Sunday, December 13, 2009

When Models Take Charge

In the comments section of my last update, photographer Ed Verosky suggested some ideas for PGS updates. (Thanks again, Ed! I've said it before: For me, the writing part is easy, what to write about is, more often, the hard part.)

One of Ed's most-excellent ideas for updates suggested interviews (Q&As) with models regarding being photographed, i.e., what's going on in their heads during the process... which could be fairly scary in terms of finding that out or, perhaps, non too ego-enhancing for many photographers. Regardless, Ed also added that it might be interesting to ask what models might tell photographers if they, the models, were directing them, I mean us, the photographers.

I agree! That could be some less-often-seen yet illuminating and insightful ground to cover.

I haven't, as yet, had the time to cover such ground but I will relay what happened during a recent shoot where the model had the nerve decided to direct yours truly a bit. Possibly more interesting since the model's English language skills were marginal at best.

I was shooting content with Spanish-sex-siren, Lupe Fuentes, for her new and upcoming web site. Lupe is a freakin' doll! She's warm, friendly, smart, sexy, gorgeous, and knows what she's doing in front of a camera. Her lack of English is more than made up by her ability to communicate in other ways. Even when, as I found out, she's suddenly directing the guy who is supposed to be directing her. That would be me, in this case.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Being the lazy-ass that I am, I often shoot with my butt firmly planted on an apple box with the box resting on the floor and its long-side up. Besides conforming to both my laziness and my fat ass, this puts my camera at an ideal height for much of what I shoot, pretty girl shooting-wise. If the model gets lower, I can always flip the apple box so the short-side is up and, by doing so, lower my shooting angle while still retaining the comfort of my ass seated on the box. I'm quite adaptable that way. (Note to self: Let's get some soft, comfy, padding installed on that apple box. Perhaps Memory Foam®?)

We were shooting in a kitchen in an upscale home-- marble floors and counter-tops and such. Lupe was perched on the marble top of a center island in the kitchen. I was seated on my apple box, comfortably shooting from low-ish angles. I thought the angles looked fairly cool, perspective-wise-cool, as a result of my lazy-low angles. Suddenly, Lupe began gesturing to me, with her usual big, pearly-white smile, in a way that said, "Up!"

"Up?" I asked.

"Yes!" she nodded excitedly.

I quickly looked down, assuring myself I wasn't displaying any GWC attributes. As usual, I wasn't.

(Side Note: I might be a borderline geezer but I'm NOT SO GEEZERLY, I'm happy to say, that my shit don't work! Well, most of the time it don't... I mean does. Unfortunately and occasionally [and sometimes happily] it also still works at times when it's not necessarily supposed to work... all on it's own like it's on auto-pilot and in spite of the many, many, naked chicks who are routinely sprawled in front of my camera and because of that, one might think, make me immune to their effects. Sorry if that was more information than anyone needed to know. Just wanted to qualify that "GWC attribute" comment-- Jeez! Where's the perfect emoticon when ya need one?)


I got off my ass and stood.

"No!" She shook her head, motioning for me to get higher.

"Higher?" I asked, pointing my shutter finger up.

"Yes!" she enthusiastically nodded.

"Okay." I shrugged. I stood up on the apple box, balancing myself as best I could.

"Oh!" I said, looking down at her young, beautiful, curvy, sexy, naked, nubile form, suddenly experiencing a pretty-girl-shooting epiphany of sorts. "You!" I pointed at her. "Submissive," I said, fairly certain I'd solved the mystery with my sometimes slow-ish melon.

"Yes!" She nodded. Actually, "Sí!" is what she said, this time with utmost enthusiasm and with the coyest of smiles.

At once, Lupe began posing super-seductively and making these incredibly submissive expressions while looking up at me with those freakin' awesome Spanish eyes and, well, let's just say it caused me to shoot most of the rest of the set with my legs crossed. Not so easily done, I might add, especially while balancing myself atop the long side of an old, somewhat dilapidated, apple box.

