Apr 1, 2010

Music to Shoot By

I'm on the road with clients for the next week, so you'll have to excuse this slouch of a post.

Curious what's on heavy rotation on the studio stereo while we're working?  Read on!

Mar 28, 2010

Posing: Megan & Adesuwa

If 75% of being a model is about having the look, then the remaining 25% is definitely about knowing what to do with it.

Posing is one of those things about modeling that doesn't come naturally in the least: it's a learned, practiced thing; like dancing or gymnastics, it's about understanding how your body moves and what the camera sees.  For models, that means lots of time in front of the mirror and lots of time in front of the camera.

As a photographer, when you work with a model who both has the look and knows how to use it...well, it's a dream.  Suddenly you understand what all of the fuss is about.  You're no longer working with a model, you're working with a Model.

The image at left is Megan from Muse NYC from a test shoot this week.  Click through for behind the scenes video and info!

Mar 22, 2010

Held Together by Chewing Gum and Paperclips

Image via the always-entertaining Photoshop Disasters blog (though this seems to be a "Lack-of-Photoshop Disaster").

Posted to make a point: much like the earlier post about makeup, people need to remember that fashion photography is artifice.  People aren't that perfect, clothes don't magically hug every curve of everyone other than you.

By the time we're done styling a model she can frequently only be shot from one angle...because the other is covered in clothespins and binder clips and tape.

Does the shirt pooch out a little bit over her tummy?  Clothespin it.  Waist is a little loose on those pants?  Safety pins in the waistband.  Model doesn't have quite the perfect cleavage in that tanktop?  Stick a couple of "chicken cutlets" in her bra (silicone pads that, well, put things where you want them).  And this is before the actual Photoshop, where models are routinely rearranged and rebuilt such that they don't even resemble themselves.

Remember, it's all about control...before you start snapping, look at what's in front of you and ask yourself, "is this what I want it to look like?"

Anna Webber makes some touch-ups on Sylvia before we shoot a commercial look.

Mar 16, 2010

On the Importance of Makeup

I know that there are photographers who revel in the idea that their power over the final image is absolute, that anything that falls short in-camera can be saved in Photoshop.

If that describes you, cover your ears.

I call bullshit.  As photographers who construct images, rather than document the world around us as it already exists, one of the most important skills we can have is marshaling the talents of others and playing director...and two of the most important talents we can have at our disposal are makeup application and hairstyling.  These two things, when done well, can be all that is necessary to elevate a photo from pedestrian to polished and complete.

That model over there to the right, that experienced fashion model from a major agency, that girl in the prime of her life and blessed with genes that most people would gnaw off a limb for, surely she walks into the studio looking like that, right?

Read on, friend.

Mar 15, 2010

One from the Mailbag: Wardrobe for Spec Editorials

Here's an email I received that I thought might be of general interest to folks.  Chris writes:

"Hey I have a question on putting an editorial spec together, this is something I'd love to do- I have talked to some people about it and also caught your blog about it - but it seems the biggest challenge is pulling current season clothing without magazine backing, how do you approach this, or do you go with a more abstract idea that doesn't focus on brand clothes? Do you talk to editors to see what sort of editorials they would be interested in or just go with an idea you like?"

Mar 10, 2010

Workshops, Past and Future

Yes, I know I've been a little quiet - bad blogger, bad!  I promise you'll be seeing some more informational posts right quick.

But first, some housekeeping.

I want to thank everyone who attended February's workshop in Nashua - as a trial run for taking these workshops on the road I thought it was a rousing success and we had a great group of attendees that made my job that much easier!  Thanks also go out to Sid Ceaser for playing host and opening up his studio to all of us miscreants, Maggie Inc. out of Boston for supplying the lovely Gianna and Shaina to model for us and my son for managing to sleep for the better part of the drive there and back.

A few things struck me during the weekend.

First, when I lead these workshops in New York the crowd skews pretty young: I'm 36, and I'd say that I sit on the older side of the room (figuratively - the "Old Guy Seats" aren't mandatory).  In Nashua, that wasn't the case at all.  I can't tell you guys how much I respect your commitment to picking up and sharpening new skills when you've already established yourselves in other areas and, in some cases, have entire careers under your belts.  I love seeing that the learning never ends.

