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Dear Models (and "photographers") 
OK, prepare yourself because I'm writing this from a place of unhappiness.

Dear Models,

With very few exceptions, your boyfriend is not a photographer. Yeah, he may own some kick-ass equipment. Yeah, he may be able to get a couple good shots (with or without photoshop) out of the 300 he shot. Yeah, he may be able to help you get content for your porn site, but still, he's not a photographer.

I may own a calculator, but I wouldn't dream of calling myself a mathematician.

A few events occurred recently that have led me to make this post but, believe me, this is nothing new. It seems that some of the best aspects of technology become some of the worst, and this is just one example. Digital cameras keep getting cheaper, getting models has never been easier, and it takes just a few moments to print out a business card. But, I digress...

Here's why I'm writing this now. I was just hanging out with a very good friend of mine who is an AMAZING photographer and is suffering mightily. His main source of income is shooting headshots (we are in LA, after all). Sadly, his business has slowed to just a trickle recently because every aspiring actor has a friend with a digital camera and they think they don't need him anymore. Know what this means? My friend is freaking out while actors around town submit crappy headshots at auditions. (You get what you pay for, people.)

The other recent event has actually happened three times in the last few months. I have met three separate "photographers" who call themselves "photographers" and talk about "clients" and "jobs" who, in the course of conversation proved to be completely oblivious to how to take a photo. That's THREE so called "photographers" who had costly photo equipment, handed out business cards, but didn't know why their images weren't coming out right all the time. One of them didn't know how to or why she should set her white balance, and the other two DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT F-STOPS AND SHUTTER SPEEDS.

You know what? That's fucking low. Really. Everyone and their mother is a fucking "photographer" these days. You make all of us look bad.

I am in no way claiming that I'm the be-all end-all of photographers. I am not the best photographer out there. But I am a photographer. I am committed to my craft. I practice. When I got my new camera, I sat down for a day with the manual and learned how to use all of its features. I do research, take classes, attend seminars, and I always strive to increase and improve my knowledge. I take it seriously. We all started somewhere and I was once a novice too. But I didn't have delusions of grandeur and I didn't start out by giving myself a title.

You want to be a photographer? Great! More power to you! But please listen carefully to what I'm about to say. Go take a fucking class. Go learn about photography. Learn how to use a fucking camera. DON'T go spend buckets of money on the most expensive camera out there. DON'T buy strobes. DON'T invest in Photoshop. Real photographers can go outside with an SLR on full manual and take good photos that need no retouching. (Don't know what an SLR is? Guess what? YOU'RE NOT A PHOTOGRAPHER!) If you like to take pictures and you want to be able to call yourself a "photographer", you'd do yourself a favor to spend your money on education first.

Still want to call yourself "Photographer"? Take this simple quiz. If you can answer "yes" to all of these questions, then go ahead. You've earned it!

1) If, to call yourself a "Photographer", you had to pass a test like a lawyer taking the bar exam, would you pass?
2) If you go to a shoot and you want the image to look a certain way, do you know how to achieve it IN CAMERA?
3) Can you duplicate it?
4) Can you go through your shoot without looking at the LCD screen on your camera after every shot?
5) Sure, you've taken some nice photos of your model girlfriend who is perfect and knows how to move and directs YOU during the shoot, but are you capable of making some no-account non-model look good?
6) Do you spend more time shooting the photo than you do trying to fix it in PS?
7) Does your work speak for itself?

I can cook an amazing dinner, but I wouldn't call myself a chef.
I can bring you Ibuprofin if you have a headache, but I wouldn't call myself a doctor.
I can flog you til you say your safeword, but I wouldn't call myself a domme.

There's nothing wrong with being a hobbyist. If you're a GWC, then own it. Do what you want to do, but don't shit on me and my fellow photographers.

[ 2 comments ] ( 5046 views )   |  permalink
Dear Models 
You know that old saying, "You can't be too rich or too thin"?

