big pile o' rocks with my camera set to the "landscape" program function (Did I mention I don't know what I'm doing shooting most anything besides pretty girls?) and snapping away.

No offense to people who shoot a lot of landscape photography but I got bored pretty quickly. I'm not saying I absolutely have to have a pretty girl in front of me, often-times unclothed, to maintain my photographic interest... but it sure as hell helps. At least for me it does.

I returned home, loaded the images into my computer, kick-started Photoshop, picked a pic and began screwing with it. The first result is what you see at the top of this post.

But the more I looked at it the more it just didn't do much for me. Leesa was right. It simply looked like a big pile o' rocks. I had to screw with it more. Besides, what good is knowing a little something about Photoshop if you're not going to have some fun once in a while messing around with your images? I decided my image needed a bit more drama. Quickly, I Googled for some images that might help me to do just that, i.e., put a bit more drama in my landscape shot. By the way, for those of you who, rightfully, get your panties in a twist when you read about someone ripping someone else's images for their own use, please note that the image I ripped was uncredited and I found it on some U.S. government site that says the picture was shot by NASA. Not an actual person at NASA, but simply NASA. I'm thinking it might have been captured by a computer-controlled camera that didn't have a photographer attached to it.

So here's the results of my image of Vasquez Rocks, ripping off NASA, and playing with it in Photoshop on a lazy, rainy day. Hopefully, these combined efforts added some much-needed drama to an otherwise novice landscape effort. (Ansel Adams I ain't.) If anyone, after looking at these pics, wants to suggest I don't quit my day job, I won't be offended.

As always, you can click on the pictures to see bigger versions of them.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

PGS: The Crack Cocaine of Weblogs?

I'm kind of a stat-junkie. Not everyday but... well, okay, everyday. Today, as usual, I went to statcounter.com to check out my stats for the PGS blog.

My curiosity is piqued whenever I see spikes in traffic to the site. Today was one of those days: I went to statcounter and noted an unusual upturn in hits, especially considering it's the weekend when traffic is often down.

After clicking the "Recent Came From" button, I could see I was getting a whole lot of people coming from something called ColbyCosh.com. I took the bait and clicked on the link to Colby Cosh's parcel of cyber-real estate, not recognizing the name or knowing what kind of site it might be.

It seems Mr. Cosh is a well-known Canadian journalist, commentator, and blogger of some acclaim. (Leastwise, on his home turf.) Anyway, I scrolled down to find a link to this site along with the following entry:

"Boxcover and glamour photographer James DiGiorgio operates the crack cocaine of weblogs at PrettyGirlShooter.blogspot.com. Where else are you going to find an entry that legitimately combines lingerie pictures of Tera Patrick with a touching story about a successful son talking with his sick mother about his vocation for the first time?"

The crack cocaine of weblogs? I love that! Moreso because, in its idiom, it so creatively calls on contemporary culture to pass a compliment. You didn't think crack cocaine has much to do with contemporary culture? Unfortunately, it does. (For whatever it's worth, that's the second time I've used the word "idiom" in as many days.)

Not to toot my own horn--especially after Mr. Cosh has done it for me--but if this blog is somehow crack-like in it's cyber-addictive qualities, I must be doing something right. Thank you for the kind and generous words, Colby, as well as for the weekend traffic! (What else do Canadians have to do on weekends?)

On another matter, I joined a health club today.

It's like this: Since I'm getting ready to begin a new career as a male model and international sex symbol -- I have some connections in that area, ya know -- I thought it might be a good idea to begin some sort of sensible fitness regimen. What? You don't think I have a shot at sex symbol status? Well, you're right. I don't. But since I keep reading stuff like "40 is the new 30," I've done a bit of mathematical extrapolation from that notion and have concluded that fifty must be the new forty so, since I'm now (once again) a guy in his forties, I figure I should get in shape to better enjoy my new-found younger status. Plus, they had a President's Day Weekend Membership drive going on at L.A. Fitness and I thought it made even more sense to join and SAVE!!! Not just to, hopefully, save my health, but a few bucks as well.

My apologies for not writing anything about pretty girl shooting today. I thought I'd make it a "personal" day on the blog. I promise my next update will be back on topic.

