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...?