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: www.facebook.com/NFGartist 

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