24 August 2007
Find a Model
First things first...I made a promise to talk about how I find models, what I look for in models, and what photographers I identify with. In finding your models, I think two important elements have brought me success. The first is confidence. "Ask for what you want and get what you can" is a phrase I first picked up in the military. I am not afraid to ask a girl or woman to model for me. If I feel there is distinct characteristic that she possesses which will work well in a project I am working on, I ask. All she can say is no. Asking is not illegal nor is it for the feint of heart. When I ask a model to pose, just out of the blue, I am serious about it and it comes across that way. They know I am not joking, but rather that I exude a certain professionalism about it. Have something to show them, (a card, a portfolio, a website) that you are professional. Many feel flattered that I ask as long as they don't take me for a perv. In other situations, I can develop a connection first and then raise the topic. There is much that can be said on this subject.
The second thing is knowing who to ask. You increase your chances of success if you don't go up to the preacher's wife in the middle of service Sunday morning and drop the question. You odds of success dramatically decrease. You can, however develop a knack for determining women who have an air of confidence about themselves by the nature of their dress, their conversation, or their overall style. Timing is important. I dont stop someone while they are on their way to their car at night in a Wal-Mart parking lot. I also don't ask if I can clearly see she is busy, frustrated, or otherwise in ill-comfort. Get to know women a little bit and one of the best services you can do for yourself is to not ask me this question. Ask a woman. Ask a few women. Ask them, if you (hypothetically), wanted to ask another woman to pose, what would make them feel comfortable to answer you. Go to an university art department and ask someone who is already a model on how to approach women. Personally, I am a black man, yet I have the most problems getting a black woman to do this no matter what I do. Asian women and women who are pregnant are also challenges for me.
As for models I prefer, I dont really have a particular one thing. I have photographed large women as well as sub-one hundred pounders. I have shot from the ages of 18 to 55. I guess the element most important to me is what's on the inside of the model, moreso than without. I hope she is a giving person who lends to the experience by possessing a great attitude and a willingness to take a vested interest in what I am doing. When I have that, I can usually make magic.
Photographers... well, check my links. Spencer Tunick and Jerry Uelsmann have been my original motivators. I follow Helmut Newton, Gordon Parks (recently deceased), Dorothea Lange, Diane Arbus, Marc Baptiste, and Matthew Jordan Smith. I also like Dave Rudin and Michael Barnes, but if I had to chose one person whom I truly ID with, then Edward Weston.
I have recently had a GIGANTIC spike in visitor comments to my site and blog, due to my letter to Domai. Let me say thank you all for your kind words and constructive criticisms. I will get back with each of you who requested so over the next week.