Glamour Photography by Jay Kilgore
Am I the only white shooter?
No, not white like that, but white backdrop shooter.
I’ve seen a lot of well respected, and some not-so-known photographers sound off on white backdrop shooting and as someone who LOVE’S it, I wanted to chime in yet again. If you’ve read my blog over the years I’ve spoke on how to get it pure white. Why I like white and gave diagrams on white backdrops. I have my reasons for shooting on white and preferring it over anything else, some of them I will explain in this article.
I’ve seen comments such as “I hate shooting on white because it’s too sterile” or “It’s boring” and everything in-between. I do it because it’s a challenge. Sometimes I can get it just right, others, I need to post help it. I’m not a fan of having things compete with my clients so shooting solid color backdrops is my thing. We all have our own thing, so don’t judge me! 😉 But back to business; I’m an ambulance chaser! For me, ambulances are magazines. In my research for this article, I went to my local Barnes and Noble and took a photo of the various periodicals:
See what I see? At a GLANCEDetails
As promised, I’m updating with my Meet the Models: Kylee! Kylee and I “met” more or less, through her father, Andrew. Andrew and I had spoke for many years about getting together shooting. We were both fans of each others work and either I was busy and he open, or vice versa. I had sent him a note about a workshop I had up coming and invited him. He responded that he was busy and unable to make it out, but wished me well. We exchanged pleasantries and that was that. The following day, Kylee posted several messages on his FB asking him to check in. Later that evening she posted that she was very concerned that he never responded. A few days later, his page was updated that he had passed and would be missed. Having just poke to him not too long ago, I was in shock! We had just spoke about shooting Kylee and Heather together. Fast forward a bit and Kylee and I decide to shoot. 11/19/2011 The day of the shoot I was nervous. I had no ideal what we would talk about since our only real connection was her father. I’ve not lost my Mother, so I don’t know what it’s like to lose a parent, but I knew I didn’t want to focus on the sadness that death brings. I wanted her to know she was her own person and awesome, but her father should be remembered. She came in and we sat down to talk. I think she could sense that I wanted to address it as she brought him up first. She said he always had good things to say about me and for that I was appreciative. With that addressed, we moved on to her and shooting for her. I found her pretty and easy to talk to. She was confident and fun, sure of who she was and accepting. Values I find misplaced in many young women her age. I was drawn first to her eyes, then her legs! She’s not tall, but she has amazingly long legs. The one thing I remembered most about Kylee was her wanting to explore different areas of shooting! She was legal and wanted to try new things. At the end of the shoot she wanted to shoot some implieds as well as as a photo or two showing off her tattoo she got in honor of her father: After that shoot, she wanted to shoot with her BFF so we shot. Her friend was a senior in High School so I won’t post those photos.
Our second s hoot promised to be super hot! She wanted to push boundaries and wanted to shoot some topless!Details
It’s been a while since I’ve done an OSF and Meet the model. So let’s do an Old school Friday and Meet the model combined!
Yes, I’m slacking.
I’m going to bring it back! My goal is to update tomorrow or Saturday with Kylee. I’m not sure if I’ll make it but if not, Monday for sure!
Kylee is a great story! There’s some awesomeness, some drama, some rumor spreading and lies, forgiveness and forgetting. You want drama? suspense? You’ve got Meet the Models, baby!
There are many, many rules for photography. There are many people who shoot non standard ways and have non standard thinking. The people who are successful in shooting non standard, are those who know and understand the standard thinking.
Now that I’ve filled the “non standard” quota, lets move on…
This weekend past, I was at a Daddy & Daughter dance with my 7 y.o. Princess. We were having a grand ole time and she demanded we get a photo taken. The line was SUPER long and thus the wait began. Three minutes into it, my Princess said she was bored and wanted to go dance. I insisted we wait since we were already in the line. She toughed it out and we waited. As we approached the venue I noticed that the strobes were putting out a TON of light. Now, I had no clue if this was because I would have chosen different modifiers (She had umbrellas)? But either way, people were squiting and asking for a few moments break in-between. As I approached, I saw:
Now after seeing this, I couldn’t help but think someone was playing games with me? Yes, for a quick moment in time, I thought this was TOTALLY all about me. Then I realized this was no joke, this was real, people. I couldn’t believe this was how this photographer was shooting! I got up to her and my Princess and I got our photo taken. The photographer was nice enough. She was professional enough and fun to be around. The experience was good and my Princess enjoyed it. Afterwards, my daughter complained of seeing spots and I spent a bit more time watching.
If you’ve not noticed, the umbrella’s are pointed AWAY from the strobe! The umbrella wasn’t offering any sort of diffusion, she was bare-bulb’ing the heads. In case you couldn’t see well on the photos, here’s a video:
Now this isn’t an attack on the photographer, it’s got me wondering: Of all the photographers that may have applied for the job, why they chose this one? Price? Word of mouth? Reputation? Accessibility? These are all the things I was thinking about as I was watching her move. It was clear to me, she wasn’t what most standard people would call a “pro”, as she had a wireless transmitter on her camera body and the hot shoe flash popped up firing as well. I posted the photos on my facebook page and got some colorful commentary from some of my photographer friends. One friend said he liked what she was doing and encouraged her to do it. Said he likes the non standard way of shooting. If you know me, you’ll know that I ALWAYS say “Break the rules! Only by knowing the rules can you know which ones to break” and she didn’t know that. The rule here was simple; save your clients eyeballs!
If this photographer happens on my blog, what I have to say to her is simple:
Kudos to you for getting the job, working it and making sure your clients had a great time! Make sure that if you accept the job, you take the time to make sure your equipment is setup correctly and that you’re diffusing your light.
Everyone loved the images on the back of her camera and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.Details
As you may or may not know, I’ve stopped my workshops. I’ve lost my love of teaching them, so I’ve been the student. I’ve not found any workshops worth attending here, but I’m on the look out. Either way, I’ve noticed a new trend amongst photographers that is silly, sickening and stupid. What’s the trend?
“I’m the best photographer in the state”
It’s what I see on business pages, facebook pages and everywhere else a photographer is allowed to write their own copy. As we know, photography is a career that doesn’t require a degree, certificate or license of any kind
which means anyone is a professional. Being everyone is a professional and the economy being in the gutter, everyone has to find a way to make themselves different. One way to NOT do this is over hyping of yourself! Truth be told, some people will believe it when you say you’re the best in your state, but sadly the people that will believe it will be family and friends.
When you use phrases such as “I’m the top model photographer in the state” you are alienating yourself from your peers and friends. There are MANY photographers that are far better than you and I, that the world will never know. So why set an expectation that you can’t live up to? Now those who know me, maybe calling me on my old phrase tag “I’m the most nationally published and sponsored model photographer in CO”. This is phrase I can back up since I used to spend quality time looking over all the social media markets. Even so, I’ve stopped using it as a driving force since CO is my home state. CO isn’t exactly N.Y. or Cali, so I don’t say it too much. Today, I say things like “I’m a nationally published and heavily sponsored model photographer”. I’m staying true to the facts and not over embellishing things.
Now I’m not running out telling everyone to get a tag line, amend the ones you have and make sure you’re not putting yourself in a situation that is almost impossible to live up to.
Always remember, if you have to tell people you’re the best, you’re not. They will know with out your saying so.Details
Being a Glamour Model photographer I hear many people saying “I’m going to put my state on the map!” Great thought!
If your state is meant to “Be on the map” it would be. Now I’m not saying you can’t get it on the map, you just won’t get it there by staying in the state. I have lived in a few states and traveled to a lot others. Colorado is by large and far, has some of the most dedicated residents I’ve ever seen. Win, loose or draw, CO fans back their teams. Being a Minnesota boy with fair-weather fans, this stings a little, but it’s all good. When I’m working with people here, almost all of them say they’re going to put CO on the map, one day. At the start I would tell them it just won’t happen, but I’ve stopped doing it now. Not because CO is finally on the map, but because no one listens due to that CO Pride that we were discussing.
