Thursday, September 26, 2013

Czech Republic Interview? Check.

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Dan, of Studio Prague -- Prague is a city in the Czech Republic if you didn't know, which you probably did -- posted an interview he conducted with me. I guess I'm now somewhat infamous in Prague, what with the handful of NSFW pics of naked women I've shot posted along with my words.

I read over the interview a few times and was happy to arrive at the conclusion I didn't come off like a dumb shit. I'm always a little leery of interviews and their potential for revealing a dumb-shit factor because, unlike writing articles for my blog, interviews don't always offer the opportunities to simply edit and rewrite the dumb-shit out of them.

If you're unaware of Dan or Studio Prague, he's the guy who put together those great posing guides featured in the right-hand column of this page. If you want to learn more about Dan's posing guides, click the graphics (on the right) or CLICK HERE.

There's really not anything more to say about the interview as it, make that I, speaks for itself/myself. You might want to check it out if you have a few minutes to spare and don't suddenly feel the need to organize your sock drawer or alphabetize your spice rack.  To read my interview with Dan and to see the photos, all of which have probably been posted on this blog at one time or another, you can do so by CLICKING HERE.

The gratuitous pretty girl above is Melanie, snapped in front of a white seamless. I used three lights: a 4' Photek Softlighter and a couple of small shoot-through umbrellas either side from slightly behind, plus a reflector (a LumoPro Lite Panel) directly under my main light and angled up to add a bit of gentle fill from below.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Are You a Disciple of Light?

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What's more important than light? Few things, if anything. Most life on this planet would not or could not exist without it. As humans, we could not exist without light. Worse yet, without light photography wouldn't exist either. Bummer!

Nearly all of humankind's earliest religions included light or the sun as an integral aspect of its beliefs. So many references and so much religious iconography involves light or the sun and the stars. Much about light has survived even to modern day religions. As humans, we intrinsically understand that light is supremely important: It lights the heavens, keeps us safe from the evils that lie in the darkness, and does so much more. As photographers, we are (or should be) disciples of light.

Light is God-like in so many ways. It's no coincidence light, as a metaphor, is often synonymous with God. As people, more so as photographers, we understand what a fantastic gift – from God or from the cosmos, whichever we choose to believe – light represents. Light provides us the raw cosmic material to do this thing we do: This fun, wonderful, challenging, entertaining, photography thing.

For photographers, light is everything. It is our God. It is both our brush and our paint. It is the altar at which we pray. Quite often, it is the one element of our work that makes our images truly shine. (Pun intended.)

Light embellishes our images like nothing else: Sometimes with subtlety and nuance, other times quite obviously and with great drama. If you're a serious photographer and you're not praying at the altar of light, you'll be hard pressed to rise above snapshot-taking status. Sure, it's important to know your camera gear – how to use it and wield it like the photo-equivalents of Samurai warriors – but knowing your gear and knowing how to use it is only part of the battle. The road to photo-Nirvana is on the path of light.

I realize I'm sounding like a zealot. I suppose I am something of a zealot when it comes to the subject of light. I spend a fair amount of time keeping up with what's new in the world of photography. I spend even more time learning how to use the tools of modern-day photography, be it gear or processing software or whatever, but in my heart and in my mind I know it's all about the light.

The above text is a very short excerpt from my eBook, "Guerrilla Glamour." If you're interested in learning more about Guerrilla Glamour, perhaps even purchasing a copy, you can do so by clicking HERE.

The model at the top is Dahlia. I snapped it late in the afternoon on a very hot day in the Mojave Desert-- El Mirage Dry Lake to be more specific. It's a natural-light art nude-- no flash or reflector.  ISO100, f/8, 125th with a Canon 17-40 f/4 L at 40mm.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fear (but No Loathing) in Nude Photography

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My friend, Dan Hostettler of Studio Prague, wrote an interesting update for his blog: How I Outsmart My Fear Inside Nude Photography.  In it, Dan explains how he got into shooting naked women and, more importantly, how he dealt with the insecurities (and other personal factors) that he feared would result in producing less than ideal on-set behaviors that might impact his abilities to capture the sorts of images of beautiful women (sans clothing) he hoped to capture.