Well, it's wrong. Though I'd like to test the "too rich" part of the equation, I'm here to say that you most certainly CAN be too thin.

Dear Models,

I don't know who's telling you that you should be super skinny, but they're wrong. I do not relish the thought of photoshopping your sternum, ribs, elbows, pelvic bones, etc. out of your photos. It's seriously gross. I don't want your veins sticking out in your pelvic area. Really. Anorexic is not good for you and it is not sexy. Healthy is hot.

Please eat a sangwich and find another way to gain control over your life.


PS: This post is probably not about you. This subject just keeps coming up, and I keep getting modeling requests from girls who are skeletal and it's sad. But, having said that, if you THOUGHT this was about you, then maybe you should ask yourself why.

[ 2 comments ] ( 236 views )   |  permalink
Dear Models 
Dear Models,

Whether or not to pose for nude photos is a very personal decision. Posing nude for me or another photographer means that your images will be on the internet. They will be viewed by thousands of people. They will be online forever. They may even be published in books or magazines.

Consider this carefully before you decide to take that leap because, guess what? Once we've shot, there's no going back. By which I mean to say, no, I'm not going to take the photos down.

Here's why:
1) I did not force you into shooting, you did this of your own free will.
2) We had a fun, positive experience.
3) We created something beautiful that we could be proud of.
4) This is my business and my time is valuable.

I've shot two models who later became religious fanatics and their photos are still up. I've shot one friend who later hooked up with some jerk who didn't like her expressing herself on camera and her photos are still up. I photographed one girl who later decided that it wasn't good for her acting career and her photos are still up. That's the way it goes.

I don't believe there's anything wrong with being a nude model, a fetish model, a xxx film star. I think they all have the potential to be healthy ways to indulge in fantasies, to be creative, to have fun, to create art. However, it's permanent, so think it over first. Besides, even if I did take your images down (which I won't), once they hit the web, people have already downloaded them. They're out there and not going away.

So, if you have reservations, just wait. Don't rush it. When you come to me asking to take your clothes off, make sure it's what you really want to do. If you're not sure, then now's not the time. Posing nude in the internet era is like getting a tattoo, only without the option of laser removal.

K, thanks.

[ 3 comments ] ( 649 views )   |  permalink
Dear Models 
Dear Models,

Let's say you contact me about shooting. Let's say that I agree to fit you into my schedule (let me assure you that I turn down plenty of shoots, too, just so you know...). Let's say that I stop what I'm doing, get up, load my truck up with wardrobe, lighting gear, video and still cameras. Let's say I drive over to the location. Let's say that I set up all of my gear. Let's say we shoot six different looks during which time you're working your little model self so very hard (aren't you a trooper). Let's say that we finish up and you go on your merry way doing whatever modelly stuff you do for the next couple of weeks. Let's say that in that time, I have gone through all of the images, thrown out the ones that were completely unusable due to lighting mis-fires, your half-blinked eyes, bad facial expressions, wardrobe malfunctions, etc. Let's say I'm left with 100 images per look. Let's say I then sit down and color correct them (if necessary). Let's say I go through every photo and remove that pimple that was on your ass, the dark circles under your eyes, the bruise on your upper arm. Let's pray that that's all there was to touch up. Let's say that I then add my logo to all of the photos and upload a zip file of approximately 85 images per set x 6 sets for the day = 510 photos while you were doing nothing but waiting. Let's say that you add those photos to your website. Let's say that at some point I run across these photos on your site. Let's say that after all of my hard work, you have replaced my logo with your own.

Not cool.

Makes me not want to work with you again.

Shows a complete disregard for my effort, my name, my willingness to not charge you for the shoot.

It's rude and disrespectful, to say the least.

Dear Models, you should definitely add your URL to your photos. There's a nice white space at the top of each and every image where you could do it. Don't fuck me over by removing my URL. And, for fuck's sake, don't ever put on there"©Model's Name". You do not own the copyright to these images. I do. Period.