The busty pretty girl at the top is Natalie. I snapped this candid right after asking her if she knew the difference between boys and girls. I think she figured it out. Image was captured near a pool at a house in the Hollywood Hills. Canon 5D w/85mm prime, ISO 100, f/8 @ 125. It was shot in the shade of an overhead awning between the house and the pool. (Is "overhead awning" an oxymoron?) I used a 5' Photoflex Octodome for the mainlight and a white umbrella, behind her, camera-right, up high, to add some backlighting. Obviously, ambient from the sun provided the rest. Bet you didn't think that one was shot in the shade, did ya?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Shooting for Consistency

Anyone can capture a great image. I mean that, anyone can do it... at least once or perhaps occasionally.

Odds are, if you shoot enough pictures, sooner or later you're going to find yourself being the creator of a truly great image. The more you snap, the better your odds are of grabbing that kick-ass pic.

There are a lot of variables that go into capturing a great image: Skill, know-how, subject, and luck and planetary alignment to name a few. But of those, and probably of any others I might list, skill and know-how are going to be your best allies when it comes to snapping great pics.

Certainly, you're going to impress others with that one, great, photograph you've managed to capture. But you're going to impress them even more when you've produced many good pictures. Notice I went from "great" to "good" in describing these images? That's because consistently shooting "good" images, as opposed to occasionally shooting a "great" image will, for the most part, say more about your abilities than anything else.

Clients aren't too likely to hire and re-hire shooters who are hit-or-miss when it comes to capturing good, useable images for them. Maybe there's been a photographer or two who have built careers on a single "great" image, perhaps a few great images--although one doesn't immediately come to mind--but, for the most part, your rep as a shooter is built on consistency, that is, your ability to consistently produce good, useable images.

Here's what I recommend: Once you've gone past the "beginner" stage, quit experimenting with every photographic style you come across or can conjure in your mind. Pick a style and approach and work at refining it and perfecting it. Figure out what works and what doesn't work when you are shooting in that style. When you capture a really fine image, analyze what you did and try to duplicate it. Don't try to spread yourself all over the photographic map. Once you've figured out how to snap a good image in a particular style, stick with it until it becomes second nature to set it up and shoot it.

I know this sounds like I'm advocating a photographic approach that is unsupportive of free-wheeling creative expression, but most of the masters of most arts didn't become masters until sometime after they were able to create fundamentally good art; and not until they were able to produce that fundamentally good art (to use some common idiom) over and over and with their eyes closed and one hand tied behind their backs.

Once you've accomplished this, then it's time to move on to the next style and/or approach that floats your boat.

The pretty girl at the top is Nautica. The image is from a shoot last fall. MUA/hair by Lilian. Captured with Canon 5D w/85mm prime, ISO 100, f/5.6 @ 125th. I used a 5' Photoflex Octodome as my main, a medium Chimera strip in the rear, camera-left, and another medium-sized strip, also in the rear, camera-right.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sometimes You Have to Warm Them Up

Sometimes you have to warm these models up.

I'm not talking about me, generously sharing my body heat, or putting a space heater in front of them. (Although I often do--use a space heater, that is--and last night was somewhat chilly so a space heater was in operation.)

Unfortunately, it's easy to over-warm a model's skin... Again, I'm talking about color manipulations not the space heater, even though you can over-warm them with that thing as well.

Whether I over-warmed Hailey is up to each viewer's opinion. But trust me, this young lady was white. I'm talking snow white! As soon as I took the first few snaps, I realized she looked like a chick who hasn't spent a day in sunlight, much less an hour or two in a tanning salon, in her life. This would not do.

I was at my friend's studio and he was helping me out and assisting me. I asked if he had any gels I could use, Bastard Amber to be precise. (Yeah, I forgot to bring gels with me.)

"No," he said. "But I have this golden straw stuff or whatever it's called."

"Let's try it," I said.

My friend proceeded to put some of it on the front of my Mola beauty dish-- Not completely covering the dish, but enough to warm it fairly well. A couple of quick clicks and I realized Hailey looked way too yellow.

"Do you have any CTO?" I asked.

He did and, as he was pulling the golden straw gel off the dish, I said, "Whoa! Keep that on there and put the CTO on top of it."

He did and I kind of liked the results. Then, to warm the edge, we put some CTO over the flashtube in the strip box behind her and camera left. (BTW, this was 1/4 or 1/2 CTO, I don't remember which.) I had a small, silver-lined, umbrella working on the other side and behind her and I thought I'd leave that one without a gel to give it a harder, un-colored edge.

Like I said, You might think she's over-warmed but she sure as heck needed something to give some color to her skin.

Model is Hailey. Captured with Canon 5D w/85mm prime, ISO 100, f/5.6 @ 125th. I used my 33.5" Mola dish as my main with a piece of foamcore opposite it in the front for a touch of fill. Behind her, camera-left, was a medium Chimera Strip and on the other side a small umbrella.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The GWC as Street Photographer

According to Hartford, Connecticut's, Hartford Courant, a photo-enthusiast was arrested outside a Target department store for shooting women's butts.

"SOUTH WINDSOR -- A Manchester man found allegedly photographing women's rear ends as they walked in and out of the Target store is now facing disorderly conduct charges, police said."

It seems this guy was sitting in his car, in a Target parking lot with a camera equipped with a long, telephoto lens, snapping away and capturing various women's rear-ends for, I suppose, his own, personal, photographic use.

When confronted by police, who went as far as videotaping the suspect as he pursued his photographic hobby, the man claimed he was merely taking shots of the architecture. The cops didn't buy it, although I suppose this parking lot GWC (Guy With a Camera) could have been referring to women's architecture rather than the building's architecture.

Obviously, for many men, the lure of shooting women and/or women's body parts is powerful. Of course, there's the right way to do it and the wrong way to do it and the wrong way might land you in the slammer.

Here's the big mistake, IMO, this GWC made: He chose to sit in his car for an extended period of time, on private property and in plain site of everyone, with a long lens mounted to his camera and exclusively pointed at feminine derrieres. D'uh! Talk about being obvious! While not condoning this guy's photographic pursuits, had the GWC parked himself on public property, like at a park, he could have pointed his camera at a variety of things, other than women's behinds, claiming "street photographer" status if anyone asked while still having his (photographic) way with the subjects of his true desires.

Thankfully, many GWCs are dumbshits and morons (not to mention cretins) and, because of this, they might sometimes serve to inadvertantly reduce the negative impact GWCs have on photographers as a whole. That's not to say GWCs don't, in general, tarnish legitimate shooters' reps but perhaps guys like this--who are on the outer, freakish fringe of GWCism--make GWCs, as a group, seem more easily identifiable and, by so doing, reduce the public's suspicians about shooters in general. (At least, those who appear as if they're shooting the right stuff for the right reasons.) After all, if a GWC is easy to spot, legitimate shooters should be equally easily identifiable.

Then again, maybe this is flawed logic and wishful thinking on my part and GWCs--as always--continue to befoul people's perceptions of photographers in general.

The pretty girl at the top is Roxy. I shot this quite a while ago.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Good Glam, Bad Glam

I came across an interesting thread on the Glamour1 Forum with the same subject title that I'm plagiarizing... I mean appropriating... I mean using for this update.

I'm not calling attention to this particular G1 thread simply because the original poster included a few nice words about your's truly--although it's always a nice ego-stroke when that happens--but because the quest to produce competent glamour work is what this blog is mostly about. Plus, I needed an idea to write about today. (What did you think? I came up with all this stuff to write about myself?)

G1's original poster begins by stating, "I'm trying to study a number of pictures to learn what seperates good glam from bad glam." He then goes on to list a number of variables that, he believes, may be significant factors in doing so. I could have responded (on the G1 forum) with my opinions on the subject but, like I said, I needed an idea to blog about today.

After removing the model's contributions from the equation, Nakins, G1's original poster, lists lighting, glass, exposure settings, and composition as potential candidates for separating the good, the bad, and the ugly in glamour images. Certainly, I agree that these are all important factors: A shooter's abilities to light and compose and make good technical choices all contribute immensely to the final product.

