Thursday, February 16, 2012

Magic: Questions from a Magician's Apprentice

Got an email from a Magic student yesterday and I thought I'd share:

So since, I was with you on Friday - all I been thinking about has been photos. I don't mean to bombard you with all of these little questions, its just my entire outlook on this process has changed dramatically after spending the day with you so I just wanted to refer to back you and see if you could clarify some stuff for me. :)

1. So just like you said, I have been getting messages from different models shooting with Bekka. I am excited to have real models to work with but I am looking at their portfolios and it seems that they already have some pretty extensive work. I kinda feel pressured to give them something they don't have already but I don't know how to make mine look different from the stuff they already have. Is this something that I should consider when shooting more experienced models? Or you think its just a confidence issue?

2. Now this probably doesn't happen to you anymore but I wanted to get some input on this. As you know, things are easy when everything in a shoot is going right- but how do you respond when something is just off- The images are just not coming out the way you want them. Do you show them to your model? Or does showing them crappy images diminish their confidence in you? I noticed this a bit when I was shooting Bekka- that when I went back to her, I didn't like how they were looking and felt stupid showing her something I didn't even like.

3. Again, another question that you probably don't even think about anymore based on experience, but had a real question about how fast you snap your images. It's probably just instinct by now but what exactly are you looking at when you are going that fast? I shot on sunday and I felt I had a similar phenomenon occur when reviewing Bekkas pictures, which was just a lot of stuff I didnt like. Of course probably had to do with the quality of the model... but I have a feeling there is something Im doing wrong. I have a feeling its just my finger not snapping fast enough because as I was shooting she was giving me some solid looks. It just didnt translate when I looked back.

1. Being that you're still early in your career, you'll always feel a little nervous in shooting "high-calibur" girls. When you get "older", there won't be any girls that are good enough to make you nervous. These days, I never think about getting something different from the stuff they already have because I know that there's nothing out there that looks quite like my work. On the other hand, I make sure I don't shoot the same locations or the same wardrobe or the same "looks" that the girl has in her book. It really comes down to experience and confidence. For example if a girl has all lingerie/swimwear in her book, I might choose to shoot something with more wardrobe. Or I might go the opposite direction and just shoot her completely nude. But at the end of the day I'd suggest "just be you".

2. Again it comes down to experience and confidence. I don't know if I told you but even if you don't like the pictures, you have to always "fake it until you make it". Never show weakness or lack of confidence to a model. Of course showing them crappy pictures will diminish how they feel about you. But as long as the fault is on the model, you should put the onus on them to make the pictures better. As long as your lighting and your composition and everything photography-oriented is good you shouldn't have to worry.

And that's what adjustments are for. Remember how I asked you to make adjustments 1 minute into the shoot so you could make sure you were getting the right looks? That's the time you tell the model, "Let's see what we did right and let's see how we can make things better" That's your opportunity to make improvements. Sure, sometimes the model is tapped out and she can't do any better. And yes, sometimes maybe you're stuck and you have no idea what's going wrong. But over time, you'll know and over time, your models will be able to make the required course corrections. And by that time you'll have the confidence to push harder and ensure that you get the look you want. Don't be too hard on yourself too early.

3. Just because I capture the frame does not mean that I like it 100% or will use it. The release of the shutter serves several purposes. The primary purpose is to give me a chance at capturing something magical. It does not guarantee Magic. There are certainly a lot of frames that the stars don't align; like a chunk of hair in the wrong place, poor hand positioning, blinking eyes, etc. But when you have enough experiences you will release the shutter when those moments happen and increase your probability of capturing Magic.

Again, it's a dance with the model. Right now your "timing" is a little off. You're not able to quite predict when she's going to flip her hair or spin or jump. From what I saw, your timing was a little slow. But over time you'll get better at this. And yes, you'll have lots of frames that you'll delete. But when you get something, you'll be amazed. Just remember that lightning is hard to capture in a bottle.

Furthermore, no model expects every image to be amazing. They know sometimes the timing is off. They know sometimes they're not posed the way they think they're posed. But if they believe that you're amazing, it really only takes that "one" picture that makes it all worth the effort. And once she sees that you can get that "one" she won't care that you took 1,000 to get there.

And yes it has to do with the model. And it has to do with you. And again it comes down to experience and confidence. Learning Magic takes a while. Believing that you're a Magician takes even longer.

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