There are works of Art in the Glamour Industry that one would consider beautiful and skillfully crafted, and then there are those images that make you stop in your tracks! GlamModelz Magazine interviewed a creator of many such photographs: Rick Trottier, of RJT Images, from Worcester, Massachusetts.
GlamModelz Magazine: Let’s get started! Tell me about your background…how did you get started in Photography? Rick: As a child, I was bathed in the design and artistic interests of my father and mother. My father had a graphics background and between his painting, drawing, architectural plans, carpentry, and of course photography, I was inundated with imagery. My mother enjoyed photography as well, but was also into garden design, floral design and woven crafts. In addition, sitting down and watching slide film projection was a regular family event. Before I reached 10 years old, concepts like composition, lighting, form and such had become almost second nature to my thought process, although I never excelled at drawing and painting like my father. I picked up a camera in my teens and that love was initiated. For some time I was enamored with landscape. It was in my college years that I became attracted to glamor and fashion photography. Of course all of this was during the “film years” so the costs of such things kept me in the hobby stage. During my years as a class room teacher I continued to dabble but as time went on I began to plan for the time when I could step away from teaching or reach retirement, whichever came first, and focus solely on photography as my passion and my main source of income. I made a very clumsy transition out of film to the digital world, became connected to the studio where I have my business and the rest as we say “is history”.
GlamModelz Magazine: Why Glamour /Fashion/Beauty? What other genre’s and styles interest you? Rick: I have always believed women to be the most engaging and mesmeric work of art in creation. The stunning loveliness of a woman’s eyes, the incredible allure of their hair and the uniquely beautiful planes and curves of a woman’s figure are nowhere to be seen in any other place on the face of the Earth. Rivers and mountains all seem to flow together into imagery that becomes redundant. But the myriad beauty of women and the individuality of how their physical features are fused with their personalities make glamor and fashion incredibly rewarding. While those two genres of photography are my primary loves, I do enjoy true conceptual and experimental art, but sadly there aren’t many opportunities to engage in it due to time constraints. I have been enjoying doing greater amounts of maternity shoots, some with just the mother, or both parents or even family portraiture. There are wonderful challenges to making those moments memorable and I enjoy that chance to create something special.
GlamModelz Magazine: What challenges do you face in this industry? What would you change about it, if you could? Rick: Sadly the industry faces two distinct threats. One is the glut of people calling themselves “photographers”. You don’t have to have a degree to be a photographer, but you do have to put in Herculean efforts to learning the craft and all its components. So many “photographers” exist now, who are so very eager just to get a pretty girl in front of their camera and call it “art” or some such euphemism. There is so little thought put into lighting, composition, pose theory, eliciting expression, teaching models the craft, creating chemistry and dynamic partnerships, that what passes for photography really is something far less. It is a loss since people who go to such charlatans are turned off by these fiends and we all pay a price. Models become far less trusting and photographers more jaded. The other threat is the absurd amount of TF going on. TF has its place and will always be a part of the industry. But too many “photographers” give their valuable time away in such a manner that it makes it much harder for people who pursue this professionally to succeed. TF has to have strict limits and more importantly, an even stricter sense of philosophy as to why it should be done. All pursuits in life must be followed with a degree of contemplation. Photography is no exception.
GlamModelz Magazine: What equipment is essential for you as a glamour photographer, to capture your “best shot”? Rick: Planning is my most important weapon. You can have a great camera, better lenses and superior lighting. You can have supreme command of editing software. If you do not plan accordingly for whatever type of client you are serving, your results will be indifferent at best, disastrous at worst. I want to know the client, understand their motivations and needs and then marry their thought to my vision. I work very hard to make each effort on the behalf of clients as individualized as possible. I go into each shoot with a plan. While I often say “it is never-varying strategy” I do allow for flexibility and spontaneity. However, there has to be a baseline of carefully considered approach and “gaming out” the kinds of outcomes you hope to achieve. Winging it is what you do with SOME of the TF chances you might engage in with a treasured colleague. However, if you are providing a colleague with specific imagery for their needs, a plan is an essential tool. Being a master of preparation means creating a mastery of all the avenues of photographic expression, for you will give earnest thought to lighting, posing, backgrounds, wardrobe, colors and textures, as well as personality, which will deeply influence the mood of each image.
