It has been blistering hot since June, with a record number of days above 100, and this past Wednesday was no exception – 108 degrees! Needless to say I have been sticking to work in the studio on most days except when I have no other choice. I have been doing portfolio shoots for my friend Perry Mason and his newly formed PM Promotions for the past couple of months, and because of the heat we shoot these in the studio each Wednesday evening. He brings in models – female at first but male soon – and we create portfolio shots he can use in his marketing efforts.
Last Wednesday he brought in a young beautiful 19 year old Latoya Gaede. Like many of his subjects Latoya was stunningly beautiful but had never been in front of a “real photographer” as she puts it. She was quite nervous. Perry is doing these shoots on a tight budget so no hair or makeup or wardrobe, just what the subjects wear or bring. It is a challenge each week to come up with something fresh and different. I want to try and bring out the personality of each subject. The girls often bring bikini’s or skimpy outfits. These are OK but without props it is very hard to create unique images. The girls must carry the photos on their own, which is extremely challenging, especially for first time models. I usually grab something laying around our studio for them to use as a prop.
Latoya was very nervous at first, which is typical. I had her put on some music from her iPhone and then just started snapping pictures and joking around with her. I knew the first pics would be a bit stiff, but just wanted to get her loosened up and having fun. After about 15 minutes I brought her over to the monitor so she could see the results while I changed out lighting setups. This helped with her confidence.
We just kept working. She eventually had Perry leave the shooting area because she couldn’t stop laughing and was very self conscious in front of the camera. She put on her pink bikini and I had her put the pink top and straw hat on to help out the look, then just talked her into dancing and having fun. I turned the studio lights down low and just told her to pretend she was dancing at a nightclub with her boyfriend. From that we got some really awesome pics that we were both very happy with.
The challenge for me as a photographer is to focus on the subject and get them comfortable. I feel I now have the camera and lighting equipment down pat and can instead focus on my subject. I am learning to help them relax in front of the camera and try to bring their unique personality to the session. I am very happy I was able to let the fun personality of Latoya show through!