This is a question and topic I've seen people ask, use as an excuse for their distance or frustration, or because they truly believe that there's only one way to achieve your goals. They say that the best way to avoid being distracted from your true path is to focus on that, and that alone. Well, I'm here to tell you - that is wrong.Read More
By: Amy Cooper, ACRONYM
I understand in the world of putting on art shows, or any show for that matter - you have to pay for the venue and cover the cost of things. And that makes sense, but to a degree. I've done my fair share of entering shows, $50 here, $25 here to cover my booth fee. And I've constantly looked into shows like DIY Ferndale, Dally In The Alley, and even smaller hometown spots like Founders Festival in Farmington, and found that the booth prices are super steep. Unless you're making bank at a full time job aside from your art, you're more than likely not going to be able to get a booth at one of the bigger events unless you split one with 4+ artists.
The "Exposure" Argument: For artists, the word exposure is a disgusting word. It used to be a good thing, and sometimes it still can be applicable (higher up magazine names and clothing lines), but as artists who try to make a living off of what we do, or to make money as a side business with our work, exposure is a huge slap in the face. We can't pay bills with exposure. I work a 40 hour a week job, and I work very hard. I took a second job to make extra cash. But here's my thing: I pay for my equipment. I pay for my computer. My internet to network. My lenses. My prints. All of that to be a respected artist in the community that can offer a solid service to people who seek it.
I very rarely want to come out to throw someone under the bus, but as the masses have voiced there concerns over weeks, and months - there's one thing I want to spell out for the artists of the Detroit community: Unless you make major money, or you have a ton of friends who are willing to spend a tank of gas on an art show for you, enlisting in RAW Detroit is not the way to go. I hate having to name names, so if a representative of RAW Detroit is reading this - please hear me out, because there are TONS of artists who are completely disgusted and fed up with your process, and this is why they aren't enrolling in your system.
The experience overall sounded like a dream come true: an art collective that will back you to break into other markets like Chicago and LA, and a chance to show off our collective works as a unit for the sake of exposure to other people's friends. That sounds wonderful, until you note that you have to sell 20 tickets for $20 a piece to be able to participate, and if you don't sell your quota, you have to cover that cost yourself. That's $400. Now, I promote, and I promote hard. And I still only managed to sell 4 tickets a week or two before the deadline. I could not be responsible for a $400 booth fee, essentially, to showcase my work. And I'm pretty sure most artists can't either.
I'm writing this today, because not only have I had other friends drop out of the show prior to the date because they couldn't sell enough tickets or couldn't afford the fees, but I was reading today in a Facebook post from another artist, in which he's now been requested multiple times. Many of the Detroit art circle has commented since - and we're all saying the same thing: It's a pyramid scheme, it's a rip off, and it's not worth it to Detroit artists to join in.
Beginner artists cannot afford this, nor can artists who have real life expectations. Even if we were able to sell 20 tickets for $10 a pop, that's still an expensive fee for one person to handle, even if the payout is barely breaking even. We'd just assume throwing our own show and putting money towards a venue, one that's not sponsored by any showcase, and where the money comes directly back to us, rather than funding someone else's art show or lacing someone else's pockets.
Now, to play Devil's advocate, some Fashion people were able to get their clothes in front of a group by doing RAW, but at the same time, spending that much money on a gamble is hard to throw in unless you do have the money to do so. And the justification is this: when you place yourself in a show, you may sell a ton, or you may sell nothing.
I've only sold maybe $50 tops at a show, and my work is not bad. Sometimes it's your location, or who's at the show. If you have a ton of people at a show not looking to carry around a 16x20 framed print around, or don't need any art and just want to look at it, or you're at a clothing sponsored show and a bunch of teenagers show up who aren't willing to throw down $100+ on a painting, you're not going to succeed. So a $400 covered booth? That's not going to do anything for anyone, except maybe eat up their entire paycheck.
I'm not trying to bash you, RAW Detroit. Or any other group that does this - but I'm hoping as an open letter to all of you, be realistic about the expectations. Realize that you're getting B or C rated artists to pay in, rather than the more driven-successful-hustlers of the Detroit Art Scene. We'll find a way to showcase ourselves on our own in which we're benefited, not some third hand that gets almost half a $1K out of the artists that show up. We're better off doing it by ourselves... Which might be the Detroit frame of mind, but we're used to pulling ourselves up on our own, thank you very much.
By: Amy Cooper, ACRONYM
If you follow some of my artful opinion blogs from over the years, you know that I am a person who's always urging women to be comfortable while shooting, but also, to guard themselves when it comes to who they take their clothes off for.
First thing's first: Women empower themselves in different ways. I shared a meme on my personal media the other day that had the sentiment that women can empower themselves with nudity, or they can be modest, and it's not your job to tell her which is okay. This is completely true, and there's no space for slut shaming here.
People have called my thoughts or "preaching" on guarding yourselves against male photographers in the past a little overboard, and some have gotten very defensive in regards to it, the whole "I'm not a creep," "you make male photographers look dangerous," that whole thing. And it's true - some male photographers are great, and super professional, but some are not. And some will make you feel like you're in danger.
This news report from FOX 2 about Anthony Raphael Perales, who claims to have a modeling agency to people, as well as runs his photography studio. Some of the accounts are very chilling, including women who have taken nudes with him, and that now he's labeling his company as "Latin Mass Society" and many women he's photographed have been asked to wear white veils.
Dubbing his page the "Michigan's #1 Premier Exclusive Modeling Agency," some of the women that have come forward have noted that some of his practices seemed fetish based, and his "studio" was actually a storage barn at his house.
The report notes that one of the women that came forward said he wanted to do a Nazi inspired shoot. She initially thought he was kidding, according to the article. No such luck, he's been posting anti-Semitic messages and photos of Adolph Hitler, and him with guns. When contacted by FOX 2, he referred to himself as a National Socialist, as in Nazi Germany, but in America.
Now, obviously, this is an extreme case. But here are a few things to consider, and what you should look out for when you are booking a photographer, or agreeing to work with someone on a "time for pictures," AKA "TFP" shoot:
1. Their Social Media Footprint:
Do they have a page? How many followers do they have? Do they have any fans that are your friends? If the models (who I'm totally not blaming for their lack of research) would have looked up his pages, he has 19 fans on Seroptics Models Incorporated. His second, however, has 2,000+ as The Order of Saint Mary Magdalene, however does show political and religious rhetoric.
2. Their Website:
Does it look reputable? Once again, using Perlas as an example, no, it does not. It sends up many red flags, including saying that he's an award winner, but no awards noted on seropticsmodels.com.
3. View their work:
Does their portfolio exude what you'd hope to be portrayed as? Do you like their editing style? Their concepts? If you're finding that they support or photograph things a certain way, like for example, poorly shot nudes, raunchy photos that you wouldn't dare post on social media, or views of hatred, you should probably not work with them.
As I said, this was a special case, in which things went completely in a different direction, but it's not the first time that a guy has used photography as a front for his own agenda. And I'm not trying to bad mouth the male photographers out there, but as a woman, it's in your best interest to research, and even reach out to friends who may have worked with the photographer to see how they behave.
Exhibit B: Model Testimonials
So far, some of the upsets I've heard in confidence include:
- Telling the model that in their mind, they are pretending they are their girlfriend to produce content that is passionate.
