Photo Workshop and Party at the Palms!

Photo of Mari, art direction, Playboy photographer Arny Freytag.  Photo taken after the Phoenix Mansion photography workshop.

Photo of Mari, art direction, Playboy photographer Arny Freytag. Photo taken after the Phoenix Mansion photography workshop.

Note: Just announced, next Phoenix Mansion Shoot with Arny Freytag. (info here)

I just returned from a fabulous photography, semi-private instructional workshop featuring Playboy’s top photographer, Arny Freytag.  On occasion, Arny comes out and guest instructs at some of our photography workshops, most recently the Las Vegas and Los Angeles photography workshops.  Next month he’ll join us for a day as a guest instructor at the Los Angeles (workshop info here) photography workshop held at a 6,000 sq.ft. studio location with six gorgeous models including Playboy Playmate Holley Dorrough and American Idol star, Amy Davis.

Arny also indicated he’ll make an appearance at our Las Vegas workshop and birthday bash celebration this August at the Palms Casino where we’re alway treated well from the owner and staff. This will be our third photography workshop at the Palms Casino and at our Dec. 2009 glamour photography workshop, Arny spent two days instructing our attendees as we photographed models in the luxurious, 6,200 sq.ft., Sky Villa Penthouse suite—in fact, some of those images are in my new photography lighting book, Rolando Gomez’s Lighting for Glamour Photography: Techniques for Digital Photographers.

The Palms Casino and Palms Place always provide for some great shooting and touring of the clubs for all the attendees, and this photography workshop will be the best as Playboy Playmate Holley Dorrough and I will be celebrating our birthdays on Saturday evening throughout the casino along with a few other Leos who have their birthdays very close to ours.  The workshop is on Friday and Saturday, then more fun begins Saturday evening as we head out to tour the clubs at the Palms like the Rain, The Lounge, Moon, Ghost Bar, Satellite Bar, and even the Playboy Club.

Playboy photographer Arny Freytag, Palms Casino Owner Gavin Maloof, Playboy Playmate Holley Dorrough and I at Gavin's house.

Playboy photographer Arny Freytag, Palms Casino Owner Gavin Maloof, Playboy Playmate Holley Dorrough and I at Gavin's house.

We’ve got a few slots left, so we hope to see you there, so far the guest list is looking great and our models Holley, Amy, Mari, Candice, Eleya and Heather are looking forward to pose for all those digital cameras.  We might even add a few more models to make it fun and exciting for everyone! We’ll even have our top make-up artist, Stephanie Dawn. All attendees get special room rates, so there will be no need to leave the Palms Casino during this weekend workshop and celebration.

Hopefully you’ve signed up before we run out of spaces, but regardless, don’t forget our men and women in uniform who make all our freedoms possible along with the sacrifices of their families and friends, God Bless! Rolando

Rolando’s Photography Quotes

Here are some of my favorite photography quotesmany have either heard at my photography workshops or read in my photography books.  Enjoy!

Photography quotes by Rolando Gomez

Light is the life blood of the image.

Trying to take the passion from a photographer is like trying to take a bone away from a hungry dog, you’re going to get bit, it’s going to hurt like hell and you’re going to wish you never tried.

When I take a “photograph,” it’s not just about the subject being captured in time, it’s about the intended audience with the interjection of my soul; when I take “pictures,” it’s just plain fun!

A perfect smile is when the corners of the eyes are in perfect harmony with the corners of the lips.

[Read more…]

The Triangles of Photography

Often when you hear a photographer talk about a triangle in photography, they are referencing the correlation of exposure, or how the ISO, lens aperture and camera shutter-speed affect one another to create the correct exposure in a photograph. However, the word “triangle” in photography also applies to posing, specifically the great “three triangle” pose for a single subject, and the triangles formed in posing groups of people.

When posing a single model, three triangles are often seen when a model is standing tall, her body facing the camera, and the legs are close together forming a triangle from the base of the feet to where the knees meet, then from where the knees meet to mid-thigh, then mid-thigh to the bottom of the torso. This is often seen when a beauty pageant contestant stops and faces the judges on the runway too. However as in this photograph of Tess, you can use the arms and legs to form three triangles in the sitting position. (Note: If you look closely, the body itself forms one large triangle and the points of the triangle touch the points formed by the “rule of thirds” used for proper composition and framing.)

Tess uses her arms and legs to form three triangles in the sitting pose resulting in a visually pleasing image.

Tess uses her arms and legs to form three triangles in the sitting pose resulting in a visually pleasing image.

When photographing groups of people, great wedding photographers tend to space the front row so the people in the back row are directly behind each side of the person’s shoulder joint in front of them, thus ensuring that each person’s head forms, from each row, points in the triangle in groups of two or more rows of people. Portrait photographers also utilize this technique when photographing families of three or more.

When posing groups of people, form two rows and position your subjects so they form imaginary triangles with their head position.

When posing groups of people, form two rows and position your subjects so they form imaginary triangles with their head position.

