Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dark, emotional, edgy, expressive...

Jumping back in time yet again to just a couple months after the big bad haircut...

Life had thrown a handful of curve balls my way, and this was one of them that effected what I was pursuing... It seems like such a stupid thing, to have to care so much about something as silly as hair... but my job was to be in front of a camera, where appearance matters. I was not shooting nearly as much as I had been prior to the cut, but was slowly finding ways to work with my look or to work around it. The emotional drama that went along with it, and dealing with everyone's questions-everyone wanted to know why and how this happened but even I couldn't answer that beyond speculation-was also draining...It made me sick to my stomach that someone intentionally did this and I had to look at it every day wondering why. I did my best to just accept it, ignore it, and keep doing what I was doing while always pushing to be better.

I had worked with Dan Frievalt a few times... He loves the dark, emotional, artsy stuff and it is complimented perfectly with his gritty rockin' style. Dan was going through his own rough patch at the time, that was also emotionally draining and involved some difficult decisions. He too was trying to just push through, to keep doing what he was doing-what he loves. We had shot recently by accident- I was supposed to assist- but Dan was still itching for something edgier, darker, more emotional... he wanted to use the same location we used in the previous shoot-it was amazing and inspiring! He pitched his idea to me. I loved it. We set a date, I picked up the necessary pieces and I met him at his house to get ready.

What I love about Dan choosing me for this project was he knew my love for dark, emotional work, and that I could deliver. The fact that I have blonde hair, and no tattoos makes me easy to overlook for something as edgy as this. But appearance does not matter nearly as much as the ability to emote. As I had learned very quickly with my hair, appearance can be changed... easily... Your ability to get into a role and make people feel deeply, that is not easy. It takes a combination of things to make a photo successful in this way...

I had bought a few wardrobe items that Dan planned to ruin. So we stood in his kitchen, I held up the wardrobe items as he attacked them with an exacto knife. Therapeutic in itself. ;) He had a few accidental cuts in unfortunate places, I wish I had photos or videos of his face! But no one was bleeding. We were pumped and would work around anything!

We talked about hair/makeup. This was unlike anything I had ever done before. This wasn't about being pretty and perfect. I'm not sure it could have been more opposite! We whipped out the black eye shadow and we darkened my eyes in a messy, raw, almost haunting way. Then Dan started with the rest of the makeup... he created what looked like bruises, cuts, scrapes, needle marks, dirt, etc. all over my exposed skin. It looked quite convincing and I was just in awe of the transformation. This beaten up look was symbolic, something we both could easily related to. This shoot was a great way to express those feelings we were dealing with. With my look complete, we were ready to roll...

We headed to our location. Excited. Once we arrived, I was reminded of how amazing this place was! There were so many beautiful spots all over the property, but we decided to stay in the abandoned house. I get pretty excited to explore these things and having someone like Dan around is perfect to balance things out...I'd say "Oh my gosh! Look at that amazing balcony!" And Dan would say, "Umm, we're not going up there... there are holes in the floor!" Thanks for keeping me from falling through balcony floors Dan! :) Although, seriously, how sweet was that?! hehe

Each room had something different. Dan scoped things out and I believe he primarily used the beautiful natural light that was pouring in... We got started. It was easy to get into character... I loved this stuff... We moved from room to room, we were like little kids in a candy shop.

We shot far later than expected, and on the way home, we talked excitedly about the whole thing. We passed a cop and suddenly Dan switched from excited to terrified, he realized he was driving a bit too fast and to top it off, we were in a construction zone. Now THAT would have been a heck of a story... I can only imagine what a police officer would think to see me in the passenger seat, looking like a beat up mess. Dan's expression was enough to make this memorable and entertaining enough. ;)

To see more from this shoot, please visit 

To see more of Dan's work: 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Reasons to use a model...

Photo by Mark Anderson, in the name of art,
personal project
While I really love the artsy kind of photography, and have a blast modeling for that style, I understand that the majority of photographers do not necessarily do that kind of work for a living... The majority of photographers are probably more focused on seniors, babies, families, couples, weddings, etc.  So... what use could you possibly have for someone like me? Why on earth would you ever consider working with a model? I bet there are plenty of beneficial reasons. :) 

When I started out doing this modeling thing, it was because someone asked me to model for them... I was just assisting for a shoot, and they had seen some of my own work, and just simply wanted me to model for them...someone who loved photography, the really artsy kind, and was simply passionate about creating. I was doing my own self portraits for similar reasons. The purpose was to create art. Purely for the sake of art.

Other photographers started to ask me to model for them. The more I modeled, the wider range of reasons popped up... Sometimes it was just for fun-maybe the photographer needed a break from their usual work to do something more laid back, or emotional, or creative, or crazy. They needed to do something totally different. 

Photo by Andrew Kufahl, his final image of his 365 project
Some were doing larger projects, like 365's.

Some shoots were totally random, completely unexpected. 

Some photographers incorporated their shoot with me into building their actual portfolio. 

