Choosing Content for a Photo Shoot

by admin

“The Art of Making the Right Choice”
Written by Rick Trottier – RJT Images
There are few experiences in life more disappointing than the crushing realization that a birthday party you had been waiting for and expecting to be as wonderful as is possible is something else entirely and turns out to be nothing that you hoped for. Promises were made, expectations were raised, emotions soared and then came crashing down when all that dreams could wish for turned out to be something rather distressing. A shoot with a photographer can often be exactly as disappointing for a model, especially novice models who have so little experience and such big expectations. But even seasoned veterans can stumble into messes from which extracting themselves is harder than anticipated. There are numerous reasons why a shoot can go horribly wrong, but the most common reason for sour feelings, sometimes on both sides is when there is miscommunication over content that is to be shot. Too often, content is either dictated by a photographer, assumed to be something as opposed to being a known commodity by either side, or ideas quietly but irresistibly foisted upon a model, all to the detriment of the creative process and future photographer-model relations.

To start with, the shoots that I am going to examine for choosing content are not commercial shoots, contracted shoots or any type of content that is arranged or requested by a third party client. In those cases, freedom of content, even sometimes lighting and backgrounds does not lie with the photographer and/or model and what is to be shot must be clearly and carefully communicated by the client so that model and photographer are 100% on the same page with the needs of the person or entity that has hired them. The shoots that I wish to explore for the sake of understanding how content should be determined are “portfolio” shoots. Notice the wonderfully obvious quotes around that oh-so manipulated term. Bear something in mind when “portfolio” shoots are mentioned or discussed. Models are in need of regularly updating their portfolios. Hairstyles, hair colors, makeup styles, physiques and even physiognomy change with trends and time, requiring a serious, professional model to consistently maintain fresh imagery in her portfolio. For her portfolio must display her ability to portray a wide variety of looks for commercial and artistic projects. Once a photographer reaches a certain level of experience where they have demonstrated a mastery of lighting and editing techniques and have as wide a range of styles in their portfolio as possible, “freshening” their “portfolio” isn’t a regular requirement. First-rate imagery doesn’t age or lose its impact. Just look at the enduring works of Herb Ritts and Annie Leibowitz. What was incredibly profound then is still just as poignant now. So when a top-flight photographer says “he needs a girl’s look for his portfolio”, there is a euphemism being offered there with a dubious and debatable meaning.
You can read more of this article in our Sept/Oct issue of ModelsMania

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