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'Looper' Movie Review by Chase Merkley.
If you can't make a living at photography you should at least enjoy what you're doing and get good at it. We've interviewed several of the top alt. photographers and we've been able to glean the essential elements that make up a great body of work. This article basically applies to all photographers.
Here are ten essentials you must know to be a great alt. photographer.
1. Composition focus. We asked Chas Ray Krider and Steve Diet Goedde what they focus on when creating a composition. When creating a composition your main focuse should be: first to create a great background or set. Once you have a great backdrop this will free you up to focus on the other elements. The next step is figuring out the best ways to arrange all the shapes in the most pleasing way to the viewer.
2. Lighting. Whether you are using natural light or an expensive light kit, lighting is very important. If you are shooting outdoors, learn the best times of the day to shoot. If you shoot at dawn or right before dusk you will be working with what they call "golden hour" light. If you shoot at 3pm when the sun is directly on top of you, your lighting will be very harsh. Learn basic lighting set ups for indoor shooting and don't use your built-in flash.
3. Model prepartion. If you are shooting a model for her portfolio, the focus should be on her. If it's for a designer, the focus should be on the wardrobe. The model's hair, make-up, and wardrobe should be planned out. Hair and make-up artists make a big differance. If the model is new, you should have a shot list to help her along. Give her direction.
4. Networking. Laura Dark has stated that networking is a huge aspect of the business. If you want to make a living from your photography then you will need good people skills. You must endlessly submit your images to magazines, contact designers about shooting their lines, collaborate with quality models to build up your portfolio. If you don't have a website, put up some kind of online modeling portfolio (modelmayhem.com) for people to view your work. Get some business cards.
5. To plan or not to plan. Some photographers have elaborate shot lists, some build up sets for months (John Santerineross). Others are more spontaneous and non-planners (Steve Diet Goedde), and that works for them. Figure out which type of photographer you are. I personally plan out my shoots way in advance. I don't like to reach the moment in the shoot session where I run out of ideas.
6. Re-touching. Unless you are a purist, you should learn some basic photoshop or re-touching or have someone on your team who can do digital retouching.
7. Being selective. If you are not being commissioned to shoot, shoot what you enjoy and work with people you really want to work with. If you don't like photograping models with tattoos and piercings, don't photograph models with tattoos and piercings. If you like vintage-style pinup photography, shoot vintage-style pinup photography. Very simple. Don't work with people for free who don't inspire your work.
8. Develop your own style. It will take you a while to develop your own style, but eventually your personal style will come out. Don't try to copy another photographer's work who is hot at the moment. It's better to study the old masters and pick up techniques and slowly come up with your own way of doing things.
9. Perfectionism. Only put our your best work. If you shot 50 images, only put out your best 3 shots. Be a perfectionist. Don't allow the model you work with to put our everything you shot. Be selective. For example: film director David "Forty Takes" Fincher is notorious for shooting endless takes of a single scene to get the right nuance. He is currently considered one of the best living movie directors.
10. Equipment. Your camera equipment is not very important. There are photographs people shot with disposable cameras hanging in fine art photography galleries. Here is a quote from Kenny Haner "I try not to geek out on gear too much. Some of the best photos in the world were taken on far less advanced equipment than what we're walking around with in our cell phones".
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Model: Eve Marie.
When I was in my late teens I saw a documentary in 1996 called "Fetishes" on HBO. The documentary was directed by Nick Broomfield and it was filmed at a luxurious SM/Fetish parlor called "Pandora's Box". "Fetishes" opened my eyes to an alternative world where woman dressed up in leather, latex, stockings, sky high heels and various fetish outfits.
Model: Lady Malice.
Soon after I discovered Dita Von Teese and Leg Show Magazine. I've always had a fetish for women who wore nylons and Leg Show was the best magazine at showcasing beautiful women wearing nylons, and Dita Von Teese was the ultimate fetish model. Another great fetish magazine was Marquis Magazine.
Model: Dita. Photo by: Ed Fox.
In the late nineties I studied the photographic works of Steve Diet Goedde, Jeanloup Sieff, and Helmut Newton. I started doing black and white photography. The photo shoots were fashion-oriented and mainly took place outdoors. I discovered some alternative/fetish models and the content of my shoots became more fetish-oriented. I submitted images I shot of a friend and model/dj named Portia Surreal to several publications. The images were accepted in Marquis Magazine and Skin Two Magazine. Seeing my name on the cover of a respected magazine was a cool feeling. I felt like I had accomplished something.
Model: Portia Surreal.
To me it is much more alluring and appealing to see a woman dressed up in a fetish outfit then it is to see flagrant nudity. Less is not always more.
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