Category Archives: Instruction

The Perils of Being a Geek Photographer

Stacey Spring School Girl Headshot
Stacey Spring School Girl Headshot

Being a geek photographer is different from being a photography geek. A photography geek is some one obsessed with the intricacies of how photography works. In the past that was how light acted on film and how to do development. Now is about megapixels and light sensitivity.

A geek photographer is someone who comes from the world of computers or other sciences and picks up photography as a hobby. I find at the workshops I’ve been part of there are a lot of people who fall into this category, and as one myself, I’ve got some tips learned the hard way.

1. It’s not all about the gear. When you are used to building stuff or solving computer problems, you can get real focused on the technical aspects of photography. But don’t forget that in the end it is an art. An painter needs to understand paint, but only so he can express what he wants in his painting. More megapixles are not going to make up for poor composition.

2. Don’t use technology to correct mistakes you shouldn’t have made in the first place. Which brings us to “I’ll fix it in post.” This is lazy. If you say you shoot RAW because you can fix your exposure if it is wrong, you are trying to fix shooting mistakes with technology. You can’t really fix exposure problems in RAW, you can just make your images lighter or darker. The DOF was fixed at the time you shot.

There are reasons to shoot RAW, mainly that you get a higher bit depth from a RAW file – 14 on my Fuji – which gives you more colors.

There are get-it-all-in-the-camera purists, but really you should get everything right in the camera you can. It is fine to shoot something knowing you are going to do something to it in post. But don’t use tech as a crutch.

3. Maybe introverts should stick to landscapes. This blog isn’t just about photography in general, but the photographing of models. While sometimes they may be inhumanly beautiful, they are still people.

We engineer and science types are notorious for our awkward social skills. I’m not sure we can fix it easily, but try to remember that people need you to relate to them. This is why I talk about building rapport in lesson 6 of my free mini-course.

4. Some things need to be perfect, some not. We geeks also get anal and focused on stuff. It’s what makes us create cool software and other processes. But it doesn’t work the same way with people. Models aren’t perfect and you can’t blame them for their imperfections. Your subjects don’t have to be perfect.

You should strive to make your technique as perfect as it can be, and details matter, but realize you aren’t going to be perfect. Don’t make yourself crazy trying to be.

Who are you?
I sometimes wonder who reads this blog. So tell me are y’all geeks? Post a comment and tell me what your day job is.

BTW, my day job is as a Mac programmer.

Practical Pinup Online Workshop Excerpt

This is an excerpt from the ebook that is part of the Practical Pinup Online Workshop. The ebook is a highly edited transcript of the video lecture from my $300 a person pinup workshop. To get information about the three stages of Pinup, go to the Practical Pinup Online Workshop page.

The Three Stages of Producing Pinup

I’m going to go through the three stages of producing a pinup image.

Preproduction

The first is preproduction. You’re not just winging it when you’re shooting pinup. When I shoot fashion, I can say, “Model, we’re going to shoot fashion. Show up, bring clothes. We’ll have a makeup artist and we’ll figure it out when you get here.” When you’re shooting pinup, that’s a whole lot harder to do. In theory, you can go, “Show up pinup-y,” you know, “bring your Halloween costume.” But you’re not going to get something iconic at the end necessarily.

Begin With An End in Mind

You need to begin with an end in mind, to quote Steven Covey.

You have to have an idea of what the final image is supposed to be. It is always a good idea when you’re shooting ” especially when you’re doing model photography ” to have an idea of where you’re going. With pinup, you have to be much more specific.

Start with, “What’s my icon? Am I doing fifties housewife? Am I doing traveling? Am I doing nurse?” That’s my icon.

Arrange Details

Next “What’s my story?” For example, I know I’m going to do traveling. She’s going to have a suitcase, the suitcase is going to fall open or something like that. This tells you to arrange those details ahead of time. If she’s supposed to have a suitcase full of clothes that fall out on the floor, then you have to have a suitcase, you have to have the correct clothes. You can’t just grab t-shirts and jeans and put them in there because now you’ve messed up the era. You’ve messed up the details. You have to arrange those details a ahead of time.

Plan Post-Production

Another thing you have to plan is what you’re going to do at the end. Nowadays, since we have Photoshop we can do all kinds of things at the end. And I’m going to talk about post-production, about what to do when you’re finally finished. But in some cases, you know you’re going to do something in post, and you have to shoot for that thing.

I have a friend who’s a photographer in California. He was shooting an image for Monster energy drinks, and his idea was to shoot Bride of Frankenstein girls in lingerie. One of them is Frankenstein, and the other one is on top of her, pouring Monster into her mouth.

Now, you could shoot that once. You could say, “Model A, pour the drink into Model B’s mouth.” You’d have once chance to catch the pour in mid stream, because after that Model B is going to be covered in energy drink and her makeup is going to be a mess.

He wanted the model on the bottom as Bride of Frankenstein waking up, and he wanted the other model on top of her pouring the Monster in there, because that’s the product. He wanted the liquid coming out of the can that the model on top was holding and the drink in mid-fall between them. He’s a master with Photoshop, so he knew what he could do in post.

He shot the Bride on the ground, he shot the Bride with the other model on top of her. Then he took the Bride model out, and he put a bucket in her place, and they poured over and over again into the bucket. Shooting the drink to catch it in midstream. So that at the end, he could take that and Photoshop the pour in.

So if you’re going to do something like that, which pinup can lend itself to, you need to know that in advance, and you need to plan how you’re going to shoot that.

You know, sometimes you might want to put a model on a background that you don’t have. Like, maybe you want to shoot her in front of classic airplane. World War II era airplanes. You don’t have World War II era airplane, but you do have pictures of them, so you know you’re going to put her in front of one. You have to have some pretty good skills to do that. But if you want to make it look like she’s where the airplane is, you need to think about where the light was on the airplane. Then you light her so it matches up when you put her on the other image.

The point is you need to plan your post-production. If you’re going to do something big, you need to plan it in advance. You need to know what that is before you go into shooting.

You may even have to get to the point of doing like a shot list, I know I need these shots. A lot of times when I’m shooting with a model, I’ll have a shot list anyway, because especially with less experienced models, they need direction, they need to know what you’re going to shoot.

And so it’s good to have a shot list with that, but it’s imperative if you’re going for some funky concept with pinup that you have that all set out ahead of time.

I’m going to talk a little bit in the post-production part of this book about how some people like to make pinup look drawn. They like to take pinup photography and make it look drawn. If you’re going to do that, then that affects you’re shooting, because a lot of things don’t matter if you’re doing that. If you’re going to go in in post-production and do huge amounts of Photoshop to the thing, then blemishes and wrinkles and tags and imperfections don’t matter as much because all those details are going to go away. So you need to know if that’s the style you’re going for at the end.

I’m not a big fan of doing drawing. If you want to draw it, draw it. If you want to shoot it, shoot it. But that can make a big difference.

This is an excerpt from the ebook that is part of the Practical Pinup Online Workshop. The ebook is a highly edited transcript of the video lecture from my $300 a person pinup workshop. To get information on get more information about the three stages of Pinup, go to the Practical Pinup Online Workshop page.

The Dip and Photography

I recently listened to the audio book of Seth Godin’s The Dip from iTunes and I couldn’t help but apply what it says to photography.

Basically the dip is that part of any endeavor where the going gets tough and people quit. In business it is when the market rejects you, or you have technical hurdles, or you run low on capital.

In a sport it is where you get good, but not good enough for the next level. To get to the next level you are going to have put in hours and hours of practice. Since that is hard to do, few people will do it.

The world is set up to work this way. Not everyone can be CEO, so it takes years of working your way up the corporate ladder. Along the way lots of people quit because it isn’t worth it. Or they don’t put in the effort to keep improving themselves. Or they aren’t willing to do the dirty work that others won’t do. Eventually you weed out the wannabes and are left with the few who made it through the dip.

What does this have to do with photography?

Hopefully it is obvious. There are a lot of beginning photographers. They may buy expensive equipment, and read books, but they don’t get any better. Why not? Because they aren’t willing to do things that will take them to the next level. Go to a workshop. Hire a mentor. Shoot a lot more and in different media. Challenge themselves and grow.

