Posts tagged ‘photography’

April 6, 2011

Getting Into VOGUE: FashionIndie Figured It Out!

Blogger Lester, for FashionIndie, wrote about the 10 poses that’ll get you into VOGUE magazine.  He included examples of each pose, from the magazine itself as well as his own take on the pose.  Definitely worth a read, as it’s pretty darn funny 🙂  I think this is my favorite set of pics from the two-part blog:

Anyway, here are the links so you can check it out for yourself:

  1. 10 Poses To Get You Into Vogue, Part 1
  2. 10 Poses To Get You Into Vogue, Part 2

Perhaps I’ll do a self-portrait montage over the weekend… after all, practice makes perfect, right? 😉

March 16, 2011

The 4 Types of Critiques

At the Meet & Greet over the weekend, the subject of critiques came up.  I had been wanting to write on critiques for quite some time, because as a model, you have to be able to handle a critique quite well, or you risk burnout and ego destruction.  However, I’ve been struggling with exactly how to write that blog.  But then a few of us had a conversation on being constructive when critiquing, and I figured that would be a good topic to write on first, especially because it’s something all members of the modeling world deal with, no matter what facet of the industry you’re in.

As I see it, there are 4 different types of critiques: the Unhelpful, the Unicorns & Rainbows, the I’ll Do Your Job For You, and the Constructive.  As someone who makes their living as a creative, as well as being a hobbyist model, I’ve been at the receiving end of all 4 of these kinds of critiques before, and have been from the time I was a kid taking art classes after school.  I’ve also been on the delivering end of most of them as well.

The Unhelpful Critique
This kind of critique is when the criticizer simply tells the artist “I don’t like this” or “this sucks”, without giving a reason or a suggestion as to what can be improved.  Generally speaking, it’s a rather harmful critique as all it really does is damage the criticized party’s ego, without guiding them on improving their work.

That said, it’s not always a critique that’s given with bad intentions.  Sometimes, the critic might honestly not know how to improve a piece–either they don’t have the knowledge to express what needs to be changed, or they might honestly be at a loss for words.  In the latter case, this may mean scrapping the project and starting again, because that’s what needs to be done.

As someone who’s being critiqued, this type of critique is often very frustrating to receive.  Knowing something isn’t good, but not knowing what it is you need to do to improve it is a huge challenge.  Sometimes, it means just stepping back and looking at your art and asking questions.  Largely, the best question to ask is, “what is the ultimate goal of this piece?” because knowing what it is you want the viewer to take away, and making sure you’ve succeeded in that, is helpful.  It may also help to take a break from that piece of art, and work on something completely different for a bit, and then come back to it.  Taking a step away from something, and then revisiting it, might help you see it in a new light.

As a critic, this can be a hard critique to give as well.  Sometimes, you know something isn’t right, but you’re not quite sure what it is about it that’s off.  Of course, saying that instead of just saying “this blows” is helpful in itself, to some degree, but yea.  It can be hard to articulate, especially at first look, what’s wrong with a piece.  I find that thinking out loud can help both the critic and the artist.

The Unicorns & Rainbows Critique
The Unicorns & Rainbows critique is the opposite of the Unhelpful in the sense that the critic raves about how wonderful the piece is, and can’t find anything in it that needs to be changed or improved.  This one could also be called the Mom Critique, because many mothers are notorious for thinking their kids produce the best work out there 😉

It’s rare that a finished piece is entirely perfect, and sometimes, the artist needs to know what it is that’s not right about it (especially if they’re having second thoughts about it, or it is something different from what they normally produce).  Getting a Unicorns & Rainbows critique can be frustrating if you’re serious about hearing what it is about your work that needs to be improved upon.  If you just want to hear how great you are, or can’t handle being told you and your work aren’t perfect, then this is the critique for you!

The I’ll Do Your Job For You Critique
This is, largely, a harmful critique as well.  In an I’ll Do Your Job For You critique, the critic literally tells the creator what they need to do to improve their piece, and in media where it’s doable, the critic may even pick up a brush (or pencil, tablet pen, whatever) and literally do the work.

