Saturday, October 16, 2010

What about Wardrobe?

The first few photoshoots I did with models were a learning experience, as would be true for any photographer.  One thing I hadn't really put any thought into in the early going was that whole topic of wardrobe.  I mean, of course it was important to me, but I was under the (misguided) assumption that the model would take care of that. 

I quickly learned that the model does not necessarily take care of that.  I remember one of my first shoots, the model telephoned me on the drive to our chosen location to say that she had forgotten to bring any clothes with her.  She asked if it was okay, and we could just shoot nude.  Well, that wasn't what I had in mind, at least not for the entire shoot (let's get there gradually, if we do...).  On a different occasion, I was so pleased to have a model arrive with three enourmous plastic containers full of lingerie, blouses, undergarments, skirts, etc.  That was a particularly fun shoot, because we had so many choices to select from as our ideas evolved during the shoot.  But that latter case was a marked exception.  Wardrobe is something the photographer has to sort out if he/she hopes to achieve any particular result.

So, as I mentioned in a previous blog, I had assembled various pieces of lingerie prior to leaving for my trip. It was a good decision for many reasons, and it was clear as I was packing that these items took very little space in my luggage.  During my trip to Thailand, my experience took me to a new level in terms of preparing wardrobe.

The first model in Thailand I shot was not the first model I met.  I met Xanny Disjad
 a few days before our initial shoot to discuss what we'd do, and get to know each other better. 

This is a practice that should be done with every single shoot, as I've found every aspect of the shoot to be much better and it shows in the end result.  But it's not always possible to arrange this, for a host of reasons.  When I first saw Xanny, I immediately placed her in the category of "professional" models.  First of all, she had as much interest and prioritization on meeting me in advance of the shoot as I had.  This was a sign to me that she takes the work seriously.  Secondly, immediately apparent when seeing her was her attention to detail.  Her makeup was impeccably applied.  She wore a bright red blouse atop black slacks, and accents including matching red earrings.  She popped out of her surroundings the way we photographers want our models to pop out of the page.  Our meeting went very well, and I pretty well knew I did not to worry too much about wardrobe with her.  Anything I had brought would just compliment what she'd bring to the shoot.

My next encounter was with the first model I actually shot.  I won't reveal the identity of this model, because so much of my experience with her put her in marked contrast with Xanny.  She did bring some shoes for the shoot, but aside from the clothes she was wearing, she brought nothing for wardrobe.  Luckily, I had brought seven or eight lingerie outfits with me, and we were able to put together enough to accomplish my goals for the shoot. 

One of the less pleasant surprises for me with this model was her facial complexion.  While this is somewhat removed from the topic of wardrobe, it is related inasmuch as a photographer's need to have as control over the shoot as possible.  I mentioned the importance of having a pre-shoot meeting, and that's an example of what we can do to minimize negative surprises and again, have more control over the end product.  With all the options available for post-processing images in this day, some folks might dismiss the importance of having a "perfect" complexion.  Well, perfection may not exist, and actually isn't all that desireable anyway.  At the same time, I want to spend my time creating ideas, collaborating, and shooting models.  I don't want to spend time using Lightroom or Photoshop to recreate something that was never there in the first place.  Just my personal perspective on that (others may feel differently).  So, one more lesson learned - or rather emphasized - during my Thailand experience.

There's more to say about assembling the wardrobe - to be continued in my next post...

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