- Pressuring a model to take off their clothes when they did not desire that type of shoot.
- Not giving them a clear indicator of what they wanted out of a shoot, and then becoming enraged when they don't follow through on a plan you're not comfortable with.
- Requesting to meet privately and holding a stipulation that you cannot bring another person with you to the shoot or meeting.
- Requesting to pick you up at your residence.
- Hitting on you, making sexual comments, or asking for sex in exchange for pictures.
Now, some photographers request if they are doing "sexy shoots," "boudoir shoots" etc that you do not bring your significant other, but honestly, if you're not comfortable shooting with a male photographer without your significant other present, and that's the "photographer's rules," then find another photographer. A photographer's job is to make you feel comfortable while shooting.
Never put yourself in a situation where you are in private with a complete stranger that you don't have knowledge about. If you are to meet with a photographer, meet them in public. Get to know them. Make sure that your gut checks out and that they aren't exuding any creepy behavior before you shoot.
And ladies, please: If a male photographer is hitting on you, put an end to it right then and there. Even if you want the shoot - your self respect is way more important, and find someone who respects you, your body, and your work.
Always do your research. Be informed about who you're working with and what nature their photography presents, and if anyone tells you that you're being over-paranoid, do not listen to them. You may not be put in the positions illustrated here, but I guarantee that others have.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that when I look at myself, I'm not the hugest fan. I believe that partially, being a Photographer and a Woman can cause a lot of non-positivism when it comes to my body. I know what I'd edit on me in Photoshop, because I Photoshop things off people every time I shoot.
The thing is, though there are many women who are afraid or uncomfortable being the size that they are, or comparing themselves to models or Instagram "models" that they see every day, the important thing to note is everyone is beautiful in their own way.
I know I have cited Ashley Graham, the model, more than once while writing about photography, but she's done another photo shoot that has made headlines, one in which she's got on a bra, but no underwear, and is kissing a man in a stairwell.
Now typically, this would be something that many guys would think "Ok, put some clothes on honey, you're not skinny enough for that." But what's great about Ashley is she doesn't give a rats ass. She knows she's hot. And she owns it.
Many of us don't have that same confidence level, but hear me out: No matter what size you are, how big your nose is, how thick your thighs are, or how small your boobs are: YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. We need to preach this more to our women, that way we can uplift each other. Not to mention, the better and more confident we are when it comes out our bodies, the more art we can create with REAL PEOPLE, not a computer generated fallacy.
By: Amy Cooper
One thing that many artists have to grapple with is cost. It is a constant struggle that many of us tackle, trying to find a way to get paid for what we do on top of selling work or services. Especially if we are creating things to show our talents, many of us sink a lot of money into our projects without return.
One of the things, especially us photographers struggle with is updating equipment. Now, there are many things out there that are kickstarter programs, the most notably being GoFundMe. Now, here's the thing that you need to understand about platforms like this:
You are literally posting on your social media to have other people fund your goal or dream without giving them anything in return.
And you may not like my response to this, but doing that is wrong. It is not anyone's responsibility to pay for your equipment or your education. Especially if you're already owning or operating a business of this same craft. Asking people to pay for your equipment would be the equivalent of standing in a store and yelling "Hey, can you each give me $5 so I can put it toward my groceries?"
On a respect component, many of us have worked for our equipment. Now a select few newbies maybe had Mommy and Daddy to help, but most of us earned our glass by working hard, taking jobs we didn't necessarily like, and building our arsenals. I should know, I've done it with two camera brands now.
So when it comes to something like Patreon, I can say so far, I'm a little more lenient, and here's why: With Patreon, you are (supposedly) offering goods, services, discounts, or otherwise something as a response for someone to support you. You're saying "Hey, for X amount of dollars / X amount of dollars a month, you will get the following things: A, B, C, D."
For example, many Suicide Girls or photographers who post more X-Rated Sets will make a tier for that, and have people pay to see those images. Some will send out images per month in print form, while some will offer seminars or even simple social media follows (for those big named artists). Namely, you are getting something in return for your patronage.
Though that may help you get to your goal as well, and it's a lot more work than a GoFundMe where you just beg for someone to support you, at least they are getting content, goods, or services by using Patreon to support your craft. And let's face it, many of us post our work for free online to show off what we can do, but not many will offer to put their money where their mouth is.
So, if you're considering using either service, let me ask you this: Are you the type of person that wants to have everything handed to them and not give anyone anything back in return (a taker), or do you want to be a business person and give people goods, skills, and art to view for supporting your craft? You decide.
What are your thoughts on this post? Feel free to sound off in the comments or share this post!
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By: Amy Cooper
A lot of the time when working in the photography or video world, we need to hire makeup artists and stylists.
When it comes to Makeup Artists (MUA's), it's really important that you respect their craft. They put in a lot of time, work, effort, and product, all while standing craned over your head and/or body for hours, and most of the time, their work does not get credited on Social Media, or is taken for granted, when truthfully, the shoot wouldn't even be good without the work they've done.
I've worked with a few great ladies within my time as a photographer, all who specialize in a bunch of different angles of doing makeup. Whether it is basic beauty, special effects (SFX), wedding / bridal, etc, they all bring something to the table... Which includes their own set of horror stories.
When you're going to work with a makeup artist, there are things that you may not consider rude, frustrating, or not even think of when you're getting work done, so I checked with some of my main ladies to see what their biggest no-no's were when it comes to how clients have reacted or things they have said or done getting their makeup done, and what to avoid to respect your artist better.
If your MUA asks you if you're satisfied with what they've done, don't say yes, and then try to do it yourself when it gets messed up or because you don't like it.
Be honest with your artist. If you want something changed, have them change it. That's what they are there to do, to make you look the best they can. They want their work properly represented just as a photographer would, and I'm sure you don't want to look bad either.
Photographers and directors, the same goes for you. If your MUA on set asks you if the makeup looks good, and you want something changed, let them know instead of just "accepting" it. They want to make you happy with their work. Also, if you think that the subject is going to sweat the makeup off during a shoot, or will need a touch up, book the MUA for the allotted time. Do not either A. Expect them to stay without communicating that, or B. Just hope for the best, and be mad at the MUA when the makeup comes off.
Be On Time.
This one is a no-brainer. Whether you're meeting on a set, meeting at a specific location, or if they are coming to you, be ready for them to start working. AND FOR GOODNESS SAKES, WASH YOUR FACE.
Many a time are the days where a MUA arrives on set, and the models don't show up on time, and then the photographer / director is hammering hard on the MUA to finish it within a certain time frame. The more time the MUA has to work, the better you're going to look. When people work on set, they have a specific bracket of time to do the work asked of them, so being late is going to slow everything else down, and it might even cause you to not get enough screen time or shot time in because you weren't better prepared.
If there's a specific look you have in mind, communicate it to your MUA so they know how much time they need to book you for.
If you tell them "basic beauty" and then want to come out looking just a little bit less intense than RuPaul, there will not be enough time to get you looking the way you desire. Be thorough when expressing what you want to look like / what you want your model to look like so the artist can get it done the way it's desired the first time. Do not be wishy-washy or say "I don't know" either. Try to be as clear as possible so there isn't a miscommunication and lack of time to get you where you want to be. This is the same sentiment of booking them for the allotted time on set if they are going to need touch ups.
