Sunday, August 29, 2010

Quid Pro Quo

Sometimes, I plug.

Sometimes, they plug back.

It's not just a quid pro quo thing. It's also a courtesy thing.

For those who haven't read my ebook, Guerrilla Glamour, you might not know about some of the equipment I plugged in it. I'll admit, I didn't do a lot of plugging in the book. Leastwise, a lot of naming-gear-by-brand plugging. But I did plug some.

One of the guerrilla glamour brands I plugged is orbis™, the ring flash adapter.

That wasn't a typo, BTW. orbis™ doesn't capitalize their brand name. They also prefer seeing that trademark "™" thingie at the tail-end of their brand.

Must be a Kiwi thing. (orbis™ is a New Zealand company.)

I call orbis™ a "guerrilla glamour" brand because their product perfectly fits the criteria for "keep it simple stupid" guerrilla glam shooting: It's a cost effective alternative to traditional ring flash devices and -- and this is a big "and" -- it utilizes equipment most all of you already own. (That would be a speedlight.)

In their latest orbis™ newsletter, those nice, courteous, quid-pro-quoing New Zealanders gave my ebook a thoughtful, courteous plug! (Thanks, mates!) Check it out! In fact, you might want to sign up for their newsletter as it often includes great tips for shooting with an orbis™. (Good info if you have an orbis™. Some of it might even be helpful if you don't.)

I'll be reviewing the orbis™ ring flash adapter quite soon. As it happens, I just happen to have an orbis™ in my fat grubby fingers -- well, it's not in my fat grubby fingers this exact moment. I am keyboarding, after all -- but I am looking forward to putting the orbis™ through its paces. I have a cute model lined up for my orbis™ shoot. All we have to do is find a day and time both of us are free to take some pictures. Hopefully, that happens this coming week.

orbis™ also has a new product they're about to unveil: The frio™. (Again with the no capitalizing and the "™" thing.)

Frio, if you didn't know, means "cold" in Spanish. Who knew they speak Spanish in New Zealand? Definitely not me. But then, what do I know? About New Zealand, I mean.

Apparently, not as much as I thought.

The frio™, from orbis™, is a cold shoe adapter. A cold shoe adapter is a device that clamps to hot shoe accessories, e.g., to the foot of your flash or speedlight, allowing you to then attach it to something else... like a light stand.

There are cold shoe adapters already available in the marketplace. I'm guessing the frio™ is going to be somewhat different from what's already available. Like everyone else, I'll have to wait and see just how different. The orbis™ folks are saying they will be unveiling the frio™ in the next week or so. (They're being quite secretive about their frio™.)

BTW, if, like me, you're a Facebooker, you might want to check out the orbis™ Facebook page. Give it a "Like" why don'tcha?

While you're at it, Facebooking I mean, check out my Pretty Girl Shooter Facebook page. Give it a "Like" as well! (If you haven't already.) The more the merrier, right?

The pretty girl pool shark at the top is Devin. I'll bet Minnesota Fats never played against a pool hustler like Devin. Game of Eight Ball anyone?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Getting Paid to Shoot Models and Others

Received an email today from a photographer in Miami, FL. Here's what he said:

"Girls all want me to shoot for free TFP and all that. I shoot more and more shots, and feel I'm getting better and better as a shooter, but can't seem to get paid for anything. So my question is... how does one get paid to shoot sexy girls?"

Wow! Tough one! Really tough!

My last update talked about finding models to shoot. You know, to shoot for free, that is, TFP. Now, I'm asked about entering the next stage of one shooter's desired evolution in his photography: Getting paid to shoot models. That's a way tougher question to answer than how to find models to shoot TFP!

Here's what I told the dude in Miami:

"...the biggest problem is that you're competing with so many other shooters who, like you, shoot TFP. Unlike you, many of them aren't all that interested in getting paid. They might make some noise about it but, in reality, many of them have decided, in their heads, if they have to choose between shooting TFP or not shooting at all, they're gonna shoot TFP and not push the issue of getting paid. So, they don' t push the issue.

Deciding it's time to get paid for your work is a decision easier to make than to put into practice. You live in Miami, a place where the fashion industry, for instance, has a pretty big footprint. Fashion models need photos. They are also more likely to understand that photography is a business (for some) more so than many glamour models understand that.

I know a fashion shooter in NYC. Somehow, he's managed to hook up with high-priced call girls who need high-end pictures for their marketing use. (Just sayin'.)

