Hi and welcome to my blog. This time I'm going to discuss a shoot that I had recently.
Katie was aiming to build up her modelling portfolio and wanted to show a range of styles and poses. So, we decided to divide the shoot in two parts, one on the water front in Limerick and the other in studio. One of the studio shots is on my home page.
To begin with we had to decide on poses and styles. That's when Katie decided that she would like to do an outdoor shoot as part of the overall project. I suggested O'Callaghan's Strand in Limerick because of the range of backgrounds there and the modern look of the buildings in the area, something Katie had expressed an interest in having.
I selected a range of shots to use as a base to plan from. I sent these shots to Katie, in a OneDrive folder and she selected the poses that she liked. I usually send about 40 shots and the model will select about 12 to 15 of these, indicating her preferred six or seven. The model can add some samples of her own as well, she doesn't have to choose from what I suggest. We work on the preferred ones first.
The next stage is where the model will choose outfits to suit and accessories to match. I have a selection of accessories which are often used. You may have noticed certain hats, gloves, shoes and jewellery popping up in more than one set of shots.
Some models prefer to sort out their own makeup. Many have friends who are qualified makeup artists or are training and would like a few shots for their portfolio, so a deal is struck. Other times I book a local makeup artist, Victoria Tautke, who has done excellent work for me in the past and gets on great with the models.
Now that all of that has been sorted, we set a date and time. In Kate's case, we did the outdoor portion of the shoot at 4 pm to avoid the brightest part of the day. Strong, direct, overhead sunlight doesn't suit any kind of portraiture.
Most of the shots were taken using an off camera flash and soft box. The sun acted as a hair/rim light.
Like most inexperienced models, Katie was quiet stiff and nervous looking in the first few shots. I usually handle this by telling the model that these are test shots and that there's no need to pose, I have to check my lighting. Sometimes, we get good shots at this point but most importantly, the model relaxes and gets into the flow.
The reason that we choose so many possible poses is because the model may not want to do one of her choices on the day or for some reason it's not an option that day. Depending on how things work out, we could get six poses done, on occasion, more.
Katie settled in very quickly and we got quiet a lot of work done in a relatively short space of time. It's not simply a case of her striking a pose and me taking a photo of it before moving on to the next shot.
No matter how good a model is, she will never get it spot on immediately. So, I talk to her and work her slowly into position. Turn your head a little to the right, drop your chin a little and other instructions like that. Each stage is photographed because it may actually look better than the target pose.
I may also have to move my lights a little because it's not falling correctly on the model. For example, in the first shot of the pose above, my light was set a little too high and there was a strong shadow across the top of her forehead.
All of this requires great patience from the model and the ability to interpret instructions. Models must be able to act, as expressions are very important to the success of the shot and must match the mood being created.
For this part of the shoot, Katie brought three outfits and had very definite ideas of the looks she wanted to achieve. While every shoot is a collaboration, the model must get images that will fit in her portfolio, reflect the work she wants to do and her personality. It's my job as a photographer to ensure that she gets what she needs.
Our relationship is very important. I must set her at ease from the very start, guide her into poses and maintain her confidence. Many inexperienced models think that each pose should be perfect at the first attempt. That's not the case, even for the most experienced models and it's the reason most shoots are timed for a half day or longer.
As we went through outfit changes and moved locations along the waterfront, Katie adjusted with ease. Her intelligence came through, something a successful model needs. Modelling is considered easy work but it is in fact very demanding. Holding a pose, following instructions, creating a look and expression, all require concentration and the ability to interpret quickly and successfully.
When shooting in public there will always be an audience. It's important that the model is aware that it will happen and is ok with it. If the model becomes self-conscious with a group watching, the shoot is ruined. Katie was perfectly at ease with her small audience. As usual, some people watched as they passed by, some stopped for a minute or so and others stayed a good while and even commented. There's nothing wrong with that, as long as they don't interfere with the process. The model has to ignore anything that is said and concentrate on the conversion between herself and I.
As we were shooting on a public walkway, people were regularly walking past and we had to pause, as Katie was on one side and I on the other. Again, this is not usually a problem, as people pass by quickly and Katie can hold the pose. On one occasion though, a couple were passing by, the guy was transfixed by Katie and his partner didn't like it.
She decided to express her thoughts just as they came into the middle of the shot. Another audience member wasn't long telling her to get out of the way and the couple slinked off but I imagine that the woman was still a little upset.
Luckily the shoot took place during the very hot weather that we had this summer. There was no fear of rain, the breeze wasn't strong enough to knock anything over and we had great light to work with. In bad weather shoots often have to be rearranged or cut short. I usually select a number of venues when the weather isn't too promising. One will either be indoors or a very sheltered location. The others will have shelter on at least one side, each one a different direction, so regardless of the wind direction, there's an option.
Most model portfolio shoots that involve outdoor shots take place between mid-spring and mid-autumn but I've had some in winter too.
Many of my model portfolio shoots are not with beautiful young women, like Katie, who aspire to be successful models but are with more mature women who want to experience being a model for a while. Some had entertained the idea of becoming a model when younger and for some reason didn't follow up on it, others only thought about it in later life. They put it on their bucket list.
Regardless of whether you're 22 or 52 if it's something that you would like to try, even just for a day, you should. Life is short and we all change with it. What ever you want in life, go for it, as long as it doesn't harm you or someone else. Otherwise, you'll live to regret it.
You can be a model at any age. It's unlikely that you'll strut down the catwalks of London and Paris at 60, especially, if you're a beginner but only a very small proportion of models get to do that anyway. In my experience, models enjoy the shoots and are glad to have done one. Take a leap.
I'll be back next week with part two of this blog. In the meantime, take good care of yourself and those you love. Keep shooting.