GlamModelz Magazine: We can see you are a busy commercial photographer. When was the last time you picked up your camera and shot for fun? Tell us about it? Rick: Well, that depends on what you are talking about. I still enjoy landscape in all its forms. On an abnormally warm day this past March here in Massachusetts, after one of the mildest winters we’ve ever had, I took my camera to some favorite spots to find some early Spring flowers and was rewarded with a pair of amazing blossoms. From that I made a composite, posting it on Facebook and tagging as many of those special young ladies that I could, to show my adoration and appreciation. I also have an “inner circle” of trusted models who I enjoy doing exceedingly creative work with from time to time when I can spare myself from my schedule. One of those moments involved a HUGE length of shimmery cloth and some intriguing ways to wrap it about her and the trail it off into the shadows. Both of these kinds of moments are what keep the mind fresh, the spirit recharged and the creative well replenished. People forget that creativity, like water, resides in reservoirs like “spiritual aquifers”. Without time and opportunity for the waters to refill, vitality is lost.
GlamModelz Magazine: What or who inspires you as a photographer? Rick: -From a photographic standpoint, I am most impressed and consistently moved by the works of Rich Cutrone, Alex Manfredini, Drew Santos, Robert Alvarado and Philipe. Each brings to the table an artistic integrity and a passionate intensity that arouses my admiration. I have been accused of being the World’s Worst Workaholic. The beauty each of these gentlemen brings into being pushes me to do better, to not be satisfied with the results that I know I can improve upon and to seek for that feeling of peace inside when I know I have created something worthy. From an artistic/personal standpoint, I am equally inspired and supported by the models who have become the Pillars of My Studio. Without the devotion, commitment, caring and wonderful understanding of these young ladies, I would still be in the limbo where once I was. I have grown to detest the word “muse” for it is ill-understood and even more poorly used. These wonderful young women go beyond muses, for their friendship and passionate dedication to my artistic and business goals never ceases to amaze me. While my own personal success certainly has appeal, I am driven to create a foundation from which these models can grow their own forms of accomplishment and reach heights that will sustain them personally and professionally. In that way, I guess I am still very much like the class room teacher I was. I am deeply committed to seeing the people in my studio climb the ladder to self-improvement and happiness.
GlamModelz Magazine: I have been admiring your lighting on this night shot. Are you a strobist? How do you go about planning lighting on such a large scene? Rick: – I use the lighting that works best in situation that has been presented. If strobes are what the moment calls for, whether it’s in the studio, on the beach, at a location shoot like this car shoot, then strobes it is. If I can utilize natural light fully, I do so. If I need to blend the two, that is the plan. As far as lighting goes, it is essential that depth and complexity are maintained and even enhanced. Whether that requires one light or many lights, I care most about making the subject look enticing, telling some kind of story, drawing the viewer into the scene and keeping them there until withdrawing entails effort. I want all the elements of any image to create harmony and work in such a way that each has its own ascendancy in the viewing, but no one element is wholly dominant. It is interesting that you chose this car shot, as I like shooting cars but don’t do it a lot. I can’t get cars into my studio. Motorcycles are another matter. I get bikes as long as 11 ft into the lift and down the hall, through the doors and into my back room where I can array lights around them like a combat regiment. Then it becomes a frenzy of competing shades and tones to make the bike and the model shine!
GlamModelz Magazine: What qualities should Models/MUA’s/Stylists, etc have to work with you? Rick: -In this, you can really see my background as a teacher. I expect models/MUAs/stylists and all the other people involved in a shoot to be responsible, devoted, trustworthy and hard working. While photography is an art, professional photography is also a business and as such, appropriate standards of business behavior are essential. Being on time, being honest, being dependable seem like such obvious qualities, but they are not always in evidence and THEY MUST BE. However, there is a human element to this. I do prefer working with people who are respectful, ethical, have compassion and empathy and are thoughtful folk. One of the things that can make any shoot an experiential moment is relaxed and pleasant “give and take” intellectually and emotionally. We are all mortal beings with a need for acceptance and validation. Just as I want each and every person to leave my studio feeling happy, safe and thrilled with their time spent, I want my own experience to be something positive.-
GlamModelz Magazine: What advice do you have for new/amateur photographers who want to shoot glamour? Rick: More than anything, photographers have to do three things. First, know your camera. You should be able to predict the outcome of your actions fairly consistently, whether it is indoor or outdoor conditions. Frustration is a natural occurrence in the brain when forced to deal with complicated problem solving situations. That is how we grow cognitively. But anger is not productive and leads to a form of failure when people give up on being innovative. The more you learn, the more you can learn and once that chain reaction begins, the sky is the limit for improvement. Second, have a serious discussion with yourself about your ethical standards. There are far too many people in this industry for questionable reasons and they cheapen what it is we do. Explore in your heart what you do, why you do it and apply those ethics in an unwavering and equal manner to each and every person you interface with throughout the journey. A reputation for standards and respect is possibly just as important as technical skill. Finally, know what really drives your passion and find a way to make it part of the core of your daily existence. There are genres of photography that do not delight me as much as fashion, glamor and beauty; pinup for instance. I like it but I don’t live for it. As such, I work in directions where my strengths are accentuated and my weaknesses do not cause problems for the client.