Before we jump into how one can put their state “On the map”, let’s talk about someone who is, or was a resident of my home-state, Minnesota; Jessica Biel. Jessica was born in Ely, MN which is about 2.5 hours north of
Minneapolis. She was born several years after me cause Lord knows if she was my generation, she’d be Jessica Kilgore ;). Jessica, like many, desired more than a life in Ely, MN and sought this life out. After making up her mind to do it, she left Ely, MN and started her pursuit of becoming a famous actressDetails
Way too long time no see huh? I apologize for that! I have a couple of excuses and I think they’re good ones.
Where I have been:
Everywhere and no where! I think I’ll break each main ideal into different segments. This way, you can look for one that interests you the most.
Reflection: I took the first part of the year to really reflect on my photographic career. Have I done everything I intended on doing? Did I live up to my expectations? Did I improve over what I did last year? Most of those answers were yes. Why? Simple, I wasn’t shooting much 2012. Made a TERRIBLE decision to move back to the Midwest and hated every moment of it. So end of 2012 I moved back and just ended that time reflecting. 2013 saw me going to new states to teach more one on one photography as well as work on gaining more commercial clients.
Workshops: I’ve retired from teaching workshops sadly. I just don’t have the passion to do it anymore. All of my loyal students were great, but sadly it was the GWC’s that were there only to shoot T&A and not improve their photographic game that killed it for me. I have always wanted to make a difference in the photographic world. Towards the end, I felt the difference I made was not making a positive change, but allowing those with intentions other than my own an easy outlet.
Website: I took my radiant desire portfolio page down!Details
I posted a question a few years ago;
I got a wide variety of answers such as camera, good lens, back up bodies and lens. Many great things. For me, I answered it simply; Music.
Music that the client enjoys is the best experience for them. I have had to sit through music genres I’m not a fan of, but have heard some tunes I like. With mobile devices now able to play excellent quality music, I turn my mobile phone into a portable jukebox. When I’m shooting in the studio, I crank the music up and we get down. It helps the client open up, relax and put in work! It helps fill the quiet spaces of a shoot and if you pick a station they dig, they will forget all about the flash of the strobes and get to moving around.
For those who don’t believe music can get a client to open up, please watch the following video:
Can you honestly say Music doesn’t have power to move?Details
For this shoot I had wanted something different!
A few years prior I had spoke with Kelsey, Meg, and Kabulie about doing a shoot with a boy. I never had any idea what I wanted to shoot, but wanted something hot and sexy. Meg and her now ex did a few photos and people loved them. A few weeks back I decided I wanted to change it up and go for something with a boy. I started my quest to find a boy and low and behold I found one. I used Kelsey as the model and the images we got were super hot and awesome!
Lighting is suuuper simple; natural light no reflectors!
I wanted to go for a CK, AF look
Super long time no talk! Sorry I’ve been away for so long, I had lost my interest in posting and teaching and sharing and all that. Got burned out. I’ve picked up a side project, one I’m happy to be doing! I’m one of two staff photographers for Glamourmodelmagazine.com and I enjoy it! Go like their facebook page too!
I get free reign over what I shoot, so I get to shoot a lot of personal projects and share what and how I want!
Here’s a video of Taylor that I submitted. Here are a few photos:
As far as the future of this blog, to be totally honest I’m not entirely sure. I may just turn this into a portfolio site and showcase my work. I’d still keep the blog info but can’t guarantee that it will update as regularly as it had in the past. I’ll take a bit to think about it, what would you guys like to see happen to it?Details
Let’s cut through the B.S. and talk about something that annoys me;
Fashion photography in a non fashion state.
As the days go by, I find myself shying away from model photography more and more. Why? Simple; I live in a glamour state!
It is NOT my job to educate people on their career choices, but lets be honest; to sell them a dream is making a ass out of me. Presently, I live in Denver, CO and as much as everyone here wants to make it so, Colorado will NEVER be a fashion hub! I realize this sounds very negative on my part but I’ve never been known to fluff. Before we get into it, let’s define Fashion modeling;
From my posts So you want to be a model I have covered the height issue. To be an Editorial model one needs to be minimum 5’8″ tall. This is non negotiable and has been standard since fashion was something to do. To walk runways you need to be taller.
Clothes look better on long limbs, this is indisputable. As a short guy, it pains me to say it, but they do. Long limbs look more graceful than short stubby limbs. This is why the fashion industry goes long, it’s the point of the designer to make their product desirable and statistically that’s been proven by decades upon decades of testing and learning. Before we move forward, let’s look at some fashion images by my favorite Fashion Photographer Mr. Patrick Demarchelier:Details
I see many photographers
reverse engineering images and I feel bad for them. The reason I feel bad for them is the fact that I was one of those guys. I would sit for HOURS looking at images trying to figure out how they lit them. I would contact photographers and ask and beg and plead and become annoying with pestering them to find out how they lit, and what camera, etc, etc.
One day, I finally figured it out; reverse engineering is a waste of time! Much like posting on photography forums, trying to figure out how an image was lit vs how its being edited was about as useful as a flash light with no battery. If I could do it all over again, I’d not spend hours looking at images, but those same hours SHOOTING images. As an fyi, the catch lights do NOT always tell the truth! Here’s a simple five light setup on high key image that I LOVE:
And truth be told? This same image could have been taken with one light! I used five…because I could.
As photographers we have to see the image not for what it’s worth, but how it’s meant to be seen. Janelle is by large and far one of my most favorite models ever. As I stated previously, when I shoot her I want to bring out a more fun, soft, sexy side. Every time her and I shoot, she up’s the notch. This shoot is noooo different! What makes this image work in my opinion is NOT the lighting or technical aspect of it, but the amazing connection with the camera, the look she’s giving and her natural pose. Everything with this image works and on this shoot, every image was better than the next!
Could I get the same image with just one light? Yes, yes I could. Did I use multiple lights to achieve this look? Yup, said I did. Why? because I could. See the image for what it offers, not for what we perceive it to be. Sometimes, an image should just be viewed.Details
A flake as defined by the Merriam-Webster:
Definition of FLAKE
: a person who is flaky : oddball
Origin of FLAKE
perhaps from flake out
First Known Use: 1964
One of the largest, if not THE largest problem with the photography industry today is flakes. Flakes are a thing of the internet modeling world and basically results in someone, model or photographer agreeing to a shoot, and backing out last minute. This is something that hurts the industry as a whole as it forces people to take a position. I’m of the opinion when ever forced with taking a position, someone has already lost out.
For the most part, “flaking out” is part of the online modeling world as most serious models will never flake. For some models this is their job, or what they want to be a job or income earner. If you want to make money you can’t develop the reputation of not showing up to work. Online models are those who see photos and want pretty pictures on their Facebook or what not. They also like the title “Model” since it sounds cool to say “I’m a model”. Now I have no problem with that and not judging anyone, however I do have a problem when it affects people. There are many types of flakes, but the most common are the following:
The I’m so hot, I need someone to protect my body…Sh!t! I can’t find anyone to protect me:
these are the online models who model for the title. They believe they are the only chick that the photographer has seen and thus they need someone to protect their body. Their friend or bodyguard has something going on, or no real interest in hanging out for hours upon hours doing nothing, so they flake. The internet model can’t imagine going some place alone with the rape factor so high, that she doesn’t bother to contact the photographer until the day of-if at all.
The OMG! I got in over my head and don’t know what to do: These are again, mostly the internet wannabe models who are excited for the title model that either they agree to things they KNOW they have no intentions of doing, or has agreed and has no clue how to back out with out losing face. They take the high road and disappear, then get mad when they resurface a week later and you have no interest in shooting them.
