Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Your book is only as good as the models in it. True or False?

A few posts back I stated that a photographer's book is only as good as the models therein.

As a model it's true that you need to be selective about which photographers you work with to ensure your book represents you as a class act, not a girl-with-car bimbo.

However, as a starting out model with only a starshots headshot and a sweet, but far from professional lingerie shot, an excellent photographer called Chris Fatseas was able to see potential in me for high fashion looks. We went on to create three shoots together, all of which helped us both to step up to professional fashion work in our respective fields. A model's face and body are the fundamental attributes that will get them noticed and get them work... or not.

A fashion photographer, however, is judged not on what 'might' be', but on everything their audience sees in the frame. The lighting, the styling, the makeup, the retouching... and yes - the quality of models willing to work with them.

There's a few aspects to my theory...

Without a photoshop effort equivalent to Extreme Makeover USA, a girl will not look like a fashion model unless she is one. So, the quality of the photos and therefore the reception of the photos is determined in a large part by the quality of the models the photographer can shoot with.

Also, the calibre of model and the backing of professional agencies speaks tomes about the photographer's reliability, professionalism and to an extent, their personality (that they are driven enough to seek out those connections, that they are personable enough to secure them).

This flows on to whether other models, agencies and brands will consider the photographer for work. "If that model shoots with him - she's excellent then surely he's great!" or, as the case may be: "Oh. Oh my. And is that a snake she's holding? No, it's a sword. And she's clutching a fence at the same time. And she has vampite bite-marks on her neck... and 100's and 1000's stuck on her lips."
I could devote a whole post to things I'll never shoot, with examples. I wonder if that would be defamatory?

Anyway, let me make my case in context. I recently received some messages on Model Mayhem which I feel evidence my point.

The first was from an amazing and very driven model. Not agency signed, but definitely something special (all will be revealed in due time). She asked to shoot with me, sent me some examples of styles she'd like to shoot, and was generally awesome and very to the point. In her post scriptus, she told me in a similarly direct tone that my work "screamed experienced" and that I ought to change my status to reflect that. I have it set to "some experience" at present, which I already thought was a stretch. I am still so new to this art form, and I have been so lucky to have this instant signature of a much more experienced photographer present in my work: the faces of agency-signed and agency-standard models.

The second was from Madeleine, a 17-year-old aspiring model. Madeleine has only a handful of pictures on her profile - none of them appear to be professional - but her look has potential, she has an excellent blurb on her profile and a friendly but dedicated tone in her messages, and I am planning to shoot with her as a result.

She reminded me of model Nadia Vodianova, and so we're planning out shoot around some concept photos of her:


I want this shoot to be all about simple elegance. Black dresses and jackets, surprising featured jewelry or embellishments. A girl about town. Eyes and eyebrows steal the show.

Then we're going to move on to a toussled/ wet hair beauty look, which I think will be an excellent addition to my portfolio.

The final, and (at least in my opinion) most curious aspect of the models-in-book question is the way fellow photographers will rate you depending on what models you shoot. It's been interesting as a newcomer to see the different faces of this intensely competitive industry. Some photographers compliment and admire your work with a given model, others seem to give off undertone of jealous(?) scorn. I don't mind - either way, it's a compliment :)

I do respect the fact that I'm a newb. The excellent models I've shot with have been the result of hard work, a series of fortunate events and generous people. I am humbled that excellent models Phoebe (a good friend) and Sarah (of Viviens) kickstarted my portfolio. Since then, I've been so lucky to work with photographer mentors, Cam Attree and Mike Murchie in particular, who have set me up with equipment and shoots that have afforded me the chance to shoot for agency models. Speaking of which... I need to start lining up my shoots with Busy Model's girls Eliza and Abbie...

T'here's so much to look forward to :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Hills, they are Free.

Today I got offered a clerkship with one of the biggest law firms in the country. Woot!

Yesterday, I did a photo shoot with up-and-comer, Shelby. She's got a look that graduated from editorial to soft and feminine. Mike Murchie kindly offered to have me along for the shoot. I just love working with Mike, so I was stoked to come along on another one of his shoots, which was, like our shoot with Iris, at Fort Lytton.

Let's get to the behind the scenes shots:
Vivianne Tran of Simply Elegant Beauty was our makeup and hair stylist for the day. Her work, as always, was impeccable.

The shoot went swimmingly. Shelby was perfectly pleasant to work with, and has a great look. If Natalie Portman and Olivia Wilde had a baby, that would be Shelby. Sassy brows, intense eyes, but able to convey softness as well. No doubt she'll do well.

She photographs so tall!!!

Mike was awesome as first photographer, and I happily felt useful as second photographer, "landscaper" (breaking off twigs), touch-up MUA and model coach!

