I’m very happy when my models (or anyone else on the set with us) make suggestions about clothing, hair, makeup, and the like. In addition, when an interesting posing idea is brought up, I’m very happy to try it. However, in the past, if it was something that did not seem to have a chance of working, I’d quickly discard the suggestion. I was convinced I was the final authority on what poses would or would not work.
I still react that way occasionally. When it comes to positioning the model and helping her achieve an interesting facial expression, I pretty much know what I’m looking for. But this belief obviously has limitations. Making a snap judgment means I’ve thought little about what was suggested to me. Instead, if I spend a few moments fully considering the suggestion, I’ll often find that it indeed does have merit.
The end of our photo shoot was drawing near. Lexi had been a great model, and I wanted to reward her by taking some shots of a setup she had designed; something she’d been considering for a while. So, after she posed herself, I took a few pictures. I hadn’t been crazy about the setup and was sure none of the images would have any value for me. Boy, was I wrong! There’s so much I like about this particular photograph - the strong diagonal created by the tree branch, the angular bends of her arms and left leg, the contrast between her red dress and the green background, and her intense stare into the camera.
I had asked Cynthia to sit down. She did, but not the way I figured she would. I was about to ask that she move to the seat, but decided not to. This was our first time working together, and I didn’t want her thinking I was the dictatorial type. So I took a few shots, assuming none would be very good. I changed my mind when viewing the pictures on the full size monitor in my office. One of the things I really like is the bend of the knees, with one slightly below the other, and how that matches the bottom of her dress, with one side being a little lower than the other. In addition, I love the soft shadow surrounding her legs and chair, produced by the ring light attached to my camera. And I finally realized how charming it was that she had decided to sit on the chair this way.
Here’s another setup I was positive would fizzle. The young couple and I had spent a few hours photographing at a city park. They had been a delight to work with but now were itching to try a few setups of their own. After completing the shots I wanted, they led me to this merry-go-round. To the uninitiated, this old-fashioned device spins by having someone hold onto its railing while running. Once the ride gets moving, the runner jumps on. My role, of course, was to document this process. So, I hopped onto the device, and Kevin began spinning it while Ariana ran alongside. Though they were savvy enough to be aware of the camera and knew the importance of good expressions, I could tell they were genuinely excited and having a grand time. They never came aboard the spinning disk, but I was still getting some great images. It was also satisfying knowing I didn’t have to set up the shots, since I was now shooting documentary style - following and photographing what was directly in front of me. I was very happy with the results.