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Shooting Models… That sounds wrong… Photographing Models

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Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 18 total)
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  • #2467
    orionid
    Participant

    Okay, so.

    Between Kestrana and I, we’ve now been asked to shoot two weddings of friends, and Kes has done a couple fashion shoots with acquaintances and friends.

    Given the desire to want to get better in photography, and a lack of experience with self-aware subjects, we’ve decided to start working with shooting models (albeit in slightly different creative directions). So, given that we’re used to shooting things that don’t need to be directed, does anyone have any advice from experience? We both pretty much have to shoot time-for-prints or time-for-cd until we get an established portfolio, which means the likely models will be just as inexperienced as us.

    Also, how do you get past the hurdle of actually trying to coordinate your first shoot? I’m scared shitless of asking someone to pose for me, even with completely SFW sets.

    I opened a profile at http://www.modelmayhem.com (main page should be SFW, definitely not a browsable site at work), but haven’t done much other than browse gazillions of amazing photos, a fair number of “wow, they’re worse than me” photos, and approving a few friend requests from people for networking sake.

    I’m actually considering emailing some other photographers and asking to tag along as an assistant. Do crap work like hold reflectors and fetch coffee to be able to observe model interactions.

    #42508
    ravnostic
    Participant

    I have even less experience, so I’m no help, but I can tell you a friend uses modelmayhem and he’s gotten some real hotties to pose for him, and yes–some with no experience.

    #42509
    Farktographer
    Participant

    I was considering the same thing a while back – never followed through on it, though. Like you, I was considering offering myself as an assistant just to get some tips and tricks out of it. It’s probably better than just diving head-first into it without knowing what the models expect – or if it’s a new model, you’ll both just end up confused of what to do.

    #42510
    Yoyo
    Participant

    Model Mayhem sight gets some bad reviews:
    http://dwightmccann.blogspot.com/2009/08/model-mayhem-dont-expect-much.html
    http://www.sitejabber.com/reviews/www.modelmayhem.com
    http://www.listio.com/web20/app/ModelMayhem/

    I may just have to examine it for myself… when I get back to my bunk of course.

    Why don’t the two of you just model for each other? Or perhaps ask your friends to model for you (before their weddings, or are those already past?). Other than that, I would recommend checking your local college or university to see if they have a fashion or photography program to get advice from regarding your locality. I know my local university art department often hires nude models for their life drawing classes. Exactly what sort of modelling are you exactly looking for? Hand models? Shoe models?

    #42511
    Kestrana
    Participant

    We do and have modeled for each other but it’s different when you’re working with your spouse. There’s a level of comfort and unprofessionalism that exists there and won’t exist when working with clients. We have the opportunity of where we live to do risque/productions/nudes in a natural environment without worrying about random people running into the shoot but it doesn’t even need to be that. And as for my part, I feel bad for working with other people in a professional setting when I don’t know what I’m doing; it’s like I’m wasting their time. On the other hand, how else do you learn?

    #42512
    zincprincess
    Participant

    I have taken a couple of photography classes in which we do practice shoots, and honestly, this is more helpful than any of the classroom stuff. The teacher lines up models of all ages and looks who are willing to spend an hour or two taking direction from a bunch of wanna be photogs. It can be a bit stressful with a bunch of folks crowding around a single model. However, it has been a great learning experience in how to communicate with someone you don’t know, getting them to pose the way you want, and coping with the unexpected. One lesson I learned is that “go stand over there” is a surprisingly good place to start with a model. At least they will adopt a natural pose and you can tweak from there.

    I would suggest reaching out to your circle of friends, family, co-workers, etc. to find people willing to pose for free images. I have offered my services for free to friends to get more experience. I’m thinking about offering again soon since the people in the “married with kids” circle I run in are all looking for pictures to put on holiday cards.

    #42513
    Yoyo
    Participant

    … One lesson I learned is that “go stand over there” is a surprisingly good place to start with a model. At least they will adopt a natural pose and you can tweak from there.

    I was reading a piece written on portraiture by a photo journalist, and the crux of the piece seemed to be about what to say first to the newsworthy person he was assigned to photograph. “Go stand over there,” seemed to be his best suggestion as an opening line. It put people at ease, and he could start snapping some pictures before they got the idea of posing in their head. It also allowed him to make sure the exposure and focus were correct, etc. Unfortunately I can’t recall who he was.

    In regards to looking like a professional, I would say act the part. Go into the shoot well prepared with a plan of what you want to do. Just like being a professional in any other collaborative venture.

    When I want to avoid looking like a schmuck in my day job, I do the prep work, because that is my job as an professional. Take for example a road reconnaissance. I plan the route, estimate distances and times, collect the report forms and fill out as much as possible before the mission begins, verify the communications plan, consider alternate routes and bypasses, etc. My driver is also a professional, and I can depend on him to have the truck ready to go at the departure time, and he does. Then when we’re actually out on the mission, things flow smoothly and quickly. We return to base, and I complete the reports quickly while my driver cleans up the truck and preps for the next mission.

    How does this correlate to a photo shoot? Rehearse in your mind or in your hands what you want to do before the model shows up. Know what lenses you will be using, how the lighting will be setup, where you expect the model to stand and how you want him or her to pose, how long the shooting will last, etc. When the time for the shoot arrives, be in the right place at the right time with the right equipment (and the right attitude: confidence). Afterwards (in a time-for-prints scenario) know what post processing you want to do, what size prints and how many, how long printing will take, when you estimate delivery to the model,…

    Now, the true mark that separates a professional from an amateur, is that the professional (in any field) did all these things that I mention so long ago and so often that they make it all look flawless every time. The last time I went to a commercial studio for my portrait, the photographer was quick, confident, organized,… My only suggestion to her was to stuff a bent wire coat hanger under the US flag so it drapes more widely from the pole. She already had the flag in her studio for the occasional patriotic shoots, like soldiers in uniform.

    My official portrait was taken care of by a guy at White Sands Missile Range. (Their photo quality is second only to the Yuma artillery test center, if that.) I had no appointment. (I was there to get my teeth cleaned and stopped off at the photo office to see if they could squeeze me it.) It took about 15 minutes total, and at least 5 minutes were spent looking for the template for the name/SSN/date/etc. that I have removed from the upper corners. Their back drop is even torn by my right ear, but that took less than 30 seconds for them to fix in PS. The shoot was much faster than I expected. “Stand on the box, turn that way, let me put this piece of tape on your coat to keep it closed in front, lower your chin.” Click-click-click, done. The fact that the guys in this shop spend most of their days doing graphic design for whatever-heritage-month and taking pictures of supersonic missiles in flight, but they can still swing for the fences on a spur of the moment portrait is why they get paid to do this every day.

    portrait-blank by Kimo Sully, on Flickr

    #42514
    Farktographer
    Participant

    With that much experience of taking portraits, I think it’s easy to be able to tell someone what to do. It really comes down to having time put into the field, IMO.

    #42515
    ennuipoet
    Participant

    On the few times I’ve been called to do portrait work (so far) it’s been by people who need shots about what they do rather than a formal sitting. I simply tell them to do their thing and I will worry about the photography. I actually have an offer to photograph a dancer coming up next month which will again be her dancing. I find formal portraits uncomfortable for everyone, if you can have someone DO something they forget (a little) about the camera.

    #42516
    Yoyo
    Participant

    I like formal portraits, and those comprise most of my experience working with professional photographers, so that’s why I bring those up as examples.

    CSB: Just this morning, I ran across a photo-journalist when my roommates and I were visiting the mosque this morning for second Eid. He took some shots of my roommate praying with the locals. But that’s not really what I would consider working with a model. My roommate didn’t even realize it was the journalist, and not me, taking his picture until after he was done praying.

