One thing that separates me from the other photographers in my area is the client experience I offer. We go places, plan setups, and use creative and exotic outfits and secret locations. We shoot with cars, horses, pets, guitars, guns, buildings, bridges and friends. But when we sit down with Mom and Dad to order, you know what they buy? Close-ups. The ones that show all of that beauty, the expressions, the smile they invested so much in, the sparkle, uniqueness and joy. This month, I show you how I incorporate close-ups with every outfit and location I shoot.
Lighting Is Everything
I don’t understand when I see some BTS shots and the OCF is 15 to 20 feet away from the subject. You wouldn’t put it that far away in the studio, so why would you outside? I use a Elinchron ELB400 and an RotoLight Nano11 for my OCF photographs. It is usually set at 1/32 to 1/256th power. A beauty dish is most effective when it is close. The light is rarely more than 5 feet from their face. It is so close that I am always removing the feet of the stand from the image in post. I keep the modifier close and the power soft so the lighting doesn’t look like flash. It just looks perfect. The outdoor photos in this article are taken that way.
Look Down. Eyes at Me. Smile.
These three directions are how I begin every shoot with a first-time client. The young lady has seen my Instagram with all the great photos of the gorgeous girls I work with, and she walks into my studio gallery to find 100 more on my walls. She is nervous, self-conscious and maybe intimidated. She might be thinking, “Sure, you can take great photos of all of those beautiful people—but not me.”
We need to prove to them that we are the expert. It is our job to help them through it and to enable them see themselves the way everyone who loves them does: flawless, unique and beautiful. The sooner they have confidence in me, the better the session will go. So I choose a spot or setup that I know will get the first three shots perfect. I say, “Drop your chin and look down.” Click. “Lift your eyes to me.” Click. “Smile.” Click. Then I show them the photos. They see their face with their perfect makeup, looking down with their eyes almost closed. They are already envisioning that shot as their new profile pic. Then they see the next one with their eyes so big, and realize they don’t have an RBF after all.
When they see the smile shot, they know that Mom is going to love it. Sometimes I show Mom the three images before I show them to my senior to increase the anticipation. You have them at that point. Find a way to prove to your client they are in good hands. If the first three shots look that good, the rest will be a breeze.
Every teen follows fashion bloggers. The blogger posts lots of shots of her not making eye contact or looking as if she is talking with someone just out of the picture. Let’s take it one step further. We have perfect light and editing, so we get that feel, but better. I show them what I’m looking for. The first thing they do when you ask them to look away is to turn their eyes—which makes for a bad look, without whites on both sides of their iris.
I tell them, “Point your nose in the direction I want you to look and keep your eyes centered on your face.” Then I show them the difference by turning my eyes way to one side. They laugh and they now get the concept. I have them follow my hand until they have it down.
Then I can say, “Look at my hand” or, “Look at that sign across the street” to get them to turn their face. I give constant reinforcement so they know when they are doing it right. As you guide them in the pose, you are reinforcing the belief that you are the best at what you do. I show them the back of the camera frequently in the beginning to show that I am doing it right. Show them a shot where they did it wrong and then the shot where you corrected them, and they won’t make that mistake again. Ever.
The next step is to get them to laugh or smile when looking away. They will think it’s awkward at first and start to laugh for real. That’s when I say, “Eyes at me” and get that genuine smile shot.
Focal Lengths Matter
For years, my go-to lens has been the 70–200mm for its versatility, bokeh and ease of use. When I’m shooting a nervous senior, the zoom allows me to get close without them knowing. I get perfect proportions and zero distortion at that length. Shooting at 70mm allows me to get close enough to frame it the way I need to in tight spots. There is a slight distortion straight out of the camera, but it’s negligible. Recently I started using my 24–70mm for close-ups. Shooting at 35mm can be flattering for heavy people and downright awesome for lighter people. It produces an editorial feel for a change of pace, which clients love. But since I switched to Olympus and Olympus glass, I love my 60mm f/1.8 lens. It has perfect proportions with zero distortion.
Ninety percent of the time, I frame the shot exactly the way I want it. That’s how my eye works. But with today’s 24–42K sensors and the great eye focus technology, you aren’t limited to the shot you take. Sometimes the perfect close-up shows itself during editing.
Point of View
Changing the point of view changes things up a little in their photo album, but it’s also a mental trigger. Graduation is a sentimental time for Mom and Dad. A shot looking up at their child can remind them of the day she took her first steps, realized she could read, was saying she was sorry; that time your teenager looked up from her phone and said, “I love you” when you brought home Taco Bell for dinner. Get some shots looking down at them. I like short lenses for this. Keep the light coming from a flattering direction above her. The catchlights should still be above her pupils.
Remember the Hand Rules
Hands should celebrate the face. They should draw attention to the eyes and facial expression. The back of the hand is almost as big as the face, so keep the edges of their hands facing the camera. I like pinky side out. Keep their fingers long and elegant, not too stiff and never curled in a claw. I push their hands into their hair a little to hide them. I don’t want their fingers touching the back of their neck as if they have a migraine. Their forearm shouldn’t be pointing at the camera, especially if you are shooting 50mm or shorter. For ladies, no fist under the chin. Think class, daintiness, sophistication. Hands are usually a couple shades lighter than the face. So when you’re setting the light source, be sure their hand is not perpendicular to it.
Hats Are Great Props
They are fun and different and add personal flare. Whether it is a wide-brim hat, a slouch beanie or a worn-out ball cap, it will change the feel of the photograph. The most critical thing to remember when using a hat is the light source or placement. You don’t want a shadow to go through their eyes or hide them altogether. The light needs to be set under the brim of the hat without shining up on their face. Just above eye level works best. Have them wear the hat a little higher on their forehead. The hat can also be used to conceal. Hiding one eye or both eyes with the brim of the hat makes for a killer fashion look.
Hoods Are the Best
I like fuzzy hoods, hoodie hoods, lace hoods and raincoat hoods. Pull their hair through the hood so you can see that too. Turn their head inside the hood so only part of their face can be seen.
The Best £22 I Ever Spent
I found this fuzzy infinity scarf at Primark four years ago. I have photographed over 100 girls in it. This scarf is on a dozen walls and in 25 or more albums. It has been used in hundreds of Instagram, VSCO, Facebook and Twitter posts. I like to use it more like a hood than a scarf. The best shots I have taken have their face buried inside the scarf a little. Be aware of the shadows when using OCF. Sometimes I hide their mouth or one of their eyes for a dramatic look. Keep their hands and fingers hidden as much as possible so you don’t draw attention away from their eyes.
If they are on their tummy, it is easy. Their hands and arms can form triangles or leading lines, or they can conceal parts of their face to draw more attention to the features that are exposed. Remember some hand posing rules: no right angles in the wrist; we want soft curves and flowing leading lines. Control their hair and place it intentionally. There is nothing worse than missing a few strands because we were so excited to get the shot that we missed some details.
When they are lying on their back, it is a little harder. This position illuminates the line between senior and sexy. That line is blurry. I rarely pose them on their back. The most critical aspect is the lighting. Design the light so it’s similar to the 5 p.m. sun when they are standing. We want to avoid up shadows on their face.
Let Them Be Goofy
It’s fun to loosen them up, even if none of the photos of the loosening-up exercise are used. Put great light on them before you start just in case they choose one. Have fun with all of these options. Practice them with your model team. Pay attention to the details and watch your sales climb.
No matter how old you are there is no-one quite like MUM. Come and spend some quality time together this Mother’s Day and capture some beautiful photos at the same time.
Are you a new Mum and want to celebrate your first Mother’s Day? Would your Mum like some photos of you and your siblings? Whatever your reason, come and celebrate.
This Mother’s Day we are going to help spoil your Mum rotten with:
A photo shoot in the the studio with all her favourite people (even the family pet is welcome!)
view the images in the comfort of your own home
8 x 6 framed product.
All for only £125.00
Booking NOW for Mother’s Day on 01777 817472 or 07817 982269
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Recently, I asked a simple question on Linkedin and a couple of other platforms: What is stopping you from getting a professional headshot?
As a professional photographer, I already had an idea of what can hold people back, but in my mind it was mainly to do with cost, with people’s insecurities about their body, or a complete aversion for sitting in front of a camera. What I didn’t expect, was that many of you thought that getting a professional headshot could appear as vain, frivolous, embarrassing and you didn’t want to come across as “too corporate” or “trying too hard”. In my quest to demystify the professional headshot, I thought I would address this point first, and show you how headshots come across from the client’s viewpoint instead of your own viewpoint, and yes, there is often a discrepancy…
While doing my research, I came across a brilliant tool called Photo Feeler which allows you to get some unbiased opinions on your headshot. You can use it in various contexts: Business, Social or Dating. Obviously for the purpose of this experiment I chose the “business” context, which gives you rating for the 3 following traits: Competent, Likeable and Influential.
For this article, I have enlisted the help of a friend, Dave.
I asked Dave to take some photos himself and also dug around my photo archives to find various photos of him, to try and represent the most typical photos I see used as profile photos online, particularly those which are not professional headshots. I also took a professional headshot of him to compare.
If you’re a reluctant poser, you’ve maybe tried some of these:
Quick and cheap, you can do it yourself. Now, in Dave’s defence, he’s not an expert at selfies… He probably could have made a better use of the light and tidied up the shelves.
But nonetheless, this shot has the distinctive “selfie look” not the most flattering as the wide angle causes a distortion of the facial features. Selfies tend to rate lower on the “competent” and “influential” traits, possibly because they imply you didn’t think it was worth investing too much effort or money on making a good first impression.
The Wedding Guest
You really can’t face taking a photo so you rummage through your archive and find this photo of you, it was taken by a professional and you’re in a suit, that will do 😉
Except you’re at a wedding, not at a place of work. Once again it’s not really giving the right impression and confusing the viewers.
The Pary Shot
Taken at a social event, this one is a typical example of choosing a shot because you like the way you look in it rather than really thinking about the effect on the viewer.
Party shots are often part of a larger group shot that has been cropped, which could potentially work well for a dating profile but doesn’t really come across as professional.
The Holiday Snap
You’re very camera shy and hate being photographed, the thought of having your face on display fills you with dread so you find a candid shot taken on holiday with your face partly obscured, sometimes with sunglasses.
Just be aware of the impact it has on the viewer, it doesn’t really achieve the goal of making you recognisable to a potential client you’ve met in the past or gives the right impression about how professional you are. Your profile photo is, after your name, the first thing people will see on your LinkedIn profile. Would you talk about your holidays on the first line of your CV?
The DIY White Wall Shot
Now, don’t get me wrong, I have seen some lovely DIY shots and if you have time, it’s certainly worth giving them a go.
It might just take many attempts before you get anything you’re happy to have as your profile picture. And if you’re not the type of person who feels comfortable in front of a camera in the first place, chances are you will struggle to get a great expression on a DIY headshot.
The Mystery Man
Ironically, this one is probably the most risky approach of all. No profile pic. What conclusion do you draw when you come across a LinkedIn profile with no photo?
My first thought is: this person created their profile but don’t interact on LinkedIn, I am not going to bother connecting with them as I probably won’t get a response. Am I even looking at the right profile, there are 99+ people with the name I am looking for…
The Professional Headshot
Dave gave me 2 minutes to grab a quick headshot. I guided him through the posing to look engaged, and the background has a relaxed feel.
How formal or casual, conservative or creative your headshot looks should of course be adapted based on your line of work. But overall, most people want to appear both professional and personable.
If you are still not convinced, I invite you to try Photo Feeler for yourself. Even if you don’t upload a photo, maybe just try rating a few photos through their website and you might be surprised to see how our brain assesses a photo and draws conclusions on a stranger’s personality and professionalism.
Having a decent headshot isn’t about being vain, it’s about having a photo that represents you in the best light. We’re not talking about lots of airbrushing to make you look 10 years younger, or forcing you into an overly corporate or cheesy set-up. It’s about having a photo that is flattering and still 100% you, and makes you feel confident about the image you’re putting across in a business environment.
Do you need help? Getting a professional headshot is not as complicated as you think. Try Googling “Headshot photographer near me“, check the reviews and take a few minutes to go through the photographers’ portfolio to make sure they’re a good match for you.
I find many similarities between boudoir and maternity. You have to be conscious of the individual’s body from head to toe. You are creating and controlling shapes using posing, lights and styling. Maternity and boudoir portraits are usually kept between the couple. They are intimate sessions. Crossing the two is a match made in heaven.
Those curves are made for boudoir. What an amazing thing to help boost an expecting momma’s confidence in her temporary body. Having someone trust you with such a vulnerable and exposing session is a big deal. It’s a great way to build a client bond. You can shoot these in your studio or in the client’s home. Make it a day of pampering and upsell them on hair and makeup services. They will enjoy the experience and look finished for the shoot. Encourage them to have a date night afterward since they will look so fabulous. This is a great promo for those colder months when you are not able to shoot outside. It adds a new element to your portfolio.
Here are four things to give you a head start on fantastic maternity boudoir sessions.
Bring in the bling.
One of my favorite things in boudoir photography is to focus on the small details. It could be jewelry, shoes, an element of their wardrobe, any little thing. For maternity photography, I love blinging out the belly. The stark contrast of over-the-top statement pieces perfectly balances with the pregnant belly.
If you have a large unbroken, undefined skin surface, it will look large and heavy. So if you have a momma doing boudoir and you have her baby bump bare and front and center, chances are she will not like how large she looks. You have to use things to give the belly shape and cut the size. It doesn’t have to be a bulky piece of fabric. Just giving some defining lines and focal points will do the trick. She will feel superstar-gorgeous and love that it pushes her outside her normal box. Collect pieces from the clearance aisle, Amazon, anywhere you find them. Having them at your studio is a great bonus.
