Talking to my friend Jane after Sunday’s photoshoot, I remarked to her that shooting nudes was a great way to improve your ability to maintain eye-contact! Though this was said in jest, there is an underlying truth to it, but one that has come back to me while I’ve been processing the images.
The one remaining model whose images I’ve not shared until now is Cassie Jade, and she was the original subject that Eric and the Banana team booked to model nude in the settings of our crumbling mansion. As a highly experienced fitness and nude model she was top of the bill, and of course having worked with her I can see why, not only for her professionalism in front of the camera, but also in her willingness to share feedback and advice when relaxing between shots. With some of the window light we had to work with sculpting her torso, she stretched and twisted to give added definition to the lines and curves revealed by the light.
With her ability to interpret and improve upon my limited direction I got some nice shots, yet I had a bit of a challenge when it came to processing them. Perhaps it’s a hangover from last year’s portrait-per-day project, but I kept wanting to crop in closer to make more of her face. Looking at her portfolio on Model Mayhem, it’s clear that other photographers feel the same way, as there is a good proportion of beauty shots there. So I found myself with a quandary, do I process head and shoulders or include more. I was back to maintaining eye contact!
In the end I resisted the tight cropping. That wasn’t what we were there for on the day, and when she had the courage to stand naked before a room of photographers, the least I could do is try to capture the shapes she created. Beauty can wait for another day.
A rough count of the people who have been good enough to be photographed for this project so far revealed a degree of sexual discrimination. Not through any policy on my part of course, but nevertheless there have been more men than women featured.
Strange really, since you would think I would favour shooting beauty rather than the beast, yet I seem to find more of the latter. Having reflected on the reasons for this I’ve concluded that it is a consequence of attitudes to being photographed.
Unless I have a particular topic in mind for the day I never go out looking to capture images of one sex over another, and I will generally approach anyone who I think will make a good picture. The fact that more women than men have declined my offer may well play a part, but how much of that has conditioned me to expect a masculine “yes” and a feminine “no”? If that is the case perhaps I’m giving off some air of negativity to women that exacerbates the situation.
This week though I have been fortunate in photographing some beautiful women who can help to redress the balance, and even then there has been a spectrum of responses. Men who I approach tend to say “go for it” or words to the equivalent and stand upright ready for the shot. When I photographed Jo on Monday, surprised as she was that I had asked to photograph her at a bus stop, she was prepared to move and pose to suit me. By contrast when I shot Sita on Wednesday, although she knew me well and was keen to pose as requested, her nervousness made her a far less compliant subject.
Today I experienced two different attitudes. Hayley is a photographer’s dream. She’s slim, attractive, wanted to be photographed and was comfortable enough in front of the camera to take direction easily. How could I fail to capture her beauty? (Actually with more time, and the option to try some different locations to counter the bright sunlight I might have got more, but that’s not really how this project works).
I met Hayley at the school where Gill my wife works as she was there for some practical experience and I was running a short session on photography for some of the pupils. I don’t know her well, but I can’t wait to photograph her wedding next year based on working with her today. She’ll be stunning and a dream client.
I was a little early arriving at the school so waited a few minutes in the school office where I photographed one of the school administrators as she was answering the phone. She was too busy to pose, but had no fear of the camera. Unlike Hayley her attitude was one of tolerance rather than enthusiasm. Still got a nice picture of the old “Trouble & Strife” though. Guess which is which? 😉
Randy Newman – You’ve Got a Friend in Me (From Disney/Pixar’s ”Toy Story”)
I’m not here today – this is virtual me writing from a location somewhere in the past.
I’d better explain. Today my friend, colleague, mentor and sounding board Marilyn is marrying Paul and all my energies and attention will be focused on photographing the event which I’m honoured to be doing. This makes a daily portrait blog a little challenging though, because while I know I will have lots of great pictures on my memory card, I’ll not have the resources to upload any, or the time to write any accompanying text. You’ll have to wait a day or two for that blog.
Today is a cheat then. I took the photograph a couple of weeks ago, and as I don’t think it fair to keep someone I’ve photographed in the street waiting more than a few hours I needed to take a different tack, so I called upon the services of a willing model who hasn’t featured in the blog so far this year.
The funny thing is that phrase “willing model” because last year I photographed a series of portraits of her at home as a surprise for her husbands birthday, and she was every bit as uptight and self-conscious as Jade was last week. We were there for a couple of hours, and you could probably have written off the first 30 minutes together with the false smiles and strained neck muscles that went with it.
The session had a transformational effect though. As soon as she had viewed the pictures she had a Damascene conversion and in her words “will pose for anybody now”. What’s more she doesn’t mind how much I process the resulting imagery. (We’ll not mention the roots Jack!).
So when my wife arranged to meet Jackie for a drink recently I saw my chance, and shooting outside the pub for a couple of minutes before the serious girl-talk got underway I shot some pictures that made the most of the evening sun in her enormous eyes. I had a choice between going for the whole arty portrait look or something a bit more natural, but why choose – let’s consider it a favour returned and use both!