How I Became A Glamour Photographer: My First Shoot

Continued from How I Became A Glamour Photographer: An Art I Can Do

I want to impress you. Just like most photographers I want to show you my best work so you will go “Wow you are really good.” Ultimately I do this because I want you to let me teach you about photographing models.

Right now I’m going to show you some bad images.

Why would I do this? Because you need to know I was there. I was where maybe you are right now. I was just starting out. I made lots of mistakes. I learned and got better.

What was I thinking?

I come back from Rolando’s workshop and I’m gung ho. I want to shoot. I go on One Model Place and start looking for models willing to shoot TFP. (If you don’t know what TFP is, sign up for the mini-course in the sidebar.) And I end up with 3. In my first shoot. And I find an MUA willing to do TFP.

Of course everything went wrong.

First, three models for one shoot is a challenge anyway. Heather was 17 at the time. Brought her mom and Dad. She was “experienced” with some actual agency work. The MUA suggested the second model, Carolyn, who was a med student. The last model was a former Hooters girl named Kristin, and this was her second shoot.

Second, the MUA got turned around. She went south on Highway 59 for 30 minutes. I live about an hour north on 59 from where she started. So she was a good 2 hours late.

Third, it was my first shoot in my “studio”. I didn’t know what I needed for a shooting area. So there was no place for them to change. I had to leave the room to let them use it to change. There was no place for makeup, so they used my master bathroom. I’ll talk about my first studio in another post.

I can tell you lots of way to do this better. 🙂 But I did the most important thing right.

I shot the shoot.

There were challenges, but I found models. I communicated with them. I shot them. I gave them images.

Below are 6 images from the shoot. I really cringe to look at them. But they were where I started. Where I found out I could make images outside of a workshop. And where I learned it really was an art I could do.

Did I mention one of the models left a breast behind?

Models leave stuff behind all the time. This being my first shoot, what got left was interesting and good funny story.

After the shoot I found this clear half circle of gel wrapped in plastic in the studio. If you’ve ever seen what a breast implant looks like outside the body, this looked like half of one of those.

I didn’t even know what it was. Kristin, the former Hooters girl, had kind of ended up being the last one there so I figured it was hers. I emailed her and asked. She told me lots of Hooters girls wear them to give themselves a little boost.

See the kind of thing you learn shooting models.

Since that time I’ve shot over 120 models and I’ve gotten a lot better than this. Next time I’m going to talk about how I got classified as a Goth photographer.

How I Became a Glamour Photographer: An Art I Can Do

Continued from How I Became a Glamour Photographer: The Foundation.

I wish I could remember how I ended up there.

It was really important and ultimately changed my life. It is changing my life to this day.


Garage Glamour was a website started and run by Rolando Gomez. It was dedicated to the idea of doing glamour photography on a small scale. You aren’t trying to be Playboy or Maxim, you are a “guy in a garage”.

I don’t much remember what I did on there at first. Probably just looked at the pictures. I didn’t have much of a camera, I was still shooting film. I remember shooting some stuff and getting it developed straight to CD at Wal-Mart. Not the recommended place to get your film developed.

Then I decided to go to a workshop.

My First Workshop

It was August of 2004 and I went to Rolando’s “Glamour, Beauty & the Nude” workshop in San Antonio. Here’s what I blogged about before I went.

My big fears are I won’t be a good enough photographer and won’t know I shot nothing by crap till I get the pictures developed. My hopes are I’ll learn how to take better portraits in general so I can take pictures of friends that they will love. And I want to learn about the business of glamour photography. I’d like another hobby that makes some money.

Well I fixed the first problem. The night before I the workshop I bought a Nikon D70.

I was glad I did.

The workshop spanned two days and after the first day I went back to my hotel room and downloaded the images to my laptop. Looking at them I realized the eyes were soft. This means I wasn’t focused on them. Part of that was caused by very narrow depth of field, part by the newbie mistake I talk about in my 10 Common Mistakes of New Model Photographers report. (Sign up to the left to get that report)

It was a very interesting shooting experience. Here’s an overview I posted back then about how the workshop worked.

The workshop was very busy. You got there at 9, there was about and hour, hour and a half of talking and then you started shooting and kept going until 5:30 or so. You ate lunch standing up in a few minutes between shoots.

There was no shortage of shooting the models. I took over 284 images. That’s how many I brought back, I know I deleted some in camera if the eyes were soft or there was camera shake or any of the other obvious problems. At least I did the second day. The first day I took a lot of picture that would have been good, but the eyes were soft.

