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Studio 142 has been offline for a while, but it’s coming back.

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Featured Model: Shana Martin

Shana Martin

Shana Martin

Like so many of my models, Shana Martin was introduced to me through KjLyn.   Shana was my first “official” fitness model, and the one who got me started on this path that has become such a significant part of what I do.

Shana is one of those people who can make you feel insignificant while also making you feel special.   Your first impression is that she’s a powerful, dedicated, determined, woman who sets her goals high and meets them.  She’s a national champion fitness model, an international champion logroller, an vocal and active spokeswoman for Hunting’s Disease research, and… she’s even climbed Mount Kilimanjaro!  That’s enough to make anyone feel like a flabby slacker in comparison.

However, you will never hear her brag about any of those things–or the scores of other great accomplishments she’s achieved.   Behind the work, the awards, the championships, and the exceptional achievements is the sweetest young woman you’d ever care to meet.

While modeling is a only a  small part of all that she does, Shana brings her all to a shoot and makes it both productive and fun.

She’s a beautiful woman, an exceptional role model and teacher, and an inspiration for young women (and flabby old men) everywhere.

ShanaMartin.com

Posted in Models Tagged , ,

Featured Model: KjLyn

KjLyn

"South Side" (KjLyn)

The only bad thing I can say about Kj is that she hasn’t given me a million dollars yet.

However, considering that she doesn’t have a million dollars to spare, I guess I’ll forgive her.

I first met Kj in the summer of 2007.  I was doing a shoot for a marine dealership and she was looking for someone to take photos of her in her new bikini.   It was a fair trade.  Since then, I have worked with Kj on several occasions and in several settings.  In every case, I have come away with more than I had expected–and I’m learning to expect a lot from her.  I have never been disappointed, and I am always pleasantly surprised.  She’s one of those models people who isn’t afraid to jump in and do what needs to be done.

I think one of the greatest compliments I can give her is that it’s not uncommon for me to look at her work and not recognize her.  She adapts so amazingly well to the requirements of a shoot that she becomes a different person in the images.

There’s more to her than just a pretty face, however.  Kj is (exhaustingly) active behind the scenes, as well.  She’s a modeling and runway coach, a “gatekeeper” on Model Mayhem, an organizer for Madison Mayhem Meet-ups, a model co-ordinator and liaison for Wisconsin Fashion Week (and Fashion Fridays), and a fashion show producer.   And just to make it even more impressive… this is all in addition to working a real job and having a social life.

Kj is perhaps the most flexible, professional, active, involved, giving, fun, conscientious, adventurous, dedicated, talented, and surprising models I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with.

And…  I’m very honored to be able to call her a friend.

If you ever have the chance to work with or learn from Kj, take it!

KjLyn.com

KjLyn on Model Mayhem

Posted in Models Tagged ,

The Beauty of Fitness

Shana Martin: Powerful & Beautiful

Shana Martin: Powerful & Beautiful

During college, I was introduced to dance.  I’d seen ballet before, but always thought of it as “people in tights prancing around looking silly”.  While working as a stagehand for a wide range of dance companies–from traditional ballet to modern to avant garde–I learned exactly how powerful and amazing dance really is.  It was almost a revelation to understand that these 90-lb girls were far more powerful and athletic than most anyone in professional sports.  I distinctly remember seeing a dancer with the Hubbard Street Dance Company–a woman in her 30’s (which is downright elderly in the world of dance)–and thinking “this is a woman who could kick holes in plate steel”.  A bit of hyperbole, perhaps, but probably not by much.

My exposure to (and expanding appreciation of) dance shaped my concept of “fitness”.  And my training in (and execution of) “dance lighting” created an aesthetic that would come back to me decades later when I picked up my camera to shoot models.

The lighting in theatre is highly stylized.  Dance takes it even farther.  The lighting in dance is designed to highlight the shape of the body–often at the expense of seeing the face.  And the scenery isn’t even given a 2nd thought[1].

When I first started working with “model-based” photography (rather than shooting theatrical sets and performances), I set up “proper” lighting.  The models were well lit, but it was rather boring.   I’m not sure what triggered the thought, but one day I threw “correct” lighting out the window and shot a model using “dance” lighting.  The results were fantastic.

Marksman

Model = Marksman

Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to work with several fitness models–or models who are very athletic.  My style of lighting is both extremely flattering and extremely unforgiving.  For an athletic model, the harsh lighting highlights and accentuates muscle tone and the shape of the body.   Traditional lighting–designed to show a person’s face–de-emphasizes musculature.  You can see the whole body very well, but it gets “smoothed out”.