Keep your hands off.
Push yourself to use nontraditional posing. It’s harder than you think. Essentially you are doing a normal boudoir session and the client just happens to be pregnant. You wouldn’t have a regular boudoir client hold their belly the whole time. So change it up for your mommas. Play with their hair, hold onto their clothes, find new purposes for their hands. Jackets and long necklaces are great tools. You can bring the arms across and break up the body without having to put your hands directly on the belly. You still want to be mindful of their placement. Look at the bodylines and think in terms of shape.
Free the girls.
One thing I hear from nearly every pregnant momma is: “Man, my boobs have never looked this good.” Embrace it. Let them out. Free them. Use them. I’m not talking full-frontal tacky shit, I’m saying don’t underestimate the sexiness of a little side boob. It’s all about shape. You have this beautiful round belly and then the shape of the chest. It’s complimentary and balancing photographically. Most women’s nipples get larger and darker through their pregnancy. Keep that in mind as you pose and light. Straight on is not your friend—boobs will be distracting. Shoot side angles and use hands, hair and strategic placement of clothing to hide the nipples. I have always thought it sexier to leave a little to the imagination. That rule applies here.
Always ask your clients how much they are comfortable showing. I never start off with these poses in the beginning. Work up to it. I gauge clients’ comfort level and trust, and can usually convince them to do at least a couple of artistic nude poses. I reassure them that if they don’t like them, they don’t have to choose those poses at the viewing, but we should at least shoot a few and see how it goes. Hands down, it’s always one of the top 10 at the end of the day.
Light the shit out of it.
This is so important for boudoir sessions, but even more so with maternity. If you do not light correctly, in flattering ways, it will be a disaster. Shape their body with light. Hide the unflattering parts in shadow. Accent and give the belly shape with highlights and gradients. It’s tricky because you must light the face and belly equally well. Flat light does not work. They will just look thick, not pregnant. Embrace shadows and dynamic light. Butterfly, Rembrandt and short light are your best bets. Rimming the belly is always beautiful. Get creative. Use gels and light temperature settings to change the mood. Silhouettes are amazing. Flares can be used to cut the torso and give illusion. Have fun with it.
Be in Control
You must have a plan. Guide your clients in choosing wardrobe. Do not be afraid to tell them no. Wardrobe pieces are important and you are the professional. Do your job and tell them what would be best. One-piece stretch garments are understated but photograph wonderfully. The texture of lace on the belly is a great detail to capture, and Mom will feel comfortable starting in something more conservative.
We are asking a lot for an expecting momma to bare it all. Guide her in her posing. Tell her she is doing great. Show her images as you shoot so she can see how beautiful she looks. You will see her confidence and trust grow, which will show in the images. If she is self-conscious about stretch marks, remind her of your editing process. Use her concerns to show her how much you care. It will mean a lot.
The small stuff matters. Slow down and check her head to toe, down to how she is breathing. It will show. Foot flexed the right way. Hand placement. Chin. Hair. Lipstick. Fingers. It all builds to the perfect image. Do it right. Watch for fatigue. It’s hard work when you are packing a human being in your midsection. Give her breaks. Watch for Charlie horses. Work efficiently so you don’t keep her in a pose for too long. Ask her how she is doing. Offer water. Be there for her.
Now you have shot a killer sexy momma shoot. So how do I sell it? The same as you would a boudoir. Think about how they will use these images. Books are perfect. I always sell a book. It’s private, secure, no fear of one finding its way out of the house by accident, and it’s a great experience for the individual viewing the images. All those little detail shots you took, the bits and pieces, artistic abstracts and anonymous body parts, will complement each other wonderfully on the pages of a beautifully designed book or album. Encourage wall portrait sales by shooting images with specific groupings in mind.
People struggle to visualize what to do with their images, which can kill the sale. Shoot to sell. Show to sell. You have no excuses now. Get out there. Market. Shoot. Sell these amazing sessions to add a great feature to your business. The sexy mommas are out there waiting for you.
So you’ve shot a few pretty girls, and you feel ready to call yourself a fashion photographer. Fair enough, we all had to start somewhere. However, in order to live up to the term Fashion Photographer and all of the legends that have worn the label before you, there are a few elementary things you should master, aside from the technical aspect of shooting. To help you on your way to recognition, respect and a following, here are 10 things a fashion photographer should master:
Know your profession and respect the history of it. Remember, you are standing on the shoulders of giants, and you owe it to your art to study the works of who shaped the industry and brought the art to where it is today. Besides, looking back at what was done back in the day might teach you a thing or two that will take your work to the next level.
You should know how Edward Steichen in 1911 was “dared” by Lucien Vogel, the publisher of Jardin des Modes and La Gazetta du Bon Ton, to promote fashion as a fine art by the use of photography. You should be more than familiar with the works of iconic artists such as Cecil Beaton, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon or Helmut Newton.
You need to be able to handle criticism and turn it into fuel that will propel you to the next level. Even though criticism could be scary and hurtful, it can be extremely valuable for your progression as an artist. Seek it.
As the fashion photographer you are responsible for your productions and your team, and until you can afford to pay someone to help you out full time you will need to stay on top of every little detail. It is absolutely vital that you communicate well with editors and commercial clients, that you always keep your word, and that you deliver before deadline every single time. No one else will handle your business for you, and in this highly competitive industry you simply cannot afford to slip up.
Be that asshole with a great attitude who’s always in full control, and people will love collaborating with you and keep coming back.
It seems as if knowledge of fashion is becoming secondary to aspiring fashion photographers these days. This blows my mind. You are a FASHION photographer. You need to know your fashion. Not only do you need to know what to shoot in order to stay relevant, you need to know how to light different garments in order for them to look great in your shots. Remember, the role of the fashion photographer is to sell fashion, and if you’d like to live off of your passion you better be bloody good at selling it through your photos.
5. Your own fashion style
Not everyone will agree with me on this one, but I can tell you this: If you show up to your first meeting with a client or editor wearing a track suit, you are not making it easier for yourself. Whether you like it or not, looks and style is important in this industry. The very best fashion photographers live and breathe fashion, whether they look like rock stars or posh prima donnas.
6. Your temper
As mentioned in point three, a great attitude is extremely important. You should also be able to keep your head cool in difficult situations on set, and handle conflicts and difficult egos with absolute grace. Don’t ever let anyone work you up, and if you feel like punching someone, secretly sneak out and attack an inanimate object. Never show rage, and never lose it on anyone no matter what.
Don’t feel confident? Well, start acting it. Feelings follow actions, and if you start acting confident, you’ll feel it soon enough. Confidence is EVERYTHING, and if you have the knowledge mentioned above to back it up, it could be extremely powerful for you both personally and professionally.
8. Knowing yourself and your style
Have a plan for yourself and where you want to take your art. Finding your own style and approach might take some time, but once you get there, stick to it. For branding purposes it is crucial to stay consistent, just look at Juergen Teller, Camilla Åkrans or Mert & Marcus, I bet you could recognize their work from a mile away.
