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Standing Buddha figures in caves at Raja Maha Vihara, Sri Lanka
Hot-air ballooning, Sossusvlei, Namibia
Swallow-tailed Gull, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Venice Carnival Marquerade, Italy
Macaw, Amazon Rain Forest, Peru
Pamir Mountains, Afghanistan
Zabriskie Point, Death Valley, California, USA
Skeleton Men, Highlands of Papua New Guinea
Tribal Chief, Papua New Guinea
Saharan Dunes, Morocco
Nude on Dome, Spain
Roofs of Dubrovnik, Croatia
Antelope Canyon, Arizona, USA
Macaw Feathers, Amazon Rain Forest, Peru
Legong, Bali, Indonesia
Water Lillies, Bali, Indonesia
Oxbow Bend, Grand Tetons National Park. Wyoming, USA
Kite Surfer, Indonesia
Mist at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA
Boudoir images show a model apparently in her most personal and private environment and circumstances, and perhaps wearing a minimum of clothing. One would normally expect a woman to relax in a situation such as this only when on her own or with someone she trusts. Boudoir images should therefore reflect this natural atmosphere if they are to appear unposed and real.
Some models have a natural ability to face a camera without appearing tense or intimidated in any way. They fall easily in to elegant and flowing body positions without even being prompted. This ability is related, at least in part, to trust, confidence and being comfortable with their own bodies and their environment. Other models are less comfortable in front of a camera and appear tense and rather stiff. Playing soft music, perhaps of the model's choosing, may help to relax the atmosphere but the photographer also has a vital role in establishing trust through good communication and an open and friendly manner.
|Image by kind permission of Barrie Spence of Entropic Tendencies|
The location and circumstances of the shoot have a considerable bearing upon how the model is likely to feel. In many cases the women have not previously posed in front of a camera wearing little clothing and will feel somewhat vulnerable. This is part of the reason that trust is so important. Unfortunately, photographic studios tend to have a rather bland or sterile feeling. The model may see only a large open space equipped with a few lights and backgrounds, and perhaps a door that opens in to a nearby office or reception area. In the worst cases, the model is expected to walk in, take off most of her clothes in front of a photographer she hardly knows, and perform in front of powerful lights. She may also be concerned that other people could walk in on the session. These are all issues that a photographer should address before a session begins.
Given the number of studio-related problems, it may well be better to use a hotel room to shoot boudoir sessions. Although this involves additional expense, the rooms are comfortably furnished, well maintained and incorporate all the props required for a typical boudoir shoot. Hotel bedrooms also have a more familiar atmosphere that may help the model to relax. If a model is uneasy about meeting a photographer in an hotel bedroom she should consider taking a friend who can wait outside, or just find another photographer.
All this forms the basis on which natural images can be built. Without a comfortable atmosphere, somewhere for the model to change, and a trusting relationship with the photographer, it is likely to be more difficult to get the model to relax and hence achieve good results.
Swimwear photography is not as easy as it may sound, but it can be a lot of fun for both the photographer and the model. There are all sorts of inherent problems that must be overcome to get good results, and of course it has all been done well before!
A good starting point is consequently to consider, honestly, what is the principal objective. If the intention is to sell the images, the driving force must be satisfying the requirements of potential buyers, and hence understanding very clearly their requirements.
The first task is to find a suitable model. Make a careful and considered selection from the models available. Beach and swimsuit shoots can be messy affairs with wind, sand, waves, unwanted observers and all sorts of other hazards. A model who is relaxed, open-minded and a bit adventurous is more or less essential. A girl who lacks confidence or a good sense of fun may be unsuitable.
Make sure that the chosen model is aware of the plans for the session and that she understands what is expected of her. Ask to see the model in swimwear before the shoot - preferably before hiring her. Check that her body is evenly tanned and free of ugly tan lines, and make sure that she does not wear tight clothing that leaves marks on her skin in the hours prior to the shoot. Also ensure that any fake tan is well applied. Finally, check that she has appropriate swimwear or other clothing to suit her figure and personality, and agree the selection with her. Recommend that the model takes a full-length bathrobe to wear between sessions and agree with her some location or arrangement for changing.
Having a third person present is a good idea, particularly if they can take care of the model's hair and make-up. Even the best prepared models suffer the effects of wind and spray. If the intention is to sell images, never underestimate the value of a professional model or the need for a professional hair and makeup artist. Hiring such talent is expensive but may determine the success of the shoot. If shots are planned that require the photographer or model to be in the water, a third person can also warn of approaching waves and hold a reflector when required.
Make sure that the planned shots are executed in the best order. Once hair is wet it cannot be dried and restored very quickly. Dry shots should therefore be done before wet shots. Similarly, certain sitting or lying poses may result in marks on the models skin. Knees are particularly easily pressure marked. Sand will also get all over the model, particularly if body oil is used to achieve a sheen.
The best time to shoot a swimwear model is when the sun is relatively low over the water. Water and sky make a good backdrop, unless of course there is some very attractive element on the landward side. Backlighting works well, provides good hair light and perhaps a golden rims around the figure, and avoids squinting or strained facial expressions. Fill of some sort is necessary to reduce contrast, so take flashguns and reflectors. As the intensity of the light fades and shutter speeds reduce, use a tripod to keep the camera stable. Fitting tennis balls to the tripod feet helps to prevent them sinking too much in wet sand.
Take care of the photographic equipment. Sand and salt spray are the deadly enemies of photographic equipment and can easily cause serious damage. Take only what is required to the beach and cover equipment with plastic bags whenever possible. Some photographers use flexible lightweight underwater camera bags when working in the water.
In everyday life we hear a number of flattering terms used to describe women with good looks - pretty, lovely, photogenic, beautiful etc etc. However these terms are not used particularly carefully and in any case are not easy to define. The two most meaningful words to a photographer are "beautiful" and "photogenic". They are not the same thing, and "photogenic" is the more important of the two.
A model can be beautiful but not particularly photogenic. She can also be photogenic although not notably beautiful. Finally, as is the case for the fortunate few, she may be both beautiful and photogenic.
The meaning of beauty is discussed in another article, but a photographer discovers whether a model is photogenic when he or she has spent some time photographing her. There is no scientific process that can be used to determine whether someone is or is not photogenic, but experience behind a camera provides the answer.
Some women have physical beauty in abundance yet somehow do not make good beauty photographs. The look is just not there and the images don't really work. Perhaps it is the inability of the model to relate to the camera, or something wrong with the relationship or communication between photographer and model, or perhaps it is something about the facial features or a personal characteristic buried deep inside the mind.
Many times over the years photographers work with models who turn up at their studio in a T-shirt and jeans and an old pair of trainers. They dump a bag of clothes on the floor and go looking for a cup of coffee. Sometimes the heart sinks because the model does not at first sight look particularly stunning. Some may look rather plain and others have strong features.
However, a good make-up artist is worth her weight in gold because she has an eye for the special characteristics of each model and also knows how to use them in practice. The girl that emerges from the make-up or hairdresser's room may consequently be transformed. Models with strong looks may be more difficult to transform to a particular image and hence not suited to every role, whereas the appearance of those with plainer or more bland looks may be more easily adapted. Some talent spotters look for an "unwritten page" in the face of a potential model, but others would not agree.
Personality contributes much to being photogenic. Yes, physical beauty is always an advantage. However an ability to hit the right positions and poses, and a personality that reveals itself through attitude, facial characteristics and sparkling or alluring eyes, are both priceless. A really good model delivers excellent images one after the other. The photographer does not have to work quite as hard to achieve results - they just keep coming. The feeling is different for both photographer and model.