Friday, May 28, 2010


Yesterday, my son-in-law accused me of being obsessed with the e-book I'm writing. I wasn't sure how to take that. I asked what he meant and he said that all it seems I've been doing for the last month or so, day and night, is working on that book.

"Yeah. You're point is?" I asked him.

"Don't you think you should pace yourself a little?" He asked.

"What does pace myself mean?" I asked with a not-so-polite tone, mustering as much of a curmudgeon-like 'tude as I could. "Slow down? Take my time? Stretch this thing out for months? A year? Get a cane? A walker? What?"

"No," he said, now looking a tad timid. "Maybe you should just take your time with it a bit more."

"Why?" I answered. "I know I'm getting old... older... but it's not like I'm going to have a heart attack or stroke-out from writing a freaking e-book or thinking about it too hard."

"You just seem like you're totally obsessed with it," he said.

"I am," I ired back point-blank. "I am obsessed with it."

And it's true. I am. I've been totally obsessed with this ebook for about a month. More, counting the research I did before starting to write. Why? I suppose because, unlike the writing I do on this blog which is free for everyone to read, I'm going to charge for the ebook. Granted, I'm not charging that much. Leastwise, I don't think it's too much. Is $9.95 too much for about 60 or 70 pages, chock full of great information and pics and more for anyone shooting or wanting to shoot glamour?

Obviously, I suppose, it depends on whether the book is good or it sucks. And that's why I'm obsessing: I'm trying my best to make sure it doesn't suck! And that it's worth every penny of the $9.95 I'll be asking for it.

What's wrong with that?

Nothing, in my opinion.

The pretty girl at the top is one whose name I can't recall. Since I'm still in a curmudgeonly mood due to all the obsessing I've been doing, plus considering I'm in my dotage -- according to my son-in-law, that is -- I'm refusing to take the time right now to figure out her name. Instead, I'll probably just chug a bottle of Geritol or prune juice and go to bed. That aside, she's sexy, ain't she? I do remember I shot this and other pics of her for Playboy/Club Jenna at a location house somewhere in the Hollywood hills. But that's about all I remember. Maybe I am getting old? Where the hell's that bottle of ginkgo biloba pills I bought?

Wishing everyone a great holiday weekend! Let's never forget those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

At Work on an E-Book

As if I wasn't already doing a great job of NOT getting projects completed, I've taken on another: An e-book. About what? What else. Shooting glamour.

Actually, this project is helping with my other projects. How so? Because the e-book is quickly becoming a great template for the design of potential workshops as well the linear structure of the (still to be finished) DVD.

Aside from time management, plus Murphy's Law being my continual and regular nemesis, organizational skills and developing a cohesive structure to my projects are things I don't exactly excel at. None of this is news to me. But I'm happy to say the book is forcing me to deal with some of these things. Leastwise, the organizational and structural parts.

I began writing, thinking the finished product would be 20 or 30 pages. It's already looking like it will be a fair amount more than that. It's not that I'm trying to write a glam-shooting version of "War and Peace," it's simply that, with every subject I explore and write about, there seems to be more material, ideas, and other things that should be covered and dealt with.

The general thrust of the e-book is sharing ideas, techniques, approaches, and skills that, coupled with the reader's own creativity, imagination, and determination, will help make them the fierce, adaptable, courageous, cunning, kick-ass, roll-with-the punches, pretty girl shooters they want to be. Shooters who know how to get in, get out and, most importantly, get the shot!

While this e-book isn't meant to be a "gear" book, I have about a dozen pages dedicated to equipment. Even so, the gear section is more about being a minimalist when it comes to what photographers need to capture great images of hot models. In other words, how to make do with less yet make it look like more. Guerrilla photography, if you will. I came to the conclusion, quite some time ago, that even with the best equipment money can buy--and plenty of it--you can still shoot pictures that mostly suck. I should also mention that this e-book is focused on production, not post-processing. Get it right in the camera and let post-prod enhance your images, not be the greater share of their creation.

I've been working on the e-book for a week or so, quite diligently in fact, putting in lots of hours. It will be released as an Adobe PDF file. I'm hoping to have it completed in June and ready to go. Of course, then I'll have to set up a small site to host it and do those sorts of things. Wish me luck.

The pretty girl portrait at the top is Cytherea. I went with a darker, low-key lighting approach to this image, with my mainlight low and off to the side.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How to Un-Define Yourself as a Photographer?

I read an article this morning called, "How to Define Yourself as a Photographer." Not sure what tweaked my curiosity about it. I think I'm fairly well-defined as a photographer, i.e., a pretty girl shooter. Still, I enjoy soaking-in most all things photography so I invested a few minutes reading it.

In a nutshell, the article's author says most of us begin our love affairs with photography as generalists, shooting most anything and everything that catches our eyes. Soon, it's apparent that certain subjects capture our fancies more than others and these are the things we begin to focus on.

Fair enough. I agree with that notion.

The article goes on to suggest, essentially, that we need to take what moves us, photographically moves us, and define ourselves as *that* photographer.

Traditional thinking at it's finest!

Unfortunately, and mostly due to the digital revolution coupled with the internet, traditional thinking has been turned on it ear, whether it's photography, marketing, and so much more.

Whether we like it or not, being a specialist these days seems more appropriate for the hobby side of our photography efforts. For the business side, leastwise for many, especially those starting out, you're competing with many, many generalists. Most of whom include your specialty in their general photography practices.

So what does *that* mean?

It might mean, for many, we need to be generalists as well. If you're already defined as a photographer, you might need, to varying degrees, to un-define yourselves. For many, myself included, that sucks. I'd rather be shooting, make that getting paid to shoot, what I prefer, catching gigs that make sense for how I'm already defined.

But that was then and this is now and now seems to demand pursuing other genres to expand specialties in less definable ways. So now, at this late point in my life, I find myself trying to figure out how to un-define myself as a photographer.


The pretty girl at the top is Chayse, captured in a warehouse in downtown Los Angeles. I used three lights: 5' Photoflex Octodome for my main and a couple of shoot-thru umbrellas from either side in the rear. One of them, on the left, I raked across her body to mimic light coming from the big windows on the roll-up door in the rear. Probably had a reflector also working in front for a bit of fill... cuz that's how I often roll, reflector-wise.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I'm a Facebookin' Fool

Been spending way too much time on Facebook lately. I don't know if that's a good thing or what.

Although I've had a Facebook account for quite a while, I never got into it much. No special reason. Just didn't.

Then, at the end of January or beginning of February, I started a "Fan Page" for people who grew up, went to high school, whatever, in the same town as the one I grew up in. That would be Ridgewood, NJ. I figured it would be a great way to attract a few old friends and such.

As of today, that Fan Page has over 2300 members! I've reconnected with lots of old friends as have many others who grew up in Ridgewood. The page has been written up in the local newspaper as well as other, North Jersey, publications. It's been mentioned on local blogs and is listed by the town's library as a "historical resource." It's mentioned on Ridgewood's Wikipedia page and it was even talked about on an NBC morning television show!

Tomorrow, there's a local city election in Ridgewood. A couple of groups have asked us to endorse two city council candidates. Most on the page don't live there any longer and, as such, can't vote. But many on the page still have family and friends who do and who can vote.

Last weekend, I decided to start another "Fan Page." This one designed to pimp the Pretty Girl Shooter blog. As of writing this update, it has 655 members and continues to grow. I'm hoping to hit a thousand by the end of this week. We'll see.

I don't write updates on the FB page like I do on the blog. Instead, I post links to any updates I post here. I've also been posting lots of pretty girl pics on the page. Many that I've never posted here. Also, because "fans" have asked, I've posted a bunch of BTS shots showing the lighting I use.

Obviously, it's Facebook so all the photos I'm posting there are "R" rated at most. I have posted some inferred nudes and other pics that go right up to the line, the nudity line, but that's as far as I've gone. Don't want the page shut down so that's as far as I'll continue to go.

If you're a Facebooker, have a look and click the "Like" button. Here's the link to the Pretty Girl Shooter Facebook page. Check it out! Click "Like" and send me some love!

BTW, I posted a permanent link, in the right-hand column, to Ed Verosky's eBook, "10 Ways to Improve Your Boudoir Photography Now." At $9.95, it's a most excellent deal! It contains great information for anyone pursuing boudoir photography, whether you're doing so already or want to add the genre to your bag of tricks. I've exchanged emails with some peeps who purchased it and they, like me, have good things to say about Ed's eBook.

The pretty girl at the top is Kayla. It's the most recent photo I posted on my Pretty Girl Shooter Facebook page. I call the image, "Interrogation Time."

Friday, May 07, 2010

What Was I Thinking?

The shoot is over. You're back home and, having transferred your images from your cards to your computer, you sit back to look through the results of your work.

As you peruse your photos, consciously or semi-consciously performing some mental editing, you start to notice that more than a few are not going to make the cut. Nothing particularly abnormal about that. There's a myriad of reasons why you might "86" many photos. Some of those reasons aren't necessarily because you, the photographer, were asleep at the wheel.

But some of them are!

Some of my first-cut rejects, the ones that bug me most, are the shots where the images suck are headed for the cyber round file because, apparently, I wasn't paying enough attention. Leastwise, enough attention--with the requisite amount of mental focus--necessary to capture a decently framed snap.

"What was I thinking?" I often ask myself as I smack the palm of my hand against my forehead and stare at an otherwise good photo, sometimes a potentially great photo, messed up by the unattractive and unacceptable dismemberment of a body part at the edge of the frame.

That's not to say framing with various amputations performed is always the reason for rejecting a photo. But, often enough, some amputations (perhaps many) are cause for rejection.

So why does this happen?

Well, I have a theory or two. (You probably already knew I would, right?)

First off, and probably most importantly when it comes to pretty girl shooting, it has much to do with the beautiful models in our viewfinders. (This is, after all, a blog about photographing beautiful women, right? For the most part, that is.)

Yep. It's the model's fault.

If she wasn't so damned hot and sexy and maybe even naked, our eyes wouldn't be automatically drawn to certain parts of her anatomy--the majority of pretty girl shooters being guys and all--with those parts tending to exist well within the perimeters of our frames.

When our eyes and minds are captivated by a beautiful face, bountiful breasts, or other curvaceous commodities our models possess, the perimeters of our frames tend to get less attention from us. And *that's* how those otherwise good snaps often get screwed up!

BTW, for you female photographers who might not be smitten by the eye-candy in your viewfinder, there's still a good chance, for whatever reasons, you're focused more on the body of the frame (as opposed to the body "in" the frame) rather than the frame's edges or perimeter. Just sayin.


Here's what I've done in an attempt to reduce the numbers of images I reject because I wasn't paying enough attention. Well, not paying enough attention to everything in my viewfinder rather than mostly the eye-candy parts. I've trained my eye, the eye pressed to the viewfinder, to do a quick, almost robotic, scan of the perimeter of the frame first.

It doesn't matter where you start your frame-edge scan or where you end up. (For some reason, my eye likes to start in the lower right corner of the frame and move it's way around the frame's perimeter, counter-clockwise.) After I've done that, and it only takes a very brief amount of time to do it, my eye returns to the more central body of the frame... and I snap the shutter. I go through this scanning process fairly quickly and I might be mouthing a direction or two while doing so.

I'll admit it took a bit of time to train my eye to do this in an automatic kind of way. And it certainly hasn't guaranteed that I never mess up my framing because of lack of attention. But it has reduced the incidence rate of village idiot screw-ups I make while shooting.

The pretty girl at the top is Faith. Snapped it at a 2nd floor loft location in down-town Los Angeles a few years ago. Three lights employed: 5' Photoflex Octodome for my main and a couple of kickers, either side, from behind. I also used a white reflector to bounce in a bit of fill. Here's another of Faith, this time in color and featuring Faith dressed less formally.

Almost forgot to mention-- I started a Facebook Pretty Girl Shooter page. Just created it yesterday. If you're a Facebooker, please stop by and "Like" it! Me like you back long, long time. Facebook: Pretty Girl Shooter.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Plumb-and-Level Is Sometimes Overrated

Shooting with your camera plumb-n-level, that is, keeping the vertical and horizontal lines in your viewfinder plumb and/or level, is often a good idea.

Shooting a pretty, bikini-clad girl at the beach is a good example: If the ocean's horizon is sloping, even a small amount, it is often not a good thing. In fact, it can be downright distracting and mess up an otherwise good capture.

Yeah, you can make leveling adjustments when cropping but, sometimes, that inhibits other ways you might want to crop. My advice: Better to keep things plumb/level when you shoot--leastwise, if that's what you're looking to do--in order to make your work in post go a bit more smoothly.

There are plenty of times, however, when shooting with a canted camera (not to be confused with a candid camera) adds appealing dynamics to a photo. I have no clue what the human psychology might be that drives the heightened interest that sometimes is a result of Dutch Angles and canted cameras. It's enough for me to know they can be interesting and worth doing. Certainly not all the time but, at least, some of the time.

Diagonal lines can also add much interest to a photo. They often add a sense of depth, drama, interesting juxtaposition, and can perform aesthetic wonders for your composition. Same goes for canted cameras, also known as oblique angles, whether the lines are curvy (as with shooting pretty girls) or generally straight.

While plumb-and-level tends to maintain order in the world, at least the world as seen through your viewfinder, diagonals and oblique camera angles unbalance that order and, often enough, creates more interest in the photo. It's all about the mood or viewer perception you're hoping to effect.