9. Large workloads
Yep, there are going to be days where you’ll feel completely overwhelmed by the workload. Get used to it, if you’re lucky it’ll only get worse from here.
As mentioned under point 7, confidence is vital, but don’t ever be cocky, and never brag blatantly. You are allowed to be proud of your own achievements, but this needs to be backed by a healthy dose of humility.
The list could go on forever, and that’s without covering your technical skill set as a photographer. However, these are important topics I see a lot of today’s aspiring fashion photographers neglect. As I always stress: this industry is extremely competitive, and you can’t afford to be lazy in any way.
Let’s start with the basics, shall we? It is absolutely essential that you practice balancing your shutter speed with your aperture (and other settings like your ISO) to get the right exposure. But good photography is more than a perfectly balanced histogram, and depth of field is one of those artistic decisions that can completely change the impact of an image.
If the term isn’t ringing a bell, depth of field refers to the range of focus in your image. For example, a headshot with a dreamy, blurred background has a shallow depth of field, while a sweeping mountainscape with sharp details from the point of view all the way to the distant cliffs has a very wide depth of field. Depth of field is controlled through your aperture settings. A wide aperture (achieved with a low f-stop number such as f/1.4 or f/2.8) will give you a more shallow depth of field, while a narrow aperture (and higher f-stop number) will offer a wider one. Challenge yourself! Practice getting the depth of field you want in different lighting situations until you’re able to capture the look you’re after without stopping to fumble with your camera.
PRO TIP: An extremely shallow depth field will give you more flexibility with your shutter speed, but can make it challenging to capture the exact focus point you are going for. Practice focusing quickly and efficiently with still life setups and you’ll feel more comfortable when working with moving subjects.
2. Master Natural Lighting
In the same vein, you’ll find that experimenting with different lighting situations will really develop your eye. It will help you make good choices about location (will the leaves from that tree leave spots on your subject’s face?) and timing (golden hour deserves a post all its own!). These decisions are particularly important if you’re marketing yourself as a natural light photographer, but regardless of your specialty, you need the confidence to improvise in the event of a strobe malfunction or inclement weather.
Don’t be afraid to branch out! It’s completely fine to manipulate your natural light with reflectors and other handy tools. A friend or assistant could be key to getting these figured out, as it can be tough to adjust your camera settings while maintaining the best angle, but reflector holders are inexpensive and easy to come by if you’re flying solo. The best advantage this will give you is the ability to make artistic decisions regardless of your circumstances. You’ll be able to harness harsh light from an ill-positioned window into a smooth, consistent glow by bouncing it back onto your subject with a white reflector, or you can give a flat scene some extra pop with a silver one. A true understanding of the way light behaves and how to use it to your advantage is what will set you apart.
PRO TIP: When shooting lifestyle photography, be sure you are not forcing your natural light to compete with garden-variety light bulbs. They will affect your white balance and may leave uneven color casts across portions of your image.
3. Invest in a Good Speedlight
Even with all of that extra practice, there are times when natural light is not in a cooperative mood or isn’t available at all. A good set of strobes will open up possibilities in your studio, but a trusty speedlight can go with you anywhere. When you’re shopping for one, you’ll notice that there are adapters, diffusers, and features galore, but the most important thing is to match your speedlight to your camera model and check for HSS (high-speed sync) and TTL (through-the-lens metering).
High-speed sync is especially useful when shooting action photography or any other situation that requires a high shutter speed. Otherwise, you may end up with the dreaded black bar across your image. This happens when your shutter moves too quickly for your flash; your flash is basically capturing your shutter curtain along with the rest of your image. With HSS, your speedlight will pulse (too quickly for you to see, but it happens) providing lighting throughout the exposure. TTL is exactly what it sounds like: it allows you to meter for your lighting through the lens of the camera, based on what the scene will look like when your flash settings are active. There are a few different ways that this works, so it’s important to learn your camera settings and those of the speedlight you choose. TTL in any form will be a lifesaver when you don’t have the time to stand around taking lots of test shots.
PRO TIP: Speedlights are great for fill when there is harsh lighting behind your subject, however, they should be used carefully in low lighting situations. Find a surface to bounce your flash off of such as a white ceiling or wall to avoid washing out facial features.
4. Be Aware of Your Background
If you really want to kick your photography up a notch, there is one simple fix you may not even realize you need. When you’re shooting on location, don’t just check the posing and the light on your model’s face; look to see what is behind them before you press the shutter button. How many of us have seen a perfectly composed image and thought, if only that car wasn’t behind them?
Your clients may not even notice that there’s a pole coming out of the top of their head, but I guarantee they will like the image better if it is not there. Remove clutter in post-processing if you feel comfortable or adjust your position during the shoot, but either way, you will be amazed at the difference in your portfolio when you vamoose all of those errant pedestrians from your backgrounds.
PRO TIP: Depth of field comes in handy when you find yourself in a situation where a cluttered background is unavoidable. Blurring out undesirable objects will make them less noticeable and easier to remove in post-processing.
5. Put Your Model in the Right Frame of Mind
Everyone has off days, and that can make a photographer’s job tricky when trying to catch someone’s good side. Whether you’re photographing a wedding with an overstressed bride or conducting a commercial shoot with a cranky model, if you don’t take time to clean their emotional palette their baggage will show in your photos. Try breaking the ice with humor, or simply take the time to converse with them before diving into work mode. They’ll appreciate being treated as an individual and as a result, will feel (and look) more comfortable.
PRO TIP: If you have time beforehand, get a little superficial background information on your models, such as recent work history or basic interests. This may make it easier to find a topic that will help them relax.
6. Don’t Overbook Yourself
Leave yourself time to really assess each shoot. Sometimes the best ideas come to you in the moment, and you need to be able to act on them without fear of spilling over into another client’s time slot. It’s exciting when inquiries start pouring in and it might be tempting to book everyone ASAP rather than lose out on potential business, but a hurried shoot is a recipe for disappointed clients. Not to mention, if you are out shooting continuously, you may be forcing yourself to cut corners with your post-processing. This is a good time to evaluate your workflow and determine how many projects you can realistically take on at a time while doing your best work.
It’s also good practice to prioritize your bookings. Some clients will require a quicker turnaround or have a project with higher stakes, and it may make more sense to work through those tasks first so that you can go into less time-sensitive edits with a clear head. There’s no law that says you have to edit and process every project in the same order you shot it, as long as you maintain good communication and provide each client with a turnaround that is reasonable for their specific needs.
PRO TIP: Don’t rely on your memory when you make bookings on the go. Always have a way to note appointments the second you make them, and to view what you already have scheduled. A digital calendar that syncs across your devices is perfect for this, but an old-school planner that goes wherever you go works great, too.
7. Zoom with Your Feet
Don’t throw out your telephoto lens, but definitely leave it at home every now and then and see what you can do without it. For fast-paced sports photography, you need that snappy zoom to close the gap between you and the action, but when you’re shooting in a more relaxed setting, your feet can serve the same purpose. There’s just no substitute for getting physically close to your subject, and the ability to test different crops and compositions in real time will help kick-start your creativity.