When you're halfway through getting your makeup done, don't backseat drive your Makeup Artist.
THEY AREN'T DONE YET! Don't start telling them what you want to do or not do unless it's drastically in the wrong direction. Once your work is finished, then you can work with your artist to get the tweaks that you may want fixed. Also, don't continuously try to keep one eye open or on a mirror to see what they are doing, and relax. Trust your makeup artist.
And, seriously, stop trying to take selfies or Snapchat while they are working.
Know that you can bring an example, but you won't be identical.
This happens to us as photographers as well as Makeup Artists. Someone will bring us an example (cough cough PINTREST) and expect to look identical to said photo. One artist said the client needs to understand that with skin tone, eye shape, and texture, not everyone is going to look the same. So basically, don't bring a photo in of Kim Kardashian and expect to look like her when you leave.
Don't try to short change them for their work. I.E. Pay them what they ask and stop trying to haggle the price.
No, they cannot use cheaper products to lower the cost of their work. No, they will not do a group rate that's lower than the cost of what it would cost to do every single person at full price. Many of them will not do trade work unless the job is extremely profitable or good for the exposure, but for the sake of the exposure, the thing you need to realize is this: They have to pay for the products they use. Sure, Photographers have to pay for the cameras they use. But cameras are a cost that is done. Makeup is continuing and never ending needing to be replaced every time. The supplies needed, especially if you are doing something SFX or Body Paint related is used in high volume, and asking someone to do that type of work without helping them replenish their products by paying them what they ask is highway robbery.
IXNAY ON THE DRINK, KAY?
Don't drink when you're getting your makeup done. Sure, maybe you're going out and you're going to be drinking, but when you start to drink, your face will start to turn red. Your MUA will not be able to get your shade. As you continue drinking, you'll start to get sweaty and this will just be a mess. So do yourself a favor, WASH YOUR FACE, sit your butt down, and hold off on the beers till the party actually starts.
Are you a makeup artist that has some input? A peeve that we've missed that you think needs to be added? Sound off in the comments!
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By: Amy Cooper
In this day and age, there are tons -and I mean TONS of "photographers." It's the newest thing in everyone's mind that they can do to create something, without much in their minds to put into it. There are some of us, though, that study and try to perfect our crafts, and take it seriously, even as a business.
We've all got some gripes when it comes to being in the business. So much so, I posed the question on Social Media to see what my "peers" would say. Especially for models starting out, here's some things you shouldn't do when you're hoping to get some work done.
Politely Request Their Services
Do not automatically assume because you hit up a photographer, that they are going to want to take the time to shoot with you, or that you are owed a shoot because the photographer isn't as well known. We as photographers are able to pick and choose who we want to work with, and you're going to get less of a good reaction from most of us if you just DM us late at night, wondering when we're going to shoot, when we've never spoken, or aren't even acquaintances. Be professional, be up front, and please note whether you are looking to work with us on a "time for pictures" basis, or if you are going to be a paying client. Many of us don't accept "time for pictures" unless there's a benefit to us. Exposure does not pay our bills.
Flaking Out, No Shows, Or Being Extremely Late
The number one comment I got when asking a big batch of photographers of what annoys them most were the following:
- Lack of response when a shoot was requested
- Not showing up at the scheduled time / not showing up at all
- Canceling last minute
- Planning, renting studio space, organizing extras / models, etc, and then having the main artist / client / subject bail - otherwise, not taking into account the other people involved.
- Repeatedly doing any of these things after we give you a second (or even third chance)
There is absolutely no excuse to being this self-centered. Now granted, if your grandmother is being rushed to the hospital, or your car died on your way to a shoot, some of us are a little more lenient, but some of us may also charge you the cost of the shoot for not showing up.
Also, especially in communities where many models and photographers cross-pollinate or work around or together with each other, if you're known to flake, you get a reputation with most of us. So you should probably not lie to us about why you're not showing up, because most of the time, we end up hearing why somewhere else, or find out that this is your M.O..
Lack Of Self Confidence When Modeling
We absolutely hate this! Whether it's before, during, or after shooting, hating on yourself is only going to make photos come out worse in your mind.
- When booking or scheduling with a photographer, saying things like "I mean I'm ugly, but I'll try" is not going to make us want to work with you.
- Same with making the same type of comments during a shoot. If you're shooting with multiple people, and you keep comparing yourself to the other models, that will also be a huge turn off.
- Saying "I'm not very good at this" after initiating a shoot with a photographer, or placing your entire self worth and all your insecurities on the photographer to fix: "You can fix that in Photoshop, right?" Not your confidence, I can't.
- When reviewing photos after the fact, saying repetitively how much you hate your face, the look you gave, etc.
And here's the thing: some of you might be new models. That's what practice is for. I tell anyone new that I'm helping get started to look at themselves in the mirror and practice what expressions look good. Don't get stuck on one expression, that makes you have no range. Don't try to make the "sexy face" because chances are, what you think looks sexy is annoying to the rest of us looking at it if it's the only face you're willing to make.
But the most important note to keep in mind is this: If you don't feel confident, you won't look confident. If you don't look confident, you're going to hate your photographs.
Know The Scope Of What You're Shooting And Prepare Accordingly
Is it going to be super cold outside? Did you agree to shoot a set that requires a specific type of makeup, or requires to you to get a little messy? Know what you're shooting. One of the responses that came in when asking this question was "being a diva when it comes to getting a little dirty."
Always talk over the concept with your photographer for the shoot beforehand and know what's expected of you, and if you're expected to bring anything or how you're supposed to dress. One of the biggest issues is coming unprepared. Models typically should come either with makeup and hair done, unless a stylist is being provided for them by the photographer / set.
And if you discuss the concept thoroughly with your photographer, you'll know if you're supposed to be getting risque, if someone is going to put you in a bird bath full of milk and Froot Loops, or asks you to crawl into a marshy river in the woods on Belle Isle and lay your head back in the water, then you have no reason to complain. You signed up for this.
Trust Your Photographer And Follow Our Directions
We're supposed to be the pros here. And even if some of us aren't 100% Annie Leibovitz, we should (in theory) be posing you the way that it is flattering. Now, I get into icy territory in the shade throwing department when I say many photographers, especially ones that are "self taught" or haven't been shooting for long haven't quite mastered this, but if you choose to work with them, then you should be liking their work, and how they potray their subjects. If you don't like the way they pose you (especially if they pose females in a more raunchy manner, or a manner you're uncomfortable with), then you should probably seek out a photographer that does the work you like, rather than try to force them to do a style they don't specialize in.
Don't Edit The Photos We Give You
The photos we put out are a representation of our work and quality. We pick the way we want the photo colorized, how it's edited, where it's cropped, etc. Especially if you are a "time for pictures" client, please do not edit the photos we give you by slapping an Instagram filter on it, or putting it through some gaudy iPhone editing program where you make the photo quality diminish. When you do that to our photos, and then tag us in them, people think that we're the ones who made those edits, and we are not. We do not want our work represented that way. It's the same with the cropping of photographs. Many people will crop a photograph, especially when uploading to Instagram, and even though that's not nearly as much of a sin as putting a filter on it, it's still not as the picture was intended, and is very frustrating for us.
