I got into a small discussion with a friend yesterday about the whole “awareness while shooting with a co-model”-thing that I mentioned in “The Colour Shoot”-post. We ended up realizing that we both agree and mean the same thing (we just use different words to describe it all), but it still got me thinking that maybe I should write a post dedicated to my own philosophy regarding modelling and photoshoots.
For me, modelling is a way to get my creativity flowing. It’s an artistic outlet, basically. But I also see it as an aesthetic experience. I may be a bit damaged from all my studies regarding the aesthetic bodily experience, more specifically the synesthetic experience, but in my mind the application and connection between the two works quite well. After all, synesthesia is when two or more of one’s senses is working together, and when modelling you can’t help but keep your senses open to what’s going on with and around you. Well, I can’t help doing that 😛
To make it a bit easier for me to explain it all, I’ll take it sense by sense.
Sight: Use your eyes! Before a shoot I always try out poses in front of a mirror, just to see how it might look. During the shoot itself I make sure to know where the photographer is, so that I know where to look if I want to look straight into the camera – or where not to look if I want to appear more elusive and “I’m not aware of your presence”-like. Also, never forget that you portrait emotions and attitudes with your eyes. And if you have a co-model, you can always cast glances from the corner of your eyes to get a small idea of what they’re doing 😉
Hearing/Sound: Listen for the “click” of the camera as well as whatever directions the photographer (or even the stylist) is giving you. Even though you’ve done this for years and years, you probably will stumble on a photographer every now and then who has his/her own specific images in mind while shooting. And good communication is key to a good-looking end result. So never forget your ears.
Touch/Body awareness: You can’t escape from this one, with or without a co-model. Knowing your angles means body awareness. Where are your arms, hands, fingers, legs, shoulders, head, face, chest, stomach? Don’t just stick to the comfortable poses you regularly do, experiment! The weird and uncomfortable poses tend to make the best looking shots in my experience. And if you’ve got very fine and “airy” hair like me, that tends to fly in all directions in the slightest of winds, you might want to at least make an attempt to keep it in check 😉 The great thing about this one is that it co-exists with other senses, especially sight. And if you’re wearing a tight corset and/or latex you have it constantly touching and pressing on your skin and body – which is a whole experience in itself! The same goes for high heels since they change your entire posture. Your body is the best tool you can ever use in shoots, so make the most of it!
Taste/Smell: If there’s leather, latex, plants/flowers or food involved, these two senses are pretty much a dead giveaway – you can’t ignore them. Personally, I love the smell of latex and leather, it kind of gets me in the right mood while shooting with them ^^
Pleasure/Pain: Yes, these are sensory feelings that can be highly useful in a shoot! Fetish or social themes are, in my mind, the best ones for portraying these two. I don’t really need to exlain it more than that, now do I?
Okay, now this became more a list of advice, but for me, if I’m aware of all these things before and during shoot I feel that I learn more about myself and how I work. And that goes for every shoot that I make. I’m a strong believer in the aesthetic bodily experience and that it helps us grow and evolve into the people that we are. Everything I do, whether it’s cooking, walking in the park or shooting in a studio, is an aesthetic experience in itself – and that helps me learn more about myself while making me more creative.
In short, everything we do is art and modelling is just a part of it.
Oh dear, I do hope I made at least a little bit of sense now. If I’ve managed to complicate something, please, don’t hesitate to let me know so I can clarify it 🙂