Bottom line, you need to explore any and all avenues for pursuing your pretty girl photography in ways that might produce some income. You also might have to bite the bullet and simply set yourself to charging for your services. That will probably mean, at least for a time, you'll be shooting less. Marketing is everything!!!! Dunno if any of this helps, especially since it doesn't come across overly optimistic. These are tough times for people making a living with, or trying to make a living with, cameras in their hands. Not just glamour, but across the board."

It's no secret these are tough times for many photographers. Technology has put competent, nearly no-brainer, image-capturing capabilities into the hands of the masses. Couple that with the internet, a place where, IMO, the quality bar hasn't simply been lowered, it's been very nearly discarded, and the playing field has been leveled in more than a few ways.

But there's still people making an exclusive living with cameras in their hands. Some of them making a pretty damn good living. Others, part-timers that is, are doing okay, revenue-producing-wise, as well. Yeah, maybe those folks are rarer than before, but they're still alive and kicking. You might be one of them. You might want to be one of them.

One obvious way to pursue photography with an eye towards getting paid is to specialize, to market to a specific niche. That doesn't mean all your photography services need to be of that niche. And it doesn't mean all your marketing efforts need to market exclusively to that niche. You can certainly market to a variety of niches.

Personally, I think it might be wise to market to each niche independent of each other. What I mean by that is this: Say you're marketing to the wedding industry or the family photography business. Let's also say your trying to build a boudoir photography business. If so, you might not want to mix your boudoir photography marketing, on the same website, as your wedding and family photography biz. Seems obvious but I see plenty of websites that market all of a particular photographer's services, from weddings to kids to boudoir, from the same site or other marketing device. Not sure that's the wisest choice.... different morality strokes for different folks and all.

Here's another obvious suggestion. Be selective in the niche you're marketing to and invest the time and other resources to truly becoming good at those individual niches.

I mentioned that it's my opinion the quality bar has been lowered if not discarded. But paying customers, also IMO, may often be more apt to scrutinize your skills, as illustrated by your portfolios and marketing materials, than TFP customers(sic) will do. That's not true across the board but it's true often enough.

Let's say you want to build a boudoir photography business as part of your overall business of marketing your photography skills in general, even if you're only doing so on a part-time basis. Well, just because you might already be pretty good at shooting weddings or kids or senior portraits doesn't mean you know much about shooting boudoir.

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you already know I'm a big proponent of investing time, sometimes a bit of money, in learning. Yeah, I'm also motivated by self-interests. My ebook, Guerrilla Glamour, being an example of that. Sure, part of my income these days comes from the photography education markets. But that doesn't make my advice any less appropriate. It's still good advice, IMO.

For me, making the jump from shooting glamour and tease to boudoir would probably be quite simple given both of them are so similar in so many ways. Not so for making the jump from, as an example, family and event photography to boudoir. Maybe you can snap a decent pic of a kid kicking a soccer ball. Maybe even an awesomely great pic of that! But that doesn't mean you know how to transform an average housewife into a seductive, alluring, sex goddess in a photograph.

I guess it's time for me to segue this update to a bit of niche marketing of my own, even if it wasn't what motivated me to author this post.

Assuming boudoir is one of those photography niches you're interested in pursuing -- good choice! It's a popular and continually growing niche market -- you might want to bone-up a bit on how to make some good boudoir photos. One way is to get your hands on materials that educate you on the subject. I just happen to have a couple of great suggestions where to start: Those would be Ed Verosky's excellent (and inexpensive) ebooks on the subject: "10 Ways to Improve Your Boudoir Photography," and "25 Amazing Boudoir Photography Techniques."

There are lots of resources available that are designed to help you learn specific skills focused on specific niches. All you need to do is take the time to search them out and, once you've found them, take advantage of them.

This stuff ain't brain surgery, people. But it ain't always "easy as pie" either. I'm just saying.

The gratuitous eye-candy at the top is Cody, snapped in a studio some time back. Cuddly chest puppies courtesy of Mother Nature. Gotta love that.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Starting Out Pretty Girl Shooting (Part Three)

I said I'd eventually get to the part where I'll talk about finding models to practice your pretty girl shooting skills. I guess that's where I've arrived in this update: Part 3 of "Starting Out Pretty Girl Shooting."

First, I'll share some of the advice I dole out in Chapter 6, "Glamour Girls," in my ebook: Guerrilla Glamour. It's not word-for-word from the book. I'm using the book's text as reference and abbreviating what I wrote with some quoting. BTW, I'll add a couple of ideas I did not include in the book. Otherwise, I would not be answering Jim in Huntsville's original suggestion for a blog update.

Alrighty then. Getting models in front of your camera:

1. Cash: Nothing speaks louder than cash. Cash rules! Experienced models want to be paid for their time and efforts. You can't slight them for that. Experienced models will almost always outperform beginners and novices in terms of helping you learn and contributing to your portfolios.