The “My just died and I can’t make it”: These are the internet models who dutifully post on facebook how they’re getting “White girl wasted” along with photos and play by play commentary the night before and the morning of kill off their loved one. A few years back I was teaching a workshop and the photographers wanted to know why an advertised model didn’t show. I told them she had contacted me and told me her Grandmother passed. The photog who asked the question said “Odd. Her Grandmother died last week, too” Three other photographers had joined and by the end of the convo, five Grandmothers and three sick dogs were the cause of the model flaking out. These “Models” are friends on fb and updating all the time. If you want to be believed, don’t update facebook or tag yourselves being out at the local club if you’re going to flake. Or better yet, be honest and say “Too smashed to work” You most likely won’t work with photog again, but at least you’ll get SOME positive feedback for honesty.
The I don’t have : I love these ones as well. One of the more recent ones is “I can’t find a babysitter and I’ve been looking since Wednesday!” Your shoot is Friday and you started looking for a babysitter a day and half before your shoot? Take some responsibility and realize other people have lives. Often times, these flakes will contact flake #3 and end up finding someone else to take care of the baby while they go out and get hammered.
Those who have legit excuses: Not showing up to a scheduled shoot regardless the excuse is a flake. There are those who have legit reasons for not being able to work and if it’s an honest, legit reason then it’s ok, but it’s still breaking your word that you will be there and ready for work.
Photographers have their fair share of flake excuses from not scouting the location to just being scared to shoot, flaking is flaking.
This hurts the industry because it forces people to make choices. It forces photographers to have a prepaid booking or you wont get on the books. Models will sometimes require a 50% down payment and ALWAYS the party offended will use this as a reason to be more hard lined in their approach.
Bottom line; if you can’t do the work, don’t agree to it. Every time you take a job, photographer or model, it puts someone else who would love to be in your position, out of the chance. Make sure you have ample sleep and energy for the shoot as wasting time is burning money.Details
Long time no talk eh? I’ve had some things going on that has honestly, not really had me in the mood for photography, blogging or anything really. I promise to be back and updating more often than every three months lol.
As I’m slowly getting back into the commercial thing, I’ve noticed lots of people don’t like hearing the word “No”. Because they don’t like hearing “No”, it can often taint relationships. I have a good friend who lives in CA shoot a former CO model. Her and I spoke a few years ago about shooting and it never worked out. She moved to CA and has been working with a mid level agency there. She shot with my buddy and apparently they had an agreement that “No nipples” would be visible. My buddy is a consummate photographer and professional and no nipples were visible. There were however, a bit of areola visible. The model went on to blast him in public and say not nice things about him. In the background she had text’d him and told him to remove the images right now. He was working and unable to do so. This is when she took to the public libel and tried to defame him. This thread went on for a few hours and it had some valuable learning opportunities in it and learning ops for both models and photographers. The biggest point to learn? The ability to say and accept NO.
I speak with a LOT of photographers who have problems saying no to people. These photographers end up in situations they could have avoided if they would simply say “NO“. Now you’re reading posts from a world class Type-B personality, but being in business has taught me that sometimes I have to say no, other times I say no, but empower the person asking.
I live in CO. I LOVE it here and will never leave. Colorado is a glamour state. This being said, I get models of all heights, shapes and sizes contacting me for shoots. I have ZERO problem shooting ANYONE, however, I will not shoot someone who isn’t genre appropriate. Meaning I will not shoot a 5’6” model in “fashion”. I used to be crass in my explanation; “You are not fashion requirements, so it will be unrealistic to shoot you in a style that you can’t do”. Now I say no but in a nicer way “Sure, we can shoot some fashion themed sets!” They love this and go with it. This way I can shoot them in a style they want to shoot, and I don’t have to worry about them showing friends saying “I’m a fashion model” with my name on the image. This is a creative way of saying “NO” but not doing so in a way that’s negative.
