And now for something completely different.
That Monty Python quote could have described my experience May of 2005. I shoot Goth Celebrity Batty and then one week later I’m off to Playa Del Carmen to be one of the photographers competing in the reality TV show, Best of the Best 2.
The idea was 10 models and 13 photographers. You we suppose to shoot all the models and then you’d be judged to see who was the best of the best.
One thing you will ask right off, “If I was competing was this really the best of the best?” I’d only been shooting a few months seriously. Not really but that’s marketing for you.
There was only 8 models, because two took off after they go there. It’s in the show which aired on MavTV. That has to be the highest form of flaking I’ve ever seen.
Reality TV Sucks
It ended up being a very intense 4 days. They gave you a schedule where you shot with a model for 45 minutes. You’d shoot 3 a day. At the end of the shooting you turned in your images and were judged on them.
We spent the mornings in workshops while the models were in makeup. Then we shot in the afternoon – not the best time for light on the beach. Then in the evening there was a mandatory party till very late. I think sleep deprivation was part of the plan.
These are not the best of conditions for producing quality images. Now Rick Hughes, one of the guys running the show, said that is the real world. You don’t always get the time you need to get the shot you are suppose to get. Maybe, maybe not. He’s still more experienced than I am, so it must be so. It does teach you you must get it right in camera.
Most new photographers in this digital age think, “Oh so my exposure is off, I shoot RAW I’ll fix it in post.” Or “There is pole coming out of her head, oh well I can fix that in Photoshop.”. Not when you have 3 hours to do all of your post production on 6 shoots. I had some great images that needed mistakes fixes and I worked on them, but there wasn’t enough time didn’t get other images that could have been great fixed in time.
The other reason reality TV sucks is drama is the key to a good show, and drama is conflict. Among the guys – who weren’t really the focus of the show – there wasn’t really any conflict. Even when there was a screw up and one guy took the wrong model, keeping another photographer from shooting with her, there wasn’t any drama. But they could use the models against you.
There was a point where they brought every person into a room, you stood in front of a U shaped table with all the judges, MUAs, and TV guys and they asked you questions. During that interview one of them ask me out of the blue “One of the models said you were a little touchy feely. What do you say to that?”
Well I was stunned. I never touch a model without permission, and during all these shoots I only touched one model period. So I said something along those lines, probably with a little bit of heat in my voice.
The show was late nights and long days the whole week. And I was at the end of my emotional rope. This crushed me to such an extent I went and talked to one of the judges about it. I was deathly afraid I was about to be portrayed on national television as a perv and no model would ever shoot with me again. Robert Sanders, the judge I went to, told me not to worry, they weren’t out to destroy anyone and I got better.
I knew which model that had to have said that, so I later talked to her about it. She said she didn’t say anything as bad as that sounded and actually liked me because I was the only photographer who brought something for her to wear. It was all drama for the show.
You Are Better Than You Think
To this day I thought I had to have finished near the end of the pack. I saw some of the other guys images and they were great. All I saw was the flaws in mine.
But you know when the show came out I realized they used a lot of my images in the show. Kerriana’s title image is one of mine.
So is an image they used of Gelecia, which I thought was really bad. When we went to shoot it was late in the day and storm came though. I had a whole planned shoot, but suddenly there was no sun. I had to use (gasp) on camera flash. Which SUCKS. But they like the images enough.
We also didn’t get to shoot with two of the models in time for the competition. Schedule just worked out where we had to turn stuff in on Saturday, but didn’t shoot the last two until Sunday. For me those two were Kristin and Jessica B. Jessica ended up being the winner of the model competition.
This also means that until I decided to write this post and put an image of each model below, I hadn’t retouched images of these two models. So I did a quick once over, but they are pretty raw. And I forgot how small those D70 6 megapixel images were.
Below are some images from that week. If you have any questions about what it is like to be on a reality TV show, or shooting under pressure, use the comments.