Sunday, August 19, 2012

Working With a Pro

I love working with the models and developing beautiful images together - something that hadn't existed before we put our efforts together and created something the world would never have seen before.  It's a process that gives me a big charge, and even though I like to work with new models, even those that have never taken part in a serious shoot before, there is a distinctive freedom, almost a luxury, in working with a real pro.  I had that pleasure this past weekend.

Through circumstance and a bit of luck I was able to book some time with the lovely Ms. Jacqueline Tang.  We had exchanged a few emails, but since she's not in the San Francisco area full time these days, it seemed it would be difficult to arrange.  However, I got a note from her a few days before this past weekend indicating that she'd be in the area, and had some time to shoot.  I didn't have anyone booked that day, so we quickly put a plan together.

The difference in working with someone who takes modeling seriously, as a profession, became apparent immediately.  The first thing I noticed (a liberating experience) was how she responded to emails promptly and thoroughly.  We discussed all the usual particulars, and things solidified very quickly.  This was a tremendous help to me, as I was able to engage in the tasks of rounding up wardrobe and props we'd need for our concept.  Having this level of engagement with her gave me all the confidence I needed to scramble around to different stores and basically put my mind into the creative process for the shots.  I spent time sketching the layout of the lighting, reflectors, flags, etc., and planning which backdrops I'd use.

While I've somewhat come to terms with the "flakiness" of models (it comes with the territory), I'd have to admit it's always a distraction wondering if that's going to be a factor in any particular shoot.  Also, in the past couple of months, I've had more than my usual share of last minute curveballs.  In this way, Jacqueline's communication and reliability were incredibly refreshing and encouraging.  Even the day of the shoot,  a few hours before our scheduled time, she sent me a message to confirm she'd soon be on her way.

The next thing I noticed that was a bit extraordinary was that she actually arrived at the exact time we'd agreed upon.  I also noticed that she'd brought with her two boxes of accessories (bracelets, necklaces, earrings, etc.).  Little things, but details that add a lot of snap to the shots.

Upon arriving she was quickly ready to shoot.  We started off with the first set, and within two of three shots she was already in the zone.  It was readily apparent she possessed a great deal of poise in front of the camera.  She knew her look, and how to position herself and hold particular facial or bodily expressions to create the desired effect.

When it came to posing, again it was easy as pie to work with her.  I would suggest a certain pose, which she'd immediately respond to, and then gradually improvise on this to create subtle variety and help us get the desired images.  Often, her own adaptation to an initial pose would lead me (or her) to think of a new idea, enabling us to build from there.

We finished shooting three different concepts, which included a fair amount of changeover time in my sets, in about 2.5 hours.  By the end of the shoot, I knew I'd gotten exactly what I was hoping for, and realized that the only challenge remaining would be to pick the best shots out of the day's work.

I have had the good fortune of working with about a dozen very good models.  One of the things that is apparent is that some models really study their own work.  When they receive copies of the shots (I do provide copies of every shot), they will review them carefully to see which of their poses and facial expressions are resulting in the look they were aiming for.  This "homework" is astonishingly apparent in the results.

I hope that some of the aspiring models out there that might happen to read this blog will take a moment to reflect on some of the observations shared in this entry.  In summary, I can say that many of the things that separate the good from truly outstanding models are in the little things.  Attending to ALL of the little things with a great deal of care.  It makes a huge difference in the final result.

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