Credit Your Photographer For Their Work
This one was so important to me that I wrote an entire blog on it, which you can read by clicking here. Especially if you are a person who did a "time for pictures" shoot with a photographer, the very least you can do is tag them in your photos that you post on Social Media and promote us. Not crediting us for the work we've done with you, even though you're in the photo and you feel you "put in the work" by modeling, you should 100% credit the photographer for what they did on their end. Hey, if Kim Kardashian can do it, so can you.
Asking For The RAW Images
Now, this one isn't an issue for some photographers, but this one frustrates quite a few of us. We edited the photos for a reason. We don't want to hand over RAW Images. I honestly don't even like handing off proofs, I like giving final product and final product only. When you hand off a RAW image, first off, most people can't edit them unless they own Photoshop, which means then they might have someone else editing your work, which might be misrepresented later on with your name.
Second, a lot of the time, especially with photographers who struggle with lighting or proper settings when learning, those images aren't good enough to share. We still need to change the lighting, see what it looks like in the computer, and tweak as we see fit. Even if it's for events, we don't want to just hand over a set of RAW files and have the client be unsatisfied or act like our work isn't good, because it's unedited.
If it is a requirement for the shoot that the RAW images need to be handed over to the client, and you're not comfortable with that, you need to include that in your contract that you don't do that, or make sure that the client knows that is not part of your common practice so there isn't miscommunication.
Are there any peeves that I missed that you'd like to add? Sound off in the comments!
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Artists typically generate a specific look or design by viewing the things around them. They seek to be inspired, whether it is by art that makes them feel like home, or work that makes them feel they can do better.
And while this has been something that artists have done from the dawn of time, it's becoming harder to create anything that hasn't been created before, or even worse, creating at all.
We have social media now. We can view artists around the world, and people can expose their work by paying to be seen. Artists don't just organically happen anymore. Do you think that Van Gogh would have kept painting if he saw what other artists were doing? Probably not.
We live in a viral world where we can be relevant one second, and the next, searching for a job.
But to be an artist with anxiety, that your talent doesn't matter, that might be worst of all. You see, all art used to matter. Creating something worthwhile and gorgeous used to mean something - a form of expression, sending a message, bending your mind to an alternate universe, or getting people to see what you see. Now, a lot of it is quantity over quality, and trying to outdo the last person who posted an Instagram.
It seems so common now, that if you roll in a specific area that niches with artists, there's bound to be 50 people just like you, striving to be known or seen for the same things you've been doing for years. And then that Tyler Durden voice comes to mind: you are not special.
It's harder now, more than ever to get recognition, just based on your artwork alone. And even if you're a creative individual, who you know gets you in the door while someone else's raw talent goes unnoticed. The arts used to be accessible to everyone. But now it's all about what equipment you're using or what name is backed by a major brand or company to be approved as a true natured, this-century-artist.
Given that the field is as full as it is, it becomes so simple for someone who doesn't understand the process to treat someone who creates with a crass sense of ease, because they "make it seem easy." Art takes time, no matter what type of art it is. And that the work that they do does not warrant payment, not because of their talents being less than worthy, but because they aren't socially reinforced.
We are, and I say we, because we're all guilty of it: Perpetuating this image that the only work that matters is the work that is approved by our peers. It's become a popularity contest.
I don't know about you, but as a grade school student where I grew up, being an artist wasn't cool. We were not accepted by our peers, but by our teachers, who fostered our creativity like it was an academic. Because they knew that if they told 20 of us we could be something, one or two of us would actually grab life by the figurative, spherical cahones and be that person our teacher knew we were capable of being.
But even now, we could have the eye, the technical application, and the drive - and build everything we have from the grass roots up, but someone can come along and boost their followers and fans with a press of a button, and end up the ambassador for a leading company because they make themselves visible. The celebrity status. The "Enforcer."
As a self-marketed business person, there's nothing worse than hearing "Yeah your work is great, but you aren't an enforcer." That just means that you have great material, but they can't market their brand off of you because you don't have enough followers to make their product that more visible. Translated: Free Advertising.
That pressure, the "trying to be someone," trying to be the person who is in the eye and has their names/brands on everyone's tongues, it will completely destroy what artistry you felt you had. I know this from experience.
I begun brand ambassadorships with multiple clothing companies, kick-started several models, promoted several products and people, and after a while, I look at my feed and it became nothing but a walking ad.
It may look great to everyone else, all the work that's been done, what clients have been represented. But I see failure. I see failure of falling victim to a system where my creativity is measured on if I can be approved for a concert, what clothing company I'm working for next, or what nods I've gotten. I've made some sort of name for myself, as people have told me. But that's not art, and it never was.
I've realized there needs to be a re-calibration. Maybe not even just for me, but for art in general. Because continuing to play a game where we keep trying to make every single person see our work, skewering and slandering other artists around us, hashtagging and hoping for features, and churning out work that's less than quality while claiming it's in the name of creativity is not going to work anymore. Because that is not art.
If you are an artist, keep this in mind: When your self worth comes down to whether you are able to be granted royalties, or that your branding is a name that people know, or when you snicker behind other artists backs because they got something you didn't, that's when you know it isn't art anymore. It's a game, and you are losing.
By: Amy Cooper, ACRONYM
First thing's first: The reason we as photographers get so anal about having our work credited is that is how we make our mark. People see our photographs and see who they are by, and then they want to work with us. It is the number 1 way of exposure, to have the credit. Also, it helps us - not for bragging rights, per say, but for us to have our portfolio's shown with that photograph.
Now, before you ask - "Okay, who pissed off Amy now," this has nothing to do with me. Nobody has stolen anything from me recently, but I think this needs to be stated for the rest of the internet.
First Case: Eminem and Drake, 2016
Last night, photographer Jeremy Deputat got the chance to photograph the legendary Eminem and the current rap game killer, Drake. Now, from this perspective, though Jeremy has high level clients, and has done work with multiple celebrities before - you can argue that it's not a big deal to him, but this photo is different. And people keep STEALING IT. The photo has been posted by radio stations, radio personalities, fans, multiple people - and about 90% of those postings do not have a photo credit to Mr. Deputat.
Now one can argue - sure, many people do know it's him, but when you've got a high level ranking radio personality, or even, for example DRIZZY HIMSELF posting the photo with no photo credit - Jeremy is losing out on some serious foot traffic for his business. He may not care, but it's just ethics.
SECOND CASE: Artists Posting Fan Pictures With No Photo Credits
Locally, especially in the Detroit scene, we've got many photographers who shoot concerts. Now, there are many bands out there that do in fact, make sure to credit the people the photos came from, some do not.
The general practice in the local scene is this when it comes to photographers: You get a photo pass from the bands management, the festival management, and/or the venue management. And as long as you don't sign any rights over to any of these entities, the photograph belongs to the photographer. (See more on this). Also, we do not get paid.
In a public place, if you are taking a photograph, say, for example, most recently Dirt Fest, that is an open fire domain for photographers with approved photo passes to shoot images for whatever publication or personal photography business that they have. It also gives the opportunity to concert goers to shoot photography as well, even if it's just from their cell phones.
Either way, the point where this becomes an issue is the following: When an artist takes a photograph from social media, and reposts it for their own site or social media without crediting the photographer. Sure, there's no set-in-stone commandment saying that you must - but you are stealing someone's intellectual property by doing so. Therefore, you must and should give photo credit.
No Photo Credit
Third Case: Viral Images
Photographer Feilica Fullwood shot a random photograph of Campus Martius during the Christmas season that happened to go viral through the Metro Detroit area. The image has now been since copyrighted for this issue - but the fact still remains that even high profile news outlets and entertainment magazines were using her photograph of the Christmas tree and people skating at Campus Martius, as well as many people posting it on Instagram with no credit.
I don't usually get personal on here but the past few months have been both the best/worst months of my life. I'm going through a lot in my personal life right now that only a select few know about and understand.. All I want is for all of my friends and family to be happy but I've been so worried about making sure everyone else is that I forget about myself sometimes... But then I wake up today and see that my photo from the tree lighting I posted on Facebook has been shared over 5K+ times and has over 2.5K likes.... To say I am humbled is a HUGE understatement. I don't post pictures for the exposure or to make money I do it solely to show side of Detroit that I see every single day that the rest of the world never gets to see and I am truly blessed to have so many amazing people that enjoy my work and that alone makes up for everything I've been dealing with and I just want to say THANK YOU to everyone that shared this post because it's each and every one of YOU GUYS that make me feel like I am doing something right...🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏 #detroit #313 #creativesculture #rawdetroit #motorcityshooters #createyourhype #illest_shots #shoot2kill #photowall #agameofthrones #createexplore #justgoshoot #yngkillers #alwaysexploring #creativeminds #lifeofadventure #killeverygram #primeshots #illgrammers #visualarchitects #picoftheday #createcommune #exploreeverything #visualsgang #infamous_family #killyourcity #royalsnappingartists #way2ill #campusmartius #christmasinthed
Not only did that hurt the sales of said photograph (even though she still did quite well with it), it took a lot of troubleshooting to track down everyone who was even trying to claim it was theirs, let alone hit up every outlet that didn't credit her to get the credit due. Once again, it was a case of stolen intellectual property, because websites were using it for click bait.
We as photographers don't get a legal textbook with the purchase of our first SLR, and many of us don't know where are rights lie. A handful or more of us have been screwed over in the sake of stolen images, and even had battles with people whether it be newspapers, musicians, or more, fighting for a simple credit to use. Though we can't technically enforce much unless we have a copyright, how would you like it if someone came into your job, and stole what you do, and claimed it as their own? I'm sure you wouldn't.
Food for thought. Credit your photographer. Tip your waitresses. I'll be here all week.
By: Amy Cooper, ACRONYM
It's no mistake that when you look out at a slew of magazines that you'll see smooth, skinny, gorgeous models adorning them. Sex sells, and looking plastic will sell whatever you want as long as there is a hot girl attached.
Some media outlets feature a "hot babe a day" picture, and there are many Instagram accounts devoted to nude, partially nude, and suggestively nude women. And hell, at this point, there are more women (mostly young females) locally who are willing to take off their clothes for the camera if it means becoming "a model."
The industry creates a picture for women that if you're not thin, you're not worth it. It may not come out and say it outright, but every advertisement, account, and ideology of a "sexy woman" stems from what the media shares and is considered beautiful.
Now, I have been told recently that we are in a "fat girl renaissance" and women with "real curves" are also being worshiped, but in the industry that I have chosen to work with and in, it's a hard one considering that I am a woman.
I take model photographs, fashion photographs, boudoir, and implied photography, so I've seen it all. I've seen the curves, imperfections, cellulite, and puckers on every model. Then when it gets to the internet, it most likely has been requested to be removed, or it is common practice to remove it.
"Make me thinner," they say. "I don't want to have pores." And it's the best kept secret to the men who don't pay attention, that every woman has one variation or more of the imperfections they are hoping to erase through photography. They don't realize it until later, when they are in the presence of a real, living, breathing woman: stretchmarks and all.
Now, a field such as photography, it is male dominated - as in, mostly males are the shooters. I know few women who reach out to models and women to take these types of photos, but when we as women take on a field like this, we want you to feel sexy.
What people fail to realize is behind closed doors, it can become tormenting knowing that you're feeding a beast that you yourself are being attacked by: that you have to look a certain way to be considered beautiful. You'll find more women photographers hiding behind the camera rather than in front of it, because they don't feel they measure up to the women they are photographing, even if we are the ones manipulating the canvas with the blur and clone stamp tools.
There are models out there now in mainstream, such as Ashley Graham, who are considered "big girls" or plus size models, and those give us hope that beauty isn't one size fits all, but as we listen to men idolizing women who are a size zero, we know it's not a full on shift in taste (though there are a few men out there that really do want a *real woman, flaws and all*).
And finally, in the age of social media, there are so many women willing to strip for the camera. Women who are being worshiped by their friends and fans who don't realize what they "really look like" because they are not more than a computer manipulated version of themselves.
They look at stripping down as a sense of "empowerment" or find it invigorating. Whether it's for themselves, or secretly for attention, it's beyond us, but the main point is this: 9 times out of 10, what photographers are told to peddle, the silky smooth, perfect skin, and tweaked bodies to meet magazine standards, everyone needs to remember that "magazine standard" isn't realistic.
I am a huge supporter of women being happy and healthy, and to be themselves, and even though I will comply to a request from a client to look a certain way, I do believe that the real you is the best you. Let's hope that one day, as time goes on, that there's a "realism" renaissance bigger than what is out there now, so young girls don't grow up the way we did, thinking that the only way to be desirable is to have a flat belly, zero imperfections, and that they aren't worth it if they are real.
By: Amy Cooper, ACRONYM
As a photographer, I hear it constantly:
"Can you make me skinnier?"
"Can you photoshop my pimples?"
"Make sure my stretch marks don't show."
"Just make me pretty, okay?"
Though I'm not going to combat or say that photographers are wrong for doing so (because they are not for providing what the client wants), it's important to be aware that we are all human, and I have to be a person of truth, so I'm sharing this (albeit grammar stricken) post about Photoshopping women's bodies (or even men's for that matter) and the expectations it gives perspective partners.
When doing any sort of photography, whether it be portraiture, boudoir, family portraits, modeling, I will always try to make the person look good without taking too much heritage from the individual. Heritage is important - and what I mean by the word "heritage" is the things that you need to have on you to make you more YOU. But more importantly, I want you to be happy with you, and for you to feel beautiful or handsome.
For example, I work with this model occasionally. I know what she looks like down to any stretch marks on her thigh to the creases in her forehead. Now, I've lightened the creases in her forehead to a degree, but it also lays groundwork for THAT being her characteristics. I, of course, will remove stretch marks or any imperfections of puckers, bumps, scrapes, and scars, but I try to keep anything semi-natural in tact.
With that in mind, I have seen portraits of this same individual from other photographers, and she doesn't look anything like herself with some of the editing that has been implied. Hey, we're all human here, in case I have to remind you (unless of course, you are an alien, to which I say "thanks for reading, inter-galactic space ranger!). There is no reason to delete the natural stamps that make someone have characteristics and life markers.
People do have wrinkles, stretchmarks, dimples, fat rolls, jelly arms, an ugly mole, yellow teeth, strange hair in places where it doesn't belong, and resting bitch face. All of these things are normal. Seeing posts from people having to point out stretchmarks and other forms of imperfections happens more so these days because when it comes to sexual intimacy, we're told that it's "not sexy" or "attractive" to have fat, to have cellulite, stretch marks, any of that.