You’ll find this especially true when working with a model you haven’t photographed before. Every face has a “good” side and some are easier to find than others, so looking at your subject from different angles and distances will give you a better idea of what is most flattering to their features. The same applies for still lifes. The best way to evaluate your composition is to experience it from multiple vantage points and while your body can move in any direction, a telephoto lens can only move in and out.
PRO TIP: Start with a standard 50mm lens. These are great starter prime lenses as they are relatively inexpensive, and whether you are using a crop sensor or full-frame they give you a result that is similar to your natural field of view.
8. Zoom with Your Mouse
Raise your hand if you’re guilty of this: you just spent hours editing this one tricky section of your image and you’re insanely proud of it. Then you zoom back out to admire the finished product and think, “What happened?!” At that point, you’re so exhausted and frustrated that you start from scratch and do a rush job that ends up looking nothing like your original vision.
For detailed fixes, a tight zoom is sometimes necessary to really see what you’re working on, but this can also leave you blind to subtleties in color, texture, and scale that occur elsewhere in your image. It’s an easy mistake to make, and it’s made more often than you might think. If you’re in a position to spend some money, upgrading your screen size can cure a lot of post-processing woes and keep you from having to make extreme, view-restricting zooms, but you don’t necessarily have to spend money to improve your post-processing technique. Make it an intentional part of your workflow to zoom in and out periodically to get the full effect of what you’ve done so far. It will give you a better idea of how your image is progressing overall, particularly when you have several nit-picky fixes to make. You’ll thank yourself later and your clients will, too.
PRO TIP: To view your entire image without skipping a beat, use keyboard shortcuts periodically to zoom in and out. In Lightroom or Photoshop for Windows, hold down your Ctrl key while zooming with the + or — signs. You can do the same thing on a Mac using your Command key.
9. Cull Your Images
Say it with me: “A portfolio is only as strong as its weakest image.” For semi-pros just getting their feet wet in the business part of photography, there’s a lot of pressure to have “enough” images in the portfolio. You certainly feel more credible when you have scores of samples for potential clients, but it is infinitely better to have a small selection of quality images than an ambush of mediocre ones. Remember: if they want quantity, they have a smartphone. If they want quality, they have you.
If you lack formal education or training in the field, this can put you at a disadvantage. You may still be learning what a good composition looks like or how drastically a color cast can affect an image so you may find it difficult to pare down the shots that are really working from the ones that you just like. Fortunately, there are a lot of great, affordable classes and tutorials to give you that leg up, and in the meantime, it can help to look at the online galleries (and live exhibitions, if they’re available to you) of established photographers. Be sure to do your research before signing up for a photography workshop or e-course. Choose a name that will give you quality information!
PRO TIP: Do some soul-searching when selecting images for a professional portfolio. What kind of work are you hoping to attract? If your heart is in portraiture but you are showing mostly landscapes, you may be setting yourself up to take on projects that do not interest you.
10. Immerse Yourself in the Community
Take time to read photography forums and magazines. You are reading this, so you are already ahead of the game! There are a lot of opinions out there to sift through, so if you are a true beginner be sure to stick to established sites with moderators to help you separate the shower thoughts from the pro tips. This is especially true for business questions that may include legal considerations, such as putting together a good contract. Our corner of the artistic community is a very technical and, at times, fiercely competitive one, so you should always be networking, cultivating resources, and keeping your ear to the ground for new developments in the field.
PRO TIP: Many online photography resources have e-newsletters and push notifications, so you can easily know when there is new or relevant content without having to sift through multiple web pages each day.
11. Get Constructive Criticism
…and not just from people who are close to you. Even if your family and friends are known for a direct, no-nonsense approach, that doesn’t guarantee that they actually know what to look for. They might look at your image and think it’s great because they don’t know what it could look like with the right changes. This can mean shelling out for a professional portfolio critique or posting to a reputable online community, but getting objective, quality feedback is a step that can transform your work. It’s also one of the scariest steps you can take as an artist and one that many never take out of fear until they’ve already wasted years (and a lot of money) learning it all the hard way.
Those of us coming from a formal education are painfully familiar with on-the-spot critiques; pinning your in-progress works to a well-worn bulletin board so that classmates and professors alike can tell you exactly what is and isn’t working about this thing you just spent days, sometimes weeks, putting together. As stressful and, at times, demoralizing as it can be to hear negative things about your work, the next piece is always better because of it. Perhaps even more importantly, the more you hear other people talk about your work, the easier it becomes to discern which advice will help you achieve your vision. All advice is based on opinion to some degree, so keep exploring once you’ve gleaned what you can from other people’s thoughts.
PRO TIP: Sometimes professional photographers will offer critiques and portfolio reviews as part of their services. This is a great way to not only make a contact in the industry but to get feedback from someone who implements a specific technique or style you are trying to master.
12. Sharpen Your Output
When you’ve been staring at a photo series for days in Lightroom or Photoshop, your eyes can start to cross a little. It’s easy to get so focused on the color balance, levels, and spot retouching that you don’t even think to sharpen. Exporting a file to a new format (or posting it to social media) can muddy those clean, crisp edges you were so proud of, so it’s always a smart idea to sharpen at the end of an edit. Lightroom makes it easy to batch sharpen directly from the Export menu, but recording a Photoshop action is also a great way to sharpen with the tap of a key when you’re ready to consider a work finished.
PRO TIP: Apply different levels of sharpening to the same image in Photoshop using layer masks. Leave blurred backgrounds untouched and make a little extra sharpening visible on the small details around your subject’s eyes for an extra pop.
13. Use Your File Types Effectively
Let’s talk about your basic photography file types. Shooting in RAW is the industry standard right now, and it makes for powerful (and oftentimes extremely large) files. Depending on which camera manufacturer you go with, your extension may look different, but regardless, you’re going to want reliable external storage (or cloud-based storage, or both) for these. Although RAW has a very specific meaning in this context, they are also “raw” files in the sense that they contain a wealth of information from your camera sensor that may not even be visible at first glance, allowing you to go back in and edit with more flexibility. Not every software can view these natively, so you’ll need to export them to a different format if you plan to post them to social media or give digital copies to a client.
Next, you have TIFF files, which are viewable on more platforms while retaining your layers so that you can go back and make changes to those files later. They are similar to Photoshop’s native files, PSDs. Still big files, but a lot friendlier to non-photogs and great for collaboration. JPG files are what we’re all used to seeing. They’re all universal, however, you should use them with caution. JPGs are best utilized for images you are completely done editing, as recurrent edits will visibly degrade the file. They tend to be a manageable size, though, and with some of that friendly output sharpening we discussed earlier they can do justice to your skills.
PRO TIP: To keep your output looking like it did in your editing software, remember your color systems, too! RGB is for web content, while CMYK is best for anything that will be printed.