One of the reasons photographers will shoot you for trade is to gain exposure. If someone sees my photos on your website, if someone steals these photos from your website and reposts them on some other site, it's imperative that my logo be on there so that people who enjoy the photos can find me and hopefully join my website. This is business, and my URL on my photos is a form of marketing. I worked hard to make pretty pictures for you and the least you can do is respect that.

K, thanks.

[ 6 comments ] ( 609 views )   |  permalink
Dear Models 
Dear Models,

I hate Jazz music and prog rock. Top forty makes me throw up in my mouth just a little bit. Yet, millions of people would totally disagree with me. What's my point? Different people have different tastes and preferences and that's ok. It's what makes the world an interesting place.

If you approach me about shooting and I decline, it's not a commentary on your inherent worth. You may be a lovely person and good looking too, but you just may not be my cup of tea. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings and, in the past, worrying about that meant that I'd accepted shoots with models who don't do it for me, and those photos tended to suck. I'm determined to be true to my tastes from now on, and therefore, more selective.

I'm tired of making excuses about workload, or being too busy. I've got to be more up front about these things. So, dear models, if you contact me and I decline, don't take it personally. You just may be jazz. But keep in mind that there are tons of people out there who list jazz as their favorite.

K, thanks.

[ 1 comment ] ( 249 views )   |  permalink
Dear Models 
Dear Models,

OMG, like, let's totally talk about your boyfriend!! You totally bring him to your shoots and he's totally like so hawt. He is totally rad and all your friends are like soooo jealous. He's like, so amazing, and he like totally goes to clubs with you and shows you off to his friends and like, maybe he's going to put you in his music video, and it's totally like LOVE for real this time!!

Well, that's just super. Yes, I'm being especially cunty, but my rant is going to get specific, so hear me out.

Getting naked in front of a camera can be really stressful. It's sometimes embarrassing. It's definitely a vulnerable moment. Even more so if you're doing a bondage shoot. And more still if you're working with and getting naked in front of a complete stranger. I can understand that you'd like a chaperon, someone who makes you feel safe, comfortable.

I know tons of photographers who completely ban models from bringing their boyfriends along to shoots and I understand why. Sometimes I don't mind it, but other times it can suck. A lot.

If, dear model, you plan to have your boyfriend (husband, s.o.) along, here are some guidelines.

1) Ask the photographer's permission first.
2) Your chaperon MUST stay out of the way and out from under everyone's feet.
3) He must not be within your field of vision while you're shooting.
4) He is not to interfere unless your health/safety/welfare are at stake.
5) Ask the photographer if your boyfriend can be of service. Maybe if he's helping out, it won't be so awkward to have him there. Good jobs for boyfriends include heavy lifting, cleaning up, running for snacks/lunch/coffee, etc.

Let me share with you two different boyfriend scenarios I experienced in 2008.

A) Positive - Model asked if it was ok, I said, "yes". Boyfriend was interested in photography, I let him assist me. He asked well-thought-out questions, I was happy to answer them. During breaks, we talked about cameras and lighting and I helped him with some problems he was having. I let him shoot behind the scenes video for me. We all had fun and it was a very good experience.

B) Negative - Model said her boyfriend was coming. He usually shoots most of her content. Every single step of the way, she looked to him for approval. Sometimes she'd say, "that's not the way we shoot it at home..." Worst of all... We shot six or seven sets that day and here's how they went...

Model to bf: "should I wear this or this?"
Decision finally reached after much debate...
I go set up lighting for the scene.
Model gets in place, she poses, she looks past me to her bf who is hovering behind me, cranes her neck to look at him and asks, "Does this pose look good?"
I stifle a grumble but start the shoot.
Every few frames, the scenario repeats.
Over my shoulder, "Is this good? Do I look good?"
Finally, I lost it and told her, "You know, I've done this before. I will tell you if something's wrong."
I had to banish the boyfriend for the rest of the day.