I especially see this in model photography. Maybe they aren’t willing to approach a lot of models. Maybe they have one shooting set-up and they use it over and over. They don’t try new things: they don’t challenge themselves or their model. They don’t use an MUA because they don’t understand it. They don’t learn studio lighting, or they only do studio lighting.

They are in the Dip.

Now the question is, are you in the dip? Are you going to persevere? Or will you be a beginner forever?

Pros and Cons of Modeling Sites: One Model Place

This is a continuation of my post from last Monday on the Pros and Cons of Modeling Sites: Model Mayhem.

This week I’m going to talk about the other site I consider one of the biggest. One Model Place. OMP is the old man of the modeling sites, they may even have invented it. Because of that they have a huge number of profiles, which is what you want in any modeling site.

Pros

They ask what model’s shoot. On every profile, both model and photographer there is a list of genre’s and you or a model can check which ones you want to shoot. Since this is the biggest reason not to shoot with a model – or for a model to shoot with a photographer – it is good the site asks for it and displays it.

Search by shoot type Not only can you see it, but you can also search based on shoot genres. Looking for a model for a swimsuit shoot? Then search only for those who will do swimsuit.

Fast OMP is never down and never slow. Which normally wouldn’t be a plus or a minus, but what you expect from a web site. But since MM has so many problems with this, I thought it needed to be mentioned.

Showcase Gallery You can get inspiration from some of the best model photography out there by looking at OMP’s showcase galleries. It is very hard to showcase – except right after you renew your membership 🙂 – because the quality of the work is so high.

Cons

Screwy link policy Somewhere back in the history off internet model photography, related sites got into a pissing contest. As a result they blocked links from their site to other sites. So now when you put a link in your profile text, it is often removed by OMP. Since links are the lifeblood of the internet, this seems a petty policy.

Poor UI OMP used to have a decent UI. There were a few things I didn’t like, but they went crazy with a redesign and made it much much worse. They made the classic programmer mistake of thinking adding features makes it better. They added a bunch of feature – IMHO mostly to match MM – and just crammed them on to the page. The useful ones, like picture comments, are hard to find and the stupid ones, like blogs, are too obvious. You also spend a long time looking through menus to find stuff.

Opens too many windows Another UI badness it they open a new window for about everything. Do a search? New window for the results. Click from one profile to another? New window. Really?

Pro or Con: Depends on your POV

These last two are a pro or a con depending on how you feel about them.

Photo Protection. Listen people, you put your image on the internet and people can download it to their machines. If that bothers you then don’t put you images on the internet.

Yes, occasionally people will steal your images, they will print low res versions on put them on their walls, they will put them on their blogs and websites. No one with enough money to pay for your images is going to do this because the consequences are too high.

OMP tries to keep this from happening. All they succeed in doing to messing up the user’s flow by putting up a dialog if you accidentally click on an image.

Obviously I consider this a con.

Porn? One complaint I hear from models about OMP, and agency people who hate internet modeling, is OMP has porn stars on it. Some models, won’t even have an OMP profile because there are adult performers on it.

The big problem isn’t that there are adult performers on it, they are on MM too. The big problem is when OMP asks for what you shoot, it includes Erotic Nude, Adult Nude, and Adult Performer. They make it public and searchable.

I’m pretty sure they don’t allow images in these genre’s to be part of your portfolio. There certainly is a lot more pornographic images on Flickr than on either of the modeling sites.

I consider this more a pro than a con, because it gives me more information about a model, but I really don’t care because I don’t shoot porn.

Conclusion

I don’t use OMP as much as I used to because it doesn’t seem to get as many new models as MM, but I like OMP. It kind of grows on you despite its eccentricities, like a crotchety uncle.

Given its reach, I think you need to have a profile there.

Ron Davis’s OMP Profile

So, what do you think about One Model Place? Do you use it? Put a link to your profile there in the comments.

What Genre Do Models Want to Shoot?

I decided to try and find out what the most popular shooting genre was for models by posting the question in the Model Mayhem model forum. The results were interesting to say the least. You can find the whole thread here.

Like I said in a previous post on model photography genres. It isn’t easy to classify.

