Quiet Beauty

Andi, July 2010 Workshop

I shot Andi for the first time about three weeks ago, a diamond in the rough.  She has a quiet unassuming beauty that I love and gravitate towards.    Andi is totally new to modeling and needs camera time which is really hard to come by in Detroit.   I invited her to my workshop so she could watch Chelsey, our featured model, and to add to her book.   My plan was to  shoot her while Chelsey was in hair and makeup and during any down time with “window” light.    A new model can cut down her learning curve tremendously by watching the right model and of course testing like crazy.

The room went quiet when Chelsey started modeling, she was that impressive.  Her grace from one pose to another was beautiful.  I shot Chelsey for her very first photo shoot about 5 years ago and we always have a good laugh about it.  She said it was hard but gives me credit for helping her understand body movement, especially with her hands.

A new model needs to see and understand that their looks are only one component of the industry.  A major part is how much repetitive training goes on.  How fast do they pick up on what we are asking them to do.  Do they practice in between shoots, or do the shoots pick up where you left off  the last time?  Do all the bad habits reappear?

I find the hardest thing to convey is to speak with their eyes and tug slightly in the mouth.  The other thing that is extremely difficult is just to keep the face straight on to the camera…almost impossible for a new model.   Newbies want to “bob” their head around and from the neck down there is limited body movement.

So I invited Andi to come by anytime during the workshop hours of 9am to 6pm.  I have to say I was surprised to see her at 9am in the parking lot, that sent a good signal to me…desire…hey, she could of slept in on a Sunday!  A huge bonus is Andi can do her own hair and makeup and her skin needs no retouching.

The setup for this shot is 100% window light.  I just have all my curtains in the studio open.  She is sitting on a bench I’ve stylized and made a few changes too.  The rod she is holding on to is actually a curtain rod I’ve cut down.  The bench has a top canopy and a cushion cover that I made out of a bedspread from Salvation Army, I’ve attached beads to the canopy from Pier One Imports and draped flowers from Michaels Art Supplies.

The background is two yellow screens from a church second hand shop that use to be a couple of blocks from the studio, boo hoo they closed.  They carried all architectural items that were donated,  prices were dirt cheap.

My most used item in my studio is a folding tri fold mirror screen, but a close second would be all my regular folding screens.  I like how two screens can be made into what looks like a room divider for depth.

One conversation that kept coming up this weekend was what I call rest/negative/architectural aspects of a photograph that I like to balance  organic shapes with.  An example would be the flowers are organic and the yellow screens are architectural/restful.  Small busy areas that are balanced with rest/plain areas.  I never really analyzed it but it does seem to be a thread in my work.  I like for the models face to be featured and tend to “tunnel” the image towards it.

I love this image…it’s effortless on the models part and the colors and shapes are pleasing to my eye.  It’s fun to create this stuff on the spot during workshops and the attendees love to see the process.  I never know what I’m going to shoot, it’s never planned beforehand because I don’t know what the models going to show up with or without.

Shot at 1.6 @ 250 ISO200 in aperture priority mode +1/3 with my 85 1.2…my fav lens  I’ve always been a manual mode shooter but with window light changing it seems to be the way to go.

the testing continues…

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