© 2008 Melissa Rodwell Photography LLC.
Models who don’t have much experience in front of the camera need special attention when you put them in front of yours. After so many years experience shooting, sometimes I find it difficult now when I get a girl who’s new and inexperienced. So maybe I’m learning here myself, by writing this blog. It can be frustrating at first, when you get a girl who’s unfamiliar with her body and insecure as well. I don’t adhere to the philosophy of talking to them while they’re getting their hair and make up done. For one, this distracts the hair and make up artist. Instead, I watch them carefully. I look for their overall sense of being. How they hold themselves, if they are chatty with the hair stylist or if they’re shy and difficult to break through. I look for their body posture, they’re overall presence. It’s a bit like being a detective. Or even a psychologist.
When I get them in front of my camera in the beginning, I warm them up by being friendly but not overly fake. I want them to know that my praises are genuine and not over the top. I have to remember that new girls to need a lot of praise. For the most part now, when I shoot, the models are experienced. It’s easier for me because I don’t have to do a lot of coaxing or even coaching. They follow my few directions and it’s onward to a fabulous shoot. But new girls don’t know how to emote, for the most part. And they don’t know how to pose. They are unfamiliar with their bodies, making it tough for them to exude confidence. I usually warm up by shooting a few “test” images so I can feel them out and see where their strengths and weaknesses are. I am not a mouthy photographer. I don’t yell out things like, “oh baby, that’s hot!” or “oh wow, give it to me baby”. Some girls need that, I suppose. To me it just feels cheesy. I feel it’s overkill to tell them every time the shutter clicks how amazing they are. But for some new girls, it’s almost required. So I have to relent and shout out a few of those typical lines. I forget I have to, and I’m quickly reminded to do so when they’re not warmed up after the first 100 pictures.
I have to admit that most of the time I have to get on the cyc and show them a few poses. Then I start doing it in front of them when I have my camera up to my eye, making it a hilarious but effective showcase. They follow my lead eventually and we can get on with making a great fashion shoot.
Music helps. Laughter helps. Making things light and simple, not overly tense helps. After all, we have to remember it’s a fashion shoot, not Supreme Court. Girls look better and move better when they’re relaxed and at ease. I’m not a tyrant on my sets so I think this generally helps the nervous girls relax after a few shots.
The shot above of Monet Mazur was taken when she was a mere 16 years old and just starting out as a Ford New Faces model. Monet has gone on in her career to become an accomplished actress with roles in Johnny Depp’s “Blow” and “Stoned”, where she played famed fashion icon and rock wife, Anita Pallenberg. I had shot Monet a few times before we did this shoot together and I noticed that Monet worked best when she was given a role to work with. Having her walk and move around worked better than standing on a seamless and posing. So I took her out to the hills in Malibu and we just played. The results were so magnificent that I did my very gallery exhibit with the 16 images we got from our one day shoot.
Some new girls just “have it” and they are a breeze to work with. Other girls you need to fish out they’re strong suits and show them a lot of moves. And at the end of the day, you have to remember that even Kate Moss had her first test shoots. Pictured below: