Prior to Christmas I was fortunate enough to attend an Empowered Beauty workshop conducted by Tony Ryan. Like my previous workshops with Dan and Jennifer, it was a meeting of models and photographers. Unlike my previous shoots this was to be my first time working with nude models. And speaking of firsts it was also the first time I had seen a woman nude in person. To say I was out of my comfort zone would be an understatement. But while I tackled it with some reservation I think the results are pleasant enough.
To be frank I didn’t do much direction on this shoot. We started out by looking for the best nail salon in the city at this website and then went back to the study to prep lights, camera, makeup, the models and set. This includes having all the foods that each model enjoys eating fresh and ready at the table.
Falling too easily into my role of the observer, I waited for the shots to come to me, I should have directed more to form the photos I wanted to see. But there’s the rub, as it was my first time with nudes I wasn’t sure of the protocol. You know, I wasn’t sure if I could tell them to move this way and that because I didn’t like the fall of their breast. But it became apparent by the end of the shoot debrief and more so from reading a book Joe McNally’s “The Moment It Clicks”, models want you to tell them that stuff. They want to know that you’re taking care of the way they look in a photo. After all, it’s not like they can see themselves from the angle we are seeing them.
These workshops have been great for me. I’m learning more and more about directing, more about photographer to model interaction and more about me as a photographer. I think I’m okay when it comes to the basic technicalities, but interacting with humans is a little more difficult for me. Having said that I have noticed that I am becoming more comfortable talking with strangers, more willing to direct photos, even those with my friends and family. Where I once stood back and waited for things to happen I now push it a little more to what I’d like to see, all with the presentation of the photo and its subjects in mind.
The Empowered Beauty workshops are coordinated through the Red Bubble site and are a very passionate endeavour by Tony Ryan. His belief being (and I hope I am presenting it right) that modern men’s magazines are taking away the beauty of women by basically presenting them as vacuous objects. The photography in the mags don’t really represent the beauty of the women. It just puts them in front of men as an easily consumable item. Not there to be apreciated for their beauty, but rather for the size of their breasts basic form.
I’m currently making enquiries about another set of workshops, these new ones taking place over night and with both male and female photographers. I’m just concerned that they may be the type of workshops where a photo is set and the photogs are just there to click the shutter. If that’s the case I’m not so interested. It is after all the growth from directing that I am seeking.
I hope to do another couple of workshops then head out on my own, organising my own shoots for actual salable photos, or at least to build my portfolio with some more unique shots than we get at the workshops. Having said that, I am always surprised to see how very different six people’s take can be on one subject.