Here's Shelby at ease in uniform, provided by one of the rangers :)

And I'm happy to reveal the first edited pic I've done from the shoot. I love the contrast on Shelby's face, and the graduated sky- light to deep blue.

Until next time,

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Project Be Styled

I am procrastinating... and Corporations law isn't keeping me warm at night. So I thought I'd take some time out and blog about a recent job I did on the flip-side of the camera...

Modelling's been taking a bit of a back seat recently. As study and my passion for photography have intensified, I've found less time for it, and as a result, I've been missing it somewhat! I've started thinking of some new shots I want to get, to update my book if not to just have a great time.

The assignment I'm going to tell you about was called "project be styled," a Westfield competition in which four teams of one photographer and one makeup artist are selected based on their work to go through to the finals, the prize for which is a photo-shoot with professional models (that's where I come in!) and full styling from Westfield.

Our team was photographer Pixie Bella, make-up artist (and a pro model herself), Renee MacKenzie, and my handsome male counterpart, Sebastian. The theme was "Over-the-top Opulence." Here are the spectacular shots from the day:

Photography: Pixie Bella
Makeup: Renae MacKenzie
Models: Veronica and Sebastian @ Dallys
Styling: Westfield
These photos are the property of Pixie Bella Photography and Westfield

Pixie and Renae were beyond professional, creating scrapbooks worth of mood boards, and the talented stylists from Westfield had selected some stunning outfits. 
 This is my favourite, a stunning structured skirt from Cue, ankle boots from Wittner and feathers galore to help me fly:

And don't get me started on the "double-helix" necklace from adorne (in amongst the layers of jewellery atop my black ostrich feather drape:

Photography: Pixie Bella
Makeup: Renae MacKenzie
Models: Veronica and Sebastian @ Dallys
Styling: Westfield
These photos are the property of Pixie Bella Photography and Westfield

Here we are behind the scenes:

It was an excellent day, and, as it turned out, a fantastic result for Pixie and Renae, who won the competition overall and picked up contracts with Dallys and $3000 of spending money in Westfield! A victory well-deserved!

Alright, now where did I put those lecture notes...?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

With great power comes...

...great responsibility! And a whole lot of work. Let me explain:

My shoot with Iris has opened up some fantastic opportunities for me as a budding young photographer (yes, I am so chuffed I speak about myself like a proud parent).

For a start, Mike loaned me his studio light set-up, which I am ridiculously keen to try out! But I have to study, because I'm also heavily pregnant with a law degree (unnecessarily figurative? Well, it's 3am and I've been studying for the last 7 hours straight - forgive me my eccentricity).

However, the breakthrough I am most excited about was that Iris and Sarah's agent, Summer, told me my photos with Iris were "beautiful," which had me smiling ear to ear, and has said she'd be happy for me to test with her other models!! As Summer gets some of the best girls in the state/country/international scene, I am overjoyed to be given this chance - and have formed a solid goal to work steadily on the skills that I'll need to do justice to the models and to my vision and development as a photographer.

As a model, I've heard it said that your book is only as good as the photographers you have shooting you. Ie: you can pose like you were born doing it (makes me think of Iris again) and look flawlessly fantastic in every single shot, but if your photographer doesn't know their stuff in terms of getting the light right, the best angle and doing an excellent, but not overdone, job on retouching... well you may as well not have bothered getting all prettied up.

Now, as a photographer, I've heard the exact same in reverse. "Your book is only as good as the models in it." I think there's even more truth in the statement when it's going in this direction, and I'll tell you why when I next blog - and post some snaps of the stunning models I'll hopefully be shooting with!

For now, let me tell you about the other excellent development that's arisen: my first solo assignment. That is, little old me being approached to do a portfolio shoot for Alex, a stunning acquaintance of mine who is equally beautiful on the inside as out.

Alex is going to sign with a local agency, and was wary of hooking up with an unknown photographer for fear of getting a tacky result (an unfortunately legitimate fear), so, after seeing my photos, she approached me!

Of course, I jumped at the opportunity to shoot with Alex, as I think she'll do extremely well in her chosen field of presenting. She has a beautiful, feminine and highly commercial look, and will be a good asset to my book in terms of versatility. These shots will be a more commercial/portrait style of fashion, rather than the test/simple editorial style of the shoots with Sarah and Iris. Here she is, looking sensational as always:

I set about busily emailing back and forth, and after about a week's worth of organising, I am just shy of having the shoot ready to go. Not bad for a beginner, huh?

There are to be four looks, which will be expertly crafted by Vivianne as hair and makeup stylist and Tamzen, as wardrobe stylist - both fantastic artists. Vivianne has made me up on numerous occasions and is one of the more consistent and capable artists I've worked with. She's passionate about achieving exactly the result the client wants. Tamzen is equally brilliant; the two times I have been styled by her, she arrived to the locations with suitcases upon suitcases of amazing clothes and accessories, from quirky retro get-up to elaborate full gowns and giant pendants - and boy, does she know how to put an outfit together!!

