Monday, November 8, 2010

Less Is More- 5 Ways To Turn A Terrible Shoot Into a Hot Show

Did you ever have one of those days where everything goes wrong in the studio? I am sure you did. It happens to all of us. I should have known that this time would be a hard day the minute that model’s agent called me to say that the fashion stylist canceled. The other flag that should have gone up is when the make-up artist told me that she would be doing the make-up AND the hair as well. Then when I saw what clothes the model brought with her, I nearly fell over. She was a very ‘green’ fashion model; this could have been her 2nd or 3rd fashion photography shoot. I knew I was in for a hell of a day. To say the least, this threw my entire game off. I felt it into my bones – I should have just gone home and worked on getting new clients, but that is just not me. I am one determined SOB. I do enjoy the challenge of making a great image from nothing and fighting thru it, and this was shaping up to be a battle royal! I said to myself that if I could walk away with one or two images that I was happy with, then the day would be a success.

Number 1: The Clothes Make the Image (and Ruin It)

I’ll start with the clothes. Why do fashion models think that wrinkled shirts and jeans are going to look good in an image? I have no idea what this model was thinking when she opened her closet. There was nothing to work with and I, believe me, I tried. Also, I think she got all her moves from watching Fashion TV. The cheese that she brought was not the good stuff but the cheap ‘cheez wiz’. Sure she had a nice body but nothing in the eyes.

Number 2: What You DON’T See is Sexy

Her agent pulled me aside and said “David, you have to make her sexy –if that means shooting her in her underwear than that’s what needs to be done!” Hey I am no sleazeball, and really for me what you don’t see, now that is sexy. I knew I had to do something, so I started.

Number 3: Start Small, Lose the Bra

We lost the bra, which did not look good under her tight shirt. No bra, a little nipple, but really just a hint of nipple. I felt the tide turning. This only after about 2 -3 hours of shooting with tears in my eyes. She was wearing this horrible denim shorts, but I noticed she was wearing a sexy thong. I had her expose her thong just a little. At that point, something amazing happened, and the uptight, difficult model started loosening up. Slowly we removed another article of clothing, and another.As the clothes came off her body, she actually gained confidence! . Looking at me for reassurance, I showed her a few images to assure her that the images were in good taste and that really nothing was being captured that resembled a porn shoot.

Number 4: Keep an Idea Book Handy

I also keep an idea book with me. As I find inspiring fashion photography images I print them and paste them into this book. I showed her a few nude images and said, “If we can get something like this, than I will be very happy” It was funny, because as she was taking off her clothes she asked me to look away. Not sure why, because once I was behind the camera I saw everything. I guess not seeing my eyes made her more comfortable.

Number 5: Always, yes always, Show Your Wife Your Work

The day drew to a close and I knew I had my two images! I always show my wife my images, even the risqué ones, before anyone else. When I showed her the two that I liked she said “Oh that’s no so bad you don’t see anything.” The next thing she said was “David those are really sexy.” My wife is used to my work as a fashion photographer and being around half-naked models all day, but I really hardly ever shoot nudes, honest.

What a day, taking a green fashion model from plain ordinary to something sexy as hell.

Has this ever happened to you? Do you find that as the clothes come off the model becomes more confident?


  1. Great post! Very good...but we want to see some pictures from this day!

  2. Thanks for the kind words! I will be posting a few more form this shoot in the coming days be on the look out!