14. Step Away from Your Edits
Before you send your files on, save them and walk away for a while. Take a few days if you have that long, but even as little as an hour or two will give you fresh eyes and a new perspective. There may be last-minute changes that didn’t occur to you before that you’ll be glad you caught.
PRO TIP: Use the snapshot feature (the little camera icon at the bottom of your History panel) in Photoshop to save different versions of your edits to come back to later. You may find that an earlier version was actually closer to what you were trying to achieve when you go back in a more objective mindset.
15. Present Yourself as a Professional
More often than not, your clients will associate your images with their impression of you. It’s not really fair, but it’s human nature. Even if you’re just getting started with bare-bones equipment, be sure to extend courtesies. Answer emails promptly and proofread your replies before sending. When communicating by phone, use a polite and friendly tone. Show up on time and dress appropriately. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should wear a suit and tie to a farm shoot — it’s important to make your clients comfortable and meet them where they’re at — but communicate through your demeanor and presentation that you’re taking their time seriously. If you conduct yourself as a professional, you’ll stand a better chance of being treated as one.
PRO TIP: Get feedback from clients using a survey or questionnaire if you are unsure how you are coming across. No one can tell you what makes your clients happy better than your clients, themselves!
There’s a lot more to professional photography than meets the eye, and newcomers to the industry often feel overwhelmed by the amount of equipment, techniques, and business acumen required to be competitive. Even for hobbyists who are just hoping for more professional images, it can be difficult to know where to start when you’re facing a mountain of terminology you only half understand. Fortunately, improvement is addictive, so start with the easy fixes. Once you begin producing a new caliber of work, it will be all but impossible to put the camera down!
Above all, practice. Every aspect of professional photography, from technical know-how to interpersonal skills, requires practice. Start with the areas which you know need the most improvement and before you know it, you’ll be snapping shots you used to only dream of without a second thought. These 15 quick ways to upgrade your photography are just a few of the many things you can do to take your photography from semi-pro to full-on professional, so keep reading for more great how-tos and inspiration from other professional photographers!
Note: The author has not life-modeled and probably should not.
Modeling for drawing or painting with one artist (or a group or class with a tutor) is one of the areas of work open to models and can complement photographic and other modeling work. It seems to be generally enjoyed by those doing it.
Finding the work
The local art centre, university or college may well have a course or session and is likely to appreciate knowing of a willing (or just interested) model.
There is a website for artists models with advice and notices – the RAM website (Register of Artists Models): http://modelreg.co.uk
Many models here on PurplePort have modeled for life-drawing and other traditional art activities, and they seem generally helpful.
The usual conduct of a session
You will typically be expected to hold a short series of poses for just a few minutes each. The artists warm up by doing rapid sketches. Perhaps 5 of 2 minutes each.
There might be a couple of intermediate length poses (say 15 minutes).
You then go into a static pose that you will be expected to hold for quite a long time (perhaps 2 hours with a break).
Make sure you note on your diary what sort of drawings you are posing for. One model arrived in a slight rush, strode into the class and threw off her robe, to be reminded – in front of a surprised-looking class – that today was just faces . It isn’t always full-figure nude.
Look at some life drawings, and think about and try out some poses before your first session.
Arrive slightly early to the studio. Warm up, go through the poses, etc, and perhaps help setup.
“Make sure you use the loo before taking up the pose, two hours is a long time with your legs crossed.” (IanWarnerPhotography)
Ensure the space is warm. (“Take portable heaters …yes, even in summer! Staying still and relaxed whether nude or scantily dressed for so long, you become cold very quickly.” (CTE)
Choose your positions or poses carefully. What may feel comfortable after a minute might not be so pleasant 15 minutes in?
Relax. Deliberately. If circumstances allow, do a few minutes of relaxation exercises before you start.
If your muscles are tense or you are stressed as you go into a pose then you are more likely to cramp up. Ask the teacher to make chalk marks on the ground to show where your feet or whatever are so you can resume the same pose after a break.
Learn to flex and relax your muscles without altering your position. Then you can ease the cramps a bit without changing position. Guardsmen are taught to tense and relax their calf muscles every so often as that reduces the chances of them fainting.
Have something to think about. Compose your shopping list, imagine a holiday, or dream up a short story.
The recurrent advice given on PurplePort is to enjoy it, to have fun.
If you have never been in a life class you may be surprised how formal it all is. You do not wander around starkers! You walk to the podium in a robe. Your robe is brought to you when you break (do wear it). The artists will usually be very quiet and the whole atmosphere is like being in a library!
You will be surprised how quickly you find you have forgotten about being nude.
Don’t stress either. You don’t have to stay unduly still. You can still scratch an itch, perhaps depending where, move a hair out of your eyes, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask to move if you’re physically in pain or shake out a hand that’s gone dead. Most groups are lovely and understand that you’re a human being.
Expect mini-breaks between long poses where you can stretch, walk about, and drink tea. If not offered, make sure you ask for these basic needs when you need them. Depending on the duration of your assignment, you are entitled to a break in the middle.
Make sure you stretch properly in between poses.
Know what poses you can sustain for the various periods. The longer pose would normally be seated or reclining. Avoid poses with your arms raised above your head unless you have proven to yourself you can do it. Even 5 minutes is a long time with arms raised. Do your most dynamic poses first since you won’t be holding them for long with the first set, and then gradually simplify the poses as you get into the longer sets. Aim to do a variety of poses. Standing, sitting, crouching and lying. This gives the artists a variety of shapes to draw from. The class leader should make it clear for each pose how long it is for. If they don’t then don’t be afraid to ask.
Rotate yourself around when posing, so you don’t leave one artist in the far corner just drawing the back of your head or your feet  for the whole session. Avoid making or maintaining eye contact with an artist, as this may disconcert them.
Life models move, that is part of the artists’ challenge, so don’t stress, just try not to move a lot. Settle into your pose as early as you can to minimise change. If you need to ease it a bit then try to move one bit at a time to minimise distraction (e.g. a hand or a foot, and back into place). The tutor should always make sure you are comfortable and if at any point you are struggling to hold a pose then let them know so you can have a 2-minute break, or even change the pose.
And don’t twist your back
By all means, talk to people. Have a look at pictures. Young students in their first class may be reticent, the mostly retired people who do various classes are likely to be amiable.
As with modeling for photography life-drawing assignments might be offered in various places. At least one reportedly reputable artist has drawn a model in his hotel room (see First Life Drawing Session Tomorrow, Any Advice?). This seems no more remarkable than doing a photo-shoot in a hotel room, perhaps where someone is working away from home.
Some may be in purpose-built artists’ studios whilst others in local authority buildings, adult education centres, and the like. There is one in the back room of a pub in Chagford, Devon. One model I know conducts sessions at her home.
Things to take
The tutor or artist will generally provide any props they want (if any) otherwise an uncluttered pose may be preferred. You might ask in advance what items they have in their studio so as to have a rough idea of what you can interact with (e.g. chair, stool, yoga mat, pillows, etc). If you are invited to select and bring something then keeping it simple is probably best. The artists are more interested in the shapes you create and the emotion you can convey than any accessories. Indeed, they can draw extra bits and add them in later – it isn’t just photographs that get post-production and additions from stock.