2. Workshops: Many workshops are focused on glamour photography. I plan to start producing workshops myself, hopefully soon. Workshops will also cost you some dough. Workshops include models, often experienced models, with knowledgeable mentors assisting you.

3. Friends & Family: They might be your friends, your family, or the friends and families of friends and their families.

4. Portfolio Builders: You want one, they want one, they need to be in front of someone's camera, it might as well be yours. This works mostly with new and inexperienced models. New and inexperienced models can be found on...

5. Model Forums: Model forums usually allow you to search for models by geographic areas. These sites include models of all sizes, shapes, relative beauty, experience, and more. Models often list their willingness to engage in TF (Trade For) shoots. These forums also include many models who are not very serious about modeling. (a.k.a., Wannabees and Flakes.)

6. Cold Calling: The thing Jim in Huntsville hopes to avoid engaging in, i.e., approaching random women, almost anywhere, and asking if they might be interested in getting in front of your camera. It's certainly not the best way to secure models but it sometimes works.

Okay, here's some other ideas that may or may not help and/or work for getting models in front of your cameras.

1. Dummies: No, not blond models. (My apologies to any blond models reading... couldn't resist.) I mean real dummies as in mannequins. It might not be as much fun shooting a mannequin as it is shooting a real model but you can certainly practice your lighting and compositional skills with a dummy. Dummy shots probably aren't going to end up in your portfolio but when you do get to shoot a live body, you'll do so with more skill because, from purely a lighting and compositional perspective, you'll have more skill.

Okay. Dummies probably aren't what most of you wanted to hear. (Even if working with them can be helpful.) So here's a few more ideas.

2. Free Ads: Free online classifieds like Craigslist allow you to post ads for almost anything including models who want to build a portfolio. It's not guaranteed but it's worth a shot. You have nothing to lose but the few minutes it takes to post the ad.

3. Schools: If there's a college or university near you and that school has a theater department, odds are there are students who might be interested in trading some of their time in exchange for some photos. Most colleges and universities have bulletin boards where you can post little ads. They might also have websites or forums that allow you to do the same. Beauty colleges and cosmetology schools might also be worth exploring.

4. Social Media: I haven't personally used social media, like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and more, as a tool to find models but I know some photographers who have. I've gotten mixed reports on the effectiveness of social media as a model-finder. Again, as with many of the ideas I'm suggesting, it ain't foolproof but it's worth a shot.

Here's some side advice:

1. Chaperones: I know this is a constantly ongoing and raging debate on some model forums. Here's my take on it: When you're starting out, you don't have much room to make demands that, frankly, aren't steeped in customary and usual practices. In other words, as that old saying goes: "Beggars can't be choosers." If a prospective model wants to bring a chaperone, you'll need to make a decision about your priorities. Do you want a model in front of your camera or are you stubbornly going to cling to some "No Chaperones!" way of doing things. It's your choice. Personally, I'd take the path of least resistance. When I shoot, I don't care if the model is accompanied by someone. In fact, I'll sometimes try to put that "someone" to work as a helper. The one time I was slightly "weirded" by a chaperone was when the model brought along her Mom to a nude/glamour shoot. The Mom was cool. She kept her mouth shut and stayed out of the way and, frankly, I was only slightly "weirded out" by her presence for a very brief time.

2. Be Honest: Don't try to play yourself off as being something more than your level of skill would indicate. Be honest. Let models know where you are on the learning curve. People, and yes, models are people, generally prefer honesty. It will get you further in the long run in terms of securing models. BTW, models talk. They talk to each other; to other models, that is. Good word of mouth amongst models will often net you more models in front of your camera.

3. Act Professional: You might be an amateur, a hobbyist, a raw beginner. That's no reason to not act like a professional. That you're reading this blog and, very likely, others like it, tells me you have a clue about professionalism. Probably more than a clue. I'm guessing there's a good chance you act professional in your day job. Extend that behavior to shooting models. Once again, that word-of-mouth thing will help you in the long run... or burn you.

There are no guaranteed, works-every-time, methods of securing "free" models. I wish there were. If so, I'd share those ideas with you. If I were just starting out and looking for models to practice with, I'd be putting on my thinking cap and exploring almost any idea, short of kidnapping, that pops into my head. It isn't always easy finding models. It's probably harder in some areas of the country than in others. Being persistent, as with most things, will eventually pay off. One model often leads to the next. Funny how stuff works that way.