Given what ended up in second and third place, I think it tells you something about Model Mayhem forums, which have an emphasis on Mayhem.

To quote my final post in the thread…..

Genre is a bitch to categorize apparently. There were 31 genres and I did condense a couple and I refused to count “something over the top” as a genre.

All of these had 1 vote, Vintage lingerie (which I’ll put in pinup), Creatives (huh?), Erotica, Shibari (which I’m moving into bondage after looking it up), latex (which I’ll give to fetish), Lifestyle, Porn smile, Extreme Alt Nude, Maternity, Theatrical, Hot Couples. Oh and high fashion nude.

With 2 votes, Alternative, Themed/Fantasy, Gore/Horror, Steampunk, Fitness (actually 1.5 because one person combined it with swimsuit), Editorial, Stock (what is stock?), underwater.

1st Place
Pinup 7
High Fashion 7
Goth 7

2nd Place
Art 6
Fetish 6
Commercial/Casual/lifestyle 6
Fine Art Nude 6

3rd Place
Bondage 5
Glamour 5

Avante Garde 4
Beauty 4

Swimsuit 3.5

So Pinup and High Fashion tied. But since this was such a fuzzy data set its hard to say. There were some genre’s in Maria’s list that would be pinup, she voted too much. And HF was voted for 3 times by the same person and I only counted it once.

Stock, could probably be C/C/L, but I didn’t count it that way.

Also if you put Themed/Fantasy/Horror/Gore/Steampunk together you’d get 6 votes, which would give it 2nd place.

I was betting on pinup at the start and while it wasn’t as prevalent as I expected, it did finish at the top.

All of this just goes to show there is no good way to classify genre.

Update: Late vote changed totals a little and pushed Goth into first place.

Pros and Cons of Modeling Sites: Model Mayhem

When you are looking for models online, there are two major sites to find them: Model Mayhem and One Model Place. Both of these sites offer similar features. You can create your own portfolio of images, add some text explaining who you are and what you do. You can search for models – or photographers if you are a model – and message them to set up shoots.

This week I’m giving the pros and cons of the most popular of the two biggest sites….

Model Mayhem

I still think of MM as the new kid on the block. It hasn’t been around as long as OMP, but it seems to be dominant now. I know lots of photographers who used to spend all their time on OMP who don’t even have memberships there anymore. I know a few who won’t go near it because they consider it more immature – both technically and emotionally.

Pros

It’s a social network. MM is the myspace/facebook of models and photographers. You create a profile and then friend people, just like on MS and FB. You have a top 12 friends. You can tag/comment on a profile.

You know if your message gets read.
Unlike OMP, MM is set up so in order to read a message sent to you, you must log in. When you do, and view the message, it is marked read. This means when I contact a model, I know if she read the message. And she knows when I read hers. This can be annoying, but is usually helpful.

Models to tell me some photographers get pissed and send another message if they didn’t get a response after seeing she read it. Don’t do this photogs, its poor form and ineffective.

Strong Community. MM seems to have a very strong community, possibly because of its social network features. The forums seem to be very active despite a horrible UI. There is lots of tagging and picture commenting as well.

It’s Big. The reason these two sites are the only ones I use is because it takes time to keep a profile up, and therefore you only want to use the ones that give you a return on that investment. MM seems to do that best. It seems to have more new members and more active ones.

Cons

It’s sslloowww. Not everything is sweetness and light in the world of Model Mayhem. MM has grown very fast and the management hasn’t been able to keep up. They occasionally move from server to server, and all of the images are now hosted off their servers, but is still very slow and occasionally just goes down.

When this happens you get to see the dark side of community with a bunch of bitching and moaning. In a way I understand it, but I also wonder what bitchers expect to accomplish.

Whiner: “I’ll never pay to be a VIP if the site goes down all the time”
Me, thinking: “You didn’t pay, so why do you expect them to listen to you? Maybe if you had they could have gotten better servers.”

No “what I shoot” in your profile. MM asks what kind of stuff you shoot, but they don’t display it in your profile. Recently they added “Will shoot nudes” to model portfolios, at least to those who say yes. I’d still like to search for model that shoot swimsuit for instance, which you can do on OMP but not MM.