Bill Hurter, editor of Rangefinder magazine states it best in his book, The Portrait Photographer’s Guide To Posing (Amherst 20004), “The triangle is one of the most pleasing and dynamic forms in all of photography. Because the triangle is a series of three lines, two of which are diagonal, it has the result of providing direction and visual movement in a portrait. Creating triangles and exploiting natural triangles in posing is one of the most basic skills of a good composition.”

Triangles in art composition was often practiced by some of the great painters, including Rembrandt, and as photographers, we all know Rembrandt lighting is one of the most popular forms of lighting in which a triangle of light forms below the eye. As a general rule in Rembrandt lighting, the triangle of light should be as long as the nose, but no wider than the eye.

While the triangle is easier to spot when replicating Rembrandt lighting, as it’s visually there surrounded by shadows on all three sides, in posing, it tends to be more perceptual and created by the arms and legs of the body when photographing one subject, or by the heads of bodies when photographing groups of two rows or more. Rembrandt lighting itself obviously is one of the elements in the triangle of exposure, and the triangle of exposure is evident in every correctly exposed photograph.

Finding and capturing triangles in posing is more difficult for photographers because we must direct our subjects in posing, however if we can focus on that direction through proper communication, it gives us the ability to move one step higher toward the top of the pyramid of photographers and our subjects will be pleased with the results.  Well that’s it for today, please don’t forget our men and women in uniform that defend our great nation, along with the sacrifices of their friends and family, God Bless! Rolando

Amazing Friends! Playboy Photographer and Casino Owner

Note: More behind scenes photos on my Facebook page!

Playboy's #1 Photog, Arny Freytag and I with Elite Model Jenni and KT

Playboy's #1 Photog, Arny Freytag and I with Elite Model Jenni and KT

As I return back from Las Vegas from a two-day semi-private instruction workshop and our three-day “Glamour, Beauty & the Nude” weekend workshop the thought of friendships come to mind—especially since I had several friends associated with this event, Arny Freytag, Gavin Maloof, Igor and Lucy Rivillis, Holley Dorrough, Jeff Whitted, Stephanie Dawn, the group of photographer attendees and my team of talented models.

Arny Freytag, Playboy’s top photographer, provided amazing instruction as a guest to our semi-private instruction first few days.  Gavin Maloof provided us with VIP treatment at his Palms casino and even had us over his house one evening so we could watch the NBA team he owns, the Sacramento Kings on his gigantic television in his theatre room.  Igor & Lucy Rivillis joined us for any support we needed as usual, and of course, I couldn’t have pulled this workshop off without my second in command, my make-up artist, Stephanie Dawn from Atlanta.  My models, what can I say, without them our lenses are left lifeless.  My hat’s off to all eight of the them and especially the attendees for all their efforts—everyone pitched in to make this Las Vegas workshop a cherished memory.

Palms Casino and Sacramento Kings owner Gavin Maloof at his house with (L to R) Stephanie Dawn, Playboy photographer Arny Freytag, Playboy Playmate Holley Dorrough, myself, Elite model Jenni and KT

Palms Casino and Sacramento Kings owner Gavin Maloof at his house with (L to R) Stephanie Dawn, Playboy photographer Arny Freytag, Playboy Playmate Holley Dorrough, Elite model Jenni and KT

Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many people, with those encounters comes new friends, though not all friendships last, which often makes me wonder how people generally define friendship.  When I was much younger our parents would make us watch 60-minutes and in one famous interview, the late Malcom Forbes described the meaning of success as when you could truly identify one real friend for each finger on each hand—Forbes claimed he was still working on his first hand.

Elite model Jenni poses while shooting at the Sky Villa Penthouse, Palms Casino during my workshop.

Elite model Jenni poses at the Sky Villa Penthouse, Palms Casino during my workshop.

I’m sure a lot of people who thought they were his friend that day, questioned with a gut check, their own definition of friendship.  Mine is simple, I follow Forbes formula when it comes to gauging my success, but I break down my friendships into two categories, business and personal, though sometimes the two will mix.  Then I further breakdown those friendships into the subcategories of political and realistic as I know many friendships exist for political correctness in today’s society.

So a politically correct business friendship is just that, they will only be around while it’s for the benefit of business and politically correct—Martha Stewart is a great example of learning who her business and personal friends were during her legal crisis.  I saw it in the U.S. Army when Command Sgt. Major Freddy Manning was the senior enlisted soldier who only answered to the United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) Commander-in-Chief, Gen. George Joulwan.  We were all a team and everyone loved the SOUTHCOM sergeant major, everyone was his friend, from four-star generals on down, from every branch of the military.  While his uniform and position commanded respect, Sgt. Major Manning respected his troops and they respected him and his retirement ceremony was that of a general’s.

Eleya poses in the hot tub of the Sky Villa penthouse suite at the Palms Casino.

Eleya poses in the hot tub of the Sky Villa penthouse suite at the Palms Casino.