When discussing critiques, I recalled a painting I’d done when I was a kid (7 years old, I believe).  It was a beautiful still life of a vase of flowers, and my parents framed it and hung it in their house.  And yet, instead of being proud of it, all I could do was look at it with disdain, because it wasn’t wholly my work, and I felt like a fake having it framed and having my parents be proud of me for painting it.  Why?  Because at one point, I was struggling with shading one flower, and when I finally decided to ask for the art instructor’s help, she came over.  But instead of saying “hey, you can try shading that pale yellow with other colors, instead of just trying purple like the color wheel says you should”, she picked up my brush, mixed a few colors, and shaded my flower for me.  She did my job, instead of guiding me by giving me an idea, and thus the tool to do it myself.

An I’ll Do Your Job For You critique is essentially the same thing.  Telling someone exactly what they need to do to fix their work not only robs them of the tool they would learn by figuring it out themselves, but it also takes away their creativity by turning their vision into someone else’s.

The Constructive Critique
This is the most helpful kind of critique.  In a Constructive critique, the critic not only says, “I don’t like this” but tells the artist what he or she doesn’t like about it.  In a photograph, it might be, “the lighting is a little off” or “the pose isn’t that strong” or “the colors are a little washed out”.   Note that the help doesn’t come in the form of actually outlining what needs to be done to fix the shot, but instead simply states what the critic finds wrong with the shot.  This gives the artist a chance to analyze how to fix the issue, which helps them grow as an artist, which is really what a critique should do.

Sometimes, there can be a fine line between a Constructive and an I’ll Do Your Job For You critique.  Telling a new photographer, for example, that they need to use a reflector to lessen the harsh shadows on a model’s face is cutting out some of the guesswork when it comes to lightening the shadows, but it also still leaves them room to figure out where to place the reflector, how to hold it, and otherwise troubleshoot the problem.  That’s a good thing.  If you were on the shoot, however, and you just grabbed a reflector and said, “use this” and then placed and held the reflector for them, then you’ve just done the thinking for them, and the work needed to fix the problem.  That’s bad.  As a critic, it falls on you to know where the line lies, and make sure you don’t cross it.

Best way to serve a critique? The Critique Sandwich
In addition to these 4 types of critiques, there’s also what some call the Critique Sandwich.  This is when someone gives a critique in a format that’s generally “something positive, something negative (or sometimes, a few negative things), something positive”.  Usually, teachers use it so as not to totally bruise the egos of their students, because it starts and ends with a complement of their work.  Often, it’s a good way to give an overall critique.

So there you have it.
My thoughts on critiques 🙂

March 11, 2011

My Pre-Shoot Prep & Pep Routine

After so many years modeling (gosh, it feels weird saying it that way, but it’s true), I’ve gotten into, what I feel is, a great pre-shoot routine.  I’ve decided to take some time to share it with you, because a lot of new models have been asking about it.  I opted to start a few weeks out, instead of just the night before, because I do a lot of work for every shoot I do, and it’s generally much appreciated.

Few Weeks to 1 Week Out:

  • Work on getting a few basic ideas set with the photographer, to make sure we’re on the same page.
  • Once ideas are set, scan thru ideas folders for pose, wardrobe, and hair/makeup inspiration.
  • Put ideas into a separate folder and organize by look (using more folders).
  • Send a couple shots to the photographer as a “here’s what I’m thinking” kinda thing.  Generally it’s just hair, makeup and wardrobe ideas.  This concretes that we’re on the same page.

2 Days Before:

  • Print out all ideas, organized by look.
  • Gather up all wardrobe and accessories I plan on wearing, and try on all outfits.
  • Make adjustments as necessary (not everything looks as good on as it does in my head).
  • Any major adjustments to wardrobe get sent in a note to the photographer.  Minor changes are hand-written on printouts.
  • Make sure all wardrobe is clean, nicely hung, and pressed (if necessary).

The Night Before:

  • Get wardrobe/accessories and any hair/makeup products together.
  • Make a list of all items coming with me to the shoot (wardrobe, accessories, shoes, undergarments, etc.).
  • Make sure any ideas I have (printouts of poses, wardrobe ideas, etc.) are in bag.
  • Make sure everything that is coming with me is by front door so nothing gets forgotten. (Now that I have a garage, I could load up the car the night before instead, but some things might not be great exposed to heat/cold overnight, and others might be best left hanging as long as possible to prevent wrinkles.)
  • If, for whatever reason, something can’t be put by the front door, write a note and stick it to the doorknob.
  • Write down phone numbers, addresses and basic directions.  Make a second copy of same to have at home.
  • Create shoot playlist for iPod for drive to shoot. (I generally base this around the theme of the shoot, and vary it per shoot.)
  • Plug in cell next to bed to charge.
  • Set alarm for 2 hours prior to when I have to leave.  (I do this even if it’s a different alarm from my wake up, so I know when I need to start getting ready.)
  • Get in the shower to shave legs, do face mask, and deep condition hair.  Do not dry hair after shower–let air dry.
  • Take a hot bath with a glass of white wine, a few cubes of cheese, and good book.  (Remember to lock dog out of bathroom to avoid whining and/or nudging of wine glass into tub.)
  • Get to bed early enough to allow at least 7-8 hours of sleep.

The Morning Of:

  • Wake up, brush teeth, and shower (don’t condition hair, and shave pits in shower, just before hopping out).
  • Have a small bowl of cereal, or 2 scrambled eggs, and coffee.  Quick, easy breakfast that won’t make me bloat, and won’t have my tummy grumbling an hour into the shoot.
  • Brush teeth again.
  • Dress in loose fitting clothes to avoid lines, regardless of what I’m shooting.
  • Load up car.  Double check to make sure everything is in car.
  • Make sure I have purse, cell phone and iPod, as well as directions and photographer’s info.
  • Drop photographer a “leaving my place now” call or text.
  • Plug in iPod and start awesome playlist.
  • Head out.
  • If there’s time, swing by a gas station or Walgreens and grab a 20oz. bottle of Mountain Dew.  (Because I’m a caffeine addict.)

So there you have it.  Lots of work, and lots of little details, but it’s a routine I’ve gotten pretty familiar with now (hence why I’m calling it a routine) 🙂  Even after a break, I find myself falling naturally into it.

February 21, 2011

Get Your GWC Gear!

Model Insider has launched their apparel site, with a full line of great T-shirts and more (as well as even more coming soon)!  GWC Gear is home of the famous “I Look Better Naked” shirt 😀

So, check them out at www.gwcgear.com!  You can also follow GWC Gear on Twitter and fan them on Facebook!

Oh, and hey, they have a 10% off special for their President’s Day launch!  Use the code “fbm10” for 10% off on your purchase of the first limited run of “I Look Better Naked” shirts, available in mens’ or fitted womens’ styles!  The offer’s only good until end of business day Monday the 21st (today!), so order now!

February 17, 2011

Episode 89 is up!

Check out my interview with Ron and Shawna of Photographer & Model!

http://www.photographerandmodel.com/blog/2011/02/17/ep-89-model-rachel-jay/

Shout out to Christin C, who I should have mentioned, but forgot because they threw me with “other models or photographers” 😦  Sorry girl!  You know I love you (and not just because you got me hooked on dirty martinis LOL)!!

February 17, 2011

Interview!

Don’t forget, tonight my interview with Ron and Shawna from the Photographer & Model podcast goes up!  Look for Episode 89 here: http://www.photographerandmodel.com/podcast.php (I’ll post a permalink to my specific episode next week… I’ll be on the road this weekend.)

While you’re waiting to check out my episode, check out these other pretty darn useful blog posts and webcasts of theirs!

February 9, 2011

Checking References

Often times, one of the first things a model is told when she asks “how do I know this guy is legit” or “how do I stay safe” is that she should check references.  While not foolproof or a 100% guarantee that the photographer won’t be a sleezebag and will get you images back, it’s a good starting point.  I check references on all photographers I’m working with for the first time.  Male or female.  Paid or trade.  Here’s how I go about doing it.