My approach to fitness photography takes a completely different vector.  What’s important is the body–the muscles, the shape, the tone.   I’m not interested in the traditional trappings of a “sexy photo”; that’s not what it’s about.  I strive to portray athletes as powerful.  Power, strength, and the perfection of form are inherently beautiful and sexy.

My approach to fitness photography is very different from the norm. Where traditional photographers seek to portray fitness models as “sexy”, I choose to present them as “powerful”.  A woman who can bench press twice her weight, run a marathon, or go 15 rounds in the ring shouldn’t need to put on a bikini and a cheesy smile to be seen as beautiful.  A powerful form–male or female–is beautiful.


[1] This is true in most “modern” dance styles.  Traditional ballet often tells a story that requires the set to be properly lit.

Posted in Styles Tagged , , , , ,

Tips for New Models

I work quite a bit with new models (people new to modeling).  I find that it helps me to come up with new ideas, it keeps me on my toes, and–let’s be honest–it’s a lot cheaper than working with professionals.  Smilie: ;)

When I’m looking through online profiles and portfolios, there are a few things I like to see–things that help me to determine if a model is appropriate for the type of work I’m doing.

  • Full-body shot. I like to see at least one image that shows your entire body and your shape.  A simple jeans & t-shirt shot is great for this.  It can be a simple snapshot taken by a friend against the living room wall, I don’t care–as long as it lets me get an idea of your shape.  I understand that this type of shot isn’t glamorous, it isn’t flattering, but it’s probably the single most important shot in your portfolio. This image is the blank canvas that lets the photographer see what he’s starting with.   I don’t want to see what other artists have painted; I want to see the blank canvas I have to work with.
  • A head shot without photoshopping or make-up. You may have had the opportunity to work with some amazing MUAs–and you should certainly show off those images–but those MUAs won’t be at my shoot.  I need to know what the “real” person looks like so I can determine what’s needed for my shoot.  Some of the most in-demand professional models have, in their portfolios, a “This is me without make-up” shot posted blatantly.  They do it for a reason.  This is, once again, the “blank canvas”.  I, like any photographer, understand that you’re a real person with blemishes, pale skin, frizzy hair, and all those other things that come with being an actual human being.  Let me let you in on a little secret:  we don’t care! We know how to make those things go away–or use them to our advantage.   If all you show are fully made-up, photoshopped, “glamorous” images, you’re making it difficult for photographers to tell if you’re right for their style.
  • A variety of looks. I know this can be difficult if you’re just starting out or haven’t done any serious shoots yet, but even if all you have are snapshots taken by a friend, show some range.  Different outfits, different poses, different expressions–all of these let me see what you can do.  I’ve had enough experience to be able to extrapolate from there, but I need more than one data point to do that.  Most importantly to me:  don’t be afraid to smile! There’s nothing more boring than a model who’s every image has an identical facial expression.  If that expression is “trying to look sexy” or “trying to look glamorous”, it becomes an active turn off.
  • Viable contact information.  If you have a link to your MySpace page but it’s locked as “friends-only”, that does me (and you) absolutely no good.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  When I’m sent to a website I’m not allowed to view, it tells me that you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing.
  • Relevant information in the profile. I really don’t care about your favorite band, your last boyfriend, or your happiest childhood memory.  What I do care about are your goals and limits in regards to modeling, your location, your availability, and what to expect when (if!) you show up for a shoot.  If you’re posting to an established modeling site, PLEASE fill out the age, height, weight, and measurements sections accurately.  If your profile says you’re 0′ 0″ tall, 10 lbs, and 99 years old… It’s pretty obvious that you’re lying.  I don’t work with liars. I doubt any respectable photographer will.  And if you’re not willing to list your  basic stats, you can forget about any professional work.
  • Reasonable linguistic skills. All-caps, text-speak, lack of basic spelling and grammar; all of these indicate a lack of seriousness and maturity.  If you want to attract professional-quality photographers you need to present yourself in a professional manner. Have fun with your profile and show off your personality (no need to be stodgy), but do so in a way that says you’re grown up.  As I’ve stated in an industry forum, “Your words make you ugly”.  Modeling–professional or amateur–is a business.  How you present yourself in words can be far more important than how you look.  If your words make you come across as immature, unprofessional, or stupid, photographers won’t be willing to take a chance on you.
  • A non-aggressive stance. This one is a bit sticky.  I understand that models have to deal with a lot of jerks and pervs and that can cause you get rather defensive in your profile, but that attitude can (does) push away respectable photographers as well.  If I see a profile that says “I’m not willing to do [whatever].” I respect that and keep the model in mind for other projects.  If I see “I WILL NOT DO [whatever]  SO DON’T INSULT ME BY ASKING!!!”, I won’t work with that model on anything.  Be positive in how you present yourself.  List your limits, but don’t get defensive about them.  List what you are interested in working on.   You’re selling your services; tell me why I should work with you.  Why should I hire you?  Why are you valuable to my portfolio?