Various G1 members contributed to this thread with their own opinions and a few of them pointed out the original poster neglected to mention rapport, with the model, as a key ingredient to good glam. Again, I agree. In fact, I agree in a big, big way.

Gaining rapport with the model and promoting her comfort level during the shoot is one of the most important ingredients to good glamour photography. That's not to say good images can't be captured even when the shooter and/or the model aren't particularly fond of each other and their level of rapport aint' so great but, when the rapport is good, it makes the process of achieving positive results easier and more likely.

Nakins, the G1 thread's original poster, mentioned my work with Tera Patrick in his post. For the record, I get along swimmingly with Tera and we have good rapport when working together. But I'm also aware that Tera has a favorite photographer. (Unfortunately, it ain't me.) Tera's favorite photographer, I learned, is model-turned-shooter, Lisa Boyle. Although Tera's shot with many, many photographers, there's a bunch of reasons Lisa is at the top of her list, not the least of which is Ms. Boyle's considerable skills. But two big reasons originate with the facts that Lisa is a woman and Lisa was also a glamour model herself, most notably a Playboy model. Those are two realities neither I, or most other shooters, can easily compete with in the rapport department. Sometimes, the playing field ain't so level, leastwise and in this case, when it comes to achieving the same rapport and comfort-level Tera has with Photographer Boyle.

On Lisa's site's homepage, she says, "I think my experience as a model helps me tremendously in being a photographer. I know what I want and how to communicate that to my subjects. I feel I'm really good at capturing the spirit and individual personality of each of my models."

Lisa's words are incredibly important ingredients to competent glamour photography, i.e., the shooter knowing what he or she wants to accomplish coupled with his or her ability to communicate it to the model. Plus, that part about the shooter's aptitude for capturing the "spirit and individual personality" of the model is unquestionably significant.

I suppose the bottom line is this: Producing good glamour photography isn't merely about the shooter's abilities in producing (technically) good photography. There's so much more that goes into the brew.

The pretty girl pics of the long, lean, model posted along with this ramble is Alexa Lynn. These are from about 6 months ago. I may have posted these before, I can't remember. It's too big a hassle to go back through my posts and figure it out. I captured these with my Canon 5D, 85mm prime, ISO 100, f/5.6 @ 125. Lighting was accomplished with a 5' Octodome as my main, a piece of white foamcore for fill, and a couple of strip-boxes behind her.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I'm Back in the Saddle

Not that you knew I was gone but I have been... gone, that is.

Last week, my just-turned-80 Mom went into the hospital for a fairly routine procedure: An angioplasty. Plus, they put some stints in her veins. (Shunts? Whatever they call them.)

Normally, this is performed as an out-patient procedure. Everything went well during the procedure but when she was in recovery, resting comfortably and chatting with her friend, she went into some kind of cardiac arrest as her vital signs suddenly plummeted into the basement. I'm told they did the whole Code Blue thing and the doctor had to punch her in the chest to get her heart going again. They kept her in the hospital for a day or so, in the Cardiac Intensive Care unit, and then released her.

My Mom lives on her own in a senior citizen's mobile home park near San Diego, California. She's quite active and enjoys a busy social life. But the doctors were concerned that she not be left alone for three or four days or so. As a result, my sister, my brother, and I each took a turn staying with her for a day plus an overnight. Naturally, my Mom doesn't have a computer much less internet access.

This was the first time in a very long time I spent any significant amount of extended, quality-time with my Mom; just her and I, that is. Usually, when I visit, there's always been other family members there. Turns out she wanted to know a lot about what it is I do. She already knew I made my living with cameras and she also knew about the subject matter of my work. But she wanted to hear about it in a bit more depth and, since there weren't, as usual, children around, I was able to elaborate a bit more about it.

