March 2013

Planning a shoot..or not



So, how much planning goes into a shoot?  Well, if it’s for a client there is plenty of planning.  After all, there’s a goal in mind and someone is paying to get it.

How about a basic one-on-one model and photographer shoot?  How much planning is to much and how much is not enough?

Here’s how I do it.

First, I consider who I’m shooting.  Hair color and style, eye color, skin, freckles, dimples, just about everything about the persons face goes into the first pass in my mind.  What can I do to make those best features stand out and make it a shoot about them?  People should look at the pictures and either see that I brought something out in the person that they know, or sometimes even better is to show someone in a way no one has ever seen them.  Both are wonderful fun!




So, there are several models I’ve worked with for over a year now and have over a dozen shoots with.  Often we just plan a day and time and get together to shoot.  Very little planning other than some different wardrobe discussed.  We know each other and know the looks and styles we have to bring to the shoot.  We’ll just use the energy and imagination of the moment to come up with something on the fly.  It never fails to be fun, exciting, and far more creative than we expected.  Always.


These two shots are a good example.  Dawn and I have plenty of shoots together.  Probably more than anyone else.  Yet we get together and the ideas start to flow and we knock out a fine memorable shoot.  These two pictures are from one such shoot and there were many other looks in just that one shoot.

That, to me, is a key.  In about 3 hours we did 13 different looks…or what I call sets.  495 images total.  Mixing it up and moving from one look to another can be fun and it keeps the energy flowing in a shoot.  Then, when the shooting is done, I have a full bag of different looks to work with to create my art.

So, bottom line and advice that people might try….don’t plan so much.

Do you want to play in a sand box or a beach?

Slightly surreal…

Those who follow my work…err…play, know that I get all grungy and dirty in some of my shots.  Well, not me, the finished shot.  I love that look in some cases.  As always, it’s season to taste and it doesn’t work for everything, but when it does, it rocks a very thought provoking look.

I’ve had a few people ask how I do this look so I thought I’d share here.


This particular shot was done totally using Lightroom Basic settings all contorted beyond typical and reasonable settings.  Many people never go off the edge to see just how far it can go and that’s to bad.  It’s fun to go to the extremes and find how each changes a shot…and then how they change a shot in combination.  I never teach ‘step by step’ because that doesn’t work with something like Lightroom or Photoshop.  It’s like painting with brushes and tubes of paint on a blank canvass.  Knowing how to ‘feel’ the painting in your mind and then applying the tools to make it happen are the way to do it.  Step 1, step 2, step 3, etc. just doesn’t work.

So, here you go.  How THIS particular shot was made and the settings used.  Try it on a few shots…some will work and some just won’t.  It’s not a magic setting that I use all the time.

Enjoy…good luck…and let me know how it works for you.

Green Jelly Bean

Here’s the deal.  If you shoot models, and you are serious about your work, you will get jealous from time to time for many reasons.  It’s human nature.

You might get jealous when you see a model you’ve shot with work with another photographer who just totally nails a wonderful look.  Everyone would like their work to be the best the model has.  It’s human nature.58589_550241978321791_349991039_n

Sometimes models get jealous when a photographer they shoot with regularly knocks out some great ideas with another model.  Even knowing that they have also shot unique killer sets with that same photographer.  It’s human nature.

I’ve struggled with this and from my conversations with other photographers and models I’m not alone.  Whew!  We all seem to be human…

Here’s the deal.  We are all growing and expanding what we know, who we know, how we do things, how to improve on what we’ve done, and not one of us has done it alone.  We all work together to help in each other’s growth.  This is how it should be.  It’s human nature.

What about that green jelly bean?  Well, personally, I acknowledge it because that’s always the first step in fixing anything.  And, at least in my case, I’m more upset about being jealous than actually being jealous.  But that helps too.  I know it’s dumb and selfish.

I actively encourage the people I work with, models, photographers, support, to work with as many good or great people as they can.  That’s the only way they can grow.  This is how portfolios are built and careers lauched.  And that’s what it’s all about.  I often tell myself that what I’m doing, maybe just one shot I take, will be the one that opens the door to something amazing for that other person.  That’s why we do it.  That’s why I do it.

Will we still be jealous, even knowing it’s silly and wrong?  Oh yeah.

It’s human nature.