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.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Still Think It's All About Your Gear?

For those of you who purchased and read my ebook, Guerrilla Glamour, you're aware I invested more than a few pages writing about the importance of gear. I didn't write about expensive gear being important to capturing great glam photos -- the book's called, Guerrilla Glamour after all -- I wrote about using the right gear for the job. (With tips, ideas, and suggestions for using that "right" gear.)

Often enough, the right gear has little to do with how much you're willing or able to spend. As I mentioned in the ebook, "You can have the best gear that money can buy and still shoot photos that suck." (That really sucks, doesn't it?)

To further underscore the point, here's a video I came across (thanks to the good guys at that shows what can be accomplished with an iPhone. The photographer in the video purposely set out to shoot a fashion/beauty set with, what he calls, the worst camera you can use.

I'm not suggesting all of you chuck your dSLRs in favor of shooting pretty girls with cell phones. I'm just saying it ain't just about the gear... capturing great images, that is.

Hope you enjoy the video.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A New Look

I thought it was time to give the blog a bit of a face lift. It's not *all* that different but I think, somehow, this "look" looks a little more, I don't know, contemporary. Leastwise, from a blog-template-design point-of-view. I'm not even sure I like it but I'll let if roll this way for a while and see if it grows on me.

It's sort of like shaking up your photographic style. Every now and then it's probably a good idea to shoot things a little differently and give your images a slightly uncharacteristic "look" or "feel" to them.

Course, if you're shooting for clients and those clients expect a certain style from you, it might not be such a great idea to suddenly and dramatically change that style... not without letting them know that's what you're doing.

Clients mostly hire shooters based on what the photographer has already done and what that previous work looks like. They want to know what their shooter will deliver. Not just in terms of content but in terms of style as well. Consistency, from the photographer, is a good thing in the minds of most clients. What they usually don't want is for me, or any other shooter, experimenting on their dime.


Sometimes, I shake it up with some of the pics I submit to my clients. I don't do it with all of them, just a few. Then, I sit back and wait for reactions. I don't often receive specific and audible reactions. The reactions come in the form of which images the clients select for use. If they start picking some of the photos where I made changes to my usual and customary style, i.e., I deviated from what I usually submit, then I know to start incorporating those changes into my production techniques. If they don't, I don't. Pretty simple, actually.

Jumped into the Wabak Machine for an artsy sort-of shot from 3 or 4 years ago, captured in my studio when I still had a studio. Model is Bianca.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

And Your Mother Wears Combat Boots!

The more I cruise various photo forums, the more I realize how lacking many people are when it comes to offering criticism. My Mom, who never wore a pair of combat boots in her life--leastwise, none that I ever saw on her--is fond of saying, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all."

Combat boots aside, the problems with criticism on forums goes beyond rude remarks. Certainly, I've seen plenty of rude comments on forums: Comments where the person making them probably should have heeded my mother's advice. Those kind of comments often resulted in flame wars, big or small. But even when comments have been polite and civil, they often offered little in terms of alternative suggestions or ways to improve.

"That one doesn't work for me."

Yeah. That's helpful. It doesn't work how or why or in what way? You see what I'm getting at? If you're going to take the time to criticize, how about adding a few specifics to the criticism? It doesn't have to be a five-hundred-word composition. Just a few words that describe, relate, or pinpoint whatever it is that doesn't work for you.

The same goes for compliments.

"Awesome photo!"

Awesome how? The subject? The lighting? Colors? Exposure? Composition? Post-processing? Odds are, people posting pics that others think are awesome might be interested in why others think the pic is awesome. In that way, the shooter receives meaningful critique that might help them make more awesome photos. It is possible, after all, to make an awesome photo without having a clue how it happened.

Accidental awesomeness?

It happens.

Some people claim the only person they need to satisfy is themselves. If that's 100% true, why are you posting your work for others to see? It should be enough for you to snap and view, all by your lonesome, with your own two eyes and in the quiet, self-absorbed confines of your privately maintained mind.