Surprisingly, my Mom seemed most interested in the creative process that goes into shooting pretty girls. She wanted to know the differences in approach when shooting glamour, fashion, portraiture, and other genres. Who would'a known that kind of stuff would interest her? What made it even more interesting, at least to me, is the fact that my Mom isn't a particularly creative person, i.e., when it comes to artistic endeavors, and I was surprised to learn that she was more interested in the creative process than the results of that process. For instance, when I referred to fashion models as "coat hangers" she laughed but wanted a more detailed explanation. I explained that I didn't mean anything mean-spirited by that description and jumped into a discertation about fashion models "selling" an inanimate product versus glamour models who ARE the product. I thought she'd start exhibiting ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) behaviors when I launched into my explanations but that wasn't the case. Like I said, who would'a known?

I've posted a few more images of my shoot with Tera Patrick last week. I'll say it again: Models like Tera (and MUAs like Jennifer Corona who performed those duties) make the shooter's job so much easier. Images were all captured with a Canon 5D and an 85mm prime, ISO 100, apertures in and around f/5.6 and a shutter speed of 125. Lighting involved a 33.5" Mola beauty dish, a small, silver umbrella, and a 2' by 3' piece of white, foamcore.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Some Editorial Glamour

I shot the Goddess of Glam last night, Ms. Tera Patrick. The pics are for an editorial in an upcoming issue of that magazine with the bunny ears in its logo.

It wasn't the first time I've shot Tera. And I'm happy to say I'm fairly confident it won't be the last. Working, once again, with this Playboy, Penthouse, and FHM covergirl was a pretty girl shooter's dream.

MUA and hair-stylist, Jennifer Corona, worked her magic on Tera. I'd never worked with Jennifer before and I gotta say she was exceptional! I'd like to lay claim to booking Jennifer for the gig but it was Tera who booked her. I certainly hope I get to work with Jennifer again: She's that good!

The shoot was at Tera's home. We decided to shoot in the living room: A spacious room adorned with Asian/Modern decor and high, vaulted ceilings. The walls are painted in warm Earth-tones and the marble flooring throughout the first floor matches the wall treaments beautifully. Reflective light off the walls and floor warmed the images nicely. I didn't need to use any gels or color temp adjustments to warm things up.

Tera designed all the wardrobe she wore for the shoot. It's part of a signature-line of dress-wear, casual-wear, and lingerie she'll be debuting this year. I guess, then, the shoot qualified as glamour/fashion editorial. Glashion anyone?

As I mentioned, the room has vaulted ceilings and they extend way up past the second floor. On the second floor, there's a balcony overlooking the room below. It has an ornate iron railing surrounding half of the living room. I put a light up there--up against the railing--with a small, silver reflector. That worked as both a hair light and an edge light and I could move it around and use it as long as I kept Tera on that side of the room. Down on the first floor, in front of Tera, I used my Mola beauty dish as the mainlight. That was it: Two lights. I also used a piece of foamcore under the Mola dish for a bit of fill.

A shooter would have to work pretty hard to snap a bad pic of Tera; moreso with an MUA as talented as Jennifer working her magic. While Tera is very experienced in front of the camera, she still (like all models) thrives on direction and communication. And the more of it I gave, the more she was encouraged and motivated to "sell it" like the complete pro that she is.

In between the direction and the shooting and wardrobe changes and the make-up touch-ups, and to keep the atmosphere light and casual, we spent most of the evening talking about (make that, wondering about and making jokes about) the lady astronaut who was arrested for stalking and pepper-spraying a rival after driving a thousand miles in diapers. You think those diapers were off the shelf? Like the brand, Depends? Or were they expensive, high-tech, NASA, astronaut diapers? Do astronauts wear diapers in space? If that case goes to trial, it's going to be a fun one to hear about!

Images of Ms. Patrick were captured with a Canon 5D w/85mm prime, ISO 100, f/5.6 @ 125. Two Novatron monolights: One of them mounted in a 33.5" Mola beauty dish and the other modified with a small, silver, umbrella.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Yeah, It's a Team Effort But Not Everyone Gets to Call the Plays

I was chatting with my friend, John, yesterday. John is a lighting guy, mostly for videos, plus he has a 5,000 square foot studio. He's also been dabbling in still photography and has purchased a dSLR (a Canon but I forget which one) and some strobes and modifiers. He owns a ton of continuous lighting gear and a well-equpped, 5-ton, grip truck. He owns more HMIs than anyone I know!