Like shooting from less-seen angles and positions, shooting with an eye for diagonals, whether to lead the viewer or to simply heighten interest, and utilizing canted or oblique angles, can be powerful, interesting, and draw more attention to your work. I'm not saying these are always the "makes-sense" ways to approach your subjects. Instead, they are alternative ways of doing things. Ways that can be quite appealing and powerful, photographically speaking.

The pretty girl at the top is Sasha, snapped at a very dark and cramped interior location in Hollywood last year. Subtle yet effective diagonals can be included in posing models. Forming triangular shapes with arms or legs is a way to accomplish that as triangles always have at least one diagonal line as part of their form. A Rembrandt patch makes a nice triangle too!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Three Simple Tips to Wow Them

A photographer friend asked me to look at some pics he shot. Actually, he's a Twitter friend and I've never met him in real life... not that the internet isn't "real" life, it's just a different reality; one that isn't as real as real life if that makes sense.

So, my friend asked me to take a look at some pretty girl shots he took of his girlfriend. Is it me? Or is there something a little extra, uhhh... spicy and enjoyable looking at naked pics of another man's pretty woman, be it wife or girlfriend? I know. Every pretty naked chick we see on the web is, probably, some man's woman. And I'm not inferring that men own women. Chicks say " man," all the time. Regardless, in my opinion there's a bump on the plus side if you know the guy to whom the model/chick belongs.


He asked if I'd take a look at the pics and make a few suggestions.

First, let me say his girlfriend is hot. While I'm not including "hot" as part of my Three Tips to Wow Them, "hot" certainly accounts for much in the "wowing" department. Sometimes it accounts for just about everything. Leastwise, when you're shooting glam, tease, beauty, and that sort of stuff. Just sayin.

I looked at the photos and, while they were good, they could use some pizzazzing. (Is that a word? No matter. You get what I'm saying.)

So, after telling the dude his g/f is hot, I suggested he use more highlights and/or shadows to add drama and appeal to the images, and perhaps to lead the viewer's eyes to his model. I also mentioned composition and shooting angles. This led me to today's update wherein I'm going to break my suggestions (to my friend) into three points and list them here.

1. Use Highlights to "Pop" the Model From the Background. They also help lead the viewers' eyes to where you want them to go. (Their eyes being instinctively drawn, like a moth to the flame, to the bright areas of a photo.) Whether those highlights are in the form of "edge" or "rim" lighting or they are well-placed highlights--e.g., face, breasts, butts--they are going to take the viewers' eyes where you intend for them to go. Highlights, of course, generally require additional light sources. Leastwise, when you're using artificial lighting. If you're outdoors, using the sun behind the model for rim or edge lighting, you'll probably want to balance the front by bouncing or reflecting (or using a strobe)to fill.

2. Use Shadows to Add Drama. They can also add mystery and artistic flair. Also, well-placed shadows can, like highlights, take the viewers' eyes where you want them to go, i.e., to the non-shadow areas. Shadows also help add depth and dimension. In the art world, that's called chiaroscuro. I recently wrote about chiaroscuro, right HERE if you're interested.

3. Shoot From Less-Seen Angles & Frame Using Interesting Compositional Elements.
By less-seen angles I mean get your feet off the floor and your butt on it. Get down low and shoot up. Or, get up high, on a chair or a ladder or whatever, and shoot down. Quit always shooting from the same spot with your camera at the same height and at the same level with the model. Try shooting with some Dutch angles. Compositionally, get your subject out of the center of the frame. Use the Rule of Thirds, leastwise, shoot with a nod towards those rules. Consider geometry when posing the model, e.g., "S" curves, limbs forming triangles, etc. Look for diagonals in the frame that help lead the viewers' eyes. Don't be hesitant to use negative space and avoid distracting clutter in the frame.

Well, there you have it: Today's three simple tips to wow them; them being your models, fans, critics, casual viewers and even yourself. Yep. It feels good to wow yourself. (Caution: Don't be easily "wowed" by your own work... for obvious reasons. Again, just sayin.)

I guarantee if you start incorporating these three tips into your shooting regimen, and if other factors are working well, you know, good exposure, a non-reliance on post-processing to frost the turds, etc., they will take your pretty girl shooting to new levels, improving it dramatically and, sometimes, helping you capture those semi-elusive pics that truly wow them!

The pretty girl at the top is Monica from some time back. Monica is a hoot to work with. No doubt, she breaks hearts as easily as she breaks balls. One more time: I am just saying!