That's not to say you shouldn't be satisfying yourself. It's only saying that satisfying yourself does not add up to everything most people want or need for personal satisfaction. That goes for many things: From sex to taking pictures and beyond.

Like always, I'm just saying. And "No," no one recently told me one of my photos sucked. Hearing that certainly has happened often enough but it's just not something that recently happened, inspiring this update.

The pretty girl at the top is Brooke from a few years back, snapped on some kind of a "barn" or "stable" set and from a slightly voyeuristic angle... what with the out-of-focus foreground stuff which also helps direct attention to the model. Course, that she's pulled her top up and exposed those chest-puppies helps direct that attention as well. Again, just saying.

Did I mention sales are going quite well with my Guerrilla Glamour ebook? Well, I'm happy to say, they are. That's not to say sales couldn't be even better! Hint hint, nudge, nudge, know what I mean?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mola Light Blog

For some reason, I haven't cruised over to the Mola Light Blog in a while. Did so today. Some good stuff there! Check it out.

I know a Mola isn't in everyone's budget. It wasn't in mine either but, with good fortune smiling on me, I managed to put my hands on one.

I have the Mola 33.5" Euro. As mentioned, it wasn't in my budget either. Luckily, however, a few years ago, I spotted an ad on Craiglist. Some retired commercial photographer was selling some of his gear. (Who knew photographers retire?) He didn't actually have the Mola listed in his ad: He was selling some other stuff. I called him regarding the gear he was selling and ended up going to his place to look at it all. I don't exactly remember what the other gear was but I believe it was lights, stands and other assorted grip, a camera body and various glass.

When I got there, I spotted a Mola sitting on a junior stand in his garage. I asked about it after haggling over some other stuff I was interested in.

"Do you even know what that is?" he asked me.

I thought that was a bit presumptuous. You know, to presume I'm a photo-gear dumb-shit. Maybe I was paying too much--I didn't think I was--for the other gear we had agreed on? Perhaps I simply looked like a bumpkin who just fell off a turnip cart out front of his home? No matter. I have rhino skin. So, I went along with his assessment.

"No." I lied. "What is it?"

The old shooter went on to explain to me everything I already knew about Mola beauty dishes.

"Wow!" I said, maintaining my naivety. "Are you selling that too?"

"Those things are very expensive." He somberly advised me.

"Really. Hmmm... but are you selling it?" I again asked, keeping the turnip-cart-impression going.

"Maybe," he said. "But it's not going to be cheap."

"How not cheap is not cheap?" I innocently inquired.

The old guy sized me up. I plastered my very best hopeful-yet-ignorant look on my mug.

"Six-hundred bucks," he finally said.

"Wow! That is a lot!" I said.

"It cost well over a thousand new," the dude lied.

"And you're sure it's going to help me make great pictures?" I asked.

"Absolutely," the man said, this time a bit more honestly.

"I'll tell you what," I said as I pulled a wad of one-hundred dollar bills out and held them up in front of him. (I came prepared.) "I'm already buying this other stuff..." (I don't recall, specifically, what all the other stuff was but it was a bunch of things that amounted to approximately one thousand dollars.) "...and I'm just getting started in photography (I lied) and if you could let me have that -- What is it called? A Mola beauty dish? -- for five-hundred, on top of what I'm already spending... and you throw in that light stand it's on (a like-new Matthews Junior stand worth 3 or 4 hundred bucks by itself) I'll take it all, for cash, right now."

The guy thought about it for a moment, eying the Ben Franklins in my hand.

"That would be an awfully great deal." he said. This time completely honestly.

"Yeah. But you seem like an awfully nice guy," I answered with a big, hopeful, smile on my face.

He thought about it a moment longer then, still eying the bills in my hand, agreed.

Cash rules!

Anyway. That's how this guerrilla glamour photographer ended up with a Mola beauty dish in his arsenal of lighting gear. BTW, I eventually sold the Matthews Junior stand for $350 (I already had plenty of other stands, including some juniors) so my total investment in my Mola beauty dish ended up being $150.

The pretty girl at the top is Charmaine from a few years ago. Snapped it using my Mola BD for a mainlight plus a couple of strip boxes, either side from behind, for kickers. Also worked a small, 18" square softbox into the mix, boomed overhead, from behind, for a hair light.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sometimes, It's the Not-So-Simple Things That Make You Happy!

Sometimes, it's the simple things in life that make you happy. Other times, it's the not-so-simple things.

Sales of my newly-released ebook, Guerrilla Glamour, are going really well and, while it wasn't so simple putting everything together, it's making me quite happy to report this!

BTW, it ain't simply about the fattening of my PayPal account that's putting a smile on my face. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't concerned about readers' responses to the book. It took me hours to gather the courage to click the button that turned everything on and put the book out there, for better or for worse, for people to buy, download, and read.

"What if people think it sucks?" was a question that crossed my mind more than a few times. Happily, I've received nothing but supportive and encouraging responses!


I mean, how bad would it suck to put that much time and effort into something only to have people think it sucks?

Really bad! That's how bad.

I slept much better once I started getting feedback.

Anyway, I want to send out a special thanks to the many who have purchased and downloaded the book. If you're on the fence and can't decide whether to get your own copy, go to Guerrilla Glamour dot com and check out what some people are saying about Guerrilla Glamour. It's not a complete accounting of the many remarks and comments I've received but, I hope, it will give you a pretty good idea of the general tone of the many responses I'm receiving.

The pretty girl at the top is Maya, snapped sometime last year in a jail-cell set. Three lights: 5' Octo for the main and a couple of small, shoot-thru brollies for kickers, behind and either side of her. Also set a couple of black flags or some black foil (can't remember which) to keep the kickers from spilling too much on the block wall behind her. Didn't bother with a fill reflector, in front and opposite the main, as I wanted to see a bit more shadow definition on the subject.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Guerrilla Glamour: Finally Complete!

Finally! It's done, complete, finito!

Not only that, but the web page is up, I've uploaded the product to the server and have all the mechanisms in place for purchases and downloads.


That was a lot of friggin' work!

But it's done. And I'm oh-so-happy about that.

Alrighty then. Now for the pitch. (You knew there was gonna be a pitch, right?)

First, the obligatory "Trust Me" words: Being a straight-up, no bullshit, kind of guy, I don't think I've ever knowingly mislead anyone from the pages of this blog. Certainly, not when it's been about buying decisions--your buying decisions--and recommending products to any of this blog's readers.

So, in the spirit of honesty, truth in advertising, and responsible enterprise, I'm going to steer some of you to my book, hopefully quite a few of you, while risking sending some of you away. I know, I know... Call me crazy! I'm probably violating some sacred rules of commerce and business here but that's how I roll. I'd rather collect a few more karma points and let it cost me a couple of bucks.

Next, the General Information Stuff: Below are a few FAQs, i.e, Frequently Asked Questions, with answers, even though no one has asked me anything yet. (I'm just trying to stay ahead of things.)

1. Who Is This Book For?

Picture in your mind some kind of a curve. Let's call your curve a "Learning Curve." On that curve, I'd like you to plot where you are as a photographer, specifically, a pretty girl shooting photographer. If you've pin-pointed yourself anywhere between raw beginner through intermediate, this book is, quite possibly, for you. If you see yourself as being well on the plus-side of intermediate and thru advanced, or somewhere approaching super-star status, this book is probably not for you. If you plotted a special place for GWCs on your curve (in the usual definition of the term/acronym) and you want to shoot some really good, sexy pics of hot chicks--doing it better than you might be doing so--this book is also for you. That was easy, no? Now you know who should buy Guerrilla Glamour, the ebook, and who should not.