    This is very important.  Your website, profile, and/or portfolio are your way of selling yourself.  You want to make people want to work with you.  You want to draw them in.   You’re selling yourself.  You’re more than just a face or a body–you’re a person.  If your profile focuses on the things you won’t do, people aren’t going to pay attention to what you will do.

I claim to speak for anyone but myself; however, I’ve found that many (most?) photographers I’ve talked with express many of the same ideas or agree with me when I express them.  Take it as you will.

Presenting an online profile and/or portfolio is an aspect of presenting yourself as a business with a valuable product.  The best way to get the most out of it is to learn how to present yourself in a way that attracts the types of people with whom you wish to work.  There is no right way or wrong way, just a lot of preferences.  If you understand what other people want, you’re already ahead of the game.

Posted in Explanations, Models Tagged , ,

Just Say No to Photoshop

Model = Debra Lynns

40 is Beautiful

France made the news a few months ago for a proposed law that has been photoshopped, airbrushed or edited in some manner.  Without going into a long-winded explanation, this proposed law is utterly hilarious to any photographer (and utterly terrifying at the same time).  Every image beyond a snapshot is “edited in some manner”.  That’s what photographers do.  That’s why we get paid the big bucks (so to speak).

Proper lighting, camera angle, cropping the photo, dodge & burn, tweaking saturation, adding filters; all of these things are “editing the image” so as to present something different from what the human eye would see.

That being said:  I, personally, feel that editing tools such as Photoshop are drastically overused–and even abused.  Ignoring the excessive examples, the philosophy of “just photoshop it” is entirely too pervasive in modern photography.  We’ve come to expect skin without wrinkles or pores, every hair in perfect place, snow-white teeth, and wrinkle-free clothing.   We expect plastic people.

I don’t do that.

Yes, I tweak images to highlight certain features, but I don’t “paint” a new image over the top of what’s there.  People have wrinkles and texture to their skin.  Hair isn’t plastic.  Teeth don’t shine out like headlights on luxury car.

Images from me will not be airbrushed, they will not be photoshopped.   They will not paint an image of someone you aren’t.  What they will do is strive to bring out the best of who you actually are.

After all… when someone sees your photo and says “Wow!  She’s gorgeous!” don’t you want them to be looking at you, and not at some digitally-adjusted plastic painting of someone who only kind of looks like you?

Posted in Explanations Tagged , , , ,

What Is This “CopyLeft” Thing?

In a couple places I refer to something called “Copyleft“.  While the term–and the concepts behind it–goes back almost 40 years, it’s only been in the past few that it’s really gained a popular, mainstream, following.

As technology has made it easier for people to  share, modify, and make copies of “intellectual property”, special interest groups have pushed for stricter and stricter interpretations of copyright law.    The US Constitution  says “The Congress shall have Power [. . .] To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

Until the latter part of the 20th century, copyrights were short (28 years, with a 28 year renewal option).  Then, in 1976, Congress extended copyrights to 75 years or 50 years after the creator’s death.  In 1998, Congress extended them to 120 years, or 70 years after the creator’s death.   Under the current, strict  interpretations of copyright, this means it’s possible you couldn’t make a copy of your wedding photos (shot today by a 20-year-old photographer) until somewhere around the year 2180.  Your grand-children couldn’t scan a copy of your 170-year-old photo and post it on their geneology website.  They couldn’t share it with their family, donate it to a museum, or do anything other than hand it on the wall in their house.

Strict adherents to copyright insist that you, as a consumer, aren’t allowed to do anything with a copyrighted work except use it the way they say you can.

Copyleft rejects that idea–to varying degrees.

Over the past decade or so, copyleft licenses have met with a large number of legal challenges–which they have one.  This has established a legal precedent which means that people like me can feel secure using these licenses for our businesses.

People like me believe that you shouldn’t need to ask for special permission to use the things you’ve bought in the ways you want you.  However, we still want to be able to say that there are things you’re not allowed to do with our work.

In my eyes, I’m a photographer.  I get paid to take photos.  I’m not a print shop.  I don’t want to spend the time and effort to make 300 wallet-sized copies of the same photo.   And I certainly don’t want to waste time tracking people down to see if they went to the local pharmacy chain and made a couple copies to send off to Aunt Martha and Grandma Betty.

On the other hand, if you’re using these photos to make money… I expect proper compensation.

That’s fair, right?

