[Original Airing Date: April 6, 2010]
Most often when I speak with fellow photographers, we all have our issues when working with different models. No two photographers really want the same thing when producing an image, however, there is one thing we ALL have in common. We all HATE boring models. I wrote this blog over 4 years ago and it is relevant today as it was then. Enjoy.
Here I am at it again. Writing another blog (not bad for me, I might add). I get a lot of requests to be a little bit more frequent in my entries and I get tons and tons of requests and people throwing ideas at me as to what I should write next. Some are really good, and some not so good. I will let you in on a little secret: I get the best blog ideas from models. Almost every model I come in contact with will give me a nugget of something that is an instant shoo-in to be a topic on my blog.
The last entry (“Who The Fuck Are You?” ) sparked some heated debates and some hateful comments – please keep them coming – but you know my pet peeve: If you are man/woman enough to write such hateful things, please be man/woman enough to leave your name and email. It’s only right. Another issue is a lot of models were pissed off to the fact that they seem insulted (“who the hell are you to tell a model that they can’t make it?”). Well let’s clarify a couple of things in that regard. For those of you who honestly know me, would know I would NEVER tell a model that they don’t have the potential to make it in this industry. Who the hell am I to tell a model to give it up? I am not a booker and what floats my boat often times a booker won’t even want. There is more than enough work out there for everyone and honestly ANYONE can be a model. So, again, I am quite supportive when a person wants to take the plunge into this industry, because it is very very hard. It is very very competitive and it can be heartbreaking and unnerving for the faint of heart. But that goes for all of us in the industry (be it photographers, makeup artists, stylists, etc.) We are only as memorable as our last shoot and we must keep growing and evolving and reinventing ourselves. It’s about pushing the envelope and changing and growing and not being stuck in the proverbial rut and producing the same thing over and over and over again. So people, when I make a comment (or rant) in the blog, that’s all it is. I will not apologize for what I may say. I will not apologize for how I may say it, but I will apologize if your feelings are hurt. It isn’t about that. So let’s go onto today’s subject matter at hand.
When a model asks me for advice, or to critique them, my usual questions are: “Why?” “What do you wish to achieve with my critique of you?” I usually only cover the obvious if I have never photographed them before. It may be weight loss. It may be toning up. It may be shooting with better photographers. It may be telling them to upgrade their book. When they ask me about agencies. I tell them to do their homework. How to approach a booker. How to approach photographers, etc. I just give them the basic information that is needed to get them on the right path. How they decide to use that information is up to them. I can’t control if a model decides not to diet, or exercise, or go to an open call unprepared. And when a model who has been trying to make it for some time and still doesn’t? I am quite sure that any advice I may have offered them has been offered before. You (the model) decided not to follow it and therefore you are hitting a brick wall.
I digress. I had to get a few things off my chest before I could continue. Before this particular blog entry came to light, I’ve discussed with a lot of photographers about some of the issues they have with models (and this is usually the new faces and up-and-comers). And it is the issue of presence. Being aware and being in the moment at the photographic session.
Time and time again I have dealt with models and I usually give this monologue. “Ralph Lauren is looking for the new face to launch his line. You are the correct height, type, look that they are looking for and in a single photograph you have to show me why Ralph Lauren would want you to be their new face and not the next model.” It seems rather easy, doesn’t it? You would not believe it is one of the hardest things that a model would do.
Being a model, you are a performer. You are the silent actor. It is your job in a single image to convey emotion. And in most instances, that is all the time you have. A Casting Director is looking at hundreds of photographs in a single day for a major casting of that magnitude. They don’t have time to filter through images to “find” you. Either you will show it to them or you won’t. It doesn’t matter what the emotion is. It can be sexiness, happiness, sadness, anger, etc. And you have to say it without ever going over the top and mugging for the camera. This particular deed is a lot harder than most people think.
It is a fine line between love and hate, it can be something as simple as raising of an eyebrow, the widening of an eye, the parting of the lips. There is a fine line between sexy and sleepy. I’ve photographed models and said give me sexy, they go slack, the eyes become droopy and they think it’s sexy. When I show them the image from my point of view, they realize that there nothing sexy about it. Then there are times when the model just doesn’t even emote at all and those are the models this blog is geared to.
More than one occasion I photographed models and it was frame after frame after frame of the same exact expression. I would say “say give me happy,” click. “Give me sad,” click. “Give me angry,” click. And when you put all three images side by side, there isn’t single change of expression in the face and models, this can be quite frustrating for the photographer trying to achieve an emotion from you. Beyond practicing how to pose and how to walk – the most important thing you can do in your career is learn how to create emotion in your face. How to create that photographic tension that separates a good model from a great model. It is about connecting with your inner-self and reaching deep down inside to find that one emotion that when you release it, there is no mistaken what you were trying to emote in the eyes of the viewer. It is about being present in the moment and being present with the photographer and making that one connection so at the instant that photograph is snapped, the photographer can proudly say “we got it!”
I study a lot of portfolios and the first thing I look for is expression in a model’s face. If I come across 4 or more images in a row and I am seeing the same exact thing, I instantly know it’s not going to work for me and therefore I am not going to want to shoot the model. When I am asked, my reply usually is: “They’re boring.”
Are you boring?
To see original blogs please go to: http://dallasjlogan.blogspot.com/