Tara & Samantha – Empowered Beauty Workshop

Tara, originally uploaded by tyroga.

Yesterday I attended another of Tony Ryan’s Empowered Beauty workshops. This one a gift from my friends for my birthday much earlier year.

The workshop was good, but not as good as others have been in the past. Tony often talks about energy and most of what he talks about and believes in I agree with, yesterday’s energy at the shoot was chaotic at best.

The first part of the workshop was great. Tara (the model above) was amazing to work with. She was very open to suggestion, willing to bend over backwards (almost literally) to accommodate a photographer’s request. She’s a dream model.

Our second model Samantha had almost the complete opposite energy. While still open to suggestion Samantha was at times less accommodating. Having said that, Samantha was more fluid in her movements; free flowing from one pose into another. The belief being, as an art form model she’s used to doing this, gradually shifting from one pose to another while her form is being drawn. General consensus was that it was annoying at times because she would only be holding a pose (both those she created and ones she was directed into) for a short period of time before she progressed to another.

Not that I was part of that general consensus. During the second part Samantha did some dance movements allowing us to capture movement. This was a bone of contention during the debrief. Some photographers who often work in studio preferred the idea that the model should be directed into a position and hold the position until the photographer had gotten the shot he was after.

While I like being able to pose a model, I have shot football, motocross and lots of little kids, I’m used to subjects that move. And I often find that the gem of a photo comes from being able to see where the subject is going and getting there just before she (he or it) does to capture that moment. So for me, the dance sequence was fine. In fact one of my favourite shots is from a previous Empowered Beauty workshop comes from a movement sequence.

The other difference between saw Tara, our first model, was clothed, but our second, Samantha in a state of undress. This was the first time Samantha had posed for one of Tony’s workshops and I suggest that perhaps having nine men snapping away could have been a little daunting. But then Samantha is used to having whole classes of art students drawing her form.

To me Samantha felt a little more guarded. Less open. It also felt like she was less open to direction. Her demeanour changed when she was posed as if to suggest she didn’t appreciate being told what to do. I know I’m only speculating as to what her thoughts and feelings were at the time, but I have shot with a few models now and it’s the first time I’ve felt this kind of energy from one of them.

While I’m on the subject of energy I may as well say that a couple of the photographers that were there had different energy to what I’m used to as well. I guess I’m used to photographers being open too. A couple of the attendees didn’t give me that vibe at all. Some were inconsiderate, getting in the way of a shot. Taking their own and then just standing up to change position, often into the shot of another photographer behind them.

If I make one suggestion to Tony about the workshops it might be to have each photographer take a turn directing the model. Have the others look on and listen to what is happening, watch how the model responds. Two-fold outcome is the photographer will get more unique shots rather than eight or nine photographers snapping the same scene, we’ll also get a chance to see how the others do it. For some (me included) this will mean stepping out of your comfort zone. But these workshops should be a challenge, not just a point and shoot party.

Tony is talking about doing some workshops early next year which will be full-day workshops. He’s currently talking about holding them at Wilsons Promontory, about 4 hours out of Melbourne. They’d be more one on one time with models. He’s talking group size of only four photographers. They be more expensive, but potentially more rewarding.

I will come back and edit this entire post when I have more photos too add, once I’ve finished going through them.

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