GlamModelz Magazine: Tell us about your biggest accomplishment to date or what makes you most proud. Rick: -It would have to be a combination of this opportunity with Glam Modelz and those I have been given with Men’s Fitness. Getting a chance to display my work, but at the same time showcasing the superb talents/efforts of the models of my studio makes me as happy and as proud as I could possibly be. I have done a great deal in my life, seen much, experienced much and genuinely feel blessed. But these young ladies are still new to the journey, and anything I can do to help them along the way and make it richer and more rewarding is more important to me by far.-
GlamModelz Magazine: What advice do you have for new models who want to shoot glamour? Rick: -Much like my advice to photographers, models have to have some very serious inner debates. First, you have to really own and embrace the nature of glamor and its reality. Glamor means sexy imagery of a varying range of intensity, but it is not conservative. If you fancy yourself a glamor model and yet feel uncomfortable with “sexy content”, then this field isn’t for you. While you can try to “get use to” lingerie, sexy costumes or implieds, it really is an instinctive thing. Glamor Models BURN in their souls to be in front of that camera and to create imagery that cuts deep into the hearts of viewers. If that fire isn’t there, you are headed down a road that will lead to disappointment. In a similar vein, glamor models have to do some evaluative thinking about the consequences of their actions in this industry. For every one friend or family member who cheers you on and says “You’re so gorgeous and I love your pics”, there will be one person who says words that probably shouldn’t be printed here. No matter what you do to explain to them what this industry is about and why it is important to you, they can’t and won’t understand. Living with the reality of that equation is not an easy thing to do. Many young women want to model, but they also want ALL the support of ALL the people they know. That isn’t realistic. It seems strange to be preaching a pragmatic view of an industry that creates fantasy, but it is an essential life skill. Young women who come into this industry expecting it will be smooth sailing and a fairytale come true are often ground up by the teeth that lay under the surface. The worst hurt is usually taken from those closest to them, like family and friends, those that one would expect the most support from. Glamor imagery elicits some very surprising reactions from people. Often times you will see them in ways you never could have predicted.
GlamModelz Magazine: In addition to photography, do you have other skills/interests/talents in which you excel? Rick: -I have had a talent for writing since my boyhood and while I enjoy it and do a fair amount, it doesn’t turn my blood to quicksilver as photography does. I enjoy the outdoors, either flyfishing, camping or hiking, but sadly those pursuits have taken a bit of a backseat to the demands of the studio. I have also dabbled with gardening off and on over the years. I am still an avid reader. My students use to ask me who my favorite author was and my answer is now as it was then, it isn’t possible to choose a favorite when one loves the music of language. One of my stranger and yet most rewarding pursuits was in the avenue of horror television. With my friends Isaac, Mark, Tim and Tom, we started up a “horror-host” TV show on Keene, New Hampshire Public Access many years ago that has grown beyond anything we ever thought it would. It is called Saturday Fright Special and it is or has been viewed in more than half the states in the US and we have produced more than 100 episodes. Writing for the show was once one of the most involved efforts I’ve ever taken on, that is until my studio became the center of my life.-
GlamModelz Magazine: What other interesting facts would you like GlamModelz readers to know about you? Rick: -I have many loves when it comes to photography, but those who know me best know that if I could shoot on the beach all the time, each and every day, I would. I suppose I would get bored with it eventually and that one of the joys about life in New England is that the seasons force us to appreciate each and every segment of the year and what it offers. But there is something about the rich colors of sea and sky, the vistas that blend with those elemental forces and how a model can be made to look as if they are commanding, or in tune with, or another of the Forces of Nature around them, all at the same time looking sexy, beautiful and mesmeric. On another level, one of my greatest joys is getting a chance to teach young models and photographers the craft, and seeing their souls open up to this world. One of my favorite memories was of a young lady who had shot with me for the 3rd time. We sat down at the computer and began reviewing her images. I looked over and saw tears coursing down her face. Her words are graven in my aging memory for all time. “I never thought I’d ever feel this good about myself or feel beautiful like this ever again”. We cannot always know the impact that we have on each other or the impression we leave on the future, but it is moments like that where I know my efforts at creating beauty touch an eternity beyond the boundaries of the lens.
Find me on Facebook as well. Message me first though. I don’t often take random friend requests. My email address can be found on my website, and people on MM can message me there.