A few years after his retirement, I visited Sgt. Major Manning down in Georgia as we had done the Latin American Drug War together while I was stationed in USSOUTHCOM, and prior to that, we had been stationed together at V Corps in Frankfurt where he was the V Corps Command Sergeant Major.  We had more than a politically correct friendship, we both put in four years working personally for Gen. Joulwan at V Corps then USSOUTHCOM.   We traveled extensively together and on trips, you tend to bond.

While a few people stayed in contact with Sgt. Major Manning, he felt somewhat abandoned because after he quit being Gen. Joulwan’s right-hand man, the Christmas cards stopped flowing in and he was an example of having many “friends” that were only politically correct friends.

While our Vegas workshop was awesome, it had a few glitches, though my friend Gavin Maloof came through as a true friend to help us out and this says a lot about his character as he has no reason to be a “politically correct” friend with me—what can a photographer of my caliber bring him?  Nothing, the man has everything from owning a top Las Vegas casino, an NBA basketball team and even the ARCO arena they play in.  But Gavin Maloof was there to make sure we had what we needed.  Now that’s a friend and I salute you my friend.

Playboy's number one photographer Arny Freytag, Elite model Jenni and myself at the Palms casino on the day we arrived.

Playboy's number one photographer Arny Freytag, Elite model Jenni and myself at the Palms casino on the day we arrived.

I salute all my friends, especially those that helped out so much this past week to ensure Las Vegas was a success—you know who you are and what part you played!  Arny Freytag, I can’t say more than enough and I’ll see you soon in Jan. then in February as a VIP guest at my Los Angeles workshop.  And for those that want to know, yes, we’re back in Las Vegas (info here).

Thanks, and as I close, I ask everyone to not forget our military members, their families and friends, especially over the upcoming Christmas holidays, God Bless!  Rolando Gomez

Phototherapy, Photographic Therapy, Therapeutic Photography–Yes, it’s Real!

American Idol Star Amy Davis, misses her hubby during a Virgin Islands Workshop

American Idol Star Amy Davis, misses her hubby during a Virgin Islands Workshop

After the article, “Posing naked for a women’s magazine felt brave and shocking,” by Melissa Whitworth came out in the UK’s version of Glamour magazine, the photographic therapy (phototherapy, therapeutic photography) topic has risen in photography forums world-wide. In fact, the very next day, I was called by a journalist and psychologist Clara Soares from the largest, weekly Portuguese newsmagazine Visão (www.visao.pt)  and answered some interview questions (actual story here)

The following day, I noticed the topic on one photography and model forum and as I engaged in the conversation, one female photographer said “…but I think that saying photography is therapy IS psycho-babble.”

Photography as therapy is not psycho-babble. I can tell you stories after stories, like the young woman, a former military police sergeant in the U.S. Army whose ex-husband used to beat her. She is not only intelligent, but beautiful and stands at 5′-10” tall. I photographed her for Playboy and she’s in my first photography book. She also modeled for me in some of my glamour photography workshops after she left the U.S. Army as an active-duty soldier. The process of our photo shoot, as she said, “Made her feel like a woman again.” She’s now remarried, with family and is a Federal law-enforcement agent. She’s obviously not working workshops or posing for Playboy anymore. She served and still serves her country well and patriotically.

I had another subject whose husband left her for the bridesmaid of their wedding. She’d just returned from completing the U.S. Air Force Officer Candidacy School and found her own clothes thrown on the front porch and her husband in bed with her best friend. Obviously it was instant divorce. Prior to her military enlistment she was a Wisconsin beauty pageant queen, in fact, she won the “Miss Photogenic” award and was the third-runner-up for this state beauty pageant. She felt hurt in this relationship to a point where she hated men for some time afterwards. During the phototherapy process, she stated, “This makes me feel beautiful and like a woman again.” She’s now happily remarried to a military pilot and they have kids and she’s honorably discharged out of the military service.

Another subject I was hired to photograph for a bariatric surgeon friend had lost 131 pounds thanks to that type of surgery—at the time she was 31-years of age. She’d come over for the “after” photo the surgeon had paid me to capture, a normal one-hour at the most photography session where the subject is photographed up against a plain, seamless, background paper illustrating how much weight she’d lost. I loved her charismatic qualities and inner- and outer-beauty, so I asked her to let me photograph her in a more “glamour photo,” perhaps on the couch or on the bed—for those wondering, with clothes, no nudity was involved. She mentioned no man had ever given her a second look and just to be in front of the camera, made her feel beautiful and like a woman again.

After the shoot, both her and my 275-pound assistant at the time, a tough guy that looked like he was a member of the Mexican Mafia, cried when I showed her the photos on my Apple Cinema display immediately after the shoot. I did something I rarely do, I burned her a CD of every photo taken and handed it to her, free of charge. She was beautiful with a clean complexion, there was no need for post-production. She gave me a big hug with tears still dripping from her eyes, that hug was my photographic therapy.

