Sunday, December 15, 2013

Shooting Outside One's Comfort Zone

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Sometimes, when I'm shooting for a client, I get opportunities to shoot outside what some would call my "comfort zone." That mostly happens when I get more time with a model than usual, which means it doesn't happen too often. But when it does, I really enjoy it. 

I define my comfort zone as shooting glam and tease models in ways my clients expect.  My comfort zone is mostly comprised of repetitive lighting styles, repetitive framing and composition, repetitive direction. (Given to the models.)  Why is so much of it repetitive?  Because I shoot what my clients want me to shoot and what they mostly want is the same lighting, composition, and poses and expressions I've delivered before.  My clients aren't art patrons. They're business people who know how to sell their products and they don't like to deviate much from what they know works in terms of the photography.

Many of the models I shoot are porn stars. (No surprise there if you've read this blog a few times or more.)  Like me, my models have comfort zones as well. Unless they're brand new, they know exactly the sorts of poses, expressions, and attitudes they're expected to put on display for the camera and, as a rule, they're very comfortable doing so.  Most of them have done it many times before.  So much so, peeling their clothes off and posing provocatively for some old geezer with a camera (or a young one) becomes their comfort zones as models.

Actually, now that I think about it, the term "comfort zone" is something of a misnomer as it applies to photographers.  Leastwise, as it applies to this photographer. When I shoot outside my so-called "comfort zone," I'm not any less comfortable doing so. As a photographer, I'm just as comfortable shooting outside my comfort zone as I am shooting within it. (Unless I somehow find myself shooting a wedding, and then I'm VERY uncomfortable.) Not only am I just as comfortable shooting outside my comfort zone, I'm generally more enthusiastic about it. Shooting outside one's "comfort zone" can often be more challenging,  rewarding (artistically), and fun!  Generally, I've found the same holds true for the models I shoot. Most of them love having opportunities to model in ways that are outside of the ways they're mostly asked to model. They find it more challenging, rewarding, and fun to do as well!

Like most professional photographers, I also shoot stuff that's very different from the type of things I most often get paid to shoot, i.e., in my case, glam and tease models in various stages of dress and undress.  When I say different, I don't mean different in terms of what's in front of my camera but rather who is in front of my camera. You see,  I consider myself, first and foremost, a people photographer.  That's what I love shooting best-- people! All kinds of people. My love of photography, that is, my love for snapping photographs revolves almost exclusively around shooting people. It doesn't matter if the people I'm shooting are models or any other types of people. I love it all. Occasionally, the Great Photo Spirit moves me to photograph things other than people, but not too often. And that's okay with me. I'd rather be photographing people than anything else.

The model in the photo above is Sasha Gray. (Who also happens to be the subject of the photo in my last post.) I was hired by a production company to shoot stills for their project.  It was a terrific gig! We shot 12 days straight at a variety of locations.  Showtime, the subscription cable channel, made a behind-the-scenes reality show from the production. Showtime had almost as big a crew on set every day as our crew was. I never saw the reality show which is just as well as I heard it totally sucked.  Sasha, by the way, was the "star" of the movie. For the photo above, we were at a location in Hollywood-- a private sex club.  I had already snapped all the glam and tease content my client expected me to shoot and had some extra time.  So, I grabbed a couple of lights and Sasha and I ducked the reality-show crew and headed down a dark corridor (with black painted walls) to shoot some more pics.

Since I already had everything I needed for the client and I also had a naked, made-up, beautiful model in tow, I decided to shoot some stuff I knew the client would likely never use. Generally, my clients shy away from dark(er) photos, like the pic above, which make heavier use of shadow rather than heavier use of highlights. They mostly like their glam and tease photos more brightly and evenly lit with plenty of accent lights. Anyway, Sasha got into it and we had fun shooting a short set of low-key photos that, in my opinion, fall somewhat outside my usual and customary "comfort zone" photos... even if my model was, as is usual for many of my models, naked and posing seductively. (Which definitely is well within my comfort zone.)  Two lights for this one:  My main light camera left and a boomed hair light above and just slightly behind her.

1 comment:

Nadja said...

I love the photo, very beautiful light and composition and pose, and her look is fantastic.
Of course I can understand she chooses another career, but, it's a pity, she's 'something else', I'm a fan...