Thursday, April 17, 2008

How to prepare for and do your best on a photo shoot

One question that I get asked a lot is how to look better in pictures. How to prepare, what to do, etc. Well, first of all, basics...drink lots of water for a week before the shoot. Get a good night's sleep before the shoot, don't answer the phone or open your door to anyone who might make you mad before the shoot. Try on and objectively look at yourself in the mirror before you shoot...make sure that nothing makes you uncomfortable or makes rolls in your back, and that it fits well and looks really good on you. Iron or steam your clothes before you come, and hang them on the way to your shoot: When you get to the shoot, try to feel as comfortable as comfortable. If it's too hot or cold or if you would like a drink, let the photographer know.
Then while you're shooting, know that the less comfortable you are, the better it looks. pull your shoulders down and back. Suck your stomach in, stick your chest out. Also know that even though the photographer might be far away from you, if the lens is long, they are right up there looking up your nose, so you shouldn't be chewing gum, rolling your eyes, or talking, because you'll be able to see it. If the lens is short, like two inches or less, do NOT, under any circumstances, allow anyone to stand within two feet of you...your face will be super distorted and weird. You can ask any of my clients...they aren't necessarily in love with me while we're shhooting. I take them so ridiculously far out of their comfort zone that they have no choice than to give me natural reactions, which is what I'm known for...YAY, it works! Also, remember, that every click of the camera is a new day, which means that even if you're positive that you really looking like a goofus, and feeling bad about it, don't worry, get out of your head, and thinking about something, truly doesn't matter what you think about, as long as you're thinking of something.
Take Katie, an absolutely physically gifted
Nordic beauty. I don't think I have ever met someone with a better face or upper body than Katie. Her symmetry and jawline are unsurpassed. Her eyes were these deep pools of expression, except when we started shooting. It wasn't that she didn't take incredible pictures. Au contraire, they were always stunning; I just wanted more from her because I knew she had it in her. But a lot of the pictures she took looked like the one on the left, pretty, beautiful really, but lacking somewhat in soul. So we were on a shoot on Kaua'i, and, having shot Katie about 100 times by then, and knowing her, I asked her if she wanted to play with getting emotional. She was game, so we tried some stuff like thinking of someone you hate, or having something in her mouth that was disgusting, and then we pulled over some other models, and I had them pull her arms and legs and not let her go while she tried to get away. The winners got to go on a shopping spree, and Katie won, as you can see on the right. Can you see the difference in the eyes? In the demeanor? In the confidence? After that, the floodgates opened, and that girl was FIERCE!Anything you think, except, "just take the picture," will work. It's what is going on inside that makes the picture. The last I heard, Katie made it to the finals of America's next top model just before television...I REALLY hope that she makes it to the show and takes it all. And I REALLY hope that you take those words of advice and love your pictures when they come back, especially if I was the one taking them. :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What to do When Your Client is Mad

What is the world's most popular radio station? WIIFM What's In It For Me. Your client is always right. Period. Case in point: I was expecting a time sensitive fedex yesterday and I didn't get it. I called in with the tracking number and my client id number, and the fedex agent swore that I wasn't on the docket. I asked nicely to speak to his supervisor. Seventeen times. He said, "My supervisor will just tell you what I'm telling you", in this really snotty manner. Finally the guy got bored and hung up on me, and when I called back, I got the same guy! When does that happen? When I finally talked to the supervisor, whose name I do have in case anyone from Fedex is reading this and cares, he also denied that I had a package on its way, demeaning me and making me feel like such a jerk so many times that I almost started believing him and gave up, but since I did have a tracking number, I begged him to search a different way, to look up my address, the senders address, my account number, which I had had the package sent on, something. His condescending, holier than thou, you made a mistake and now you're going to pay attitude was killing me. I felt so abused. I had paid to have this package sent to me overnight, I didn't get it, and now this joker was telling me that it had vanished. He actually said, "Well, I'm being nice enough to even look into it, so just shut up." I reminded him that that was his job, and he really wasn't impressed. Finally, he actually looked, found it, and not only didn't apologize, but was very rude still. I guess in the end, I got what I wanted, my package, but the 38 minute begging, pleading, threatening extravaganza with a neanderthal backwater freak simply wasn't worth it.

So today, I have a photo client, a very nice family who are great all the way around. Awesome. I really like the whole family. I'm shooting a special event for them. And they asked me to help them find a special service, so, even though it wasn't "my job,"I, wanting to help them, called around and found a friend of a friend who was very economical, super economical, ridiculously economical. Well, you guessed it...30 out of 100 were wrong. Not only that. The lab made an error on the printing. I called the special services guy. Nothing but excuses. I called my lab. No help. I panicked. 14 years of perfection, accolades accompanied by hearts, flowers, accolades and baked goods, gone. My perfect record had vanished. No one was willing to help me. No one cared about me as a client enough to jump through any hoops to hear what I needed and deliver it to me. Sweat surged down my back. The deadline to send these out was now. And I let her down. It doesn't matter that I was just trying to do a favor. It doesn't matter that there is always an eighth of an inch that doesn't necessarily zig when the press zags. My customer was really upset. I felt terrible for her. So what do you do? YOU FIX IT. FAST. FOR FREE. And you apologize and send baked goods. That's it. I took the whole thing off the bill, which really hurt, because, as some of you know, I am the only child of a mother who has late stage Alzheimers, and have to pay all of her staggering Alzheimers care and medical bills, but you know what? Your client doesn't care. All they want is their product. Now. Right. And if it's late and wrong, apologize and make it right as soon as possible. I cancelled my account with fedex. I'm now a UPS girl. Appreciate your customers, or they'll leave you, too.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Newcomers to Photography Be Smart, Be Cool, Use Fishing Wire

It's been brought to my attention that newcomers to photography feel like they don't have any way into the business. Being an assistant is a good thing, but hard to break in to. People don't want to share their secrets, maybe fearing that they're going to share them so well that the newbie (gosh, I hate that word) is going to outshoot the pro and take their jobs? I don't know. I never assisted. I almost wish I had. I had to just jump in and learn as I went myself, and it was hard, and demanding and super frustrating. I'm not saying that I know everything...far from it. I'm the ultimate gerryrigger. I have always subscribed to the theory that an eyelash curler and some fishing line can solve all of my photographic problems, and you know, so far, I've been right.

On the left shot, we used the fishing wire to pull the tire swing, and on the right, I have two strings to pull the skirt and...ok, I know that this sounds really bad, but I put a rock in her shoe.
Don't look at me like that . She knew about it. It just helped her with her expression. Anything for the shot, right? And their lashes? Eyelash curlers. Makes all the difference.
This is weird, though. I think I told you that I put out a post to find a photographer's assistant, which is a good way to get into the business as long as you're actually shooting, too. I got a billion responses, which at first was great, but then I checked the responses of them actually said "Send me your resume and I'll consider working for you." Ummm, Huh? You want to work for me and you want me to send you MY resume? Do you really think I'd send you my resume? Then I got the fans.."I've been following your work for five years, oh my gosh, I'd do anything..." hey, who doesn't like to work with someone who admires them? So when I called them, ok, that one guy...he didn't call me back. Yeah, I didn't think I was really that famous. I had people who told me their life stories, financial histories, stalking accusations, bathroom schedules, alimony payments. I had people who told me, that they could only work Monday mornings, and could I change my shoot around because it would be worth the wait. One guy called me 17 times in two days.
I finally found a couple of normal guys who seem like they'll do a good job. No women...they just didn't apply. What's that all about? Maybe they don't use eyelash curlers? So if you're going the assistant route, be responsible. Be cool. and if you can't do that...Call back.