A Walk To Remember

One thing I do remember very well. After I got back to Houston, the Mrs and I went for a walk on the greenbelt. I was holding her hand and telling her how much fun I had and I remember saying,

“This is an art I can do.”

I never considered myself much of an artist. I can’t draw or paint or play an instrument.

But I realized I could take pictures and create something artistic. It wasn’t about the beauty of the model. It wasn’t about seeing a woman naked. No, it was art.

It changed my life, and I have been pursuing this art for the 4 years and counting.

Looking at the images below I almost cringe. I see mistakes and low quality I didn’t see at all back then. Those were really great images to me. In my portfolio for years to come.

I must have improved from those images in the next shoot, right? Actually no. I got worst. I’ll show you some bad images next time.

Here are some images from that first workshop.

“What kind of photographer are you?”

I’m in a love hate relationship with this question. It’s kind of like “What Do You Photograph?”

I don’t shoot weddings. Well not often and only for friends or family.

I don’t shoot portraits, though occasionally I’ll shoot a portrait of a friend. I do shoot lots of headshots, which are really a kind of portraits.

What do I shoot? I shoot creative images of models.

My most common answer is “Mostly pretty girls.”

Which conveys the truth in the best possible way.*

If I say, “I shoot glamour and fashion,” some people get the wrong idea. Glamour means everything from Playboy to Glamour Shots in the mall. Fashion implies I make big money shooting extremly skinny models in New York.

Sometimes I say, “Mostly model portfolios.” I think the common person doesn’t really understand what that is, but they think they do.

Plus I do stuff that just doesn’t fit. I shot a Goth Swimsuit Calendar for God’s sake. That sure doesn’t fit anywhere. By design.

That’s the point. The kind of photography I do, and the kind of stuff I teach here at Glamour Apprentice defies categorization. The common denominator is it normally involves a model, which is a beautiful woman.

I can live with that. And it impresses the crap out of most guys. Though they don’t understand either.

* Though if they know the connotation of “pretty girl pics” from the porn world, it doesn’t convey what I do. But the only reason I know that meaning is because of a forum buddy’s blog, Pretty Girl Shooter NSFW. If you don’t want to see pictures of naked women, a Pretty Girl picture are the ones taken for the box covers of porn movies.

Bodyshots with Brenda

Sometimes I see something I really want to shoot close up. These are two examples, the first is Brenda’s awesomely flat belly.

The second is the cool ribbon in her boy shorts. Opened the aperture up for a lot of depth of field.


How I Became a Glamour Photographer: The Foundation

I’m going to tell you the story of how I ended up shooting lots of very beautiful women on a regular basis. I’m telling the story not to toot my own horn, but to show you what is possible. I know there are a lot of photographers out there who will be able to relate to where I was and want to know how I got here.

Its going to be a little involved. My photographic journey really started in high school 25+ years ago, but the most relevant parts happen over the last six years.

Wannabe Filmmaker

There were two things I loved in High School. John Hughes movies and Apple computers.

If anyone asked what I wanted to do when I grew up I told them I wanted to make movies like John Hughes. Yes, I idolized movies like The Breakfast Club, and Sixteen Candles.

But I didn’t go to film school. Instead I pursued both my passions in college. I majored in Mass Communication Radio/TV.

Then I majored in Computer Science.

Then Mass Comm again.

My parents were getting tired of this.

In Mass Comm I took my first photography class, learned to develop film and owned my first SLR, a Nikon 4004s.

Mass Comm won the major race and I got a degree in Mass Comm Radio/TV from Abilene Christian University in 1988. I also me my wife and got married. We moved to West Lafayette, Indiana so she could finish her PhD at Purdue.

I Become A Profession Photographer

I needed a job. I’d done an internship in radio, but when we moved to West Lafayette there weren’t many radio jobs. So I got what I could. I worked in a One Hour Photo/Portrait Studio/Pawn Shop. Yes, all in one.

They had a little studio connected to the one hour place and people would come in and get their pictures taken. My extensive education in photography got me the job.

I learned a lot about photography during those years, but didn’t know it.

I learned studio lighting. While the studio was tiny, it used studio lights and I was taught how to set them for various portraits. And we could play around with them in our spare time.

I learned about developing film. Everything in a 1 hour photo place is pretty automated. But back then you still had to look at the negative and input an exposure compensation to the printer. You get really good at knowing what you are going to get from a negative after a few thousand frames.

Then life changed. We moved from West Layfayette. I went back to school and finished that Computer Science degree and became a Mac Programmer.

I put down the camera and didn’t pick it up for over a decade.

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