So, when you shoot with me, you’re given explicit rights to make copies of your photos, to share them with friends, to upload them to your personal websites, to use them in your yearbook or church directory–all the normal things that people do with photos of themselves.  You can take them to whomever you wish to get copies made–from a professional lab to a photo kiosk in the mall.     And if, in 50 years, your children want to make copies, they don’t have to try and hunt me down to ask for permission: They’ll already have it.

For me, copyleft means I can spend my time being creative rather than worrying about Aunt Martha getting an “unorthorized copy” of your family photo.

Posted in Explanations Tagged , ,

Featured Models

As I build this site, I have to acknowledge the models who have helped me to build the portfolio that has allowed me to show off so many wonderful images.  From time to time, I’ll be writing about some of the models with whom I have worked and by whom I have been impressed.

Whether I’m shooting for a paying client or for fun, the model is a vital part of the project.    Where some photographers treat models as part of the scenery, I prefer to actively collaborate with the model.  While this may mean that I need to shoot a lot more images in order to get the one that’s just right, it also allows for the opportunity to capture amazing images that I never would have thought up on my own.

I like to take what opportunities I can to point out those models (and other collaborators) who deserve the praise and recognition for the work they do–both in front of the camera and elsewhere.

Posted in Models Tagged , ,

Who? What?

Model = AidenRN

Model = AidenRN

When looking for a photographer, a model–pro, amateur, or regular person–wants to know “Why should I work with this man?”  To a great degree, the work must speak for itself; you have to like what you see.   Positive recommendations are, of course, a great resource.  The thing that’s often overlooked is the basic philosophy of the photographer.

Beauty is not only skin deep, and the camera always lies.

A good model understands this, and a good photographer uses it to his advantage. I continually strive to find the deeper beauty and the perfect lie. Pretty people are boring; art should tell a story, reveal a secret–silly, sad, or sensual, it doesn’t matter. This gallery affords me the opportunity to tell those stories. I hope the viewers can understand them.

Photography is not my profession, but my passion. I’m not looking to deal with people who wish to be the latest supermodel. I’m looking to find beauty and tell lies–in other words, make art.

There’s a misconception that photographs don’t lie.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  While a photograph may be very accurate at depicting what the camera “sees”, the camera is narrow-sighted and half-blind.  It sees what we tell it to see.

Not only do I understand that, I actively embrace it.

Photography–even in it’s most factual applications–is an art.  A photographer needs to learn how a camera “sees” things, and then make it see what he wants it to.   The photos I take are very different from what you’ll see from most photographers.   I use very harsh–often unforgiving–lighting because it brings out details that “proper” lighting washes away.  I don’t do any retouching or “Photoshopping”, because I find those to be the wrong kind of lies–the kind that hide who you are rather than showing who you are.

There’s a second side to the lens, however.  The camera can only see what’s in front of it.  Where other photographers will carefully pose a model or client in order to get things “just right”, I don’t.  That’s not you.  That’s me posing you in the “expected style”.   In my studio, we’ll talk, we’ll joke around, we’ll get to know each other a little bit, and we’ll make sure that the photos we take show you being you.

Posted in Explanations Tagged , ,

A Fuller House (Studio)

No, I haven’t had any children.

Fainting CouchThe new fullness comes from a couple new pieces of gear for the studio.

The first is something I’ve been wanting for a while:  A fainting couch.  It’s not the best style (or color), but for the price, I just couldn’t pass it up.  $120 (delivered!) from the Antiques Mall of Portage.   They have another, better one in the window display, but it’s a little out of my price range right now.   If it’s still there when I have the spare cash, I’ll definitely head back.

I did my best to keep my eyes averted as I walked through the store.  When it comes to antiques, I’m like a kid in a candy store.

The 2nd new addition to the studio is a Pentax K-x Digital SLR.  I’ve been looking at a new camera for a while, and the K2000 I was planning on buying has been discontinued.  The K-x is the replacement.  I haven’t had a chance to give it a full shake-down, but so far, I’m finding some good things and some not-so-good things.   It’s lighter and feels good in my hand, the rear display gives a large display of the settings (it’s going to take a while to break myself of the habit of looking at the top of the camera for those), and it included 2 lenses.  I’m sure once I get used to the slight variations in the controls, I’ll like it quite a bit.

On the down side, Pentax changed their .PEF “raw” format so that my processing software can’t read the files.  I can use the .DNG format (another “raw” format) and do some conversions to get where I need to be, but I lose some functionality and add several steps.  I run a Linux system, so I can’t use the processing software that came with the camera–and even if I could, it’s severely limited compared to what I normally use.  Hopefully the DCRaw converter application will be upgraded soon and Linux will once again be able to read the images properly.

Life is all about change.  Sometimes that change is easy, sometimes it takes a little bit of patience and work.

Posted in Gear Tagged , , ,