Although John is a pretty decent lighting designer and gaffer, I think, in his heart, what he really wants to be is a shooter or an art director or both.

We were discussing an upcoming video I'll be shooting at his studio for a client. I told John I'll need a three-wall, black set (like he's provided in the past) and, if he wanted to dress it with an interesting set piece or two, in the BG, that would be cool. I also told him not to get carried away with doing so. Simple is what I'm looking for and simple is what the client is looking for.

John started telling me how he's going to do this and that and this and that and I said, "Whoa! Dude, Keep it simple. That's what the client wants."

John responded with, "I spoke to the client when they booked the studio and he (the client) said he loved what I did last time and could I do it again?"

"Okay," I said. "So do it again."

"Yeah, but I want to..." and that's when he started telling me about what else he wanted to do to the set.

I quickly interrupted him: "Dude! What part of Can you do it again? don't you understand?"

"Yeah, but..."

"Dude!" I interrrupted again. "No buts! Keep it simple. Give them what they've already said they like. If they want it different they'll tell you or I'll tell you. Quit trying to be Mister Too-Creative just because it's what you like and what you want to do. It ain't about you. It ain't about me. It's about delivering the product the client asked for."

Then he rambled on about photography--glamour photography--and what he doesn't like about the work of certain photographers he's worked with. (I'm fairly sure when he has similar discussions with those "certain photographers," he names me as one of the "certain photographers" in those other conversations.)

In a nutshell, John was complaining about his role as a support person (lighting, studio, whatever) and how other shooters' visions don't match his visions and, of course, that "his" visions are better, more creative, etc.

I lectured him about shooter/client relationships and how shooters aren't always given a free-reign to do whatever the f__k they want. I went on to remind him that the client expects to be given what they've asked for and, with that in mind, his personal vision of doing it better doesn't doesn't amount to jack-shit. (Especially considering that, nine times out of ten, John doesn't have a freakin' clue what clients have told shooters in terms of what they want.) I also reminded him that some of the shooters he mentioned are quite successful and there are many reasons for that success including them knowing what works and what doesn't work in spite of whatever John thinks.

Realizing he wasn't getting anywhere with me, John then launched into a discussion regarding how much he likes it when the model doesn't make eye-contact with the camera and how much more artistic that is and all that kind of crap.

I reminded him that,in glamour photography, it's all about the model selling her beauty and sexual charms and eye contact is, for the most part, de rigueur. I then told him that in fashion, where the model is, essentially, a coat-hanger, avoiding eye-contact with the camera is more customary. Also, in certain other styles of portraiture and artistic stuff (e.g., art nudes)it's entirely appropriate. But in glamour, avoiding eye-contact is, for the most part, NOT how it's done and clients mostly want it done the way it's done.

I could tell I wasn't making much head-way with his hard head because I could also tell, in his mind, he has it right and others have it wrong. Finally, I simply told him, "Dude. If you want to do it your way then you go out and--instead of being the lighting guy or studio provider--get some clients to hire you as the shooter or the art director or whatever. When and if that happens," I told him, "You'll be the decider of certain creative aspects of things and then you can do it your way. If they like what you do, they'll hire you again. If they don't, they won't."

The pretty girl in the B&W at the top is Charlotte. She reminds me of some hippy chicks I've know... back in the day.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Rolando Gomez: The Art of Lighting for Impact

I hopped in the Bimmer today and cruised down to Samy's Camera, in L.A. I wanted to catch Rolando Gomez who was in town to host a seminar, "The Art of Lighting for Impact."

Rolando is a long-time pro photographer, author, speaker, workshop promoter, and founder of the Glamour1 Forum. I've been a member of G1 for a number of years (first joining when it was called "Garage Glamour") and, although I've never met Rolando until today, we've exchanged emails and have spoken on the phone once or twice. So, my primary reason for attending today's mini-workshop was to meet RG in person.

I figured the seminar's attendance would be a bit lean since it coincided with the Super Bowl but I was wrong: Almost every chair was filled and, for the room Samy's put aside for this event, that meant 50 or 60 people. RG also conducted two seminars at Samy's the previous day and he told me they were both sold-out.

