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Its All in the Details

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Jamie-Ann-COVER“Some of the Finer Points of the Modeling-Photography Industry”

Written by Rick Trottier – RJT Images

 

We’ve all heard the maxim, “It’s all in the details” as it applies to whatever enterprise we become absorbed in and seek mastery of. The problem tends to be determining what those essential details are, which ones need thoughtful attention and those that are extraneous and can be ignored. In most cases, people make poor choices managing details due to lack of knowledge. But that weakness can easily be amended with a degree of serious study. However, there are times when simple vanity is the hindrance and the hubris/immaturity of wanting something “your way” can cause stumbles aplenty. When the two afore-mentioned problems combine and make merry in the field of ineffectiveness, a real absence of professional understanding is the culprit. In the world of photography-modeling where social media and easily accessible tools make everyone “think” they can be “a photographer” or “a model”, obvious deficiencies stand out time and again and all that is missing is some careful attention to detail. A handy guide to some of the most important details worth considering is something that most hobbyists and dabblers would do well to embrace. Even a few “professionals” could really benefit from some technical “soul-searching”.

 

Photographers

IMG_3 - Ashley Charlotte

IMG_5 - Megan JuliaPhotographers live by the understanding that lighting is everything and to a large extent that is true. Fabulously absorbing use of light has the ability to draw any audience into an image and hold them there. The problem is determining precisely what kind of lighting works for the situation that is presented. I see images on Instagram where a PORTION of the naturally lit picture looks fantastic, but because of the limitations of the natural radiance details in the hair and outfit of the model are lost due to low intensity of ambient light. So the question is a simple one, what is the purpose of the image? In the case of the photograph I recall, there was no obvious reason for its existence except showcasing the fabulous backside of the model. It had clearly not been created for commercial and publication purposes and was just another “social media” attention-grabbing pic. But even then, the image could have been superb had the photographer just paid attention to some details. The model was dark-haired, dark-skinned and wearing a small amount of dark attire. As such, the low light meant the image was certainly going to be atmospheric, but it was too much so. Adding a bit of fill light from a reflector or some type of fill flash or static light would have preserved the moodiness of the image but still have made the missing details more evident and improved the overall impact of the picture. Shadows, highlights, rim lighting, gradations of light, backlighting and all kinds of other techniques to create dynamic lighting are part of the arsenal of a great photographer, but so is having a grasp of the reasons for creating an image. Choosing the right kind of lighting source for the correct occasion is one of the best details to consider before clicking the shutter. Just “winging it” and using a type of lighting you feel a degree of comfort with could very well produce unimpressive results.

IMG_30 - Jamie Ann

IMG_14 - Ashley CharlotteFew photographers today seem to have a grasp of the principles of composition and are more about just pasting a hot girl in a picture, showcasing her assets and calling it “art”. If an image breaks all the accepted doctrines of composition, it isn’t art, it’s a mess. Pablo Picasso may have turned the Art World upside down many times because of his ability to re-think STYLE and art PHILOSOPHY, but he always used principles of composition in his paintings. Understanding details and how they relate to the manner in which a photograph is composed is nearly as important as the quality of the lighting in an image. I’ve seen images with brilliant lighting fall flat on their faces because they do not apply some time-honored artistic concepts. The lines of any image, whether it be a painting, photograph, mosaic or etching must create a harmonious flow and be balanced in several ways in regards to the subject and the background of the picture. The eye of the viewer must enter the composition at a specific point and exit at another point, moving sinuously and easily through the pose of the subject. Background lines should be composed in such a fashion that they create dynamic energy assisting that flow from entry to exit, bringing the eye of the viewer easily to the most engaging elements in the image. An image must be appropriately weighted for its primary subject and have at least one significant area of “negative space”. And that weight has to be carefully considered for too little negative space and the picture will be exceedingly busy. Too much negative space and the image will lack energy and intensity. Whether it’s the Golden Ratio or the Rule of Thirds, composing lines to achieve an appropriate sense of flow and weight is essential to a harmonious composition. Partly this thoughtful arrangement is achieved before bringing the camera to the photographer’s eye in some form of planning, partly it is achieved “in camera” by assessing the plan and managing its execution and then the crop of an image finalizes the process by tightening all the components. Without careful thought as to how an image is composed, the likely outcome is something that does not engage the viewer intellectually and emotionally. Composition is a detail that must be considered and then re-visited to achieve the impact desired.