Forum UI is horrible. They have their own home rolled forums and they just don’t work that well. They don’t remember you, so you can’t see new posts. They don’t notify you of replies to your posts. Navigation is weak and searching is nonexistent.

Customer service is weak at best. Volunteer moderators are OK, if they actually respond to you. They spend a lot of time censoring, but not much time helping. Have to say, though OMP isn’t much better. Customer service is the scourge of the internet anyway.

Conclusion

If you are doing model photography and looking for models on the internet, you have to join Model Mayhem. They have the most models and photographers. They do the best job of networking them together, despite technical challenges. They’re profile UI is clean and simple to learn.

Here’s my profile on MM.

What is your experience with MM? Do you use it? Did I miss pros or cons?

Next week I’ll talk about One Model Place, so make sure you come back Monday.

UPDATE: Just caught this on a Garage Glamour thread. Model Mayhem is under new owners and have some very interesting policies. Its in the middle of this thread.

UPDATE: If you are wondering how the whole moderation thing works on MM, you might want to listen to our interview with Model Willow, who is a moderator. I was actually impressed by the system.

Model Photography Genres

There are many names for the kinds of photography that involve models. Matter of fact I almost regret naming my site Glamour Apprentice, because Glamour is only one part of the mix. The real challenge is the names we give these different genres and how they map to actual images.

To further confuse things, the words we use mean different things to different people, especially new models. Glamour can mean anything from Playboy to Glamour Shots in the mall. If a model comes in expecting glamour to be fancy makeup and you expect nudity, there is going to be a problem.

There seem to be two ways genres are named, by the clothing worn – or not worn – and by the purpose or feeling. Of course to confuse things there is overlap. Lets talk about the first kind of naming.

Genre By Clothing

Swimsuit, lingerie, casual, nude, implied nude. These are all genres of model photography, but they are a little weak in specifics. They do tell a model what she’s going to be wearing, but not the purpose of the image. For instance, the Victoria Secret catalog is lingerie, but it is different than the lingerie in Maxxim magazine. One is fashion and the other is glamour.

You’d think nude would be a genre that couldn’t be confusing, but there are different kinds of nude and those different kinds aren’t based on how naked the model is, they are based on the purpose and feel of the image. A fine art nude image is about form, line and texture. A glamour nude is about sexiness and titillation.

Then there is casual, which is a form of fashion. Casual fashion means shots about the clothes and those clothes are everyday clothes, not high fashion designer clothes. The images are also generally taken in everyday locations as opposed to a studio.

There are a couple of genres that are about the clothes, but also about the feel. For instance Goth is both about the clothing – whether punk goth or victorian goth – and about the mood. Pinup is another place where the clothing is very important and the over all image is about about something else.

Genre by Purpose or Feel

Purpose is why you are taking the image. Feel is how the look of that image affects the viewer, what it conveys to them. Some genres like, fashion, glamour, fitness, fetish and editorial are about purpose or feel. The clothing can be about anything, though often some form of clothing is favored in the genre.

Fashion is all about the clothes. The purpose is to show off the clothes and the model is a big clothes hanger. Glamour is about the model. The clothes support her and make her look good and sexy.

Fitness is about well fitness, health. The model is a big part of that, but so is the clothing, location and pose. Fitness is often shot in a swimsuit because that is the most socially acceptable minimal piece of clothing. The purpose is to show off muscle, but nudity is frowned on.

Editorial images are the ones used in magazines to support a story. Sometimes this story is about a clothing line, but more often it is about love, or work, or some other abstract concept. Sometimes they just use unstaged images, but more often they plan the image very specifically.

Fetish photography is always about something other than the model. It is about the fetish involved. Sometimes that fetish is clothing (latex or high heels) or body parts (feet). Other times it is about an action, like BSDM.

Just Make Sure You Are Clear On Meaning

As you can see it isn’t easy to know what the other person is thinking when you say “We’ll shoot fashion.” So be specific. Make sure the model understand exactly what you are looking for and will shoot.

I actually define each genre on a modeling application I use, then ask the model to select which ones she’s willing to shoot. I roll in a guide to preparation as well. This question, with my definitions, are why I do the whole application process. It tells me what she is comfortable with ahead of time.