I think it's worth a read for any photographer just starting out shooting nudes or for those who don't yet have too much experience doing so.

English isn't Dan's native language (he's a Swiss guy living in the Czech Republic) but he writes in English very well.  Besides recounting his own experiences while learning to be a pretty girl shooter, Dan also shares some great advice for those starting out shooting nudes.

Dan, by the way, is the guy who put together those excellent and thorough posing guides shown in the right-hand column of this page. If you're interested in learning more about Dan's posing guides, click the graphics for them and, through the magic of internet hyperlink teleportation, you'll be taken to a page where you can learn more about them and/or purchase if you're so inclined.

The pretty half-naked model on the stairs is Devin. ISO100, f/3.5, 125th with an 85mm prime.  One light: Photoflex 5' Octo. The highlights from above, camera-right, are from sunlight coming in from a window above that second-story landing. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Why So Serious?

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I came across a folder on one of my external hard drives that I've somehow overlooked. It was a copy of the contents -- leastwise, partial contents -- of a hard drive I was using about 5+ years ago but haven't used since. (An old USB 1 hard drive that took forever to do anything so I put it out to pasture.)

The folder had a bunch of sub-folders of work I did back then.  For me, looking at the work was interesting to say the least. It was like a glimpse into my own photography past, albeit not too distant past. Since I was suddenly looking at the out-of-the-camera images (rather than the few of them I processed back then which I still have on some other hard drives) it was even more telling from a lighting and style point-of-view.  For the most part, I haven't looked at this old work since soon after I shot it.

The first thing I noticed was that I was more into low-key images than high key. In fact, I couldn't find any high-key images amongst the work. (These days, I seem to shoot more high-key than low-key. Way more.) Also, not only did I apparently favor low-key images, but low key images that were more on the dramatic side than most of my recent work.

It's like I want to go back in time and ask myself, "Why so serious?"

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Some people will tell you that low-key images are more dramatic in general. There's a fair amount of truth in that notion, but back about 5+ years ago I seemed to be going out of my way to produce images with much more emphasis on the dramatic, lighting and style-wise, leastwise if what I'm seeing on the copy of that drive is any indicator.

Now, I'm wondering what changed my approach? How did I evolve my personal style from a "Why so serious?" kind of shooter to one who is much less... serious. (Note: Please remember that I'm talking about lighting and photographic style and not about my personality and general demeanor. I'm rarely someone who others might ask "Why so serious?" regardless of the photographic style I might be currently employing.  Just saying.)

This stuff, of course, could easily open a discussion on evolving styles. Are most all photographers' styles in a state of flux?  Or, does it remain static for some and not static for others?  Is it important to have an ever-evolving style? Is it better to arrive at a style that seems to work and to stick with it?  I wish I had absolute answers to these questions.  I don't.

I'm also now thinking about what it is that drives the changes in our styles?  Is it us, ourselves?  Is it that we learn more and as we learn more we integrate that learning into our work, thus changing our styles? Does gear effect our styles? (i.e., does new or more gear sometimes act like a catalyst for changing one's style?) Does the work of others have significant impact on our styles? That is, are we merely just a bunch of imitators and mimics, style-wise?

Shit. This is getting complicated!

Sorry if I seem to be all fixated on this changing style thing but it seems to me that if I knew the answers to this stuff, and to what degree each of the individual answers to my aforementioned questions effects the whole, I could be more proactive about where my style is headed or even whether it's important for me to somehow direct where it's going. You know, instead of just letting it go where it goes all on its own.

The pretty girl at the top (and in all three pics, for that matter) went by the name Cytherea. She might still. It's just that I haven't heard from or of her for a number of years now. All the images I've posted are from a set of images from the folder I mentioned in this update. They were snapped in my studio, when I had a studio, with a Canon 20D. All were lit with a Mola "Euro" beauty dish and a pair of strip boxes. Here's another of Cytherea from the same set.
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Monday, September 09, 2013

Flatulent Angst

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As with most if not all working photographers, my clients are mainly interested, more than anything else, in me getting The Shot(s). No revelation or epiphany there: All paying photography clients want that.  But some of them aren't as trusting as others in terms of allowing their photographers to decide if/when The Shot(s) are captured.  (Even if some of them wouldn't know it if The Shot(s) were captured and they were hit in the face with them... by "hit in the face with them," I mean The Shot(s) are shown to them, in their faces, and they still can't accept that they are what they are-- i.e., that they are The Shot(s) they want/need.)

My favorite clients are those who -- be it because of our long-term relationships or via my reputation, (which is why they hired me, duh) -- trust that if/when I capture the right shot or shots, and I tell them specifically that I have done so,  they accept my judgment in the matter. My best clients are aware that once I've captured The Shot(s),  everything else I shoot, for the most part, is probably going to be photo-chaff.  (We all know what photo-chaff is, right?  It's what most of us shoot most, more so than ever since the advent of digital.)

Anyway, those are the sorts of clients I love working for best! They trust me to know when I've snapped The Shot(s). They trust my aesthetic judgment.  They might ask me a few times if I'm sure I have The Shot(s) -- "Jimmy, are you sure you've got what we need?" -- because they know that, later on, if its discovered my judgment was in error, there's not much that can be done about it short of excessive turd polishing or a re-shoot, and that's not going to happen. (Money and all.) But they trust me anyway. 

Then I have clients who, to varying degrees, don't seem to trust my ability to judge when I've gotten The Shot(s). These are clients who want me to continue shooting, shooting a lot, even after I've told them, (probably a couple of times, possibly repeatedly) that I've got the The Shot(s).  Obviously, they are so into quantity, perhaps more so than quality, and it seems to me like they don't believe they've gotten their money's worth (regarding the model or myself) until we've shot a gazillion or so frames which I know are never going to be used for anything other than lining a cyber trash bin.

Occasionally, I've gotten so perturbed by this I suggested that next time we shoot, they bring along someone from their art department or whoever does their graphic/art work to make The Shot(s) call, that is, whether we have what's needed or not.   That's not going to happen, of course.  Why? Well, first off because it's another person on the set they'll need to pay. Second, they'll be paying that person to sit around and do little to nothing beyond possibly annoying me and acting as if they're in charge of both the models and myself while we're shooting...  Too many cooks and all that. I've heard wedding shooters complaining about mothers of the brides (or some uncle of the bride who is a hobby photographer) overtly poking their noses into the photo process and becoming impediments to getting the shots.  It's kind of like that.

I'm not writing this because there's some special lesson to be learned. It is what it is and sometimes what it is (on this blog) is just me relieving myself of a bit of flatulent angst.

The pretty girl at the top is Abby. Snapped it with two lights: a 5' Photoflex Octo for a main and a small umbrella, behind her to the right and up kind of high. Not a lot of processing. It's probably 90% or 95% SOoC. (Straight Out of Camera)

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Nudity and Rubber Ducky PJs

Not my usual but shooting outside my usual has its own rewards. Click to enlarge.

Much like it's said, "Man does not live by bread alone," this man does not live by pretty girl shooting alone. I hope that doesn't burst any perception bubbles some of you may have about me, but my interests in photography extend well beyond pretty girl shooting. Heck. I sometimes even shoot stuff that isn't of a standard, pretty-girl-shooting nature.

Don't get me wrong. It's not that I am, in any way, disenchanted with pretty girl shooting. I'm not. But the steady diet of it, not so much in terms of shooting but in writing about it, wears a bit thin at times. Well, perhaps "wearing thin" isn't a good way to describe my feelings about this: It's more like it feels restrictive and inhibiting.

But now I've done something about that!  And I feel better already!  (Cue the marching band music.)

You see, in order for me to blog about photography stuff that is NOT within the confines of my customary pretty girl shooting, I've resurrected a blog I let die back in March of 2009. It's called, "I, Shootist," and by reviving it I can now blog about nearly anything, photography-wise, without being concerned that this blog, this Pretty Girl Shooter blog, may be an inappropriate place to do so. (Which it often may be.)