“NO” is often most difficult to hear from the wannabe or new model. They are new to modeling and believe every door is open to them and every opportunity should be afforded them. Sadly, this isn’t the case. It’s like my going to a casting call where they’re looking for a ‘6″2 220lb muscle man in my 5’6″ 280lb frame and being upset I didn’t get reviewed for the casting. Because they want it, they feel everyone who says no is hampering them No can be a good thing! No helps you refocus yourself, realign your position and focus on what you CAN do. When talking to those who have difficult times hearing NO, I refer to Tyra Banks story of her going to several agencies and trying out and being told no. They told her she had too much hips, butt and boobs. She could never be a high fashion model. Did she give up? Did she lash out? No, she found that she was PERFECT for editorial and became one of the most known Victoria’s Secret models ever. To be totally honest, if it weren’t for Tyra, Victoria’s Secret wouldn’t be what it is today. NO helped Tyra focus on what she HAD to offer, not what she LACKED in the industry.
The confrontation between the model and photographer ended with him advising her to contact his lawyer and they lawyer up to resolve their differences. If you’ve read my “So you want to be a model photographer” segment, you will see I believe having a lawyer is the first thing you should do, but differing to them is often expensive. I let the model know that she could have handled the situation a bit better (He was on location and unable to drop what he was doing to remove images from facebook) and to have a bit of patience moving forward. She felt I was attacking her and I moved on.
There are many ways of getting what and to where you want, her actions may not have been the best way.
How do you handle saying “NO”?
It makes me proud to see students, current and past, display works of mine taken at one on ones, workshops or group settings. If I may say with out ego, it makes me equally thrilled to see images obtained at my workshop have the most comments, likes and lists.
Often times I wonder; “What have you contributed to the professional world buddy?” and I’ll be down in a funk. I’m usually so busy doing my own thing that I hardly take a break and go see what others are up to. Last time I did, I decided to take some images that were shot by students of mine, and compile them. I am proud to say that a lot of the people who’ve taken classes from me, have worked with me on one one, have gone on to teach and do other things!
The images are copyright their respective owners. I am not claiming copyright at all, using them to not only show off the photographers work, but the work they did under my direct guidance. Enjoy!
Top O the morning to ya!
If you’ve lived in a hole in the wall over the past week, you may have missed out on the…controversy that Mike Jeffries C.E.O. Of Abercrombie & Fitch has caused. There is a LOT to review and learn of this situation, but before we jump into it, let’s listen to some LFO singing about Summer Girls:
Now THAT was music people! “New Kids on the Block had a lot of hits…” In that song, the boys admit they like girls in Abercrombie and Fitch because of the aggressive marketing ploy of A&F of course. If you don’t know who Abercrombie & Fitch are, they are a major retail fashion seller. The current C.E.O., Mike Jeffries has been quoted as saying some things that are helping people view the Dove beauty commercials in a whole new light. When you Google Mr. Jeffries, you will see terrible headlines such as “Abercrombie and Fitch C.E.O. NO FAT CHICKS” yet if you take a moment to read the article, these are quotes from someone who allegedly spoken to Mr. Jeffries and these are quotes he allegedly said. That being said, let’s get to some known quotes of Mr. Jeffries:
“We hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that.”
“Listen, do we go too far sometimes? Absolutely. But we push the envelope, and we try to be funny, and we try to stay authentic and relevant to our target customer. I really don’t care what anyone other than our target customer thinks.”
“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he says. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”
The above quotes are in fact from Mr. Jeffries mouth and can be easily traced back to him. These quotes are pretty damning if you’re looking at them from the eyes of someone looking to bring down an establishment, but that’s not how we’re looking at those comments today. Today, we’re going to look at them from aDetails
If you tuned in last week, then you’ve no doubt read “The sad truth about tattoos” and I’m sure you have an opinion on it.
