Monday, March 17, 2014
Day 57, Learning 57: We Are Our Own Subjects
In posing models the standard recommendation-- and one I fully support-- is that you show them how you want the pose. If we want them to tilt their head at an angle, we'll show them by tilting our own head, or using our hand as an example. I have on occasion, stood beside the model and mimicked the pose I want-- remember, you should never (i.e. rarely) touch your models.
As much as we are physically mirroring our models on set, we are also emotionally mirroring them. We can't simply command "be happy" or "smile." We need to mirror that lightness, that playfulness, in our approach with them. In that respect, we are the model. The photographer isn't invisible behind the camera. That's a fallacy. The photographer is mirrored in the subject and entirely visible in the image.
In working with models over time you develop a verbal patter that allows you to encourage and support your models. For a model it can be incredibly awkward in front of the lens with no feedback. As photographers we can become totally absorbed in the technical aspects of the work, especially if they are not going as we had planned. The best approach is real and honest dialogue and interest. There are times, I'll confess, when I'm too distracted for that and rely on stock phrases: "that's good, that's great, nice, excellent, I like that, you look great, wow...." The best advice I can offer is to occasionally put the camera down and just talk.
Personally, I don't like working with a tethered monitor. Everyone starts looking at it and adjusting themselves accordingly-- and they stop paying attention to your direction. I do, however, show the image on the back of the camera. It's hugely encouraging and builds trust in your work.