The gratuitous pretty girl at the top, rendered in B&W, is Paola, from Brazil.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Starting Out Pretty Girl Shooting (Part Two)

So there I was, a 40-something father of a newborn responsible for two children (in an involved, not-living-with-their-Moms, father kind of way... my first was now in her early teens) and with an accidental, born-of-necessity career immersed in smut.

It was a crazy life. My newborn son's mother--we weren't together although we had good relations--would drop my son off with me quite early each morning on her way to work. (Women will breed with me, they just won't stay with me.) I would care for him till about noon or so, then take him to a babysitter. His mother would pick him up after she got off work. After the trip to the babysitter, I would head into work myself. I had a flexible, make-it-up-myself schedule which made this sort of arrangement possible.

I usually worked 10 to 12 hours a day cutting smut and supervising other editors as they cut smut. I would schedule shooting for weekends because A) I didn't have my son most weekends and B) Although the shooting was for the same company I edited for, they frowned on me taking days off during the week to produce/direct/shoot their movies. That was okay. Why? Two reasons: 1) I was making "stupid" money due to a quite good paycheck from editing and supervising two shifts of editors plus more good money for producing the movies I was making on weekends; 2) I was happily in the middle of a mid-life crisis-- one most men only dream of having.

After a few years, I quit the company I was running post-production and shooting flicks for and went out on my own. I produced, directed, shot, and edited for every major company in the adult biz. I started a post-production company with a partner. We edited shows for everyone from Hustler to the History Channel to corporations to big, major churches in Southern California. I partied like a rock star but continued doing everything I could to be a good, caring, involved, responsible father to my children.

Off-Topic Note: A big, loving, shout-out to my daughter even though she doesn't read this blog. She has been as important and as involved in raising and caring-for my son as either of his parents have been. My son is 14 now and my daughter remains just as important to his life, not the least of which being an incredible big sister and, in more than a few ways, like a 3rd parent to him. She now has a terrific husband and two small children and continues being a wonderfully positive and guiding influence on my son.

Okay, back to the time-line I'm reporting, somehow trying to get to the part where I answer the original question in Part One of this blog topic.

Things continued going fairly well until technology burst the bubble: Digital technology, that is.

At first, I greeted digital like it was the "second coming." Slowly, however, I began realizing it was a double-edged sword. Between digital advances in cameras and post-production gear to the internet, affordable, easy-to-use technologies opened production doors to anyone and everyone, with or without established skills. Also around this time, clients became really greedy! They were still making plenty of cash but they started slashing budgets. Perhaps they saw where the future was heading and were taking steps before it really bit them on their fat-cat asses? Who knows? What I do know is there was much less "stupid" money to be made by production people... you know, in similar ways that song sings about: "Money for nothing, chicks for free."

In order to combat the effects of high-end, easily-employed, technologies-for-the-masses, I started semi-whoring my services. I added my old and trusted friend, photography, to the menu I was offering clients. I began discounting my rates as a hybrid shooter, offering both stills and video for the same project. Example: Full rate as a video shooter, half-rate for stills for the same production day.

This meant I was working harder, making a bigger day-rate but, overall, not making as much. (A result of declining production.) By this time, I was sick of editing so I took on less and less work of that sort of work. Many thousands of hours, sitting alone in a darkened room with a couple of computer screens in front of me depicting people doing the nasty, became nearly intolerable. All I wanted to do was shoot. Whether it was stills or video, it didn't matter much.

Slowly, I began focusing more on stills than video. Why? Because, in the world of image capturing, I loved photography best! As of now, I've shot thousands of models and female performers. I had my own studio for a few years but, ultimately, the cost of a studio didn't make much financial sense as work continued declining along with production budgets. I became well thought-of as a photographer, shooting for everyone from Vivid to Hustler to Playboy and so many more. But declining revenues even began effecting those very successful companies, leastwise, in terms of production budgets and, consequently, negatively effecting me even more.

Along the way, I began writing this blog. I did so for two reasons, actually three: 1) I wanted to write a book about glamour photography but writing a book requires lots of discipline. I figured I could blog often enough, in spite of my lack of writing discipline and, eventually, convert all that writing into a book; 2) For whatever reasons, I really enjoy sharing my knowledge with others; 3) Angst relief.

I should note that, when I began writing my recently released ebook, Guerrilla Glamour, I thought it would be a breeze. I thought all I'd have to do was gather, organize, and edit from what I've already written on this blog. (Over five years of blogging and well beyond 600 updates.) That turned out to be either a pipe-dream or born of green stuff packed in a pipe. In the end, between 80% and 90% (or more) of what I wrote for the ebook's 101 pages was original material. Yeah, I used blog entries for reference. I even copy-and-pasted-and-edited a small amount. But that's about it.

