Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Magic: Lightning Rounds

Lightning Rounds with Bekka Gunther.

I shot the above diptych of Bekka during a 1-minute demonstration of a private workshop. I probably shot about a hundred images or during which I caught these two images.

Sometimes people are surprised when I tell them that it only takes me 5-10 minutes to shoot a set. My reaction is that 10 minutes is a long time to hold a model's attention. That within 10 minutes, a model is likely to repeat her poses/looks/moves. That 10 minutes is a "long-program", and not a short routine. That 10 minutes could very well result in 1,000 frames.

That there isn't anything you can do in 10 minutes, that you can't do in 5 minutes.

And while that's not entirely true, it's built on the idea that 10 minutes at a brisk pace of shooting and a dynamic level of interaction is all you need to get Magic.

It's also why I set my photography students in the group workshops to 10-minute timers. And after they get used to this pace, they often wonder what they're supposed to do with the extra 5-minutes that they're left with.

And perhaps I'm guilty of really only having one gear of shooting; the gear that goes warp speed. I like pushing for intensity, emotion, action, and life. My models know this about me and expect nothing less. They know that if they give, they will recoup their efforts in volumes with the images. And I know that when they give, they don't have more than 5-10 minutes of energy/attention/patience to capture it all. So we keep the shooting duration short and sweet but always full throttle.

As a piece of trivia, one of the things I've gotten accustomed to saying right before I start shooting is, "Let's dance".

So next time you step out on set, keep it short and get to the point. This keeps everyone's energy level high and the momentum for Magic strong.


  1. Charles, could you post an example contact sheet of low res frames from every shot of a 1-2 minute "dance" with a model? I'd love to see some real world results of your technique, especially the ratio of keepers to rejects. Kesler did something similar on MM, and it really helped to see them all.

  2. Here ya go Ernie, hope this helps! http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7058/6860714765_2ece83daa8_o.jpg

    These were mostly within 1 minute of our shoot.