Here's the generally agreed-upon thinking behind the "no boyfriend" rule.

1) If you're looking at your boyfriend, you're not looking at the camera.
2) If you're worried about what he's thinking, you're not paying attention to the moment.
3) If it's "not how you take photos with your boyfriend" that's because you're not. You're in the middle of a shoot with a professional photographer. Someone, I'd hope, who you've chosen to work with because you like their style/talent/vision. If you want all the photos to look like stuff you shot at home with your boyfriend, then, please, don't waste my time. Stay at home and shoot with your boyfriend!

There were a couple things that really troubled me about scenario B. !) It was uncomfortable to watch the model's interaction with her boyfriend. She was very dominant and her tone with him was belittling. (I'm going to refrain from going into detail about that, but you should have heard the way she talked to him...) 2) I felt like my part in the process was not taken seriously. Like me being there barely had anything to do with the photo shoot. 3) I REALLY do not enjoy confrontation. As I've said time and time again, I'm not in this for the money. This is my dream job because I love to do it. If I wanted to to be miserable, I'd go back to my old job where I was paid a high salary and had benefits.

In an ideal world, models would leave their boyfriends at home. They don't tag along to their bf's job at Starbucks and micromanage every latte he makes, right?

If you're worried about working with a new photographer (and I don't blame you if you are), ask around, get references. A good, well-known, professional photographer is not about getting in your pants. He or she is there to work. If not, then maybe you shouldn't be shooting with them.

K, thanks.

[ 5 comments ] ( 344 views )   |  permalink
Dear Models 
Dear Models,

Let's talk about shimmer. I know we're all enamored by fancy new makeup. I know you watch Top Model and see Sutan apply sparkly shimmery poweder to models' faces. I know it's supposed to give them youthful, dewy complexions.

Let me hip you to reality, though.

If you are not one of the few blessed with an absolutely flawless complexion... If you were born with pores... If you have any little bump, wrinkle, or other flaw... YOU ARE OK. YOU ARE STILL BEAUTIFUL. But... Shimmery poweder will only make your face look greasy and emphasize your imperfections.

Let's leave it out, shall we?

And don't even get me started on glitter! Glitter is a menace. In the wrong hands, grlitter's a freaking disaster that lingers all over your clothing, your furniture, your boyfriend, your dog.... Glitter should (most of the time) stay in your craft bin along with the macaroni and glue sticks.

This is not to say that the right, talented makeup artist working with the right flawless ingenue can't pull off both shimmer and glitter. Cuz he can. The question is, can you?

K, thanks.

[ add comment ] ( 246 views )   |  permalink
Dear Models 
Dear models,

Please don't try to use makeup to cover your bruises/stretch marks. What ends up happening is that you apply it, you use a sponge to blend it, what was once a half inch mark becomes a barely camouflaged dark spot within a five inch yellow blotch that's way more difficult to correct.

Thought you'd like to know...

K, thanks.

[ add comment ] ( 274 views )   |  permalink
Dear Models 
Dear Models,

Please spend the time and money to get a good quality foundation that actually matches your skin tone. Drug stores won't cut it. Make the trek to the mall, Sephora or a good department store. Have the help help you. I can't tell you why, but it seems that a whole lot of foundations are really yellow. If your skin tone is naturally pink, then when I edit your photos, I actually have to go to the extra trouble of changing your face to match your body. It sucks.

And don't forget to match the shade. If your body is pale, your face should be too. And vice-versa.

K, thanks.

[ 2 comments ] ( 179 views )   |  permalink
Dear Models 
Dear Models,

Please get a mani/pedi. No one wants to see a beautiful girl in expensive clothing/lingerie and crusty nails with gunk under them, chipped polish, and hangnails. I spend way too much time doing photoshop manicures. It's ridiculous.

K, thanks.

[ 1 comment ] ( 164 views )   |  permalink

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