Now I want to note; I am a working photographer I’m not an agent or anything like that. Nor do I claim to be. However, I use my eyes and judgement when reviewing whats going on.
In that entry, I said tattoo’d models are somewhat limited to what they can shoot and of course I had some that were upset about it. If you rely on one person, especially if it’s one person you’ve never met to dictate your life, modeling isn’t for you. Rejection is hard at first, but gets easy over time. Why? because to find the right one for you means you’ll be rejected from 10 possibilities. Now lets jump into today’s post! You’ve decided to get tattoo’s as a form of self expression and you love them. Great, right? No. Let’s be frank and honest; a tattoo is forever. Yes, you can get things over it and make it more pretty, but 75% of the girls I work with get their tattoo’s when they’re younger and as older women regret them. This is just a small lesson on reminding you that some things can’t be undone and that it can hamper you in modeling.
Yes, I said that before, but why not be more constructive?
Depending on where your tattoos are you can find work. Modeling is about selling yourself, you are the product so you have to find the right clients to sell yourself to. If you are heavily tatt’ed, then you will want more of the “alternative” magazine/clients. The new and more open minded client. The down side to that is the new company may not have as much money as the Baby Boomer owned business, but you can always use the new business as a stepping stone. The worst they can do is say no.
I work with everyone and work just the same as those with tattoo’s as those who don’t have. I don’t believe a person should be judged by looks, but what they bring to the event. With almost everyone having tattoo’s now, I’ve established someexcellent relationships with those who have tattoos.
As long as you’re realistic with what you do, you will always be successful. Success isn’t always money, fame, publications, it also includes accomplishing things that make YOU feel good about yourself.Details
So you want to be a model photographer?
It was bound to happen;
It’s time to talk about photography, photographers and the business of photography.
To be a Professional photographer it takes a LOT more than a desire. It takes countless hours of promotion, self promotion, education and willingness to learn via bumps, bruises and scrapes. Much like my “So you want to be a model?” series, this will be broken down into several different groups; starting out, halfway there, there and what next. Let’s get right to it.
Photography is not an easy or cheap hobby or profession. Photography is one of those things that one can never really master, just become proficient in it. If you want to be a professional, you have to start your business like a professional, with things and people that are geared to keep you on the right path, and protect you on said path. Yes, you will spend money out the gate. As long as it’s good money, in the end it will all be worth it. I am of the opinion every new photographer wanting to be a professional needs the following;
Gear: Your gear doesn’t need to be top of the line, brand new latest and greatest, it needs to be functional. A huge mistake people make is buying into the marketing of the various companies and assuming they need a $10,000.00 to take the best photos, when an $800.00 camera will work just the same. To further prove my point, here’s an entry I made a few months back that shows how I’d spend $1,500.00 if I were just starting over.
CPA: Having an accountant is AMAZING! There’s an old adage; “If you’re going to fight the system, best have a lawyer.” The same holds true for those starting ANY kind of business. An Accountant is an AMAZING asset to have as they will watch your pennies and help them turn it into dollars. At the start, you may not be able to afford them to do everything for you like pay creditors and handle your money, but at least around tax time you can itemize your expenditures and they can get you tax breaks as well as adjust your taxes and handle gear depreciation. You can save big money by itemizing your expenditures, you can even get tax credit for working/shooting out of your home!
Lawyer: IMHO it is imperative that you have a lawyer. Retain one before you do anything.Details
Tattoos. A form of self expression and someones G*D given right to get them if they want. I would never tell someone to get or not get a tattoo, but I would advise them to look at others in the industry they want to be part of and model themselves after those people.
Now I know this blog post won’t be a popular one because I will not be speaking positively amazingly happy-go-lucky about tattoos, but I will be giving you an honest, hard and fresh look at tattoos and how they work with and against models in our industry. What is my personal opinion about tattoos? I will let you know later. For now, lets get to the gettin!
