Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dumbing Down Photos

Sometimes, clients want something different. Instead of glossy, slick, glamour photos, they might want simpler, almost amateur-looking pics. Still, they want the images to contain elements that rise above amateurishness, but in subtle ways.

I recently worked for a client who, just as I was getting ready to shoot, said: "No glam! Keep it girl next door. Keep it simple like they're Facebook or MySpace pics. You know, like a young chick who has her friend snap some pics with a point-n-shoot. But still sexy... in a dumb way... and they have to look good. Oh yeah, she's going to be in her PJs. Not Victoria Secret PJs but regular PJs."

Perhaps "dumbing down" isn't a good way to describe my recent assignment? I wasn't actually "dumbing" the pictures or my photography down, I was asked to shoot in a very different style than my norm, that is, from the way I'm normally expected to capture images for the vast majority of the people I work for or with.

Alrighty then!

First order of business: One light. After all, some girl photographing her friend with a point-n-shoot isn't going to be using multiple light sources. Leastwise, by design. Besides, nice work can and often is produced shooting with one-light.

Next order of business: Dumbing the model down. (There might be a joke in there somewhere. More so since I was shooting a blond model. I'll let it pass tho.)

What I mean by dumbing the model down is I couldn't let her "model." She was going to have to be natural in her poses and expressions and she was even going to need to get a little silly and goofy. (Facebook/MySpace "Wall" pics and all that.) She was also going to have to come off wholesome, girl-next-door wholesome, but in a she-can't-help-but-be-sexy kind of way. Believe it or not, that can be a tall order for sexy glamour models who have spent considerable time in front of cameras. The environment we were going to shoot in was also going to be very "no frills." In fact, it was simply a small bedroom with little in the way of furnishings.

The photography part was easy. I used a single strobe modified with a medium-sized shoot-thru umbrella. I had no choice but to keep the light in close: The bedroom was quite small. Decided on f/8 for an aperture.

The hard part, as I mentioned, was keeping the model from modeling. I had to give a lot of direction, constantly reminding her to be silly, like high school girl silly. Above all, no sexy expressions, no smoldering eyes, no pouty lips, always a smile unless the expression was going to be something else and, if it was, it should be overdone and over-the-top. Almost comically overdone and over-the-top. She was simply going to have to trust in the fact that she'd still come off sexy, but in a girl-next-door in her non-sexy PJs sort of way. I explained the PJs were a fetish of sorts. At the very least, a niche.

Anyway, just thought I'd share. The pretty girl sticking her tongue out at the top is Jessie, my victim for this experiment in dumbing down the photos. I've seen other pics of Jessie and, trust me, with glam makeup, lighting, pose, expression and attitude, she comes off as sensuous and alluring a siren as so many other glam models do.

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