Have you ever had a model get confused about what you were shooting because word meaning? Do you think I’m right in my meanings?

Boobs v Belly: Prone Pose Perils

I recently shot with the fun and beautiful Stacey but I got a pleasant surprise when I first saw her topless. Looking at her portfolio, I had thought she was pretty flat chested, but when we started shooting I found out that wasn’t the case.

Stacey E

As you can see in the image to the right, Stacey is in no way flat chested, so why’d I get this idea? Because all of the images in her portfolio were of her laying down on her back.

When a model lays down the direction of gravity changes and it deforms her natural proportions. In some cases this maybe useful, but mostly they are problems. Let’s talk about some of these changes.

Flattening

If she is on her back, then her breasts, belly, and even her face are flattened. Gravity is pulling everything towards the ground and her back, so things get flattened out. When shooting glamour you generally want larger breasts and only artificial ones defy gravity.

The title of this post does tell you when you might want some flattening. The belly is also flattened, but it is also spread out. So if you have a model who’s stomach you want to look flatter, you could put her on her back. That will only work for a little stomach flattening because the spreading will make her look wider.

Limited Movement

A standing model is in her most dynamic position. Once she hits the floor or a bed she is limited in the movements she can make. So you generally get more “relaxed” poses and less dynamic ones.

Posing is that flexes muscle is more beautiful and interesting that relaxed ones. This is one of the reasons a model gets tired while posing for a shoot. She is constantly getting into positions that require muscle activation and holding those positions.

The problem when she gets prone is she doesn’t have to use muscle and she’s more used to relaxing while laying down. An experienced model will realize the limits and pose more dynamically, but a new model will lay there and look for the more comfortable, but less interesting poses.

One way to overcome this is to tell the model to writhe around, grip the sheets, raise her hips, or arch her back. These will add dynamism to her pose.

As a number of models have told me, the more uncomfortable a pose feels, the better it looks.

Limited Angles

Lying puts limits on models, and it also puts limits on the photographer. If she’s on the floor, you can only be level with her or above.

It is common for a newbie model photographer is to shoot down at a model. We do that when we are taller and we do it when she’s in a lower position than us, like laying on something. You need to consciously avoid shooting slightly down. If you are going to shoot downward, do it from an extreme angle. Get on a ladder and shooting almost straight down.

Don’t be afraid to lay on the floor to get at or below her level.

Eide's Dynamic Prone Pose
Eide's Dynamic Prone Pose

This image of Eide shows all of the best practices to overcome the perils of prone poses. I’m shooting from the floor and she’s on an air mattress just a few inches above me. She’s in a very dynamic pose, one that was uncomfortable and looks almost unnatural in person, but great in this image.

When shooting glamour we almost automatically think about putting the model in lingerie and on a bed, but if we do, we need to be very conscious of the poses we use. We need to watch for flattening, encourage dynamic poses and use interesting angles.

Do you have great images with the model lying down? If so comment below and let us see them.

The Truth About Gear

I’m amazed at how much of photography talk, on blogs, in podcasts and in general is about gear. I understand we’re all geeks at some level, but it seems to take up too much mind share.

I got an email from an apprentice doing the mini-course and he was wondering about what gear he needed for an up coming model shoot. It made me think a little about what is the absolute minimum you need. Here’s what I told him:

As long as you have the ability to control the aperture of your camera you’re fine.

Control the Aperture

brittney_0325

That is seriously minimal, but it is also true. When I and my partners teach at our studio we require a SLR, preferably digital. We do this mostly because we are always using studio strobes and we need to insure they have a hotshoe to attach a pocket wizard to.

But I know photographers who have shot models well with a Fuji S9000, which looks like a full DSLR, but doesn’t have a detachable lens. It does have manual control over the aperture.

Why must you have aperture control to do model photography? Because you need to be able to control your Depth of Field. To control what is and what isn’t in focus. This is what separates point and shoots from real cameras, selective focus.

Why don’t I care about shutter control? Because you aren’t trying to stop action in model photography. You want the model in a particular position, you just pose her in it. Also, your strobes are probably going to dictate shutter anyway.

