Posts Tagged ‘glamour’
This week I had Devon in for another shoot. This is the sixth time I’ve worked with Devon over the past three years. I love working with her because she’s amazing at what she does. When someone is that good in front of my camera it makes me look great. For all our previous shoots Devon did her own hair and makeup. Most models have enough exerience that they know what’s needed to get a certain look on camera.
A few months ago I saw some dramatic before and after glamour photos from photographer Sue Bryce. Sue’s business is a bit different than mine in that she is a modern-day version of glamour shots. Remember the store in the mall that your mom or aunt went to? Sue’s take is modern and beautiful. Real women + great hair and makeup + an amazing photographer and her clients leave with amazing and timless glamour portraits. Hearing Sue speak and seeing her photos sparked enough interest in me that I wanted to do something similar. I wanted to see a transformation. My starting place is quite a bit different than Sue’s “average woman” client. I chose Devon because she is amazing in front of the camera. She epitomizes what I want from every model I work with; confidence, beauty, emotion and sex-appeal; and she’s got all that without the fancy hair and makeup.
I enlisted the help of Sura Radcliffe to help with hair and she recruited her friend and colleague Stacey Ellis to help with makeup. My reference point and inspiration was the glamorous portraits of both modern-day and past film starlets like Scarlett Johansson and Bridget Bardot. We wanted a vintage feel to start with; knowing that we could build on the hair and makeup and bring it to a modern day glamour look. The following images reflect the progression of the day.
During the 45 miinutes that Devon was getting her hair and makeup done I shot some behind the scenes video. The following shows the progression from start to finish.
The reality is that being a freelance photographer isn’t always filled with glamorous or interesting jobs. The fact is that most of my time as a photographer isn’t even spent with a camera in my hand. A few months ago Chase Jarvis posted about the realities of what it means to be a professional photographer (Via SwissMiss). If I break up the 12% piece of the pie into fun and/or interesting jobs I’m probably down to 6-8%. That’s why I shoot for myself. Self created assignments with fellow creatives allows me to experiment, control the outcome to suit me and the people I am working with and to just have fun taking photos. Me booking this job was a result of one of those, for-fun, unpaid, self assigned jobs. It’s actually the second “job” that’s resulted from that shoot. We licensed one of the images from the bodypaint shoot to Chef Rubber for use in a full-page ad in So Good Magazine.
It started with an email through my website. A plastic surgeon in Australia contacted me asking if I’d be interested in shooting some artwork that would be displayed throughout his office. I’m not sure exactly how he stumbled on my work, but he noted reading my blog as well as watching the behind the scenes video I made of Seth’s body paint shoot. His goal was to use the photos to showcase women’s figure and beauty. The photos would be displayed throughout the waiting area, exam rooms and his office. Did I mention the images would be nudes? It is and was a delicate line. The images would need to be beautiful, tasteful yet remain PG13. If I put my self in the shoes of a woman visiting his office for a consultation, the images would need to spark interest and discussion but not alienate anyone.
My thoughts went to abstract nudes. I’d be able to show parts of the body in a way that weren’t immediately identifiable. My goal was to to use light and shadow to get the viewer to look past the fact that they were looking at a naked body. I enlisted the help of Marie who is an experienced figure model.
In addition to the abstract images I’d be shooting one main beauty image. I pulled some reference images and we decided on the stark, yet beautiful landscape of El Mirage Dry Lake Bed. Little did I know how challenging shooting out there would be. After months of planning we finally made it out to El Mirage. I booked Megan as our model and enlisted the help of Sura Radcliffe to help with hair and Tiffany Selby to help with makeup. I’ve worked with both of these talented stylists on different shoots and knew they would make me and Megan look great. The hair and makeup process was pretty involved. I’d need Megan’s makeup to read from about fifteen feet away. I also knew that there would be a potential for wind in the desert so I wanted to make sure the hair style was one I could get away with if the wind were to move it around. We prepped from noon until almost 4PM, spent a couple hours in the car driving out to El Mirage and caught the last hour of the setting sun. (Yes eight hours prep/wrap – One hour shooting) Despite a weather forecast to the contrary we were greeted by 20mph winds when we got out to El Mirage. The temperatures made the wind bearable and luckily the wind was blowing from the west. I was able to use the setting sun and wind to my advantage.
A few weeks ago I came across an article about Herb Ritt’s exhibition at the Getty. One of the images noted was this amazing image shot out in El Mirage. I was at the fabric store a few days later with hopes of creating an image as beautiful.