Second, it hit me how much more important cross-training is in a smaller market: in NYC people can afford to focus solely on fashion or portraiture or what-have-you, but the New Englanders tended to be shooting in any number of different disciplines.  It's an important reminder that you can't let your vision narrow too far and need to be able to adjust your creative approach and direction for any number of different kinds of client.

Third: hot dogs with Feta and olives?  Holy cow.  I'm going to start making those at home.  Good call, Sid!

The next workshop will be back in NYC on April 10-11, and we'll be doing a repeat of the fashion crash course, as it seems to be really popular with folks.  I'm excited to also be doing an entire day on just model directing, posing and interaction, which I think is a totally underrepresented aspect of photographing people that tends to get lost when we start talking about gear and technique and the nuts-and-bolts stuff.

Click through the link above for more info, and I look forward to seeing everyone!

Jan 20, 2010

Shooting an Editorial: Pre-Production

I've written about and posted to my Flickr stream plenty of technical info about my shoots, but what about the operational stuff?  The nitty-gritty planning and pre-production that has to happen before I get to pick up a camera and make pictures?

In this case, I've got a fashion editorial "spec submission" that I'm shooting later this week that I think makes a perfect case study.

Jan 17, 2010

Location Scouting

Let's get this one out right away: location scouting?  Not my favorite thing in the world, not at all.

I've got so much respect for the people who do it professionally.  Back when I worked in television I was always blown away when the scouts would pop open their location info binder and have first choices plus multiple backups for everything, multiple Polaroids of each location, contact info for the owners, maps to everything...and I had absolutely no interest in being the guy collecting all of that stuff.

But let's face it - being in the studio can get boring sometimes.  I love "happy accidents", and that kind of unexpected inspiration comes more readily when you're out in the world.  Sometimes you've got to take the shoot outside and give up a little of that control if you want the really cool stuff.  And that means finding places to take the shoot to.

Jan 7, 2010


Keep.  It.  Simple.  (Stupid.)

Listen, we all have our "look", our creative point of view, we all want to put our personal stamp on images and make them stand out from the crowd.  I get it.  But we become like kids let loose in the kitchen to make dessert: adding sprinkles, adding frosting, adding hot fudge, adding, adding, adding, adding.

What's wrong with a nice sugar cookie?

What's wrong with subtracting?

January 23-24 Photo Workshops

Just a little reminder that we're still taking registrations for my studio photography/lighting workshops, being held on January 23rd and 24th!  Space is getting limited for the 24th but there are still one or two spots available.

Saturday's session will be a solid primer on studio photography and lighting for the advanced amateur or intermediate photographer.  We'll be looking at things from the perspective of a portrait or fashion photographer and covering studio basics, metering, use of accessories like appleboxes and flags, grey cards and utilizing simple one- and two-light setups.

Sunday's session will be intended for photographers with a focus on fashion work.  We'll spend much of the day discussing self-promotion, working with model agencies, constructing a portfolio, testing, the differences between shooting for a "real person" and shooting for wardrobe, working with a team.  Additionally, we'll be demonstrating and working with several lighting setups especially-suited to fashion work.

More information is available at my site - if you have any questions or would like to register, just send me an email at booking@simongerzina.com.

Jan 2, 2010

What is "Testing"?

Let's think of this as "one from the mailbag".  It comes up a lot on community sites and message boards, via email, in my workshops:

What does "testing" mean?  I see it referred to a lot in reference to fashion shoots and I'm a little confused.

One caveat: my answer is in the context of a major industry market (New York City, in my case) and may not apply the same way in smaller and local markets.  In general, the major markets (NYC, LA, Chicago, Miami...London, Paris, Milan, Tokyo, Shanghai) all behave in the same way...but all bets are off in the smaller markets, where every agency and client and photographer is reinventing the wheel.

Let me start with what "testing" doesn't mean:

It doesn't mean "I'm shooting a proof-of-concept for a commercial/client project and I'm going to use a model to stand in for it so I can try out a technique and show the results to my client before we pay the real talent."

It doesn't mean "come stand in for me while I test out new equipment."

It doesn't mean "a model agency is going to have a model do a dry-run photo shoot in order to decide whether he/she is worth signing."

It doesn't mean "you're going to model for me for free for a quick shoot in order for me to decide whether you're worth paying to model for a longer shoot."

So what does it mean?