 

IMG_12 - Clarissa

IMG_7 - ChrissyFinally, I hear a lot of talk today about editing images and how pictures should be natural and un-retouched. Such is the idiotic knee-jerk reaction and over-compensation to the overly edited magazine images of a few years ago and the hyper-edited content found in social media today. Like it or not, digital photography needs to be appropriately processed and those who disdain that necessity walk outside the realm of realistic understanding. For example, nature images in some of the best magazines showcasing outdoor photography are HEAVILY edited and processed, from color saturation, to noise reduction, to dodging and burning details, to removing distracting elements using the clone tool to a thousand other methods of strengthening the impact of a fabulous photograph. When editing photographs of models, understanding who your audience is and balancing it with what a client wants is essential. As to audience, since most images today are ending up on some form of social media without any possible use of the image for publication, commercial promotion or advertising usage, “photographers” can edit images without restraint and without any concern for the picture’s usability. As such, what is seen on Instagram is not always an accurate depiction of the “photographer’s” skills when it comes to lighting, composition and posing a model. And certainly you may not be seeing an accurate representation of the model either. On the other hand, I see images on social media that are entirely unedited and look like they have been taken with a Polaroid found in someone’s attic covered in decades of dust and mouse droppings. In the case of images for publication and commercial use, the levels and techniques of editing fall somewhere in the middle. As a magazine editor once said to me, “we want these girls to look polished and beautiful but we also want them to look like people”. So finding a middle ground where editing looks as natural as possible but where a glamorous “glow” is achieved is one of those details that can support the photographer who achieves outstanding lighting technique coupled with a deeper understanding of artistic composition.

IMG_6 - Kaity

IMG_14 - Ashley CharlotteModels

Being on the other side of the camera does present an interesting challenge for any model. Of paramount importance is looking her best and an experienced/talented model who has mastered her posing technique and range of facial expressions is well on her way to doing that. Since lighting, composition and editing are the province of the photographer, the details a model must be concerned with are issues that are within her control. Women, by their nature, tend to be highly attuned to focusing on details, and this can be both a huge benefit to the serious model but it can also be a serious detriment if she finds herself “stressing” about insignificant details and losing sight of what’s really important. For example, when a model selects outfits for a shoot, she needs to keep some basic “rules of thumb” in mind. First, be totally honest with yourself about the strengths and weaknesses of your figure. Too often I see girls become enamored of some piece of attire that looks fabulous on the girl in the catalog. However, they fail to assess whether their own figure is anything like the build of the model wearing that garb they chose and if that article of clothing will fit appropriately. No one likes to admit weaknesses, but a smart professional model knows what side the bread is buttered on and plays to all her strengths. In that same line of thinking is evaluating what kinds of looks a model can most successfully accomplish and pursuing those as opposed to what she “wants” to do. I once heard a 5’2” curvy young lady talk about her desire to be a fashion model. It was a delightful goal, but unattainable. But when she put on sexy, glamorous looks, she shone like a star. Being honest about what is possible and what isn’t is another guiding principal when choosing outfits for shoots. Finally, don’t fall into the trap of shooting the same color over and over. For some girls it’s black, for others it’s pink. Successful models know how to market their looks masterfully and moving past personal tastes and finding what prospective clients want from them is one of the most important details a model can learn to control.

IMG_21 - Lily Marie

IMG_27 - ShaunaAs was mentioned before, women can often time focus on details with such overwhelming intensity and precision that they miss some the most important components of “the big picture”. A perfect example of that is how often a girl has come to me just before a shoot has begun, torn asunder by her concern about the condition of her toenail polish or some related minutiae. My response has often been to get her to reflect on where these images are going to end up. “A Men’s Magazine,” is her gentle reply, to which I respond that most men looking at these magazines really don’t care in the least about your toenail polish and that it is the other qualities that make her special that will draw their attention. A sweet smile ensues as the model sees the wisdom in my statement and the stress she was feeling begins to sluice away. Often times such minor issues like a bruise, a small rash, a minor blemish or other tiny “issues” take up far too much of a model’s mental energy for she is thinking about details that WOULD be of concern were she to be going out on the town with friends or on a date. Almost always, these are issues that are rendered unimportant by careful composition, thoughtful lighting and on-point editing. The “issues” that a model SHOULD be contemplating are short and long-term concerns that lead up to the shoot and are part of that day. A model MUST be good about her nutrition and hydration in the days leading up to the shoot and on the day of the shoot itself. Hydration is absolutely key to success as is keeping the furnace stoked with foods the help maintain energy and do not lead to bloating. No model should ever starve herself prior to a shoot and drinking plenty of fluids is crucial to looking your best. In addition, a girl MUST get plenty of rest prior to a shoot and try to manage her stress levels. All of this will bolster her chances of looking FANTASTIC in front of a camera. Another small but important detail is making sure that her “model bag” is packed with everything that can be brought like a wide selection of footwear, jewelry, toiletry items, an array of different hues of undergarments and more than enough attire to choose from. It is always best to over-prepare and have more than is needed. Nothing is more stress-inducing than arriving at a shoot without modeling necessities because you have been worrying needlessly about toenail polish and other niceties.

