Friday, 23 August 2013

My Photographer Says: "Looks Ain't Enough !"

Hi all !
Well I am no expert model, but with increased interaction and work with photographers for my modeling assignments, it has opened my eyes to a whole new world of seeing the modeling world from the perspective of the photographer. 

In this post I shall attempt to summarize a couple of points that the resident photographer I work with, Mike S considers when selecting models for shoots. 
Alright, let's go.

Why Looks Ain't Enough
Art Direction
There's a certain objective to be achieved in every photo, be it the emotions, feel, poses on the part of the model and of course it has to complement the technical & art vision of the photographer. If a photographer is expecting to have dark & dramatic editing to his photo, he will EXPECT the model to pose accordingly. 

I have had my photographer tell me that for a second SuperCars Photoshoot, he would prefer if I posed in a more elegant manner rather than dramatic and exotic. Similarly, he wasn't looking for dramatic Coco Rocha-style expressions that I adopted in my underwater photoshoot when we actually had the shoot.

In these cases, communication is key. Find out what your photographer wants. And always remember, there is always no harm asking when in doubt.

When A Photographer Gets Bored
My photographer always loves to tell me stories of how bored he was when shooting models who don't really know how to pose. 

Well according to him, the "models" don't qualify to be models, he calls them "vases". Sounds harsh, but it is the frank and honest opinion of a working professional photographer. 

When it comes to studio shoots (with around 2 to 3 outfit changes), sometimes it is not uncommon to have a model who sticks to very generic poses that does not have much variations. It could be due to lack of practice or experience of posing.

And so the photographers say they get bored. Why, you ask, don't they have their photography skills to worry about ?
Well oftentimes for indoor studio shoots, the lighting would have been set and tested right before the shoot begins. And for the professionals who already know their stuff inside out, they don't need to take much time to decide on
1. Horizontal or vertical shot
2. The cropping of the photo when shot
3. Which angle would be the best to shoot when the model poses in a certain way
4. The light settings of the camera (ie. ISO, Shutter Speed & Aperture)
Or any other technical detail.

This would really be the case as photographers usually need a handful of workable and good quality shots from each shoot. When a model can't really pose, she is limiting a photographer's options when he does his post-editing work. 

He will then have less photos to choose from to decide which to use, and eventually which ones to use. And if the poses by the model look awkward in the photos, it may become a dilemma for the photographer as he may have to compromise his initial vision and settle for something less than his expectations.

But if the photographer really loves women and models the way they are, no matter how they perform during the shoot, the model is in luck, but expect all industry professionals to take immense pride in their work. So don't depend on luck, models should learn their poses.

For smaller niches however, there are always part-time or hobbyist photographers who won't mind less superb posing. And eventually it all boils down to one's goals.

More on posing, poses are really important in helping to send a message across in photos. Coco Rocha is a perfect example for this. Effective poses sometimes can really make a difference in qualifying a photo as excellent, or mediocre because every single element contributes to the overall professionalism of the photo. A photo is not only a "photo"grapher's job, with your role as a model, poses really make or break a photo !

Know also that modeling is like acting. You have to act out emotions on your face exactly like how actors do it. So when asked, some photographers may say they prefer a less gorgeous girl but who is totally exuberant with her facial expressions rather than a totally gorgeous one but who is totally plastic with her face. Exception though is when it's beauty shots or certain high fashion editorial where the mood expected is totally neutral & serene whereby the model really doesn't need much expressions on her face.

Body Flaws
Body Measurements
Time after time I never understood why my photographer keeps telling me that some other model is just too fat. I mean, when I see her in person, wow, I sincerely and honestly think that she looks seriously skinny. But, I guess she is bigger. So, my photog really is concerned that the fitting of clothes will be considered more trouble in general, as certain standard outfits can't be worn and it will definitely be harder to find a perfect outfit for a photoshoot theme that has already been determined beforehand !!

The standard & preferred modeling industry body measurements for models is 34" - 24" - 34" simply because this measurements look most appealing aesthetically to people, or actually to fashion designers and photographers for that matter ! It is also because 99% of garments in the fashion industry are made to these measurements, so it will be trouble for a really gorgeous girl but who has trouble fitting into the photoshoot wardrobes !

I asked my photog once: "But the team can purchase clothes that are slightly bigger sizes right?"
And he replied: "Why do we have to accommodate clothing measurements to the models? We get the sizes we want and only models who fit into them gets hired."

Wow, talking about a really harsh modeling world. This really is not uncommon in the high fashion cities of New York and Milan either.

Come on, nails are really tiny compared to the rest of our bodies right? Frankly speaking, nails was never much of my concern. But nail color aside, I'm seriously shocked and could drop off my chair hearing my photog telling me "Hey, that girl has ugly toes & toe-nails."

Oh my gosh !! To that extent of detail? If you ask me, I would never know what is considered pretty or ugly toes & toe-nails. And definitely I would never have expected it to affect photos. But !! Photographers notice it, and in this business they are king.

Scars or Bruises
Most girls really have perfect body skin, but there are girls who have scars or blue-blacks here and there. Yes, it is a duty for models to make sure they don't get bruises when they are not careful when they go biking or swimming. Even mosquito marks are a no-no. It spoils the professionalism of the model.

There however have been high fashion models with really scarred legs. And they still get to work in the industry because of 
1. their height, these girls are 178cm and above
2. their body measurements
3. certain runway jobs for certain designers involve modeling long trousers and long dresses/skirts
Thus in those cases, the model remains a model, but not a really highly demanded one. This is because she ain't going to be versatile. She can't model lingerie and swimwear just like Victoria's Secret models. She ain't going to walk the runways for labels such as Versace during these short dress/skirt trend season. I remember coming across a photo of such a fashion model, but I can't seem to recall her name right now. 

Models must ensure their looks is in top form all the time. Hair seems to be a problem among many girls who are not models for that matter. I've always seen girls with really flat and heavy hair, it just shows their hair is oily, and photographers wouldn't like that.

For certain shoots, a model's hair is supposed to be free and flying, helped by having a fan right in front blowing at her face. If a model's hair is heavy, it wouldn't fly and a lot of diva-like images that be created without the bouncy lively hair.

Your Turn !! :D :D
This is going to be fun. 
Task 1
Watch a video of me at work during my SuperCars Photoshoot. (you will know why later :D *snickers hahaha*)

(Ignoring the fact that I had to brush aside or sweep away my hair countless times in the video/ throughout the shoot because it was really hot, & I was sweating like mad !!)

Task 2 hehehe :D 
Qn: What is the prevailing mood/feel of my poses throughout my shoot? (*Hint: Fierce, Sexy, Exotic, Gentle etc... )
Just comment your answers below :D :D

Your Learning Points
1. For the mood/feel that you answered (assuming it's right), try watching the video & then absorbing the feel visually in your head 
(Sounds complex but it's really just trying to learn the feel by observation !)

2. Observe the transition in between poses, because it's where most models neglect or ignore the details !!

3. Observe the inflections (facial expressions, body language) in each pose, because that's what makes each of them stand out & functional

Hope this post was useful to you, any suggestions or feedback just comment below. I love hearing from you <3 

Ok dear aspiring models, hope you had fun & take note of the points above and always bear them in mind as you work with photographers. 

It is good to understand things from not only your perspective, because knowledge is king :D :D Knowing what photogs look for would really make things easier for you !!

For the more perfectionist photogs you may get to work with in the industry, here you get the secret into why sometimes their behavior on set seemed a little weird/temperamental (& you never understood why !) but now you know why.

Catch you guys again :D
Love ya,
Sapphire Ng <3 <3 

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