Okay. So much for how I found myself making a living with cameras in my hands and pretty girls in front of me, that is, my life for the past 30 years compressed into a very small nutshell. In my next installment, going past this mercifully brief and probably boring bit of self-revelation, I'll get into some ideas that actually attempt to answer the other parts of "Jim in Huntsville's" original question.


The pretty girl caught in the net at the top is another whose name I'm brain-farting on. Some might consider chicks like her the world's "deadliest catch." Two lights employed: A main-light modified with a 5' Octa in front and a kicker with an umbrella on the other side of the glass window.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Starting Out Pretty Girl Shooting (Part One)

A while back when I asked for blog update suggestions, "Jim in Huntsville" wrote: "I read your book (Guerrilla Glamour) and am interested in how you, as a beginner, found models who were willing to let you learn the craft using them as subjects. Every book/blog I've seen on the subject assumes you have a portfolio to show. How do you get started when a) you don't have a portfolio, b) the photography budget doesn't allow for hiring models, and c) as an older man, approaching any younger women to ask if they would like to model comes off as a dirty-old-man, GWC come-on?"

Thanks for the suggestion, Jim!

Speaking of suggestions, I think I'll also take the King of Wonderland's suggestion to the White Rabbit and begin at the beginning and end in the end. Well, perhaps not the absolute beginning nor the ultimate end--that's still unfolding--but somewhere thereabouts for both.

A small caveat: Unfortunately, the story of how I began pretty girl shooting probably isn't going to have much value helping any of you find models to practice this craft. Please don't be put off by that and stop reading. As the words continue keyboarding off my fingertips, I'll eventually get to sharing some ideas some of you might find helpful and useful once my story arrives in the present.

I began shooting models somewhere around 1980. I did so to earn some extra-money. They weren't exactly "models" in the normal sense: They were actors and actresses. All actors and actresses, after all, need head shots to pimp themselves. Many of them also need commercial portfolio shots.

At the time, I lived with my (then) wife in North Hollywood, CA. She was an aspiring actress. I was an aspiring writer/director. I was also attending film school using my G.I. Bill educational benefits and working as a bartender to make some cash.

I'd been "into" photography since I was 12 or 13 when my Dad gave me my first camera, a Yashica Penta J SLR. Throughout junior high school, high school, and my first foray at college, I took every graphic arts-type class I could. This meant, of course, access to the schools' darkrooms.

Since I had plenty of background and education in photography, coupled with my wife's acquaintances with many actors, I decided to buy a Canon AE1, some glass, convert my garage into a spartan but usable studio, build a small B&W darkroom in a storage shed on our property, and encourage my wife to pimp me to her friends and acquaintances as a photographer. As a result, especially once some decent word-of-mouth got going, I shot hundreds of actors and actresses. I also had some opportunities to shoot a bit of local fashion work and some other portrait genres. This, of course, became the foundation of my pretty girl shooting skills.

Eventually, as often happens in marriages, I impregnated my wife and suddenly needed more consistent income as well as things like medical insurance. (The idea of a starving actress and a starving writer/director/photographer becoming starving parents with a starving kid didn't appeal to us much.) So, I sought gainful employment and, eventually, ended up working for a Fortune 200 aerospace company/defense contractor. In that job, I became their in-house photographer and filmmaker. (Graphic Arts classes, photography and film school paid off, even if not the way I'd hoped.)

Working in aerospace, of course, did not include shooting models, actors, and actresses. It did include going up in small aircraft, hanging out the plane's doorways (which had been removed) and shooting things like RPV/Drones and other aircraft. I shot this stuff with a still camera as well as a video camera. (This was before small, compact, pro video cameras were available.) I also shot other products the company designed and manufactured. As the corporation's resident filmmaker, I also had the opportunity to learn analog video editing and, later, digital non-linear video editing. In the early 90s, aerospace went into the toilet and so did my job. I was laid off.

I tried my hand at a few other things. One of them was stand-up comedy. I mean, why not? From producing corporate media to stand-up comedy seemed a natural progression. Around this time, I should add, my marriage went into the toilet. I guess my wife didn't think I was very funny.

Suddenly, I was a single, unemployed, former aspiring writer/director/photographer, former corporate media producer, stand-up comedian. I also, by the way, suddenly had a second child.... albeit with a different Mom, one I wasn't married to. Yep. There I was: Once again a new father, this time in my 40s.