IMG_15 - Shauna

IMG_13 - Kayla MarieJust as a photographer has work to do after the shoot is over when it comes to editing images with a thoughtful plan in mind, a model’s work doesn’t come to an end when the shoot “wraps”. Working in concert with a photographer to effectively promote her pictures and find ways to build her resume is essential. Most photographers don’t do much with images, so a model has to thoughtfully balance what manner of social media promotion she must ignite, which images should be held in readiness for use with agencies or to be sent to legitimate publications and at what pace her promotion should be done. Too many young ladies simply splash images out there like milk thrown across a kitchen floor, without thought to strategy or a target audience. As such, little comes of their “posting pictures” and frustration leading to apathy is the end result. Knowing when and where to post an image, how to bring attention to it that will result in something positive and how to manage people’s impressions of your efforts is both an art and a science. Models with a sense of business acumen learn the ins and outs of this stream of consciousness and ride the waves with adroitness and skill. Smart models listen to the advice of knowledgeable, experienced industry professionals knowing there is always something more to learn, their abilities can always use a little fine-tuning and that evolving their promotional abilities will allow a wider range of accomplishment to occur.

 

Success is not something that happens by accident. All the most prosperous people, groups and teams reach the summit and stay there through hard work, knowledge and planning. Some people have the ability to see The Big Picture and struggle with small details, and for others the converse is true. In the Modeling-Photographer Industry, having a grasp of both of those handles is something that can’t be ignored. And too often it is the small details that are left to chance and come back to bite hard at times when it is least propitious. More than likely such falls occur due to a lack of good time management, which is a detail we didn’t discuss, but that is often times of the most imperative. Figuring out which details come easily and which will need to be refined is part of any learning curve and anyone seeking a degree of success in this field has to address those issues with an open mind and a desire to seek honest improvement.

IMG_18 - Megan Julia

  • IMG_8 - Taralyn Rose

    IMG_8 – Taralyn Rose

  • IMG_9 - Jamie Ann

    IMG_9 – Jamie Ann

  • IMG_10 - Lily Marie

    IMG_10 – Lily Marie

  • IMG_11 - Ashley

    IMG_11 – Ashley

  • IMG_12 - Clarissa

    IMG_12 – Clarissa

  • IMG_13 - Kayla Marie

    IMG_13 – Kayla Marie

  • IMG_14 - Ashley Charlotte

    IMG_14 – Ashley Charlotte

  • IMG_15 - Shauna

    IMG_15 – Shauna

  • IMG_16 - Marisa

    IMG_16 – Marisa

  • IMG_17 - Jamie Ann

    IMG_17 – Jamie Ann

  • IMG_18 - Megan Julia

    IMG_18 – Megan Julia

  • IMG_19 - Erica

    IMG_19 – Erica

  • IMG_20 - Taralyn Rose

    IMG_20 – Taralyn Rose

  • IMG_21 - Lily Marie

    IMG_21 – Lily Marie

  • IMG_22 - Kaity

    IMG_22 – Kaity

  • IMG_23 - Chrissy

    IMG_23 – Chrissy

  • IMG_24 - Ashley

    IMG_24 – Ashley

  • IMG_25 - Jamie Ann

    IMG_25 – Jamie Ann

  • IMG_26 - Ashley Charlotte

    IMG_26 – Ashley Charlotte

  • IMG_27 - Shauna

    IMG_27 – Shauna

  • IMG_28 - Lily Marie

    IMG_28 – Lily Marie

  • IMG_29 - Clarissa

    IMG_29 – Clarissa

  • IMG_30 - Jamie Ann

    IMG_30 – Jamie Ann

  • IMG_1 - Jamie Ann COVER

    IMG_1 – Jamie Ann COVER

  • IMG_2 - Lily Marie

    IMG_2 – Lily Marie

  • IMG_3 - Ashley Charlotte

    IMG_3 – Ashley Charlotte

  • IMG_4 - Shauna

    IMG_4 – Shauna

  • IMG_5 - Megan Julia

    IMG_5 – Megan Julia

  • IMG_6 - Kaity

    IMG_6 – Kaity

  • IMG_7 - Chrissy

    IMG_7 – Chrissy


 

Managing Editor, GlamModelz Magazine I’m a Central New England photographer based out of Worcester, MA, just one hour west of Boston. I specialize in fashion and glamor commercial imagery as well portraiture of all types. My style is a blend of commercially viable work melded with artistic innovation, whether on location or in studio. I prize collaboration quite highly and am proud of the fact that most of my work displays the ideas and designs of my models as much as it does my skills, efforts and planning.

Rick has published 78, articles with GlamModelz Magazine.

Connect with him on:



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