Some shoots were for clothing or jewelry pieces. Or promo images.  

Others just wanted to practice...from practicing lights and technical stuff to practicing getting creative, or directing/posing people, or just being comfortable working with others. There are a million things to practice in a field like photography!

Sometimes it was a hair/makeup artist who needed a "canvas" -my face. Sometimes they just had creative ideas they wanted to try, other times it was for competitions for their craft. 

All-Star Studios, Rummele's winter
catalog cover, modeling their jewelry
I've modeled for workshops, from local ones, to out of state ones, to national ones... my purpose with these was to give students something to photograph, without them having to think so much about posing, expressions, hair, makeup, wardrobe, etc... This allowed them to focus on the technical stuff they were learning. They could focus on learning as much as possible about their camera and their field and did not need to worry about a darn detail about the subject (me). Photographers have actually been blown away with how nice it is to not have to worry about posing-because I just move. It takes some of the responsibility off their shoulder so they can worry about other things.

On a smaller level, I modeled for one-on-one lessons. This is where a photographer takes a private lesson with another photographer... My purpose for these is the same as it is for a workshop... just on a much smaller scale, usually catered to that specific student. They don't have to worry about shooting in front of others, or not being able to get a good angle because they're sharing one model with a group, they don't have to feel intimidated asking questions in front of a larger amount of people, and they can actually interact with me and the teacher more. 
Photo by Casi Lark-Sitterly at a one-on-one 
lighting workshop

Every single time I've modeled, there was some purpose for it. And I think everyone involved learned something

While you may not think you have use for a model, think about what you do... during a senior session or during a wedding, do you really have the opportunity to experiment? To push your work to the next level? To practice a new technique? To familiarize yourself with new gear? I am assuming your usual gig has a fairly tight time frame, and your clients have high expectations as they are expecting the most for their buck. Using a model gives you the opportunity to do all of these things in a very low pressure situation, with as much time as you need... where you can't upset a client, or screw up someone's big day, or bore the heck out of a senior. You may be great at what you do, but there is always room to learn and grow. And time/money is never wasted on something like that.

I won't go into it in detail now, but I have tried to continuously improve what I do to cater to your needs. From building a wardrobe (including clothes, accessories, shoes, belts, etc) to expanding my hair/makeup materials and skills, to practicing posing/expressions, and so on... As I mentioned earlier, I have done a bit of the photography side myself... so you don't have to worry about fumbling around with new gear, or spending time on a new technique-I won't get bored, I repeat, I WILL NOT get bored... I understand what goes into these things, and I'm there to help YOU. I've also assisted for various photographers, so I'm not afraid to set up a light stand or carry some bags, even in heels!
Photo by Mark Anderson from a themed
group photography event

When I hear people talk about ways to improve their photography... one of the first things that comes to my mind is education. It never EVER hurts to learn. Whether it is from a local workshop or statewide convention or bigger... Or a private lesson from a photographer you admire... or a college class... etc... Another option for learning is for you to simply practice, to teach yourself, to push yourself. There are various ways you can go about doing this, using a model is one of them, for all of the reasons I mentioned above. Ultimately, fine tuning your eye, honing your skills, practicing, learning the gear you have inside and out (who knows the tricks your camera can do! You may be surprised!), pushing your creativity, working on your people skills, learning about posing (you can learn a lot about this just by watching/working with a good model!), all of this will have more of an effect on your work than a new camera... or expensive lights... or any other new toy--don't get me wrong, those can be fun, and some times upgrades are beneficial, but they aren't going to MAKE you into the photographer you want to be. You need a good solid base. YOU need to be good at what you do... so YOU have control over the tools you use. 

Photo by Brandon Swanson from a photography workshop
As an art major, we had models for our painting and drawing courses. Their purpose was not for us to create an amazing museum worthy piece of work off of. Their purpose was for us to learn how to see the art elements, to practice seeing these and translating them onto the paper/canvas, to learn our medium and techniques, to learn how people move, to watch how light affects a face or body... Their purpose was for us to practice, so when we worked on our own pieces, we had more knowledge, we were more comfortable with our skills and our medium, and we knew our field better, so we had a solid base... which made our art better.

Photographer: Kara Counard ...Began as a part of her 101 Women project, 
and we just shot for fun afterwards with Seth Nayes
Some of the sketches we did of models actually were used later down the line to create more developed pieces. This is similar to when a photographer gets a little creative/artsy with a personal photoshoot. We get to put our creative spin on things and go beyond the learning process and actually MAKE art! (but only because we had that solid base) You would be amazed at the creativity you have inside of you. Exploring the creative zone is probably one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences I've ever had. And I thoroughly enjoy modeling for a photographer using me in this way...because I know how amazing that feels! And when you get that photograph that makes you giddy, I get just as excited. :)

To wrap this up, no matter what your style or focus is in photography, there are so many resources out there for you to help grow and become the best photographer you possibly can be. So read, take a workshop, ask a photographer for a private lesson, approach a model... and push yourself.  

If you would like to see more of my work: