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Travels - Knaresborough, Yorkshire
My feeling is that the point of fashion photography is to inform the viewer of what the products look like. However this contrasts with the desire of the clothing manufacturer, for whom the primary aim is to sell the clothes. Finding a nice middle line is a nice challenge. I don't have a vast quantity of fashion shots to show you. I don't have the rights to almost any of the fashion shots I've taken. I also don't have the clearances necessary from the models and their agents to publish the shots without paying a hefty fee. On this page you'll find some examples from a leather jacket catalogue I did a few years back.
The shots were done on a low low budget. The client didn't want to pay for a studio, nor any fancy equipment. I wanted to use an "infinity cyc." which would have effortlessly created the effect of featureless white background. Never one to be daunted by impossibility, I improvised with white sheets and complicated lighting in a cellar, and turned these shots out for a fraction of the cost that such things would normally be. I don't think that I want to do it that way again, though. It was hard work and took all day.
I'm not sure how used this guy was to wearing make-up. I knew him first from my kung-fu classes, and he left the photography session still wearing the make-up. I was using a make-up artist, and she hadn't gone over-board with the face-paints, but even so he reported that he got a few strange looks later that evening.
One memory I have of a photography session on a Sunday was being locked in by the owner of the building. True, we were working hard in a room downstairs, and weren't going to be leaving, but once we realised that we were locked in, the atmosphere changed considerably. True, we all felt more in-it-together, but the weird feeling that we couldn't leave even though we weren't going to, made people surprisingly pissed off. I think I kept the mood out of the photographs, but it was a lesson in how much such factors can affect the job.
To smile or not to smile? I think one reason that models don't like smiling much is it makes them particularly conscious of the falseness of the exercise. One has to hold a smile for some while, and repeat it over and over for photographs like these, and this is unnatural. I have found a few techniques for coaxing smiles out of models that often work. One is to insist that under no circumstances should they smile. Many models find concentrating on not smiling the most likely thing to make them smile. Another that works on men, and get broad smiles from them, is to hit them over the back of the head. They can then either smile a lot or hit me back, and so far none has ever hit me back.
I was amazed at how young a lot of the models used by local model agencies are. This lad was just fourteen. Many of the girls used photographically as objects of desire were this age, although they looked older.
The models and the seller of jackets had rather different attitudes to poses. The models all wanted to stand in poses with "attitude", with heads on one side and mean surly expressions. The client preferred nice and upright with a friendly smile. Again, some amount of compromise seemed to be best. If the people he was using as models were the sort of people he expected to buy his jackets, then poses that they liked were presumably better than ones he liked. Then again, I did find myself reining-in the models when they attempted poses the "attitude" of which bordered on the farcical.
There's an advert on television now in which a rather sexy model called Caprice walks towards the shuddering camera until her face fills the screen, and she steadies the camera with one hand saying, "Here, let me hold that for you." The advert turns out to be for bikinis. Despite having seen the advert three times now, I still haven't actually noticed the bikini and couldn't tell you what colour it was. I suppose that a woman viewing the same advert might notice the clothing, which is just as well, because I imagine that most bikinis are bought by women.
In my opinion, there is little less sexy than a person trying to look sexy. It's much like stand-up comedy. A good stand-up knows he is funny, and just gets on with it. An inexperienced stand-up comic might be frightened that he isn't funny, and one becomes conscious of his trying hard to be funny. This hardens the audience to him, and people resist his humour. The sexiest women know that they are sexy, and this shows.