2. How Much Book Is There?

Guerrilla Glamour has one-hundred-and-one (101) pages from cover-to-cover. Within those pages there's a Foreward, an Introduction, Nine Chapters, a Conclusion, and some Thank Yous and Acknowledgments. There's quite a few photos as well as some diagrams, plus there's lots of words. The book is, I'll admit, more words than pictures. But that's not to say there aren't plenty of pictures. I didn't go too light on that. If you really like pictures along with your words, especially pictures of hot models in varying stages of undress, they're there. The book's tone is somewhat conversational and I've tried to be concise and remained focused.

3. Speaking of Focus, What Does Guerrilla Glamour Focus On?

Obviously, photography. Specifically, glamour photography. More specifically, it focuses on gear, lighting, composition, production, post-production, models, and more. BTW, it talks a lot about models, i.e., finding them, interacting with them, working with them, directing them, posing them, getting emotion and attitude out of them, and gaining and maintaining rapport with them. That's not to say there isn't plenty of words and pictures about that first stuff I mentioned, the lighting and composition and such. But it's also true I've written a fair amount about the models: Those beautiful, sexy, alluring women who are the objects of our photographic desires.

4. What's With the Guerrilla Theme?

I decided to use guerrilla fighters as an analogy for glamour photographers. No, the book isn't about waging war unless you look at it from the perspective of waging war against average, pedestrian, mediocre, glamour photography. That is, fighting that war with less equipment, lower cost gear, and little to no formal training. It's also about keeping production and post-production processes straight-forward, simple, and automatic. Guerrilla Glamour helps you choose the right gear (not the most expensive gear) and encourages you to take the easiest approach to the work without multiplying difficulty and complexity beyond necessity. In other words, it's about making glamour photography as strategically and tactically simple as possible (but not simpler) with the end results being great photos of gorgeous women with less cost in time, money, and effort.

Hey! If you want to read more about it, I suggest you go to my Guerrilla Glamour site and check it out! You can CLICK HERE or click on the banner in the right-hand column. Either way, it takes you to the same destination.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

25 Amazing Boudoir Photography Techniques!

Not only does Ed Verosky's newly released ebook offer 25 Amazing Boudoir Photography Techniques for a paltry $9.95, it also (also amazingly, I should say) acts as the perfect companion, sequel, follow-up, part deux to his hot-selling, "10 Ways to Improve Your Boudoir Photography Now."

Think about it. Do the math. When you put both of these books together, you now have 35 ways and techniques to amazingly improve your overall boudoir shooting skills! Thirty-five!

Take the math to the next level: If you already bought the first book and you now purchase the second book (or you buy both books together) you've laid out a bit less than twenty bucks. Divide that twenty bucks by the 35 amazing ways and techniques Ed's giving you to *up* your boudoir shooting game and all its costing you is a small fraction more than 57¢ each. (For each way or technique you can use to wow them with your boudoir shooting, that is.) Fifty-seven lousy cents! Two quarters, a nickel, and two pennies! That's a ridiculously great deal. Even I know it is and I suck at math.

In a (metaphorically-speaking) nutshell, make that a peanut shell because all this great information can be yours for peanuts, here's what Ed's new book provides: It calls out the looks, shows you the setups, explains the techniques, tells you the gear you'll need (and you won't need a lot), provides simple, ez-to-follow lighting diagrams, and adds some general post-production notes. What more do you need?


Nothing more than Ed's book, that is.

Check it out: Click here for Ed Verosky's 25 Amazing Boudoir Photography Techniques! Or, if you're a right-hand column kind of guy or girl, click the banners for either of Ed's books. Where? In the right-hand column of course. While you're at it, why don't you make it a trifecta and add Ed's 100% Reliable Flash Photography.

If you're really, really serious about shooting hot chicks, especially in their birthday suits, you'll probably want to add Ashley Karyl's How to Photograph Nudes Like a Professional to your electronic library. Yep. That's exactly what you'll probably want to do.

Am I hard-core pimpin' here or what? (You think so? Wait till my ebook is locked, loaded, and ready to pimp! Should be sometime next week.)