You might take some body oil to help define muscles and something to model with (such as a long white drape).
Credits and references
Lili Thorpe asked a question about this topic which will be asked again. This article condenses the advice of several people in a long discussion into one document. I hope it helps.
LifeDrawingArtist pointed to good advice online at the website http://modelreg.co.uk saying their set of guidelines for models and artists/employers is useful and invite you to drop him a line if you have any other questions.
Leaf was nervous the first time she modeled nude for her local art school. “I had no idea what to expect, and I am naturally very shy, so the thought of a large group of students all in a circle around me, looking directly at me, studying me, was intimidating. But very quickly got used to it. it is actually a really good job.”
If the people drawing you are students, they will probably not interact with you.
If it is a ‘life long learning class’ or similar, it will be full of lovely people of mixed ages who are often regulars to the class and are really friendly and supportive.
My classes are usually 2 – 6 hours long. I usually am asked to start with some 5 minute poses first to warm up, then a longer pose, which may last for the rest of the session. They mark out where I’m sitting so I can move when I get breaks. I usually sit for 40 mins or so at a time. I recommend very natural poses, not twisting too much. Don’t put too much weight on any one limb or a particular part of your body. Try to spread your weight. Try to relax into the pose, as soon as you can. You don’t want to be tense. And the sooner you relax into a pose, the better, as you’ll shift in your position when you do this. If you need to move because you’re uncomfortable, try just moving a hand or a foot at a time, whilst keeping the rest of your body really still. Any movement will be distracting to the artists, so try to avoid it or contain it.
Don’t cycle or walk up a giant hill to your classes, like I used to do. As soon as you stop still, you’ll start to sweat! I’ve stood in front of a class many a time and visibly sweated. Literally, dripping from me, running down my body, down my crack and all. One artist painted in lots of ink splatters to represent my perspiration!
Do not eat too much beforehand. No beans or anything like that lol! Bring water, and something sweet. You’ll feel sleepy so sugar is helpful.
I recommend staring at one spot on the ground, to keep your balance, and to make sure your head stays in the same position. If I’m seated, I usually close my eyes after a while.
I go into a serene and meditative state when I am life modeling. I also come up with bizarre ideas for shoots whilst I’m sitting there – most of my surreal images are a result of this! It’s a good time to start thinking over problems, solutions, and plans for the future. It’s wonderful to have time to think – a real luxury!
If you are worried about them being strangers and feel intimidated, go round and talk to everyone. Tell them it’s your first time. They will all be supportive. Talk to them about their drawings on your break – their techniques, materials used, etc. By the time you get back for the second part after your break, you’ll feel like you’re in good company. I love to see how others have drawn me, it’s very interesting, and they will love some feedback from you!
 This may be apocryphal. It falls into the category of stories too good to check.
After 12 years working as a professional photographer, I realise now more than ever the value of having working relationships with industry vendors. We all have a job to do, we all want to be successful, we all want to make money. I see a lot of businesses take an isolationist approach, which can be detrimental to the success of your business. Instead, I find ways to foster mutually beneficial relationships with vendors.
Recently I was looking at where my fashion portraiture referrals were coming from when I noticed that a venue I used to shoot at several times a year had completely fallen off my radar. We had not shot a wedding there in almost five years. How could that be? We picked up the phone, scheduled a meeting with their team and did something about it.
Below is how we went from an afterthought to front-runner—and rebuilt a relationship and our portfolio along the way.
Know what you bring to the table.
We are creatives. All businesses need creative talent. They need graphic design, photography services, video services and also someone with vision and the ability to execute ideas.
There is great value in what we bring to the table, and we have to parlay that into a winning situation for ourselves. That’s why we are doing this. Be transparent. I know I was.
We offered to stylise a commercial fashion shoot and promotional video in exchange for premium placement in this venue’s salesroom. It was a lot of work to commit to, but in the end, it was a great way to position the studio as a premier partner. I was doing something no other photographer was willing to do. I bet correctly that the images we produced would drive new business to our studio and galvanise our relationship with the venue.
Think about what your vendors need.
Anyone involved in this project needs something. We are all in business to make a profit. Most vendors don’t have time to help you with a stylised shoot if there is nothing in it for them. We all need to be a little selfish here, and that’s ok.
So, what do they all need? Updated images for their marketing. This includes social media, print advertising, and billboards—all of which require images. It’s easy to just photograph for yourself and not think about the other vendors involved. That’s a huge miss.
For this shoot, we delivered new prints for their sales room, a multipage flyer highlighting both the venue and my photography to be handed out, and a video commercial. Of course, I got some incredible images for my portfolio to showcase at the next show.
Own the concept and idea. Every piece of it.
This is your idea. Own it. If you want to just be a heartbeat with a camera, then let someone else run the show—but all you will have accomplished is to prove you are nothing more than a nerd who knows how to use a tool.
Instead, own the concept from beginning to end and showcase yourself as the director, producer, and vision of the project. You will be bringing incredible value to the team. Who wouldn’t want to work with a rock star? Once the word gets out that you and your team pulled this off without a hitch, you will be received with open arms by any vendor on future projects. Screw this up, and, well, you know what will happen. But hey, no pressure.
We owned the entire concept from beginning to end. There are a lot of moving parts to something like this, and you need to stay organised.
Bring in your tribe.
We all have vendors we like and who we have a good relationship with. Involve those people. This is the trifecta. You now add and galvanise your relationship with existing partners who want to be part of everything you do: florists, limos, tuxedos, models, hair and makeup.
We expanded the shoot to include a bunch of vendors we have relationships with. This shoot had a little bit of everything, so we needed help from our partners. In return, they got imagery. See how easy this is?
Deliver on your promises.
Don’t you dare come this far and screw this up? You better deliver on all your promises, and deliver fast, none of this six-month delivery time. We had our images ready in two weeks from this shoot. We were sharing and tagging vendors in less than 24 hours after the shoot. Do not half-ass this. If you do, the resulting negative publicity will not be forgotten anytime soon. These are vendors that you have to see week in and week out.
Invest the time and energy needed to complete the project. Hire someone, outsource if you need to, but do it right.
Stay connected to vendors on social media. Thank them for their involvement. Share behind-the-scenes images and stories. You are doing this to keep the excitement and momentum going post-shoot. This is something everyone invested a lot of time and energy into, and you need to do everything in your power to make it worth their while and ensure no one leaves with a bad taste in their mouth. If they do, they will never do it again.
It doesn’t need to be complicated. Is it a lot of work? Yes, but trust me, the results are well worth it. Once you find your rhythm and formula, repeat it all over again.
Helmut Newton’s remark that women do not live in front of white paper and his preference for shooting in smart hotel rooms gave one reason.
