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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Pictorial Pugilism

Being a successful model is not all about physical attractiveness. Naturally you can't be grotesque either, but some of the most successful models are not actually particularly stunning in terms of their physicality. Many top models are rather 'everyday' in their appearance, but their diversity, their uniqueness, their 'look' and their charisma for the camera are the very aspects of their saleable persona that grant them access to success and longevity of career. I couldn't tell you how many times I have been in interviews with young engaged couples and assessing the success of the upcoming shoot by the attractiveness of either the bride or the groom or both, only to be once again reminded that photogenic is not about looks. Often the prettiest girls are the least photogenic, while those less attractive can photograph so memorably and even beautifully. Models who wish to diversify and earn well need to recognise this early in their career. They also need to learn that being a model is not about being a pouting, mammiferous offering on the altar of sexuality. The high end shoots - the ones that get you a name and a career - are usually the opposite of those. Pouting sexpots with miles of cleavage are easily found. A model with a diverse range of characters and looks is far more difficult to find but an absolute pleasure to work with. Photographers remember them simply because of their understanding of their part in the creative process and their willingness to contribute.
The team at Creative Photo Workshops were having this same conversation with Sophie, the beautiful young model we have had the wonderful opportunity to photograph and offer to our customers as the subject of our lessons. Her face is exquisite, being perhaps the most perfectly put together combination of features that separately are just as beautiful. However, as we said, being a successful model is much more than that.
So, as a result of our conversation, we spent a day with Sophie recently to help her expand her own repertoire and to get a few great photographs as well. David Oakley kindly organised for us to use the boxing ring where he trains as our first location. Oh yes...David Oakley is a dangerous man, folks...
This location was a great place for us to start. Our first point of call was to set up some flashguns on stands and use some Honl grids to highlight Sophie. Then, we needed to help Sophie come out of her shell. Not that she is a shy person. No, not at all. But rather so that she would not be embarrassed when asked to reveal or enact certain emotions for the photographers she will be working with in future. I couldn't tell you how many times I have worked with models who have one face, one look, one emotion. This is a very ephemeral repertoire without a doubt. Its not even a repertoire, really. Its more like a one hit wonder. Sophie, however, is capable of so much more. Her natural personality reveals that. All we needed to do was break the barrier that constrains her personality for the camera.
After our pugnacious pictures were taken, we moved into a more rural setting and worked one something a little different. It was a fun day all around. The kind of day where you have to tell yourself 'this is not fun. This is what I do for a living'.
But..yeah...its serious fun.


Gonzalo said...

Love your work! Great images

Mark said...

Photographer/model issues. Hmmmm... sounds like a great podcast topic.

The Life, Times and Images of photographer, Shelton Muller

Images on this blog are copyright Shelton Muller