Even though I don't agree with the post that it doesn't make you a REAL MAN if you don't want this jelly (*Dances to Destiny's Child*), humans are humans. Not everyone's going to be perfect. No matter what, when people (particularly women, but sometimes men) take off their clothes, each has an imperfection, or several. Nobody looks like an airbrushed model when they are on their back. So look at it this way, if you want a photoshopped version of a person to stare at, then you're going to have to pick up Sports Illustrated (considering Playboy no longer publishes nudes.)
Food for thought, and as always, peace and love. There's no malice here with these notations.
By: Amy Cooper, ACRONYM
Though photographers use Instagram or have clients who use their photos on Instagram, I'm sure none of us can help laughing at this video. The mock commercial by The Mystery Hour documents how hard it is to be an "Instagram Husband" that is constantly shooting photos of their "wives" on Instagram.
Some of the best lines include:
"Behind every cute girl on Instagram is a guy like me... and a brick wall."
"I'm basically a human selfie stick."
"We take so long to get anywhere because we're taking pictures of our feet."
"We used to eat our food... Now we just take pictures of it."
Though it's highly satirical, we all know people who do this, or have done this. Remember to live your life not for the internet, folks!
WATCH THE HILARIOUS VIDEO HERE:
By: Amy Cooper, ACRONYM
Photography is a business. It's a service rendered. It's work, time, effort, deteriorating eyesight, back breaking, and cartilage erosion type work. Ask my chiropractor, I'm pretty messed up.
But here's the thing - for some reason, Photographers tend to not get respected quite as much as other business owners. At one point, we had all come into the field as apprentices, learning the tricks of the trade, and yes, taking free shoots and opportunities. But toward a moment where someone goes from learning the craft to beginning their businesses, there is a fine line where people begin to take advantage of someone because of their talent.
We have equipment that we spend thousands of dollars on, nights that we blow off our family and friends to edit, and physically, mentally, and emotionally work on the photos (and videos) that we produce for you to get the result you deserve as a client.
So I came across these embed posts below on Social Media, and felt it was necessary to not only share with my clients and potential clients, but also for the other people in my feed in hopes of being able to express themselves in a thorough manner without coming off like a total jerkface. Yes, that is a technical term.
UNDERSTAND THE PROCESS AND WHAT YOU ARE PAYING FOR
The equipment that we buy tends to come out of our own pockets. We spend LITERALLY thousands of dollars trying to stock ourselves up, whether it be high quality lenses, computers, the best camera body to do quality work, locations that need to be rented, lighting to be purchased, and more. So when you ask someone to do free photography for you, or demand a discount, you are personally devaluing our work. Some of us take it very seriously, and especially if you are a friend of ours, it probably makes us feel as if you devalue our friendship, on top of our work.
We also are granted the right for artistic licence when you hire us as a photographer. If a specific photo didn't end up in your batch, it probably did not come out the way it was intended when shot. We don't like releasing work that we aren't pleased with over-all, so asking us for the RAW files or asking if you can get a discount if you edit them yourself is also a pretty low blow.
DON'T ASK FOR MORE PHOTOS THAN DELIVERED
This one I am a little bit more flexible on because I tell all my clients that every photo that I get that is good is what they will receive. Other photographers will occasionally limit the photographs that they will produce and it will be stipulated in a contract. When you agree to the terms with a photographer at the time of hire, you cannot demand more things after the fact. This is why you should always communicate with your photographer/videographer on what it is that you want, every single detail.
DON'T EXPECT FREE PHOTOGRAPHY
There is a big difference between a professional and a novice, and when you hire one, you should know the difference. I happen to have been on the end of quite a few times where I had been taken advantage of due to kind nature in terms of giving away free photography, instead of demanding what I deserve as a professional. Now, I won't stand on a pedestal, but I use this money that I generate from shoots to create and add to my business. Though there are people more well off than someone like me, and can afford to throw thousands of dollars at the project in one shot - many of us are using the money that you give us for the internet at our homes or studios (to upload your photos), lighting (to light the space/studio), electricity (to continue our edits) and all the equipment we buy to keep your project looking ship shape. So please, don't ask for free photography.
The edit to this process is that sometimes photographers do have to take projects for little to no money to get "exposure" - and it's up to the photographer's decision to choose what is worthy of that. Family Portraits, Weddings, Ect. are not exposure type situations, so please don't try to sell us that as your reasoning. Fashion however, that can be a grey area, but is ultimately up to the photographer's preferences.
DON'T CROP OUT A WATERMARK
This one is a little difficult during the age of social media, especially in the terms of Facebook and Instagram. If you have to position a photo in a certain spot and the watermark is removed, ask your photographer if that's okay. I get clients who text me and ask me prior to posting all the time. I also will ask them if they do something like that, to @ tag my business page on Facebook or use my Instagram @ to give me photo credit - both with cropped and not cropped items. Anytime someone sees that logo on someone's photo, that gives them a reason to check out our business on top of showing off our gorgeous work. Sure, sounds a little vain, but we love being bragged about.
DO NOT EDIT THE PICTURES YOU RECIEVE
On top of all the other things I do with my business, I've trained a few models in the art of social media and how to be respectful. When someone presents them with photos, I've had to stop them from putting Instagram filters over the photos.
The thing about adding extra filters and doing edits to the photos we present you is that it's not a proper depiction of our work. Not to sound anywhere near condescending, but you didn't study how to make a great photograph, we did. So adding X-Pro II or Valencia over a photo we've already crafted for you is a slap in the face to our design. At the end of the day, if you paid for the photos, then it's yours to decide, but it's really not something we enjoy seeing when you do end up crediting us on social.
DON'T HIRE YOUR FRIEND FOR ANY REASON OTHER THAN ABSOLUTELY LOVING THEIR WORK
I will quote my good friend/client Jessica here - because she won't mind. I made mention before in one of my semi-rants about photographers who say "Don't hire your friends, hire me" as a sales tactic. I felt that it was a hit, mostly because I do have quite a few clients that are also my friends. She told me (and I'm paraphrasing) that she wouldn't have hired me if she didn't love my work.
It wasn't a benefit of cost effectiveness (see the part about not asking a friend to shoot for you to get a discount), but because after family portraits, newborns, Christmas pictures, and her wedding on the way, she actually loves my art and creativity that I pour into the work I do for her. Please don't hire your friends if you don't love their work. A - it will be hell on the both of you because neither of you will be satisfied, and B - it may also put a strain on your friendship in the long run. If you love their work - then by all means, show them by hiring them... for real - because you believe in their work.
UNLESS THEY OFFER, DON'T ASK THEM TO DO TYPES OF PHOTOGRAPHY THEY DON'T DO
With my business, I try to be as well rounded as possible, and I pretty much will take any challenge you can throw at me, but not everyone is as versatile. If someone is a specific type of photographer, whether it be event, wedding, landscape, newborn, fashion, or boudoir, you want to make sure you know the niche and the capabilities of your photographer before hiring them. You wouldn't hire a landscape artist to photograph your baby, or hire a club photographer to shoot your wedding. If you are a more versatile artist, or are willing to try, always let your client know up front that even if you don't quite know how to do it - you're willing to try and deliver. Otherwise, don't be a self-absorbed photo-snob, wing it, and then ultimately bomb the project.