Here are our concept photos:


Girl About Town:

Girl About Business:

and Fashion:

All that remains is to get another memory card and battery (so that I don't have the same hiccups as last time), find a versatile location that is easy for the whole team to reach, and enlist the help of a second photographer... or will I really fly solo for the first time?!

This brings me back to that model mantra: "Your book is only as good as the photographers you have shooting you" ... now... if that photographer is me, and me alone, then I am responsible for the outcome of the shoot, and potentially for the success of the model in booking work - and that's a responsibility that I take very seriously.

Until next time....

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Iris @ Busy Models


Photographs by Veronica Morland
Model Iris Hall @ Busy Models
Hair and Makeup by Jasmine Walker
First Photographer Michael Murchie

Sunday, April 24, 2011


As promised, here are the behind the scenes images of our Easter shoot at Fort Lytton with Busy Models girl, Iris.

Iris was not at all what Mike and I had expected from her photos. When she came teetering up to us along a dirt track wearing black felt wedges and cute denim cut-offs, all that was running through my head was "Look at those legs!!!" and "How could any photographer have missed those?!!"

Beautiful hair and makeup was provided by Jasmine Walker, who progressed the look from natural through to smokey through to glamorous. We shot three looks, and between Mike and I, took over 1500 shots. I ran out of space on my memory card... and my battery died. Yeah, I know - really pro. Lesson learned: invest in back up appendages for my camera.

Luckily, Iris' dad had his Nikon d90 there, and was kind enough to loan me his battery, and a lens to play with! I shot most of my pics using the 50mm 1.8, which was challenging. Using a prime lens means you have to do the "zooming" yourself, and so back and forth I ran! 
Shooting with Mike was excellent - he's a great photographer, but was not overbearing or protective about having me along for the shoot. He let me get my angles, my shots, and answered all my questions. I feel like we made a good team. I hope to assist/shoot with him again on some very exciting projects he has coming up!!

The proof will certainly be in the delicious pudding... but Iris was an absolute treat to work with! She was creative and took initiative in her posing. Mike and I were practically chasing her around the fort as she climbed about finding her next pose, the next shot. Kind of like a big, glam kid on an editorial playground.That said, when we had specific ideas for her to try, she dedicated herself equally well to bringing those ideas to fruition. She is stunning is every photo, and with her looks, enthusiasm and the right people representing her, she will undoubtedly go far. I feel like I may have shot the next big star today!

All in all, a smashing success. And now I have zillions of shots to play with, and play I have; I've just spent a few hours getting this one right. I am feeling more and more confident with photoshop and have developed somewhat of a workflow (ooo-la-la)!

Now I can proudly reveal the first shot I've edited from today's toils... enjoy!

Iris @ Busy Models

More to come soon!


Saturday, April 23, 2011


I was phaffing (faffing? faphing?) about the place on Thursday, scrambling to get uni materials together for a European Union Law lecture my mother had talked me in to attending ("That's what you're there for, now GO TO CLASS!'), when I received a phone call from Mike Murchie, a local photographer who is in charge of doing test shoots for some of the best up and coming models in the city, as scouted by Busy Models.

Busy Models scout, Summer, has a real eye for what it takes to be a top model. Back in March I shot one of her girls, Sarah, who is now placed with Viviens in Sydney and Brisbane, and who is amazing in front of the camera. Her features just light up! Here's my favourite snap from our shoot together so far, although I will dedicate a post to the shoot next time I have a spare day (a what?)!

Similarly, Busy Models girl Codie Young has been touted to be the next big thing this fashion week, and she is pictured beneath on the cover of Vogue:

So, as you can imagine, I jumped at the opportunity. The subject of our shoot tomorrow is newcomer Iris, who is a sweet 13-yrs-old with a look that I imagine will become very versatile as she gains experience. We are headed to Fort Lytton to shoot, which is an excellent outdoor location featuring lawns and storage buildings. Many photographers shoot there, however not all of them have had to contend with it being an open day. Least of all around Anzac day! Mike and I will have to rely on natural light and reflectors, as we're not permitted to put up lighting gear whilst the fort is open to the public. This will be an invaluable experience for a new model - learning to pose even when there's a gaggle of onlookers! No doubt it will be an invaluable experience to me, and I am looking forward to shooting with Mike, who I was hoping to shoot with as a model a good year ago - this is a busy man! Here's some snaps he sent across of Iris:

I am looking forward to a great day! I'll post some behind-the-scenes shots tomorrow.

Until then,