One night, while performing in a club, another comedian was on stage doing jokes about working in the adult business as an editor. When she came off-stage, I started up a convo and let her know I had editing experience. Long story short, I ended up freelancing at night, as an editor, for the adult company she worked for. Less than a month later, she got caught doing something or other, was fired, and the company asked me to come on board as their full-time editor. The company experienced a rapid growth and, before I knew it, I was also managing about 4 other editors.

From stand-up comedy to the adult biz... yet another natural progression.

One of the first things I noticed while editing was that most of my time was spent fixing OPFUs. (Other People's Fuck-Ups.) Eventually, I went to the company's owner and told him about the OPFUs, also informing him I had plenty of experience shooting cameras, both still cameras and video cameras. He suddenly had what he called "an epiphany" and decided the best person to shoot his movies would be an editor. Next thing I knew, I was shooting smut, directing smut, and still editing smut. In other words, my life, leastwise my working life, was immersed in smut. (I could now afford the second child.)


The pretty girl at the top is Kayla. When I saw the way the MUA/Hair-Stylist piled her locks up on top I knew i was gonna have to modify my usual 3-point glam lighting by getting one of those kickers, the kickers I often place either side and from slightly behind, up high so as to put a highlighted crown-of-light on top of that piled-up hair.

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.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Expression: The Other Part of Modeling

On forums and elsewhere, I see lot of people talking about posing. That is, a model's ability to physically pose their bodies to the camera. Usually, the talk is in the form of critiques of images. Less discussion, however, seems to take place regarding expression. I'm not saying expression is overlooked, it's not, but it's certainly a less-talked-about topic.

Your model's expression can be one of the most powerful elements of your image! Whether it's glamour, fashion, lifestyle, commercial, boudoir, family, a business portrait, whatever, expression speaks volumes to viewers. Why? Because expression conveys attitude and emotion in big ways. If nothing else, we are emotional beings.

Sure, physical posing can do the same, body language and all that, but expression, more often than not, is the most often seen way attitude and emotion are expressed, whether it's with subtle expressions or an expression that hits viewers over the head.

I wrote about expression, along with posing, directing models, and much more, in my ebook, Guerrilla Glamour.

Here's some of what I wrote in the book:

"Human beings are emotionally complex. Sometimes, the emotions they convey are fairly easy to read. Other times, they're subtle and confusing. Guerrilla Glamour shooters earn to use attitude and emotion,in addition to beauty and allure, as weapons of glamour photo construction.

Subtly imparted emotions can be mysterious yet fascinating. If pictures speak a thousand words, including pictures of gorgeous models, it's often due to the sometimes refined and faintly conveyed, at other times loudly-speaking, emotions we see in the eyes, faces, and body language of the subject.

As photographers, guerrilla glamour photographers, we use our tools, training, and creativity to further shade human mystique with light and shadow and composition and more.

Images of people containing hard-to-label emotions are often explained off as being enigmatic. Leonardo da Vinci's, Mona Lisa, is a perfect and famous example: What's with that smile? Is it really a smile or is it something else? Perhaps it's a grin? Maybe a simper? Is she happy? Wistful? Melancholy? Does she have gas? We'll probably never know. One thing is fairly certain: People will admire and be charmed and captivated by da Vinci's portrait of Mona and her enigmatic expression for... well, probably forever.

How would you like to capture an image that fascinates people forever?

Yeah. Me too."

The pretty girl at the top is Cindi. The one further down is Charmaine.

Friday, August 13, 2010

An orbis™ in the Bush

The good folks at orbis™ just released a fun-to-watch, behind-the-scenes video of Kiwi adventure photographer, Graeme Murray, prepping, packing and shooting an editorial assignment in the New Zealand bush using the orbis™. (Looks more like a jungle than a bush to me but what do I know? I'm mostly a city boy.)

What's an orbis™ you say?

Glad you asked. It's a really nifty ring flash adapter that attaches to your speedlite and delivers that trademark, ring-light, quality to your images. In fact, the orbis™ people just sent me one of their ring flash adapters to try out. I'm already arranging for a model and will be shooting (and reviewing) the orbis™ used in pretty-girl-shooting-mode in the not-too-distant future.

Conceptually, the orbis™ is the kind of product that fits ever-so-perfectly into my Guerrilla Glamour approach to pretty girl shooting: It utilizes gear most of us already own, it's lightweight and very portable, it delivers quality-with-reliability and, perhaps best of all, it's relatively inexpensive!

Those of you who read my recently released ebook, Guerrilla Glamour, might remember I wrote about the orbis™ in Chapter Three: Guerrilla Gear. Here's a brief excerpt:

"Another way to achieve that ring flash “look,” other than dedicated ring flash devices, is with an adapter. orbis™ is a company, headquartered in New Zealand,who produces the orbis™ ring flash adapter. (And you thought the only thing New Zealand was known for was sheep, kiwifruit, or providing the scenic locations used in the "Lord of the Rings” movies. Au contraire, mon frer!)