So, if you're at all interested in reading what I might have to say about photography beyond the focus of this blog, check out I, Shootist. 

The diptych at the top is a no-big-deal example of my work outside of my customary work, but it's an example that remains appropriate for this blog.  (Mostly because it contains a pretty girl and nudity, in addition to the rubber ducky PJs.)  But trust me when I tell you, there's plenty of other stuff I love shooting and writing about that would not be appropriate to this blog. Stuff that doesn't include nudity and rubber ducky PJs or nudity and anything else. And for that stuff, I now have an avenue for sharing and writing about it on my newly resurrected I, Shootist blog cuz I'm all about shooting and sharing and writing... and stuff.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Glamour/Nude Posing Guides *UPDATED*

Soon after I released my first eBook, Guerrilla Glamour, a couple of my eBook's resellers asked me if I might put together a posing guide.  They thought it might be a very popular seller. I never did. Obviously, if I had, I would have been promoting it.  It wasn't that I was reluctant to author a glamor posing guide because I didn't think it was a good idea. I thought it was a great idea! I simply didn't have the time, at the time, to do it... to do it right.

I've revisited the idea of a posing guide a few times since but, somehow, I've never managed to motivate myself enough to get busy on one. Now, it seems the idea of me, JimmyD, authoring a posing guide is a moot point. (I love that word-- moot.) You see, photographer Dan Hostettler of Studio Prague has beaten me to the punch. (Not that I ever managed to even begin punching out a posing guide.) And he not only has one posing guide relevant to photographers interested in shooting glamour and nude, he has three of them!

You might be thinking that a guy from Prague, Czechoslovakia, wouldn't be your first choice for a posing guide or most any other eBook. After all, they don't speak English in Czechoslovakia. Well, most people don't. But Dan does and, I'm sure, so do a fair amount of others over there... although it's not like English is spoken everywhere in Czechoslovakia. Leastwise, I don't think it is.

But even if Dan didn't speak much English, which he does, fluently in fact, it wouldn't be a problem because the poses in his posing guides aren't so much described as they are shown! Illustrated! With photos!  With terrific photos! And with a beautiful model!  A very beautiful model! They are visual guides, not text guides. And Dan's covered glamour and nude posing from A to Z. (I'm not sure what particular pose begins with a "Z" but you get what I'm saying.)

Dan has three, terrific posing guides available. If you're interested in learning more about any or all of them, just click on their titles, which I'm now going to share with you below:

Essential Glamour Poses

Facial Expressions in Nude Modeling

Implied Nude Poses

Update:  No sooner do I get this post up than I receive a message from Dan of Studio Prague. (I have no idea what time it is in Czechoslovakia, which isn't a country it turns out, but I'll get to that in a moment.) So, regardless of what time it is in Prague, let me set the record straight on a couple of things that aren't particularly time sensitive but I'll jump on them right away:

First, Dan isn't a Czech. He's Swiss. Wait a minute. Let me back up...

First, there is no Czechoslovakia any longer. It's the Czech Republic and apparently it's been the Czech Republic for about twenty years now. (I guess I should pay closer attention to current affairs, not that something that happened twenty years ago is current.)  If my knowledge of history serves me correctly, there wasn't a Czechoslovakia until after World War One when it was created by... I'm not sure who. Anyway, it seems the nation formerly called Czechoslovakia (and more formerly called something else, although I don't know what) was fairly short-lived, historically. Like only for about 70 years or so which, in terms of European history, isn't a very long time. (Seventy years of American history, of course, would represent a much greater percentage unless you include the history of Native Americans but they weren't big on writing their history down like the Europeans have been so, who knows what that percentage might be?)

Second, as I first mentioned first but now I'll properly mention second, Dan isn't Czech. He's Swiss, but he lives in Czechoslo I mean the Czech Republic. Which means, I guess, he's not only a terrific photographer based in Prague, but he also knows a lot about army knives, cheese with holes in it, and chocolate.

Okay. Whew! I'm much relieved to have straightened all this Czech/Swiss/Czechoslovakia stuff out. Now, I return you to our regularly scheduled programming.