Now, to credit the photographer that made the initial statement about photographic therapy as psycho-babble, she also said, “An insecure woman may trust the photographer, but what if she trusts the wrong photographer? Wouldn’t that do more damage than good? “

A photo of "Shelby," a 27-year-old mother of two children.

A photo of "Shelby," a 27-year-old mother of two children.

She is precisely correct, the wrong photographer photographing someone in a depressed state of mind can make that depression worse. Depression kills. Depression comes in many forms from many things including postpartum depression. Just ask Tom Cruise and Brooke Shields about the latter form of depression. The problem is, most of the time we don’t know what’s on a person’s mind, hence building rapport with our subject is of the utmost importance before, during and after the shoot. A photographer, without prying too hard, should know enough about their subject to understand their state of mind, but a photographer should never think they are there to replace a trained, medical professional.  A photographer must learn when to listen and heed what they hear.  A photographer must know when to ask the right questions, how to ask them, where to ask them and why to ask them to help build that rapport between them in addition to understand their subject better and to help the phototherapy process flow with positive images.

If a photographer’s subject suffers from depression and that photographer doesn’t know how to recognize it, no matter how slight the depression may be, it can lead to a bad situation. A photographer should only look at their photography as a “layer” of treatment helping to build or re-build self-esteem but never to replace a physician prescribed drug or as a substitute for a therapy session by a trained, medical professional. Statistically, there are more male photographers than females, and even though some males feel they understand women, they will never know what it’s like to be a woman.

Motherhood is a good example. Unless a photographer has delivered a baby through a bodily canal, I doubt they understand what it’s like to give childbirth. It has nothing to do with changing diapers after the fact, that’s what good Dad’s do to help Mom’s out during postpartum recovery. “New mothers” go through a complete body change after childbirth. Photography is awesome, if done right, to make moms feel more secure about themselves again. Another article I wrote for my blog, Is it a Lens Barrel or a Gun Barrel? addresses that statement. Bravo for the photographer on the forum that brought this up because if a photographer doesn’t know what they’re doing, they can make postpartum depression worse and perhaps even leave a new child motherless for their entire life.

We grow up with "Ken and Barbie," but this photo of my daughter and her husband on their honeymoon illustrates that romance is there, no matter what physical features you don't see.

We grow up with "Ken and Barbie," but this photo of my daughter and her husband on their honeymoon illustrates that romance is there, no matter what physical features you don't see.

Now that leads me to another phototherapy experience. I had a subject, 8-weeks into motherhood. Her figure was gorgeous, though she didn’t think so. It was her first child, her only marriage. She wanted to “rekindle” that romance with her husband of a few years because she felt her body had changed and the fact that she had to give so much attention to her new-born that left no time for her husband. She also wanted this photographic therapy session for a surprise Valentines Day gift, a sweetheart romance gift, all for him. You could see the love for him in her eyes as she asked me to help her create the perfect photographs of her for this romantic moment she was so meticulously planning.  She wanted to show him she was still beautiful.

She hired me to photograph her on the beach in conservative swimwear and some fashion beach clothes. I photographed her for two days, never did she pose nude in any form. Never did I photograph her suggestively in any sorts. Beach clothes and swimwear, the most risqué, if you want to call it that, was a two-piece, full-bottom, bikini. She presented these photos from her phototherapy session to her husband with red-wine, strawberries and chocolates on Valentines Day right after consuming the in-home, candlelight dinner she’d carefully prepared all day—the baby was with the sitter that evening and night purposely so they could have this romantic time without interruption. She’d even disconnected the telephone.

It was a long-overdue romantic, quality-time with her husband, she later told me. All went well until she proudly presented her hubby with these professional photographs. Perhaps it was the wine, perhaps it was the built-up sexual frustration, perhaps it was insensitivity, perhaps it was the fact he was just a jerk. We’ll never know, but ultimately, he accused her of being a “slut” a “whore” a “worthless piece of crap” all because she had posed in photos with a male photographer–they are now divorced. She still cherishes those photos today and actually is thankful that she found out what she really married. She’s a proud parent feeling sexier and secure than before those photos were ever taken.

Moral of that story, no matter how good the photography or photographer is, no matter how much the subject “needs” to go through the phototherapy process and no matter how good it makes the subject feel and how much it can uplift self-esteem, others can still destroy it.

I might add, phototherapy isn’t just for women in their 30’s, like writer Melissa Whitworth, or women in their 40’s or even 50’s, it has a lot to do with women of every age and perhaps society is the reason. The minute we’re born, momma takes us to the grocery store. There we sit, in the grocery cart. As momma puts our baby food on the conveyer belt at the checkout counter we see magazines galore in every direction that we look. Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Sports Illustrated Swimwear, the weekly trashy rags too, all filled with buxom Barbie looking beauties proudly displaying their cleavage.

Young girls grow up with Barbie dolls–never are the dolls over-weight or middle-aged. When is the last time you saw a single parent, Barbie Mom? Society trains young girls way before puberty with the belief that to capture your perfect male playmate, he must be a tall, blonde, blue-eyed “Ken,” and that girls grow up to be a tall, slim, curvy, blonde, bombshell, Barbie.

As men, even our self-esteem is hurt when we realize we are not Ken. We accept who we are and move on. We age gracefully with our salt and pepper beards and hair. Perhaps that’s why many photographers, like myself, feel photographic therapy from the back-end of the camera, knowing we’re making our subjects happy with the results because obviously it’s not with our Ken-less looks.

Nudity is not a requirement of your subject during phototherapy.  It's ultimately your subject's decision if she will or will not pose nude for the camera.

Nudity is not a requirement of your subject during phototherapy. It's ultimately your subject's decision if she will or will not pose nude for the camera.

Society teaches us that the perfect body comes in many forms, from Playmates to Victoria Secret Angels. Our dads unknowingly add to that on football Sunday when the video camera pans across the playing fields broadcasting the sexy, slender, sultry and sensuous cheerleaders with butt cheeks and cleavage hanging out their mini-outfits. Bookstores across the world sell their cleavage abundant calendars, we later put them on our walls or desks to remind us year-round what we’ve been trained to like in qualities of a woman.

We see all kinds of television shows celebrating “T and A” in many forms, the television industry executives know, “Sex sells.” One of the hottest shows around the world was Baywatch and it was often joked about at the office the next day as “Babe Watch.” Our own society has programmed us to accept certain things, hence why the United States is a leader in the volume of breast implants and plastic surgery. I’m even sure the same holds true for tanning salons and Botox treatments. We are guilty, even I, as a photographer whose portfolio includes Playboy Playmate beauties, for creating this perception.

Do I regret it? No. I enjoy making women feel great about themselves because of my camera.  My finished photos and post-production with Adobe Photoshop fills in the gaps to help them look like that Barbie they never will be.  Perhaps that’s why the term “Photoshopped” was coined, because like a darkroom, it allows for corrections of blemishes with the clone and the flattening of stomachs with a little liquify tool.  “Heck, you want big breasts, no problem, just liquify them right out in Photoshop,” is something I’ve heard photographers tell models at some of my workshops.

I was hired by St. Martin’s Press to photograph a New York Times best-selling romance author, Lisa Kleypas for her first mainstream book, Sugar Daddy.   At the time, Lisa was a 42-year-old mother of two and  explained to me before the shoot that she didn’t want to look “fat” in her photos.  I understood.  Lisa later wrote on her blog, “This is the photo that will go on the back of Sugar Daddy. Lisa-au-casual. It was taken by an incredibly talented photographer, Rolando Gomez, who is great at making women look their best. He finds the right angles and the right lighting, and he makes you feel comfortable and unselfconscious. The photo hasn’t been touched up or photoshopped . . . which leads to the following confession: Before the first picture was even taken, I was looking forward to that photoshopping.”  (read more from Lisa and myself)

New York Times best-selling romance author, Lisa Kleypas in the original photo chosen for her book, Sugar Daddy.

New York Times best-selling romance author, Lisa Kleypas in the original photo chosen for her book, Sugar Daddy.

As proven through her book sales, Lisa understands the female audience well and the market for romance novels is extremely large in the book industry. Romance novels are the fairytales many Barbies experienced, perhaps the foundation for those novels started at the Barbie stage, obviously without the more provocative and sexually discriptive vocabulary.

The Internet model and photography websites are no different. I’ve seen profiles of models that display anger because people criticize how they look in their more poorly done photos, especially when the photographer does no post-production or doesn’t know how to do it properly. Thankfully for them, a seasoned professional photographer knows photogenic beauty when they see it and normally does not judge a model’s talent for lack of the photographer’s talent or photoshopping skills.

I’ve already written about 35,000 words of a 50,000-word book on phototherapy and it wasn’t done overnight. A typical book takes at least a year to write, this one I’ve been working for what seems like 20-years because the experiences come from my 30-plus-years as a professional photographer. This is not a book of photos or photo essays, this is more a book of words, perhaps a follow-on book will be more a photography book, coffee-table oriented. Unlike my previous three photography books (fourth due out soon), this book on phototherapy is a mainstream book for everyone. The more specific target audience is people who believe in the power of photography to help build or re-build self-esteem. Ultimately I hope that a reader will come to realize that a close friend or family member is in need of a little phototherapy in their life and will recommend a well researched-out photographer. Perhaps they will indirectly save a life with this recommendation. Photographers will hopefully learn from this book by simply understanding the phototherapy process and scenarios.  (Literary agents take note, I don’t have one, but need one!)

My only hold back, unlike “How-To” photography books, mainstream books require a good literary agent if you want to land a decent publisher. This type of book not only requires a top publisher, but it deserves it. I also want to add, while Melissa Whitworth’s article in the UK’s version of Glamour magazine was about “nude” phototherapy photography, I firmly believe nudity is not a requirement though the subject should have that as an option. The golden rule in any type of photography, whether it’s coined photographic therapy, phototherapy, therapeutic photography, etc., is that the photographer should never force their subjects to pose in any manner they don’t want. It should be a marriage of the minds between the subject and the professional photographer, a collaboration to create photographs that will ultimately please the subject and enforce her self-esteem in a positive manner.

Well I close now, and if you want to hear my thoughts, here’s an interview I did in Oct. 2006 while attending Photo Plus Expo in New York as a guest speaker–yes, I’m speaking this year again, though a different topic.  Enjoy, and don’t forget our service men and women, their families and friends and all those that help protect our freedoms.  Thanks, Rolando

The Need to Release, Models

Tess in the Virgin Islands during photography workshop.

Tess in the Virgin Islands during photography workshop.

The need for model releases are often brought up in Internet forums, and unfortunately information on model releases on the Internet are often misleading, especially on model and photographer Internet forums.  This often makes me wonder, how some photographers and models enter into shooting sessions clueless about the truth when it comes to their professions? And it’s not limited to the amateurs, professionals alike often fall into this category due to their own misconceptions.

Many photographers and models, in addition to other creatives, fall into the trap of confusing releases with copyright law—when in fact copyright laws are designed to protect the publication or misuse of someone’s images, normally a photographer’s photos, by others without the original creator’s (normally the photographer’s) permission.

Model releases are generally designed to protect the photographer, not the unauthorized publication of a photo without the photographer’s consent.  A photographer needs the release from a model because the release grants the photographer rights to use the “likeness’ of the identifiable subject/model.  Model release requirements vary from state to state.  In reality, model releases are legal contracts allowing photographers to use the likeness of a person in the photographer’s photo for commercial gain—it’s a binding contract between two parties.

Commercial gain doesn’t have to be specifically a monetary gain, and this is one area photographers fail to understand.  If a photograph is posted of a model on a photographer’s public portfolio on the Internet, or even a print of that same image hung in the photographer’s studio, a model release is generally required because the photographer tends to make some type of gain, including the gain of a new client, a new subject, or the viewing pleasure of a potential client—an advertisement of that photographer’s skills.

When in doubt, always secure a model release.  There are a few times were a model release is not required, such as editorial use for publication in a news feature or news story—provided there is no invasion of privacy.  However, once an image is used to promote anything for value, it then becomes commercial use and the photographer needs to secure a release from the model in the photos for their own protection., sometimes a more specific use release is more appropriate too.

In a nutshell, a photographer owns the image as soon as the shutter is released from their camera (copyright law) but the person in the image owns their likeness (civil law).  And even some states have specific requirements on ages that a model can legally sign a release, especially if nudity is involved.  Not every state requires that a model be a minimum of 18-years of age to sign a release, some states require higher ages for a release to be valid in that state of jurisdiction.

As a rule of thumb, always get a model to sign a release before a shoot if you feel your images have some commercial value or future commercial use.  If there is any nudity involved, always have two forms of your subject’s identification, at least one in color and government issued, and photograph the subject holding those two ID’s, crop tight so the ID’s are next to your subject’s face and are readable.  Print one copy of that image and staple it to the model release.  Save a digital copy in your folder/directory of images for that model.  When in doubt, always consult a lawyer.  Never settle for “promotional” releases, these are about as good as toilet paper.

MySpacehem Models

Thongs are common on model portfolios today.

Thongs are common on model portfolios today.

Obviously as a photographer in today’s techno world, one has to “work” the voluminous photography and modeling website communities out there today, and boy is there bunches! In fact, there are so many, it’s often hard to keep up with them all and when you update one, you have to update another. Making matters worse, it’s a Myspace model mayhem of sorts. If you’re not spacing, mayheming, tweeting, facebooking, and yahooing, then you’re not linked in.

While most top professional photographers use land-based agency models when it comes to major assignments, many have shifted their not so serious work or self-promotional work into the cyber club mêlée. It’s very convenient and cheap, especially in today’s economic crunch—simply put, if you’re a published professional photographer, models are a dime a dozen and they will pose for you just to get a chance at some top photos for their webfolios loaded with Myspace type photos, this is where the fun comes in as a seasoned veteran photographer, also known as a professional.

I don’t mean to poke, but I have too, as often this is the topic of conversation with all top professional photographers at one time or another—it’s entertaining. Hopefully with this post a model will read this and learn, if you want to impress a professional photographer, here are some of the things you don’t do, but we’ve actually seen on the web and sometimes have almost tossed our cookies on some of these—yes, these actually appear/appeared on the webfolios:

1. My favorite are the so-called “mentor” and moderator lists some sites have of photographers and models. These are supposed to be the “coaches” of the newbies coming on board to some of these sites. Most web mentors or moderators take these titles seriously as if they’ve won the Pulitzer or Nobel prize. Some will even put it on their calling cards—bottom line, professional agencies, bookers and pro photographers will tell you “Who cares?” Especially if you tell them one of your images made that famous “showcase” or “pic of the day.” Again, “Who cares?” Your talent should speak for itself. If you know the difference between a photographer’s promo card and a model’s comp card, then you probably don’t need to read further.

