Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Every Picture Tells a Story...

...Don't It?

Rod Stewart famously crooned, "Every picture tells a story..." While he wasn't singing about photography, his lyrics certainly apply.

With photo-journalism and editorial photography, the "every picture tells a story" notion is easy to understand and makes perfect sense. As we all know, it's often applied and we see it played out in so many ways and in so many images of those types.

With other genres, the "story" can be a bit less obvious: It might be subtle and barely perceptible. Or, it might be the same story over and over: "She's hot and she's turned-on and she's all about sex!" (I shoot that "story" often enough.)

Still, there's lots of twists and variations that can be applied to "turned-on/hot-chick" pics. (aka contemporary glamour.) Sexual allure isn't one-dimensional. It can be conveyed in many ways. Again, sometimes subtle and barely perceptible, other times obvious and "in your face."

When I'm shooting that same story over and over, I think about how I'm going to present the often revisited, "sexual allure" theme. Those thoughts dictate many things: Lighting, pose, expression, attitude & emotion and more. My clients needs are always in my mind. Does my client want the viewers knocked over their heads with the sexual themes? Do they want it to look glitzy and fantasy-driven? Do they want the theme, or story, presented in a coy, less obvious way?

Lighting is usually my first thought. Will I shoot high-key or low-key or some "key" in between? Should the story take on a more dramatic sense? Should it be light and airy? Should the subject appear like the girl next door or should she tell the story of a sex goddess? Should my photography "prowess" be obvious or should I dumb it down and give it a more amateur feel? Should my subject appear as being nearly unattainable yet, still, maybe, attainable? Sex is serious business, after all. Fantasy, equally so.

My posing directions usually follow suit to the lighting I've chosen. The more dramatic the lighting, the more the model in my "story" should fulfill the "feelings" dictated by the lighting I've decided to employ.

Who knew so much thought sometimes goes into capturing an image of a hot, sexy chick? Do you think about these things?

Perhaps, sometimes, you should... even if all you're trying to shoot is a hot sexy pic of a hot sexy chick.

Gratuitous, naked, pretty girl at the top is Lorena.


John said...

Nicely put. The theme to the story in glamour seems pretty straightforward most of the time. I often found it confusing when the fashion shooters talked about "story" thought - it seemed to mean something different for them. I think of "story" as a kind of logical coherence or consistency - elements not just randomly occurring.
Do you construct the story framework before you shoot, or does it change as you're shooting?

JohnK said...

Along these lines, do you find yourself shooting series of images (more than one shot along a given theme)very often; or is it usually stand alone images? How do you approach each one and keep a series from getting repetitive?

jimmyd said...

@John: I think about the "story" before I shoot if I have some clue what that "story" might be or should be. Usually, I don't get that info until I show up on the set. At that time, I either get some direction from the client or one of their minions or I figure it out myself. (Which means I decide what elements of style I might employ that seems to make sense-- if that makes sense.)

@JohnK: It's difficult for things not to be repetitive. I get accused, from time to time, of my pics looking the same... as if that's all I'm capable of shooting. Clients generally hire someone based on certain expectations regarding what the shooter consistently delivers to them or others. Many clients want more of the same so more of the same happens quite a bit. If I decide to shoot pics other than what the client expects there's a good chance I won't be hired back. And yes, I generally cover myself by shooting a series of images that are similar in style and presentation. Certainly, I did less of that back when I was shooting film, but with digital, why not cover yourself? It doesn't cost more... other than a bit of time.