We got to El Mirage with about an hour of daylight left. We had taken some wardrobe to experiment with and plan what we were going to shoot while Megan still had clothes on but I couldn’t run the risk of Megan getting wind blown and ruining the reason we were there. I was there to shoot a beautiful nude. The fabric and drape was a bonus and I figured with the wind howling it might actually work. It allowed me to figure out where I wanted to position her once she dropped the fabric. Turns out my client loved the images of the drape in addition to the nudes.
We shot both the drape and the nudes as we watched the sun fall like a rock. The sky in the west as the sun set was beautiful, and despite the wind we tried shooting into the wind to see the beautiful sky. We put Megan’s hair up and tried shooting her with the wind at her back. Utter FAIL, that much wind blowing that much hair looked horrible. In addition to Sura and Tiffany I had my friend Bill to help with the shoot. Even though we had the shot I came for we figured why not break out the strobes. Having Bill there to hand-hold the light was an incredible save because the sun was pretty much down and it was getting darker every second. We took her hair back down and put her facing the wind. We spent the last three minutes of the shoot using the strobe and once again came away with amazing surprises like the following image.
Despite the challenges, the amount of work and planning that went into it we came away with beautiful images that everyone was happy with. It also reinforced my opinion that if I shoot my own type of work, people will notice. A big thanks goes out to Megan, Bill, Sura, Tiffany and a very trusting client.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks. I’ve started to scratch out a couple blog posts over the past month but each time I start a job comes up and takes precedence. This week I vowed to shoot for me. Shooting personal work keeps me sane. When I end up working on shoots for other people for weeks at a time I can feel the itch to go out and shoot a concept I have control over. Family portraits, TV commercials, architecture, Galas, receptions and pretty much every other paid job means my client is running the show. I often have creative input on my jobs but photographing people giving speeches and shaking hands doesn’t give me the satisfaction of going out and making great photographs.
This week the stars lined up and I got to shoot with three of my favorite models. I enjoy working with them because I know we’ll get great results and I’ve developed friendships with them over the years.
Eva was in town visiting from Germany. We’ve tried getting together for a shoot every time she’s in LA, but it’s only worked out once since she moved away a few years ago. I met Eva in July 2004. To put the history into perspective; I got my first DSLR in August of 2003. I looked back at my archives and she was the 17th model I worked with. Needless to say in the summer of 2004 I was green. Despite being a novice we got some great shots that still stand today. Since 2004 we’ve worked together a handful of times and I’ve always been happy with the results.
This week I wanted to shoot and I knew if we got together the concept for the shoot would work itself out. We ended up with some great fashion images and my style of a beauty portrait. If you call it a head shot and I take offense. I tend to think most head shots aren’t true representations of the person. Head shots are sales tools, portraits are personal. I want my photos to be true to the subject.
I also got to work with Tiffany Selby this week. We met in April 2009 after spending months trying to get together to shoot. When the day finally came it proved to be challenging. We were scheduled to start with swimsuits on the beach and then head to my place to work on fashion and portraits. We were blessed with beautiful blue skies but the temps had dropped down into the 50s. We figured since we were there we’d give it a shoot. I got my first shot off at 8:20 AM and by 8:44 we had shot two looks and were packing up. One of those shots ended up as a centerfold in a magazine.
This week we made the same plans. Start on the beach and then head to my studio (read my garage) for fashion and portraits. After our shoot she did makeup for a friend’s niece, an aspiring model.
I also managed to shoot with Neyla. She is in town visiting from London and, like Eva, we’ve tried to get together when she’s in LA. This week our schedules matched. I met Neyla in April 2007; at the time her name was Stephanie but that’s her story. In 2007 I shot a friend of hers who referred me to Neyla. We had a great shoot and vowed to do it again. A few months later she saved my ass. I had scheduled a shoot in Pasadena and enlisted the help of a makeup artist and a wardrobe stylist. The model flaked. A complete no-show. I didn’t want our efforts to go to waste so I called Neyla early that morning and asked her help me out. She rallied and the results were amazing. Like Eva and Tiffany the images from that day still stand.
Neyla’s trying to get a new portfolio together and when she showed me her concepts they were in-line with what I wanted to shoot. We had a great time and came away with a lot of amazing photos.
Relationships make for great photos. It’s one thing to meet a perfect stranger and work together as professionals with the same goal of great photos. But when there’s history and a relationship between the model and the photographer the level of comfort and trust help to make the images even better. Add the fact that all three of these women are great models and I had a great week.