Playboy Playmate Monica Leigh in a full-page ad appearing in Maxim, Playboy and Sports Illustrated Swimwear.

Playboy Playmate Monica Leigh in a full-page ad appearing in Maxim, Playboy and Sports Illustrated Swimwear.

Even worse, the majority of these modermentors have never been published, have no professional credentials and a chunk of them only have Internet experience. But by God, if you are on the website they modermentor in, they are God. They wear the shield of bravery and courage, sans the uniform, though many have sans the clothes images in their ports and work the forums like there is no tomorrow, pounding their chests like beating battle drums. “Welcome to my clique,” if not, the modermentors will malign you. They are not all this bad, but I can tell you, after this article you’ll know which ones I’m talking about on your frequented model/photographer website. (I’m going to get it now, trust me on that one!)

If you’re a website owner of the above, it makes sense, free cheap labor to police your forums for trolls, flames and libelous claims—a word to a forum owner, you’d be better off with a free college intern studying B-Law and journalism or an old-timer who’s been around and knows the biz.

2. Now that latter was long-winded, now they come easier. Oh yeah, “funny,” he said. Ok, another favorite, “I do my own make-up.” Ugh, yeah, we bet you do, that’s why your port has cell-phone Myspace type pics too—you know, the kind with the extended arm out, self-portrait types or shots in the mirror, we know you own an iPhone, you don’t have to broadcast it to us. Ok, rarely, but if you are an MUA and a model too, we forgive you on that one and probably like you better. But going to the MAC counter at the mall doesn’t qualify you for a professional make-up artist—even photographers can get discount “professional” cards there too. There is a difference between MUA and MAC, you see?

3. “I’m not modeling right now, I’m on a hiatus, took some time off for personal reasons, have to deal with family problems, etc., etc.,” but yet your profile page shows you just logged in earlier today or the day before—like the Geico commercials, “What she really said, ‘My boyfriend doesn’t like me modeling so I’ve put this statement up here to make him happy and he’s too dumb to notice I still login everyday.” Some advice, if you’re in this situation, your relationship is doomed. Cut the cord, find one that supports your modeling career.

4. “I’m managed by photographer (name goes here).” All top photographers stay away from models “managed” by photographers, in fact, in some states it’s illegal. A model doesn’t necessarily impress me if she’s agent represented, but at least an agent is normally licensed as it’s required in most states and she’s passed the agency’s entrance exam. It also shows a model is passionately committed to modeling and has done her homework and knocked on doors, probably owns a portfolio (book) too.

Pro photographers may help models out, but pro photographers and their clients frown on model managers, especially guys with cameras that are pretending to look out for your best interests. Again, helping a model out is great and noble, but don’t call yourself a model manager (photographers). These are dirty words in the industry. If you’re seriously helping a model out for her best interests, become her friend, not a boyfriend. While models and photographers do date, like any similar professions, as long as it’s done with good intentions, there’s no problem. I have nothing against models screening photographers for shoots, I recommend it, and if you have a photographer friend, there is no problem with them helping you, just don’t call him a model manager, you do no one any good.

Thongs make for sexy glamour photos.

Thongs make for sexy glamour photos. I photographed Playboy Model Laura F. for Playboy.com, which requires sexy photos including thongs.

5. “I don’t do nudes.” Well I don’t either, though I photograph them. While most pros understand models will put that in portfolios for there own protection, don’t make that statement and then have a photo or photos that scream, “Showing you my boobs, hope you like them.” or “Here’s my crotch shot.” And it’s almost an oxymoron to make that statement and have photos of you (model) on all fours wearing a thong about a ½-inch wide. The difference between it and a Playboy nude is a ½-inch of fabric, sometimes less. 

6. In reference to number five above, our other favorite images we crack on are the ones with legs wide open. Don’t get me wrong, a pro can shoot these types of images in a classic style, but classy is a fine line between trashy. We’ve pretty much all have taken sexy pictures, but this is your PORTFOLIO that is SUPPOSED to have your BEST PHOTOS! Save the other ones for fun times with your friends at a slumber party when you’re all drunk. Like those photos you have on Myspace showing your party poses and one-arm extension photos.

7. Now the culprit to #6 & #5 above, more “views.” Yes, those little view (hit) counters for image views just impact our egos. Now for those that don’t get it, if your nudie pics or show me your boobs pics, or “I’m bending over and grabbing my ankles” pics have the most views, it’s not because your beauty shows at its best—and if you’re convinced I’m wrong, “Here’s your sign.” That headshot that could be the on the cover of Vanity Fair probably has low views because it’s photography, not amateur piccies. The new Sears and Roebuck catalog viewing days for young lads are now the model and photographer websites! When is the last time a just going into puberty person ever hired you? Get over it, hit counters are great ego strokers but they are not the tell-tale sign that you’re onto stardom or supermodeldom. If you think that, then please understand there is a difference between dom and dum. Oh you say? Dugh.