The pretty girl at the top is Lupe. It's from the very first time I shot her, on a white cyc in a studio, just a day or two after she arrived in this country. Sorry, but I don't have easy access to the pics in the kitchen I just wrote about. Most of my stuff is still packed away from my recent move. I know, I know, what a freakin' tease I am-- Heterosexually speaking, of course. Yeah! How about those Jets!

(Processing on the pic above kinda sucks as, what little processing I did, I did on my cheap, less-than-three-hundred-buck, laptop with its cheap LCD screen which, in a word, sucks. Oh well.)


MacGyver said...

I like it when the model knows her angles and gives suggestions to me on different shots to take. Makes my work much easier when it's a collaborative effort and not just me doing the directing. (Most of the time, I have NO idea of what the hell I'm doing anyway) ;-)

When you can get around to it, I'd be interested in seeing those shots too. When I do a shoot, I try to vary the camera angles as much as I can, but sometimes I forget to try to view the scene from different heights and directions instead of just tilting the camera.

Really like the motion of the model's hair and the streamers in the shot you posted. Gives me an idea for a future shoot.

BlueGoose said...

If you can communicate to a model on what you are trying to get and they understand the shoot is always easier. If models have their own ideas and know how to portray them to benefit both the model and photographer, why not do what you want and then what she wants. You may both be pleased in the end.

Let's face it. There are models that know how to put themselves out there to shine. They know their strengths and weaknesses. We need to allow them to show their strengths.

On the subject of memory foam. Do you really want it to remember?

jimmyd said...


For me, it's sometimes about being lazy rather than forgetting to shake up the angles. Or not. :-)


Communication is THE MOST important skill shooting models. I sometime see photographers shooting like they're mutes. They have the lighting and the camera-craft down pat, but seem to overlook communication, relying on the model to simply do her thing.

P.S. You're right. The memory foam idea might not be a good one. Some things are best left unremembered.

Ed Verosky said...

What really works nicely is a girl who can work the poses, and expressions, without it being robotic. I don't particularly like the "new pose with ever pop of the strobe" scenario. However, someone who can just be fluid and subtle, moving from one slight move to the next is great.

That gives you, the photographer, the opportunity to halt a pose that strikes you, make a slight adjustment, find a different angle, etc. without it braking the momentum and feel of the shoot.

But, I wonder what goes through a model/subject's mind as you're doing your thing. Does she want more direction or less, would she prefer you to be more animated, does she want lots of encouragement and praise? What's been your experience, Jimmy?

jimmyd said...

@Ed Verosky,

I wonder what goes through a model/subject's mind as you're doing your thing. Does she want more direction or less, would she prefer you to be more animated, does she want lots of encouragement and praise? What's been your experience, Jimmy?

Obviously, there's no 'one size fits all' answer to that.

I've found the more direction the better. I'm not talking about macro-direction where you're directing every finger and toe in addition to the rest of the model, but a steady stream of general direction, both in terms of pose and body(parts) positioning, with some emotive direction for expressions and the all important 'tude, combined with lots of postive feedback, even it that feedback starts sounding rote and repetive. That's what seems to work pretty good for me. (Sorry about the long, run-on sentence.)

Oh! Music helps too!

Nothing worse than, to borrow from radio people, "dead air" when you're shooting.

Lou said...

Oh man, that's some funny stuff, Jimmy. But hey, apparently she knows what works for her, and wasn't worried to communicate that. Which honestly is pretty awesome.

And regarding the el cheapo laptop screen... I'm in the same boat, after moving out after the divorce started a few months ago, my main machine is my laptop, which was around $400 at Fry's. Underpowered, underwhelmed, and under par. But still, my good ol' Huey manages to hammer out some good color out of it, you might want to pick up a Huey Pro just to keep in the laptop bag. I'd suggest not using the auto light adjustment on a laptop, also. :D