Rolando's workshop at Samy's only cost $20 and I must tell you, $20 for the amount of info RG shared with the attendees was a steal! His presentation was thoroughly organized, included great visual aids, and covered a wide-range of subjects mostly aimed at the novice to intermediate photographer who is hoping to begin making some money, or make more money, from their photography. Rolando is knowledgeable and his presentaton style casual yet effective.

The seminar was titled, "The Art of Lighting for Impact," but Gomez covered a lot more than lighting. In his presentation, he offered a bunch of great tips and info, especially for shooters hoping to expand into private glamour (boudoir) photography. As I'm one of those who, in addition to what I'm already doing, is looking to get into that end of things, I was delighted to hear some of the great tips RG offered on the subject of building a client base.

Something that Gomez often hit-on in his presentation--which is something I've written about, numerous times, here on the blog--is the need to gain rapport and communicate with the model or subject. It's not just about skill and gear and creativity, it's about rapport and communication.

Another subject Gomez stressed was the importance of good lighting gear. According to Rolando, your equipment budget should put lighting at the top of the list, glass next, and the camera body itself, last. I've touched on this myself a few times and I couldn't agree with him more.

Rolando also discussed minimizing the shooter's reliance on image editors, the need to do things right while in production, production work-flow, and he presented a number of white-balance and color temperature techniques that any shooter can easily add to their personal bag of tricks. Being a long-term videographer, I'm always amused at the applicaton of (what traditionally has been) video-related, color-temperature, manipulations that now work so well with digital photography. No offense to the new generation of digital still shooters but we've been doing these things with video for decades.

In all, I was quite happy I decided to take the time to attend this 3-hour presentation: Not only for the opportunity to meet RG but to witness his style as a speaker and trainer and to benefit from the information he presented. I understand Gomez will be returning to L.A. in a few months to conduct more workshops in concert with Samy's. I highly recommend attendance for those who live in the L.A. area and are interested in expanding their knowledge base.

The sexy lady in the out-take pic at the top is Playboy and Penthouse covergirl, Tera Patrick. I shot Tera a few months ago and I'm supposed to be shooting her again next week. I'm also tagged for shooting the catalogue for Tera's new, signature, lingerie line she'll be debuting this coming year. Lucky me, huh?

Friday, February 02, 2007

My MySpace Addiction

I've been addicted to MySpace lately. It's not a long-term addiction as it's only been going on for a week or so. I can't explain why I'm suddenly MySpace-addicted--or why anyone becomes MySpace addicted--and I already find myself wondering if I'll eventually need to be in MySpace rehab to kick the habit? Perhaps my family and friends will need to perform an intervention to help me get the MySpace monkey off my back? I guess time will tell.

There's a lot of great-looking women in great looking photographs on MySpace. There's also a lot of great-looking women in not-so-great-looking photographs. And, of course, there's a lot of women who don't fall into either of the above-mentioned categories. Such is life: No one said it's fair.

When I stumble across great-looking women in not-so-great looking photographs, I feel a compelling urge to tell them how great-looking they are, but also how not-so-great-looking their images seem to be. Is that so freaking wrong?

I don't act on my compulsions, though, because it probably would be wrong (at the very least, rude) to do so. After all, they posted the aforementioned not-so-great-looking photographs and, in so doing, they seem to be saying they're okay with having not-so-great-looking photographs representing them on MySpace.

I've thought about reaching out to a few of them and offering to shoot them, at least those who live locally to me, so they'll have some better-looking images to post of themselves. But then I figure they'll figure I'm just some perv or, worse, a GWC, and I don't bother making the offer. I also figure that, if they agreed to a shoot and by the time that would happen, I might already be so-done with MySpace and it won't matter anyway. But, for now, it really bugs me and I don't know why.

If any of you are also MySpace addicted, or you're simply an ocassional visitor there, check out my MySpace page and "add" me as friend! My MySpace page is at myspace.com/prettygirlshooter.

The pretty girl at the top is Vanessa. I shot her last summer at a home in the Hollywood hills. Lighting was, for the most part, courtesy of the sun with the exception of a large umbrella and a monolight in front of her for fill.