GIVE THEM PROPER CREDIT ON SOCIAL MEDIA
As photographers who constantly have to self promote, we feel a little vain at times. Notice me, Senpai! But the fact of the matter is, if you're going to post or repost some of our work, please, please, PLEASE give us credit on Social Media. A good deal of us get our clientele this way. We tend to present photographs on social with watermarks (see above), and we'd prefer to give you a watermarked image, but even if we don't, either link back to our social spaces, or at least put our company name in your post. We appreciate it more than you realize, and it helps us continue business from word of mouth... er... keyboards.
DON'T INVITE THEM PLACES WITH THE INTENTION OF THEM TAKING PHOTOS
This is just common courtesy. If you need a photographer, hire one. Don't ask your friend to come to an event, and then say "Oh, could you bring your camera?" If your friends are as passionate about their jobs as some of mine are, you could very well not be friends very much longer.
Same goes for not explaining clearly what you're looking for when you are getting work done by a photographer or videographer. Don't say you need just a couple portraits done, and then take up 3 hours of their time, bringing them there under false pretenses.
KNOW THAT THE CAMERA DOESN'T MAKE THE IMAGE
This is by far the WORST thing you could say to a photographer or videographer. Yes, we spend thousands of dollars on great camera equipment - we know, we pay for it. But that doesn't mean that is what makes our images.
There is a battle in the artistic community that is torn between the camera making the person, and the person making the camera. There is something to be explained with this battle: It's like saying that guns kill people, not the people who are wielding the guns. We control the camera. We shoot the images. We compose the shot. We have the creative and artistic vision. So when you get a product from us, it's what we see as we craft the image.
Now, not every photographer is like this, sometimes it's really their camera that is doing all the work, and they are just pointing and shooting. But if you're getting a genuinely good image, the camera can't do that job on it's own. So don't insult us by saying it's the piece of equipment, it's just the tool we use to create your art.
I hope you got some great ideas and information out of this post, and feel free to share on social media, whether it be to clients or friends. Thanks for reading!
Special thanks to the Photographers Jacksonville Facebook Page for drafting these images and sharing them on social media.
By: Amy Cooper, Acronym Creative Studio
There is no longer a reason to say "Oh, I had to crop your logo off my photo to make it fit my profile picture" or "Instagram wouldn't let me keep it there," because now Instagram will be updating it's app to support full photo sharing.
The squares will still be allowed, but if you're having a professional photo done and it has a watermark, most of us would love you keeping our watermark there, because hey, that's how we get more business and following.
So, we speak for the rest of the photographers out there when we say "IT'S ABOUT TIME, INSTAGRAM!" The change is said to be migrating as we speak, so it's only a matter of the next few days that we should have the new versions.
Now we will be able to delete some of the apps we have like Square-Sized and #Square, because it's all in one.
Now, if they would only make toggling between accounts easier by setting it up like Twitter...
There’s no secret that we love sharing photos. With Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter right at our fingertips, we not only want to create gorgeous “photography like” shots of our kids, our friends, and our family, but we want to do it without buying a fancy camera.
Though you can’t get pro-photography from a cell phone (though they love to claim you can), the semi-pro photographer in me wants to share some awesome tips for taking shots with your phone, and turning them into pieces of awesome artwork.
With this you will need the following:
– A Smartphone:
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got an iPhone or a DROID, if you’ve upgraded your phone in the past year or two, you probably have an awesome camera on your phone.
–A Good Amount of Light:
Dark and dim places tend to make things grainy, and honestly, using the cell phone flash looks pretty darn terrible. Find a spot with a good amount of light and shoot your initial image there.
– A Steady Hand:
Because you don’t have a high end SLR inside your phone, you will have to be sort of steady. The shutter speed isn’t all that quick on phones, and this is why you see a lot of celebrity drunk selfies come out all wobbly looking.
Okay, now that you’ve got that covered and you’ve shot your images, here’s a little segment I like to call “Post Production/Cheating”:
Similar to how photographers will edit pictures, here’s some awesome applications that I even use on occasion to work on photos from my phone:
Adobe Lightroom – Available in iTunes App Store and Google Play
Lightroom is one of the premiere programs that photographers will use, along with Photoshop as the “big guns.” Lightroom is free with subscription to Adobe’s Creative Cloud program, which will run you about $9.99 a month for a computer version of a Photoshop/Lightroom bundle. So if you take a lot of photos that you load into the computer with a camera, then that might be a good thing to pick up.
You can do mostly everything a photographer can do using the Lightroom App, and here’s a couple shots, directly from my smartphone to show you some of those tricks:
If $9.99 doesn’t fit into your budget, fear not, I’ve got a few more tricks up my sleeve!
VSCOcam – Available in iTunes App Store and Google Play
This program has similar effects, and personally I enjoy this a little more than I do the Lightroom App. Excuse the selfie, but here’s one of me I did with an iPhone, with the right amount of light (very very important!). You can add filters, similar to Instagram, but to full frame photos, and not a diss to Instagram, but VSCO has some awesome filters that you won’t see in their square. You can also change the tone, saturation, vignette the corners, or add fade to a photo to tone it down some.
The best part? It is free. The only purchase you would ever make is if you decide to download more filters, which could range anywhere from $0.99 to $6.99 depending on size of package, but it honestly comes with so many already, you’ll probably do just fine with the standard ones.
Facetune – Available in iTunes App Store and Google Play
Lastly, the perfect selfie. Kim Kardashian loves to take them, and now you can too. You can also edit yours, somewhat similar as her. I did not pick the same application that she did, but I opted for the App called Facetune. Now, here comes a moment where my face was less than perfect, but for the sake of the post, I shall share.
You can whiten your teeth, you can smooth out your skin, and for those people who want to look like they are a little less fluffy than they are, there’s something in here for that too. You will also notice with these shots, front facing cameras make photos grainy. My favorite feature, however, is the patch tool. I will get zits occasionally, and of course, that could leave you a little self conscious.
You can use the patch tool to clear up the skin, you can de-focus corners of the photos, and you can use the smooth tool if you want to look extra silky. Though we always encourage you to be your best self and not to over-do it, this is a great tool to use, all for the teeny cost of $3.99.
So, when applying this all to your daily life, you can add golden hues to your kids playing on the playground, add some effects and make them look like they were taken and edited by a more sophisticated system, or make yourself look gorgeous and glowing for your Match/Tinder profiles. The world is your oyster…er… your smartphone!
* This post was originally written for Magic 106.7 and Magic 96.3 by Amy Cooper. See the original post here:
I don't post on here all too often, because as a writer as well as a photographer, I have another platform for it. But as a photographer, this issue has continually plagued and concerned me.
I consider myself having a side business. And with my side business comes a lot of women in the 18-25 range that are trying to build a portfolio of modeling. As I start working with someone who's trying to break onto the scene or trying to add to a portfolio, I tell them all to stay well rounded, and to not suck themselves into one genre.
One of those realms of grey area is "nude modeling" or "lingerie."
Now, I find that as time goes on, more and more women are going the route of showing skin. I am not here to bash that, and I've photographed it myself, as you've probably seen. And there's a sense between showing, well, putting it indelicately, as "ratchet" photos, versus tasteful and classy photography with a lot of skin shown.