Off Camera Flash

While that is the minimum you need to do good work, it assumes you’ve got good natural light. This isn’t always the case and then you are going to need artificial light. Once you need artificial light you need a way to get the flash off your camera. This is normally accomplished with a hot shoe and a wireless trigger.

You can do off camera flash with studio strobes or small speedlights. But in either case you will need a way to trigger them. When I’m using a speedlight I don’t actually use a wireless trigger, I use a hot shoot extension cable. It has a hot shoe attactement at each end and a curled cord in between. Normally I hold the camera in one hand and the flash at arms length while I shoot, or I have my assistant hold it.

When I’m in the studio I use Pocket Wizards to trigger our studio strobes.

I could never give an indepth lighting course in one post, so I’m going to stop here. But the first place I recommend people go to learn lighting is Strobist.

What’s in My Camera Bag

I’m not a big fan of gear lists, but I’ll do one here for the express purpose of showing you just how little I have. 90% of the images I post are shot with 1 lens, and the other 10% is with a lens I love and rent occasionally.

Camera: Fuji S3
Lens: Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8 SP
Nikon 50mm f/1.8
Strobe: Nikon SB800

That’s all that is in my camera bag. Well actuallly the Tamron is in the shop right now. I forgot to close the camera pass thru on my bag and when I picked it up the camera fell out, breaking the Tamron case. And that is why I own the 50mm, because I realized I had no backup lens.

I bought the S3 a couple of years ago because Fuji has incredible sensors. I also love that it uses regular AA batteries. It has a Nikon mount so you can use those lenses.

Pixie Shot with 70-200
Pixie Shot with 70-200

The lens I rent sometimes, and just love, is the Nikon 70-200 2.8 VR. I’d really like to own it, but haven’t been able to afford it yet.

That’s it. I’ll let you judge if my photography suffers from having so little gear. I don’t think it does.

7 Things To Look For In A Model’s Portfolio

What do I look for when I’m looking at a models portfolio? Of course it depends on the project, but there are some things that I’m always looking for.

I work with a lot of new models and mostly on projects where I’m the creative control. If I’m working on a project for a client, they generally pick the model, or at least give me specific guidelines.

This week I’m going to give you a series of videos where I review model’s portfolios. It is straight stream of consciousness, there is a lot you can learn by watching them all the way through.

What I Look For In A Model’s Portfolio

1. Quality of her images. To me the quality of your portfolio has a lot to do with your experience level. Sometimes it has everything to do with it. If a “model” has nothing but webcam images, she’s brand new. If she has nothing but images from the best photographers, she’s experienced.

2. Attitude. Is she a prima dona? If they spend a lot of time telling you how great they are, why they won’t shoot with just anybody, and how they always get paid, I avoid them. More trouble than they are worth. You’ll notice in one of this week’s video the model started out yelling at you. (She’s changed that since the review).

3. Expression and Pose. This is another quality indicator. New models often have one expression and dead eyes. Multiple expressions – that actually express emotion – show quality. If they look awkward, strange, or only have one pose, that’s something to note. Generally when a model doesn’t pose well, she is going to expect you to give her all the direction. As Valerie told me, getting into some poses and looking serene is tough.

4. Body type and skin quality. I’m probably not going to shoot lingerie or fitness with a plus size model, nor an anorexically thin one. Another big thing I look at is how smooth their skin is. A lot of Photoshop blurring on ALL their images, says they have bad skin.

5. Number of photographers she’s shot with. My feeling is even for the best, hottest model, you need to have shot TFP with at least 5 photographers before you can even think about charging. After that, you better be showing quality with whoever you shoot with. It also shows a work ethic. If they’ve shot with 10 photographers, they show up to shoots.

6. What she’s willing to shoot. If I’m planning glamour I look for lingerie, swimsuit and nudes in her portfolio. I assume if it is in her portfolio, it is something she’s willing to shoot. Sometimes they will specifically say what they want to shoot, which is helpful if it isn’t in their portfolios.

7. VIP or not? If she’ a Model Mayhem VIP, or an OMP paid member, that means she’s serious. Which is good.