Looking at Credited Models & Sending Messages
I go through the photographer’s portfolio and look at their recent photos.  Provided they’ve credited the models on their photos, I send a message to 3-5 models they’ve recently worked with (using the photo upload date as a gauge).  From there, I move to their profile and look at the credits section, and randomly choose an additional 3-5 models and message them (I have, lately, been making sure the models have been active within the last month, preferably the last week).  If there are any models I know personally, I will send them a note in addition to the other notes I’ve sent out, though I don’t send more than 4 of these out.  This means, I’m sending no less than 6 messages out, and sometimes as many as 12.

I send so many messages out because I find that often, models don’t get back on reference checks.  I’m not sure why, but that seems to be the case.  I like to have at least 3 models let me know how their experience was with a photographer, so the more messages I send out, the higher my chances of getting the feedback I need.

When There Are No Credits
In the event a photographer has zero credits listed, things get a little trickier.  Occasionally, I’ve matched up a model to her photo, but that’s rare.  I ask the photographer directly for a list of references to contact via whatever site I’m on, though I prefer not to leave it just at that.  I also spend some time looking through the photographer’s tags and see if there are any “great shoot” type tags.  If so, I’ll message those models.  I’ve even messaged a MUA I’ve worked with in the past, for her take on things.

Another thing I’ve done in the event of zero credits is drop a line to a few of the other experienced models in the area, asking if they know anything about the photographer or who he might have worked with.

There’s also been a rare case where I’ve used www.tfp.me to search for forum posts by that member.  I do this either to gauge attitude, or because I’ve felt that “hey, why do I feel like I’ve talked to this guy before” feeling.

The Actual Message
When I send my messages out, I make it clear what I’m looking for in the subject of my message.  Often, it’s something like, “Reference Check: [Photographer Name]”.  I make sure I use the name they list themselves as on whatever site I’m using, at least in the subject, so there’s less confusion.

In the body of the message, I keep it as brief as possible, just letting them know that [Photographer Name] is interested in working with me, and noting that I saw they had worked together.  I often give a link to the photographer’s profile on that site, again to help lessen confusion.   I politely ask them if they’d take a minute or two to answer a few quick questions, so that I can be sure I want to work with them.  I make sure to not disclose what arrangement the photographer has contacted me for (paid or TF*), or to color the waters with any initial impressions I may have.  I also make sure to thank them for their time.

The Questions
I have come up with a list of specific questions regarding what I want to know about a photographer prior to working with them.  I modify the list every so often, adding questions as situations arise (or as references come back) that make me think “huh, I would have liked to have known that in advance” or “well, knowing that would certainly have changed things”.  Here is my list of questions I ask models when I check a photographer’s references.

  • Was it your first time working with [Photographer Name]?
  • If not, how many times did you work together?
  • Did you work directly with [Photographer Name], or someone else?
  • Was there a MUA, assistant, or other industry-related person on set?
  • If so, were they there the whole time?
  • Was anyone present on set that you were not aware would be there?
  • Did you bring someone along with you that wasn’t related to the shoot?
  • Where did you shoot (i.e. location, studio, home)?
  • Was the photographer on time, and was he ready to shoot when you were?
  • Was the shoot paid or trade?
  • If the shoot was trade, did you receive portfolio-ready images in the time frame promised?
  • Was the photographer generally courteous and professional?
  • Did anything happen that would cause you to not shoot with the photographer again?

I duplicate some of these if I need to check a MUA’s reference, though I haven’t done that in awhile because I have found a few select MUAs I enjoy working with, and opt to work with them regularly instead of dealing with finding new people and risking them not showing up, being unsanitary, whatever.  In the rare case that I’m booking a model for something, I use many of the same questions as well.

Making It Easy For Others
I have discovered that sometimes, photographers don’t credit models on photos, and sometimes type numbers into their lists correctly (I imagine this isn’t exclusive to photographers either, but I’m going by what I’ve found).  This makes it difficult to check references.  So, whenever possible, credit the people you’ve worked with, and make sure that if you’re keeping a list of people you’ve worked with by member number, that you correctly note that number.