    #42517
    caradoc
    Participant

    I’ve had a ModelMayhem account for quite some time. Shot a few from there, but the flake factor is pretty darned high with many of the “internet models.” They’ll set up a shoot with you, and then just not show up – or call/text/e-mail five minutes after you were supposed to start to tell you that their grandmother died, or their sister got hit in the head with a golf club (one model used that one two days in a row with two different photographers…)

    If you’re looking for volunteers for “real people” shoots, just ping the local college or university drama department and offer to trade some head shots for some modeling time. They make for more interesting “people” anyway:


    (Michael Peck, local actor)


    (Courtney Weir, local actress)

    We just go to a local park or other outdoor venue, put up a couple of lights, and shoot. I rarely have issues with the local gendarmerie unless I’m in a Phoenix park, because they’re asshats and believe that anyone with a tripod is a “professional” and requires a permit – printed letter from the Film Office to the contrary.

    #42518
    orionid
    Participant

    Model Mayhem sight gets some bad reviews:
    http://dwightmccann.blogspot.com/2009/08/model-mayhem-dont-expect-much.html
    http://www.sitejabber.com/reviews/www.modelmayhem.com
    http://www.listio.com/web20/app/ModelMayhem/

    I may just have to examine it for myself… when I get back to my bunk of course.

    Why don’t the two of you just model for each other? Or perhaps ask your friends to model for you (before their weddings, or are those already past?). Other than that, I would recommend checking your local college or university to see if they have a fashion or photography program to get advice from regarding your locality. I know my local university art department often hires nude models for their life drawing classes. Exactly what sort of modelling are you exactly looking for? Hand models? Shoe models?

    Interesting reading some of those reviews, especially since most of the issues were identified by the site itself in the FAQ’s, and I figured out the rest pretty quickly. I was just hoping to be able to slice through the chaff and flakes by expressing exactly who I am and what I’m looking for. Example: http://www.modelmayhem.com/orionid (SFW with NSFW links). It’s also great for finding ideas to run with or cataloging shots that are worth analyzing to attempt to recreate. Example: http://www.modelmayhem.com/list/509631 (certainly NSFW).

    Caradoc: The problem that we have is that the local college is Lord Fairfax Community College, they have a tech wing and an ag wing. The library’s shaped like a barn because, well, it used to be one. Otherwise UVA, Richmond schools (JMU, RU, VCU) and DC schools (GMU, MMU, Georgetown) are all an hour-plus away, and VTech’s four hours away. There was a time when I was in pretty tight with the arts wing at Concord College in WV, but that’s six hours away and I no longer have those connections. That said, you do bring up a good point, and I’m sure there might be some opportunities, especially if we get a place closer to my work, which will put us in the 30-45 minute range to Richmond.

    Scrolling back, I can’t remember/find who asked what styles we were looking for, so I’ll just put it out. Eventually, I’d like to focus on alternative/punk/rockabilly pinups, non-manga cosplay, and non-traditional emotive portraits. Kestrana can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think she’s most interested in high fashion/couture and high fantasy.

    #42519
    Yugoboy
    Participant

    I hadn’t heard of Model Mayhem, but the idea I had (and haven’t yet followed through on) is to do a Craigslist ad: Amateur Photog looking for amateur Models willing to work for trade.

    I did a little work with models when I took photography in high school. The models were from the cosmetology class, and the shoots were pretty informal, but I got a tiny bit of experience.

    Somebody ’round here said they watch America’s Top Model mostly to learn how the photog interacts with the models… might not hurt to check out HULU or TLC or something for a few episodes for the same reason.

    I think it’s incumbent upon you to have some idea of what you want to accomplish, as well as to let the models know you’re kinda new at this.

    #42520
    staplermofo
    Participant

    I’d hit up the local fabric stores, community theaters, improv groups, etc too.

    A lot of fabric stores (at least in Chicago) have a bulletin board with 500 notes like “need size 0 model” or whatever, much like Guitar Center has 500 notes of “need jazz background bassist”.

    Small theaters and improv groups (if you work for free) are nice because the other people there will push the one being shot to go further with it. There’s usually people looking for something to do while other people use the stage. It’s also in the partially pro area.

    I’ve only done 2 shoots where I was directing someone, but the second time went better because I we talked a bit about what I was looking to do with the photo; and, you know, knew what I was looking to do and how I planned to do it. Lack of confidence is contagious, and preparation shows.

    #42521
    Kestrana
    Participant

    That was me and orionid who watch ANTM for the model interactions Yugoboy 🙂

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