Studios are excellent in many ways, but real and existing rooms offer lots of sets and have a narrative plausibility. One of them might fit the artistic requirement for a particular shoot. Costs, geography, and convenience are other respectable reasons. A hotel is neutral ground (which neither the model nor the photographer’s home is) and has slight and distant supervision.
A touring model may well book a room overnight or longer. One option is to book a rather nice large room, and besides sleeping in it and preparing to meet the coming day may offer availability in it for shoots, intending to at least defray the cost of the room. This perhaps works best in or near a sizeable town.
A photographer may also be touring, or away on other business, and mix a shoot with it, or perhaps repeatedly use a local hotel in daytime or take it overnight.
Types of location
As well as individual hotel rooms it is worth also considering: suites, AirBnB, B&Bs, and studios made like hotels . In addition, hotels and pubs have function rooms, and hiring one for a declared shoot (of rather larger size and complication than one to one in a room) is a slightly different topic.
Some hotels will hire out their rooms by the hour. Of the ones we might like to use, boutique hotels tend to be aware of photographers. You will probably not be allowed to use the bath/shower or have the model get into the bed because they would have to get the room cleaned again. Boutique hotels may only do this in the quiet seasons. Some few hotels actually present themselves as studios, either occasionally or whenever they are not fully occupied.
It is helpful if you have seen the actual room before finally booking or accepting it since some look better in their photographs than in reality. On the other hand, that’s also the business you are in. Geography may limit your options, and the question of whether to book into the same room every month with a different person visiting is not absolutely simple to answer.
Life is simpler near home. Laws and customs may be severely different in some other countries, and local knowledge and research are desirable. Contemplating how you return your images to home may also be worthwhile – some customs barriers might be better passed with the camera cards sanitised, in both directions.
To tell or not to Tell?
On the whole, nobody cares. Large corporate chains, if approached through their head office, are likely to say “no” by reflex – this may not apply if you are shooting for Vogue or even Playboy. The receptionist might be interested but is unlikely to be troubled. A general view seems to be “don’t tell, don’t ask”. Good hotels are very helpful to good guests . Lying is probably a bad idea. Including hotel branding material in a shot is tactless and may lead to an upset.
Bring in a bag, perhaps two bags. Bringing in the whole studio lighting set, C-stands and wind-machine in one go seems unwise . Check-in and shortly afterward go back for the rest. If an eyebrow is raised, the explanation that it is unwise to leave it in the car or that your insurance requires you not to is both plausible and probably true. Indeed, it is good advice.
Artemis Fauna’s four-suitcase packing list  for touring probably looks less unusual with a model than with most photographers.
You probably should. If it is a business hotel, then look as if you are doing business. If it is a country house then dressing as if you might be involved in some country life seems better than a black t-shirt and cargo shorts. And boutique hotels may expect hipsters.
Undressed photography in the corridors has been practiced by David Bailey (the real one) and others, but at the very least it should be carefully done out of consideration for other guests, and later photographers and models. Whereas in the rooms, well that’s part of the point, isn’t it.
If you breach explicit conditions on the use of rooms or are unfortunate enough to upset the manager, then you might be ejected quite suddenly. Make sure you have transport or some other retreat plan available.
If (as is usual) all has gone to plan and you have completed your shoot, and have a home to go to, you can check out early, leaving the model or photographer to enjoy the facilities. Or you use the facilities yourself. If you are staying on someone else’s tab then draining the minibar and leaving breakages would be …bad.
Packing lightly seems sensible. A second body and flash give resilience, but the first probably won’t fail, and you can work around lighting problems. Turn the beeping down, avoid flashing under the door and perhaps through the windows, eschew smoke, and generally be discreet.
Police reports, interest, and questions
In general, police are sensible. They are not troubled by people who are not criminals, so long as they are not also arseholes. If the ins and outs of a room excite interest, be ready to show that you are not acting unlawfully and discuss that lawful activity.
The secret to all business is relationships—the good ones and, yes, even the bad ones. The bad ones drive us to do things like start a blog. The good ones support us, sometimes every step of the way, sometimes literally from the ground up.
“It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.” I used to say that with a twinge of bitterness in my mouth. Now, a decade or so later, I realize that isn’t a snide statement. The best thing you can do in business is expand your network.
If so much of our success sits on the shoulders of whom we know, then it’s our job to get out there and expand our reach. Here’s how you do that.
This year I spoke at a convention for equine photographers. Pretty obscure. But those people need social media advice too, and that’s what I was there to teach.
I knew absolutely no one, not even the person who invited me there to speak.
There I was at the opening-night mixer. I dressed confident but not intimidating and walked into the ballroom. My heart was ready to burst out of my chest as I surveyed the room. I had no idea what on earth I was going to say to anyone. I held my breath, walked to the nearest circle of people talking among themselves and said, “Hi, my name is David.”
I didn’t stay long talking to anyone, so it didn’t get that awkward. When the conversation died, I simply excused myself and found another group and did the same thing. By the end of the night, I had met at least half the people there. No, I didn’t remember their names (I should work on that), but the next day when I had to teach them, I knew a lot of smiling faces. By the time the next night’s party came around, I felt like I was out with friends.
Shy? Me too. If that story made you sweat, you are not alone. The success with new relationships doesn’t come from how comfortable you are meeting new people. It comes from you simply doing it regardless of how you feel.
Shut Up and Listen
The next step to building relationships is to simply stop talking. I don’t care if you’re meeting someone on Instagram or in person. If you want to start the relationship right, at least act like you give a damn about the other person.
It’s not brain surgery. People like to talk about themselves. They like to brag and have people gush over them. So, give them the opportunity for both. Ask questions about what they do, how they started, what motivates them, what they’re most proud of in their life right now. Anything works. (Well, maybe not politics, especially these days.)
When you do talk, replace the number of times you typically use the word “I” in your dialogue with their name. According to Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends and Influence People, the sweetest sound to anyone’s ear is their own name. Just don’t overdo it like this girl I went out with once, who said: “David, why don’t you, David, tell me what David likes to do on the weekend, David.” We didn’t go out again.
Be the Cool Kids Table
One of the first times I went to a big photography convention, I remember feeling like I was back in senior school. I was never at the cool kid’s table then, and I certainly wasn’t at the photo convention either.
In fact, I remember once sitting in a room with a couple of speakers from the show just watching how they interacted with one another like old friends having the time of their lives. I wondered how I could get in with that group. Then it dawned on me: I couldn’t, at least not to the extent that they already were. I didn’t have the history they had together.
Instead, I realized that it was never about getting into the cool kids club. It was about making your own club. I don’t look up; I look across to find colleagues with whom I can form friendships that’ll last a lifetime. I make my own circle, and you can too. You can do the same thing with vendors in your area, with families, with any kind of business relationship you can imagine. Be your own cool kid’s club and develop relationships over time that will help your business grow as you help theirs.
Being in the photo industry is an amazing privilege. Being a part of the Guild of Professional Photographers family has been incredible. There are no others like us. We are the cool kid’s table.