The orbis™ converts your small flash or speedlight into a ring flash. It can be used on-camera or off. What I especially like about this device is it takes advantage of gear you probably already own, i.e., a speedlite. Guerrilla-Glam shooters naturally gravitate towards multi-functionality with their gear."

Okay. Without further ado, here's the Graeme Murray/orbis™-in-the-bush video. (BTW, there are other orbis™ videos on their website. You can see them by clicking HERE.)

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Shooting Newbie Models (Part Two)

Someone once said, "The most beautiful thing a woman can ever wear is confidence."

Gaining rapport with models and promoting their levels of comfort during a shoot is one of the most important ingredients to good glamour photography. More so when working with newbie models. For me, it's probably the most important ingredient.

The rapport you gain and the comfort it creates often translates into confidence and when the model is wearing confidence great results are far more likely.

The things you do to create rapport, increase comfort, and promote a model's level of confidence are free to employ. (How cool is that?) Better yet, it's often quite easy to accomplish. That's not to say good images cannot be captured when the shooter and model aren't particularly getting along or their level of rapport isn't so great – although it certainly makes it more difficult – but, when the rapport is good and the model is comfortable and confident, the process of achieving excellent glamour pictures becomes easier and more likely. It's all about trust and simple trust is often a by-product of simple friendliness, consideration, minding your manners, acting professional, and always treating the model as the single most important element of the shoot.

In addition to your naturally friendly and likable ways, here's a few tips for helping build a model's comfort level and, in so doing, gaining trust and rapport with her. These work whether you're dealing with a newbie or an experienced model. Sorry they mostly take the form of "Don'ts" but I've seen these simple "rules" violated quite often.

1. Don't Touch the Models: Whether you're paying a model to pose for you or it's a TF (Trade-For) shoot, it doesn't mean she's agreed to let you get touchy-feely with her. I'm not merely talking about touching skin. No touching includes hair and clothing.

2. Avoid Intimate Talk: Just because you're comfortable speaking in a fairly intimate way with models doesn't mean they are comfortable hearing it. Intimate talk includes an over-use of ToA. (Terms of Affection.)

3. Give Models Their Space:
Don't hover or intrude too closely. If you need to get in close to get the shot, do so, then back away.

4. Always Be Aware of Your Demeanor: When your demeanor appears low-key or noticeably less than up-beat, many models, perhaps most, will assume it has something to do with them. (It is all about them, after all.) If you're having problems with gear, exposure, or anything of that nature, let your models know why your demeanor seems less than upbeat or you seem preoccupied. Otherwise, guaranteed, they will think it's because of them and they will begin feeling insecure or, in the case of new or less experienced models, more insecure than they already might be.

BTW, I talk about this stuff in much more detail and with lots more info regarding working with models, new or seasoned, in my ebook, Guerrilla Glamour. If that sounded like I'm pimping my book again, you're right. I am. I can't help it. They write me this way.

The pretty girl at the top, the one in the schoolgirl outfit with her skirt blown up while she's blowing a bubble-gum bubble and being photographed by your humble scribe and photographer (i.e., photographed in a somewhat prurient and less than "artsy" way) is Devin. I shot Devin in Vegas. They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas... That's often true except when you have photographic evidence.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Shooting Newbie Models (Part One)

First off, thanks to all who sent me suggestions and ideas either here, on my blog, or in an email or on the couple of forums where I posted a teaser for my last blog update. Much appreciated!

Think I'll kick this off using the first suggestion posted in the PGS comments of my last update.

An anonymous commenter wrote: How about working with brand new models and model direction? Most of what you post is about using seasoned models.

Fair enough. Shooting with "brand new" or inexperienced models it is. Besides, this should be somewhat easy--altho shooting newbie models can be quite difficult--as I can plagiarize some of this from my e-book, Guerrilla Glamour. Is plagiarizing yourself plagiarizing? Beats me.


Shooting with inexperienced models is something I wrote a fair amount about in Chapter Six of Guerrilla Glamour. A chapter I called, "Glamour Girls: The Objects of Our Photographic Desires."

Whenever I begin with a model I've never shot before, whether they're experienced or inexperienced and, after I've snapped a few, quick, checking-the-lighting shots, I'll ask the model to show me what she's got.