Tattoos are not new, not by a long shot. They aren’t famous now, they are trendy now. Roughly 5,000 years ago, tattoos were worn to state many things; Tribe status, Medical healing, Warrior fear, etc. While the tattos of 5k years ago weren’t as colorful and exciting as today’s tattoos, they did stand to let others know many things. Tattoos were worn to denote King and even Queens, Medicine men, Elders and for Warriors, scary ones to help intimidate would be tribe attackers. As time progressed, they moved from things of “importance” to decorations and eventually, artistic forms of self expression.
While many people have tattoos for their own reasons, over the past 6 decades tattoos have turned into something…bad. In the 1950’s, only “Bad” boys and girls had tattoos. This was because inking the body was bad and anyone who would do such a thing was a rebel, someone who couldn’t be controlled. This person was considered a vagrant of society and was looked down upon. It was around this time that Society as a whole started shaping and Baby boomers were starting to take over the world and make changes. Growing up with the “tattoos are bad” philosophy, Baby Boomers shied away from them. Now don’t get me wrong, once in Vietnam many of our solders got tattoos, but that was more of a brotherhood thing. Today, lots of our military still get tattoos of their platoon, unit or what not. The Baby Boomers that didn’t go to Vietnam were again back here setting standards and one of those was to continue on with their parents belief that tattoos were “trashy” not something a “proper young man” would get.
“How does this affect the modeling industry, Jay?”
Glad you asked! The Baby-Boomers are still running the world. While they are all older and moving on to greener pastures in the sky, they are still in control of a lot of the old foundations and institutions of the world and one of those institutions is the modeling world, the Fashion world to be more precise. To be a Fashion Model, one must meet certain requirements (Age, Height, Weight, Look, etc) and one unwritten and some are written rules of little to no tattoos. There are some models and wannabe models who get very angry when I say this. As with the height thing, this is something that the industry goes with and until there are major changes, it will just be.
Let’s be BRUTALLY honest here; those with tattoos, and a large number of tattoos, will find less paying work as models. Why? simple, clients don’t want the model to compete with their product. The model is a prop, the product is the star of the shoot. Designers, makers and other clients want a model to wear their clothes/accessories and not interfere. Can you honestly say a model with a Yakuza tattoo could model an Old Navy Shorts and Tank outfit and keep the focus on the clothes? No, they wouldn’t. Now that isn’t to say there’s something wrong with a full body Yakuza tattoo,Details
It was bound to happen, CPI has closed down Sears and Walmart portrait studios.
Why was it bound to happen? Because they weren’t making any money! I tell every photographer that I run into that we should be charging. Why? simple; it costs money to do what we do. Buying new gear costs money and for those photographers who have wives, mortgages, car payments, etc, buying a 1,200.00 lens or camera becomes expensive. With camera companies spitting out new gear every year, it’s difficult to keep up with the Jones’.
Sears and Walmart closed because they weren’t photo studios. They were mwac/gwc type establishments that preyed off those who didn’t have the money, or didn’t want to spend money getting real portraits done. When doing a family consult or even model consult, at least once a week I would hear “Walmart I can purchase an 8×10 for .99” or something to the likes. My retort was always “Do you really feel comfortable getting your photos taken at the same place you can buy toilet paper?” For the models I would ask “Do you go to your mechanic to get a yearly pap-smear? Or breast exam? If you answer yes, then Walmart would be great since you can go get photos then walk to the back and get your tires kicked…” Most would get the point, some would not and still go there only to be disappointed with what they got.
At the end of the day making money is what keeps us in business. For photographers, discussing money is a touchy subject since no one likes to talk about it, yet we work to master our craft and should be paid. CPI owed lenders $98.5 million, including $76.1 million in unpaid principal, as of March 13, according to published reports. This is in part, due to them charging .99 for a sheet of photos. Cheap isn’t always good and as CPI has shown, cheap puts you further into debt.
Are you working to avoid the CPI mistake? If you’re not charging now, do you have plans to do so in the future? How will you go from not charging to charging?
Knowledge is not free. Expertise is not free.