The great Helmut Newton once said in an interview with Style Monte Carlo, “There are certain limits, although I hate the word ‘good taste,’ to me it is totally deadly for any creativity. Of course there are some limits and I am not going to say what they are. I mean I have done in time, like everybody or like a lot of photographers, hard pornography. As a matter of fact, it has been exhibited, very recently, for three months, at the Castello di Rivoli, near Turin, Italy which is a wonderful museum.“

Editorial photography is always a reason to grab some story-telling shots.

Editorial photography is always a reason to grab some story-telling shots.

Like Geico again, what he really means, “We’ve all taken photos that were fun, sexy and crazy, any photographer or model that tells you otherwise is lying. It comes with the territory.”

8. I don’t care about the music you like, not at least on your “portfolio” page. That’s like the photographer who has a 3-ring binder portfolio and he has all the models “autograph” the photos. Save that for your “I love myself wall” in your office or studio. The pink layouts, the flash photo galleries on top of one another, the bumper stickers, the Myspace pets, etc., will not get you assignments, it just shows your true personality—save it for Myspace, not your modeling space. This is not a modeling Mafia Wars.

9. Don’t tell professional photographers that you’ll require a CD-ROM of all images taken. Not going to happen. Get over it. The real difference between a professional photographer and an amateur isn’t the money, it’s the fact that a pro never shows you their bad photos, we all take them. In the old days, we called it burning film. A pro photographer knows how to “photo edit” their work first, comes from publication experience.  A GWC knows how to burn CD’s at the end of the shoot, probably goes with an invitation to dinner or a drink or two.

10. Keep your photos current. We love it (actually hate it) when we stumble on a portfolio with chopped hair, an avatar with long hair, photos that show a 10- to 30-pound in weight difference, and/or some images with blonde some with brunette hair. Which color is it, how much do you really weigh and is your hair long or short? As a model, your images should be current—we want to see how you look today, not how you used to look. I get paid to photograph people who want to look what they used to look like before two kids and 15-years of marriage. It’s called photographic therapy or phototherapy, the art of using photography to help build or re-build their self-esteem.

Ok, that’s enough as this blog is turning into a book. But I wanted to use some fun to hopefully educate a few folks out there. It’s not that hard, really. Now I have to get back to MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc., etc., etc.

Thanks, and all the best, rg sends!


Top Friends? Myspace, Facebook, etc…

I’ve often talked about therapeutic photography, or photographic therapy, the power of photography to help build or rebuild self-esteem, but here recently, I’ve also noticed another power, the social networking power.

Myspace, Loyalty, Frienship, Models, Photographers, Digital Photography, Youtube, Facebook, tag, pets

While that topic can encompass many areas, especially with Myspace, Youtube, Facebook and other powerful social network communities, one thing they have in common, is the ability to “tag” (comment) each member in your friends network. It’s not only addictive, but those members with marketing savvy use these peripheral options along with their blogs, bulletins, announcement, photos, tagging of photos, pets, walls, groups, etc. and more as great marketing tools within the network.

This marketing of oneself is not only the selling of one’s products and talents, but of themselves and often for their own ego and self-esteem. Often a popularity contest, I have more friends, comments and tags than you! In the Myspace “pets” application, the goal isn’t to be the owner of pets, but to increase your net worth, though this is often perceived as a popularity contest more than disposable income. Many members of these sites are not only concerned about how many friends they have, but if they are on, and in what order, their friends, “Top Friends” lists.

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Keep the Body Narrow and Parallel to the Camera

I always like to look at my models as being geometric
. If a person is standing facing the camera, the
model’s body creates a rectangle. However, that rectangle is
actually three-dimensional. If you were to measure the fur-
thest body point away from the camera to the closest body
point to the camera, you could determine the depth of the

Studio Lighting, Modeling, Photography, Digital, Workshops, Posing

Now, if the model were to extend her arms outward on
each side, keeping them parallel to the rest of her body, the
width of her form would change, but the depth would not.
If, however, the model were to extend her arms so that one
was in front of her body and the other was behind her body,
the width of her form would not be changed, but its depth
would increase dramatically-it would probably at least dou-
ble from the original width.

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The Enigma of a First Time Shoot

Sometimes music and the viewing of music videos can help invigorate a model and photographer for a great shoot, especially when there is more music than words, as in the style of Enigma’s The Principals of Lust. Music also helps relax the model and photographer during their first shoot, especially if they’ve never met beforehand and their personalities are mysteries to each other.

Enigma itself is a word with Greek roots that means mysterious and ambiguous and also is used to name a machine that creates ciphers for the encryption and decryption of secret messages before and during World War II. While the machine was used commercially, as early as the 1920’s, many nations utilized the enigma machine for their government and military branches, including Nazi Germany that used the Wehrmacht Enigma Machine.

[Read more…]