"Let's see what you got," or "Show me what you've got," are some of the less-than-clever things I might say. That's pretty simple and direct. Sure, it lacks any specific direction (or wit) but it clues me in, in a general sort of way, to how experienced or inexperienced a model might be or, in the case of newbies, how relaxed, confident, and at ease (or not) they might be in front of a camera. If the model responds with something along the lines of "Like what?" I shrug, act very casual, and tell them, "Whatever. Just strike a pose. You know. Like Madonna in the song."

Often, this little exercise says it all. Well, maybe not all but it says a lot. It says much regarding how difficult--how difficult to direct, that is--the model is probably going to be in front of the camera. If not *how* difficult, then it might say *how much* direction will be required. Also, it might reveal, in a general sort of way, how much the model has practiced or studied posing, if at all. (I always encourage new models to study and practice, especially practicing in front of a mirror.) Fortunately, it says even more: It says some things about how aware of their bodies they are and how they "carry" themselves. It also shows how well (or not) they work and pose with their arms, hands, legs, even feet. It also says more than a little about their abilities using attitude and expressions and their willingness to engage the camera with those 'tudes and expressions.

After those first few "Let's see what you've got," shots, I give models directions based on what I've just witnessed. The less experienced the model is, the more DETAILED and SPECIFIC my directions will be. I don't really care for being a puppeteer but, sometimes, especially with new models, that's how I'm going to have to engage the model: Much like a puppeteer.

At all times, I constantly engage in positive reinforcement. I do this even with experienced models. With "brand new" models it's even more important! They're nervous, self-conscious, and generally in need of plenty of ego strokes when they're out there, in the lights, suddenly the object of the photographer's focus. Don't be overly concerned that your ongoing and repetitive ego strokes might sound insincere or as if you're on auto-pilot. Trust me. Models, new or experienced, love hearing them. If they didn't have an ego that loves hearing compliments, especially about their beauty and allure, whether they admit to loving it or not, they probably wouldn't be modeling.

Speaking of repetition, less skilled models are in need of constant direction and continual reminders of already-given directions. Doing so might seem rote and redundant but it's not. It tells the model you're paying attention. That you have an eye for detail even when that eye causes you to vocalize the same direction, over and over. (Assuming, that is, the model keeps forgetting or brain-farting the already-given direction, over and over.)

Look at it this way: Glamour shooters do what they need to do to get the freakin' shot! Even if it means giving the same directions, over and over and over. Why? Because later, when others are viewing your images, they have no idea how experienced (or not) your model might have been. All they know is what they see and if what they see doesn't impress they're not going to assume it was due to the model's lack-of-skill or their level of experience.

It's all on you. Like it or not.

Okay. There's Part One of "Shooting Newbie Models." I know, I know. It seems so incomplete. That's because it is... incomplete, that is. This subject will definitely be a two-parter... I'm thinking maybe even a three-parter.

The pretty girl at the top is my friend Kori. I've shot Kori quite a few times but this particular image is from one of our first times shooting together: A time when Kori had very little experience in front of a camera, leastwise in front of a pro camera. I don't mean that to sound all full of myself. Prior to Kori shooting with me, her modeling experience wasn't much past MySpace photos. And they weren't MySpace photos snapped by anyone who had much more experience as a shooter than Kori had as a model. Sorry about using that cliche feather-boa in the pic. It was Kori's idea. (Heheheh... I'll just blame the model even though I sorta wrote some words, a few paragraphs above, regarding how blaming the model doesn't usually work. Guess I don't always take my own advice. Oh well... Breaking rules and all that.)

Monday, August 02, 2010

What To Do?

I'm scratching my head trying to imagine new directions I can take this blog. After 600+ updates, my biggest problem whenever I feel I'm due (or over-due) for an update is coming up with ideas to write about.

I'm certainly not saying I've said everything there is to say about pretty girl shooting. Still, after all these updates, plus authoring an ebook, Guerrilla Glamour, it's becoming more and more difficult to come up with subjects for new posts. I certainly don't want to turn this blog into mostly a pimp site for my book, my next book, other ebooks, products, or anything else I might tout on the blog.

I guess I'll turn to all of you and ask what you might be interested in reading about or where you think this blog can go? It can be as shamelessly self-promoting as, "Hey Jimmy! I do pretty good work. Here's my URL. Have a look and, if you like, write something about my site and my work," all the way to technical and craft stuff like lighting, composition, working with models, and more. Or... whatever else you might come up with. I'm open to all kinds of ideas.

Again, it' s not the writing itself that sometimes stymies me, it's WTF to write about!

So help a shootah out! Send any ideas you might have. You can leave them in the comments section, here, on the blog, or shoot me an email at Either way, it's all good.

The pretty girl at the top is Sophie from not too long ago. All I said was, "Could you lose the top, please?"