Photography is a constant learning process for me. After every shoot I learn a little more about how to achieve the best results. I love working with different personalities to figure out how to help models capture my vision. Here are some of the things I’ve learned, tips for working with me to get the most out of a shoot, as well as updates about what I’ll be doing in the future.
I’m always on the lookout for great locations to set up photoshoots; now that I’m up in LA I’ve lost a lot of my great San Diego spots and need to replace them with equally great finds in LA. Thankfully this city has no shortage of secrets so I’m making a list and I thought I’d open it up for suggestions. So, I’ve made a Google Map and pinned some places I’m looking at as well as some I’ve been before. A few are down in San Diego in case I make a trip or plan out a big project (Anza-Borrego or the Salton Sea). If you know anywhere that you think would be a great spot for us to shoot, feel free to add it to the map and let me know.
Ok, this is a bit of a pet-peeve of mine in the category of “know what you want before we schedule a shoot”. As you can probably tell by looking through my gallery, I’m a big fan of outdoor shoots; I’ll do a lot of indoor home-studio work as well for experience and get-to-know-you’s, but I really love putting together a project on location.
I’ve gotten some great beach shoots; but so far, I’ve had mixed luck with actual wilderness shoots. So I can’t stress enough that if you aren’t the outdoorsy type, just say up front that you want to do something else. I’m flexible. But if you aren’t comfortable hiking, climbing up on rocks and trees, or exploring an area then just say no! Don’t waste your time and mine just to get some awkward, uncomfortable photos for your portfolio.
Since I do so much TFP I really want the experience and time commitment to be worth it, for both of us. In fact, in general, just tell me up front what your goals, expectations, and limits are for a shoot. I will try to do the same.
Its always tough to keep finding interesting and dynamic poses but it is really awesome working with a model who can just take an emotion and run with it. So I put together another short gallery of images from awesome photographers I follow that have the kind of intensity & weight I always aspire to capture. Sometimes you just have to keep moving and experiment. Have fun with it! That has to be the best advice I could give to new models, don’t be afraid to have fun and move around. I’ll do my best to keep up.
Over the past couple years I’ve worked with models of varying levels of experience and one of the biggest challenges I’ve run across, especially with new models, has been getting the right facial expression. The face definitely sets the tone of a photo and the wrong expression can make things just feel off. I often see even experienced models or the work of other photographers that seems to fall short when it comes to expression. It takes a lot of focus to manage the: framing, background, foreground, pose, and expression without driving everyone crazy, and I don’t always get it right either.
Usually what I see that I don’t like is that the model looks bored, distracted, or just uninteresting. I see this problem a lot in your basic sexy bikini / glamour photo where I guess the photographer is more focused on the body than the face. In my opinion, these photos where the model is just standing there looking pretty lack emotional weight, and the way to correct that is to focus on the face. A dramatic expression can turn the dials on a photo up from sexy to breath-taking. Fashion models also can take their look up to a whole new level from going from bored to intense.
So a little while back, I started asking new models to look through some photos of facial expressions I put together and to think about the kind of tone they want to set in a photo before we shoot. I divided the photos I found into 8 categories: intense, vulnerable, happy, serene, flirtatious, alluring, distant, and aggressive. Not an exhaustive list but I find that it really helps to be able to communicate what the emotion looks like.