More You Can Do
If a model wants to expand on checking references (or is using, say CraigsList to book and there’s no network or profile to help find people they’ve worked with), these 2 articles give some great pointers.

February 7, 2011

Why Taking a Break is Necessary

Back in December I announced that I was taking a break from modeling, and while I said I planned on coming back, at the earliest, sometime in March, I’m still a bit undecided to some degree.  When I announced my break, I got a lot of people questioning my reasons for the break from modeling, and I am still getting asked about it (especially with my new look and shoot with Laura Ann of Fleur de Lis Photography).

So, I’ve decided to expand on things a little bit.  Not necessarily to explain myself or share my reasoning (because, frankly, I shouldn’t have to), but because it might give some of you an insight into a hobbyist’s mind when it comes to hobby modeling, setting priorities, and life in general.

With modeling being a hobby, I model when I have time to. Because I enjoy modeling, I often make the time to model, and that means missing out on time spent with the family (even if that’s just my husband and our dog) and skipping events I might otherwise be interested in attending.  I’ve even missed family events, since, once I’ve scheduled a shoot, I opt not to cancel unless the situation is dire enough to warrant it, and that’s rare.

When I shoot, I try to book at least 4 hour blocks of time, if not more.  When you count the travel time, on average, I’ve invested about 6 hours (figure an hour there and back, since I live far away from pretty much anything) of my day into a 4 hour shoot.  Add hours onto the shoot and/or travel time, and suddenly I’m out for longer than I am during the average work day.

The time spent at a shoot isn’t the only time I spend on modeling though.  I spend hours saving wardrobe, lighting and pose ideas I find, and then spend hours going through saved ideas for specific shoots (and sometimes seek out more ideas when I don’t have something that fits my vision).  I also regularly practice posing and expressions, and spend a fair amount of time networking, searching and answering castings, and otherwise involving myself in the (internet) modeling world.  And then there’s the modeling-related writing I do too, of course, since I do a fair amount of that (though much of it is still in draft form).

Another thing that I had to consider was the return on investment. Not only does modeling take up a decent amount of my time, but I generally model at a loss.  Purchasing wardrobe, shoes and accessories for a shoot adds up.  I try to buy items I can wear regularly, or at least again for a shoot, but it can be tough.  Yea yea, I know photographers spend a lot of money on gear, lenses and all that crap, and that we make choices to spend the money on our hobbies.  Buying clothes, shoes and accessories I might not be able to wear normally has been a choice I’ve made, and I’m ok with that to some degree.  The more I do it though, the less ok I am with it.

The amount of photographers willing to hire me prior to my taking a break was slim.  I’m not sure if it was the economy, the fact that I don’t do nudes, the fact that some photographers don’t see a value in hiring a reliable, good model who knows how to pose and emote, some other reason I’m not thinking of, or a combination of the 4, but bottom line is, I have been getting fewer paying jobs than most people think.  That alone makes it hard, because this means that, like I said, I’m modeling at a loss.

And sure, there’s working trade, but there’s problems with that too. The problem is, I trade up, which means, I only trade with photographers whose work is better than what I have in my portfolio.  If a photographer cannot give me images that are as high of quality as I currently have in my book, then it’s not an even trade.  I’m already modeling at a loss when it comes to spending time on coming up with ideas and money on wardrobe… why would I shoot and get nothing usable for it?  I wouldn’t.

And then there are the photographers I work trade with who don’t give images back to me.  Essentially, it means I’ve worked uncompensated.  This has increasingly become a problem.  So much so, in fact, that I’ve virtually stopped attending TF* group events, and have rarely worked trade with anyone outside a select group of photographers I know are reliable when it comes to returning images in a timely fashion.  But that limits me and the work I get back.

Not that it really matters, in the long run, all this stuff.
Portfolio building, and all that just doesn’t matter… why?  I can’t quit my job and sign with a modeling agency because, largely, my stats aren’t those that modeling agencies are looking for.  I can’t even go sign with a talent agency, because while my work might be flexible enough, I’m a salaried employee with full benefits currently, and can’t risk losing that or my benefits changing.  My husband runs his own company and I’m the primary breadwinner and sole benefit recipient for the both of us, health insurance included.  If we lose my income and my benefits, it would be very bad.

Life & Choices
Anyway, my circumstances had become such that I had to make choice: take time out of my life for the hobby that continually drains my wallet and provides little ROI, or have time and money to take care of other (more important) things.  And while I really do love modeling, the choice wasn’t a tough one.  I simply need to shift my focus and priority, and sacrifices need to be made.  Whether or not it’s a temporary one (as I’m currently planning it to be) or a permanent change, depends on how I feel after everything that needs to get done, is done.

Please, if you’re going to comment here, comment on the content of the blog, and not the fact that I’m taking a break from modeling.  Leave those comments for my Facebook page, please.

February 3, 2011

Trade vs. Free vs. Paid

Trade.
There are many ways to arrange a TF* shoot, but to avoid over-complicating the situation, let’s just stick with Trade For Images/CD/Prints, because that’s the most common form of TF*.  Working trade, or TF*, means that the parties who agree to work on a trade basis are both going to benefit from the shoot.  It doesn’t necessarily mean they are benefiting from the same shots from the same set they shoot, but regardless, they are both getting work they can use for their portfolios.

In the case of working trade, the photos received after the shoot are viewed as fair and equal compensation.  They may not have specific monetary value (meaning you can’t pay your water bill with a photo you receive from a trade shoot), but they have value in the sense that they can be used to improve portfolios and (hopefully) further careers.  In theory, if you wanted to attach a dollar value to a trade shoot, you could say the model posed for $50/hour, and the photographer charged $50/hour for the studio session and retouching services combined, so the two values canceled each other out.

Trade agreements are often individual things, and vary per shoot, per person.  There are largely no rules when it comes to trade shoots.  That is, discuss all trade agreements in advance prior to working with someone, even if it’s someone you’ve worked with before, to ensure you are properly compensated for your time, and vice versa.

Free.
Typically, if one party cannot benefit from working with the other, it is such that they ask to be paid in order to be properly compensated for their time.  If, for whatever reason that person chooses, they opt to not have money exchange hands, they would then be working for free.  The party who will not benefit from the shoot, but is not asking for monetary compensation in exchange for their time, is donating their time and experience, knowing full well that they will not benefit from the shoot, nor will they receive fair compensation for their time.

Now, it’s possible that someone who works for free can benefit from the arrangement.  After all, it’s likely they will get a positive review from the person they worked with, and might therefore have others interested in hiring them.  But generally, those who work for free do not count on this happening.  Which is largely why many do not work for free, but instead opt to trade with parties that will benefit their books.

“Free” is not the same as donating time to a charitable cause.  That’s entirely different, and not something I’m discussing now.

Paid.
More often than not, when one party will not benefit from working with the other, the non-benefiting party will send rates.  By applying their rates to the shoot, the non-benefiting party is receiving fair compensation for their time, since they will not benefit from the images they receive from it.

If someone quotes you a rate, it’s not cute to quote them a higher rate back and say “ha, look at that, my rates are higher, so you pay me”.  Chances are, they sent you rates because don’t think you’re worth working trade with.  If working trade with you won’t benefit them, chances are, they’re not interested in paying you.

Note.
Let’s note that I haven’t once mentioned the amount of money any of the involved parties spent on gear, training, gym memberships, wardrobe, or any of that BS.  It’s not relevant.

January 24, 2011

Upcoming Interview

I was just contacted by Ron over at www.photographerandmodel.com.  They want to interview me for their Podcast! 🙂 Supercool!

We’ll be recording February 11, and the episodes are released every Thursday at 1A.  So you’ll probably get to hear my spot Feb 17th or so.

I’ll post more about this as it gets closer, but if you have any questions, feel free to add them to the comments and I’ll see if Ron and co-host would be willing to ask them.

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