Friday, March 9, 2012

I have to stop half-assing.

 I rely on my body too much for too many things.

The best models are ones who can express an emotion in their body language, facial expressions or not, that makes the viewer feel connected -- pull at their heart strings, if you will -- even if it's a totally arbitrary image.

I don't do that. The attraction viewers feel is likely the same they would feel if they first saw me walking down the street somewhere. Oh, what nice lines, boobs, legs. Though it's different, in that they are even more likely to be driven away by any emotions I may be showing -- if, for example, someone had just said something really rude to me and I was storming down the street rather than just walking.

But... that's what modeling is to me. Walking. Pushing my body into pretty shapes. Blanking out and relaxing my face. I literally go somewhere else sometimes. On very rare occasions when I meet photographers, I click immediately... but normally, it's only when I've worked with photographers for the __th time that my emotions/connection become visible. Sometimes, it's also after I've been pushed beyond my limit. Examples.

Inversely, good photographers are able to draw that out of their subjects regardless of how well they know them. Here are some examples of images I feel have embodied that concept.

They are by Josh Marks, Ted Mebane, and UMBRO respectively.

My best shooting experiences and my best images really don't have much to do with each other. They have nothing to do with my comfort, because I've shot under very uncomfortable circumstances (I hate being in wet clothing, for example). When it comes down to what the photographer is doing to capture an emotionally involved, powerful image, I think what it comes down to most of all is... Fear.

Fear of being wrong. Fear of taking an ugly picture. Fear of not composing the image correctly. There are so many facets affecting what the photographer will even aim their camera at before pressing anything. People have a tendency to rest the notion of fearlessness entirely on the model... that if they're doing their job, you will get good images. (Pet peeve? ...photographers that take awesome photos but can't recognize them, using the one with amputee angles instead. Good photography/representation is also about selection.) But people don't stop to think: A photo shoot is still a social situation. Most models aren't actors, or dancers. Some genres rely on the model's ability to exert themselves than others.... like, maybe if wardrobe, hair, and makeup were taken care of, models would focus more on their emotive abilities. But sometimes that's just not as possible with internet modeling.

Clearly it takes talent, but the shoots that resulted in the above images didn't have much in common. The first two -- the photographer sat down, spoke to me, got to know me. He walked me through exactly what he was looking for, asked exactly what I was looking for, and we met in the middle. He set the stage, requested a mood/vibe, I acted it out. The second two -- that photographer really pressed trust. He assured me that we would get some workable images, but I had to be willing to push myself. I did. The image with the dogs was my first time shooting - the day I had decided to go to a meet and greet at Dupont Circle. The final images -- I just enjoy UMBRO's company, and I had a sense he was able to read me pretty well from the beginning. And he doesn't just shoot the pretty shapes you aim at him.  

Alternatively, maybe it's not just who's posing, or who's shooting, a combination of model, photographer, and viewer. Maybe some of the feelings being expressed in certain images just appear as completely dry to some viewers. Maybe the subtle nuances speak louder to others.

What remains is, I don't necessarily want to be pushed - I'm already pushing myself to be more expressive in the absence of motivation. I want to be challenged... It's just not my place to challenge photographers, beyond blogging about it. There are a lot of photographers that need to self-motivate and recognize that this is still a social interaction -- not just a transaction. And sometimes, asking what a model is looking for out of the situation just isn't an applicable solution... because as much as I appreciate the consideration, in many situations "compensation" is really the only true answer. Collaboration vs. compensation vs. the reality of social interaction. Messy. I don't even know what to do with that.

Maybe I need to visualize an audience next time I'm blanking out at a camera... Convince myself I am indeed in a conversation like I'm supposed to be.

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