There are many photographers out there, especially from my "crew" of photographer friends, who have mastered the art of showing the sexy side of women, without showing too much, and some push the envelope, but it still remains as one thing: art.
There is a difference between art and trying to gain likes for attention. A lot of the women out there, fresh on the scene, they learn the difference between the two, one way or another. So I find that with most of the women I've come in contact with and try to work with know where I stand, and go down the right path.
I'm here to say this, it's OKAY to be sexy. It's OKAY to want to do boudoir photography. And yes, sometimes that will land you in some backlash. But in the end, if you choose to do that, that is your decision as a model, and I plan to stand by you.
I posted a screenshot of an article from Us Magazine today on my Instagram about Kendall Jenner. She did a shoot with Calvin Klein, where she's in nothing but a thong. The photo is classy, even more so, gorgeous. It's not a disgusting representation, in my opinion. Sure, it may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it made me think: Why is it okay for a woman in Hollywood, like Kendall allowed in society to do tasteful nude modeling, but yet a model in Detroit just getting started gets slut shamed?
A little lesson and some of my thoughts - first of all, @KendallJenner looks awesome. Second, how is it that celeb/model can pose topless and in a thong, and she is praised by the media, but a #Detroit model gets #slutshamed? Nakedness is not considered slutty. The #beauty of a #woman is not slutty. You don't need to be a #supermodel to get naked, but clearly to be accepted, you do. That's an unfair practice. Beauty is beauty, no matter who you are. ✌🏻️
It is a local epidemic in the Detroit scene. A friend and photographer in Detroit, who I will leave nameless was privy to a slew of backlash from friends, family, and social media for his choice of photographing mostly nude or implied nude models.
He said, "They told me that I only photograph sluts."
How is that fair, when what he creates is art? This is all art, and it's the interpretation of the viewer how they take it. Yes, some are more modest as others. But I could cover a woman with paint two years ago, and shoot her topless, and nobody questioned it on my end. Only did her family members.
Now, I post a shot of a woman topless with only under-boob showing, draped in an American flag, and she is posed, just as a Calvin Klein model.
My question is, what is the difference? Same general premise. Only one is local, and one is of a celebrity. It's a double standard.
We need to stop berating women into thinking that their bodies are subject of shame. Now, I will say this much, I will not compromise my work or my art to make people feel comfortable. Someone said once that "art is supposed to make people feel uncomfortable" to consider it as effective. And sure, that might be a valuable theory. But on the flip side, I would never post something that I didn't stand behind as an artist. I may accept money sometimes for shoots, and I may post things that you may not like, but I am first and foremost an artist, not a corporation.
And with that message, I end this with one sentiment: Stop the slut shaming.
A buddy of mine and fellow photographer posted an article from PetaPixel in regards to Weddings and Pintrest – in the light of how it ruins the creative process of the shooter. Let me start by saying I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH PINTREST. [For those who don’t know, Pintrest is a site that has pictures and links for many things from nerdage, to photography, to travel tips, and many more creative and informational tips. You can “Pin” these ideas to a thing called a “Pintrest Board” to group them together.] I know some photographers will behave in the “I think I’m way more artistic than you and ‘Pintrest Photographers’ make my blood boil” fashion and will disagree with that statement and call me a fool, but when it comes to WEDDINGS, I find a Wedding Photography Pintrest board to be an asset. The article, entitled “How Pinterest Can Discourage the Creative Process for Photographers” starts to cite the usefulness of the tools, mainly that it helps the bride create the mental image of the wedding on all avenues, from color scheme to venues. It gives great ideas, and it does help narrow down what they wish to see, especially in the avenue of photos. Then it takes a turn and starts referencing the frustration that comes with a person wanting to replicate images and that it emotionally damages the ideas the photographer, and also makes them feel insecure about their final product. I find this to be pretty bogus. Most photographers are so self indulgent, that they can't admit to needing a creative generator. The only identifiable problem I have seen is when a Bride models her photography off of other previously shot photos by different studios, when the bride receives their photos, sometimes they are not identical, and they get frustrated or feel unsatisfied. Reason being, every photographer is different (for one) and for two, all the factors going into the shot are not always the same. This is completely understandable (and also unavoidable if you play your cards right) – but just for elaboration’s sake, here’s why:
Say for example, you’re in the countryside. You have a lot of background to work with. Say there’s water, and trees, and fields and beaches, and old & rustic barn doors. The sun is shining with just enough cloud cover that solar flares at a minimum and still creating a gorgeous glow. That’s going to lay a beautiful back drop for what you’re going to be working with. Now, in contrast, say you’re in the suburbs. It’s a gray day, maybe even sprinkly rain is in the mixture. The church is in a less than flattering area where there’s not much nature, nor is there any industrial back drop to make it look at least sort-of cool and intentional. You don’t have much time to go on a long adventure with your bride and groom, and if you’ve got to head more than fifteen minutes away from the site of the reception to get the shots you want, you’re going to run into time restriction issues. In contrast to that picturesque countryside, you’re going to end up with VERY different pictures. When establishing what kind of photography they would like for their wedding, make sure the Bride and Groom take that into consideration way ahead of time.
Say your Bride comes to you and says “this is what I want.” As a photographer, you’re supposed to try your very best to make that happen with the tools and locations you have. Key point: WITH THE TOOLS AND LOCATONS YOU HAVE. If you’re given strict assignments, like for example “You have an hour and a half for photos after the ceremony. You must take photos of X amount of people, within that time frame, and leave aside more time for the Bride and Groom to get pictures together in another designated location.” You abide by that as best as you can. If you’re not given ample amount of time, you work with what you have. Tip for future photogs – sit down with your bride and say “how much time do I have to work with?” This is going to save a lot of time and heartache later – and make sure that they know that catastrophes such as prolonged start times for the ceremony itself will not be your fault if it cuts into your photo time. You must work with what you have, and meet deadlines set by their schedule. Also, I very much insist you get a list of who’s being photographed and use it during the time to check them off piece by piece, so you don’t forget anyone and you have your bases covered. You are there to work with what you have, so make sure you have MORE than you need.
Taking these two things into consideration, Pintrest can be a gift and a curse.
Gifts – Some fabulous shots taken by other photographers can give another photographer inspiration/help them create something they haven’t before:
As you all know, I’m a small operation. Small operation being me, my camera, and my equipment. I don’t have assistants. I don’t have accountants. I don’t have a million other things factoring into what I do. I just do it, and enjoy doing it. So if my Bride comes to me and says “Hey, I really like this shot, can we try this?” I will attempt it to the best of my ability, along with not being insulted (Photographer egos are another post I’d like to do at another time, as I feel this article I read was an emotional problem more than a legitimate one). Be sure though, that your Bride knows the facts: Sometimes the shot can’t be identical. You can attempt it, and do your very best, but sometimes it doesn’t always work. In my particular case, sometimes it does. Below is an example of my Pintrest experience with my most recent Bride & Groom for their engagement photos. The Bride told me about her Pintrest board (we’re also friends in real life) and she said “I’d like to attempt some of these.” She kept an open mind, and with a bit of creativity (and a lot of snow in our boots) here we are (First Shot Pintrest, Second Shot Acronym [Formerly A.C00P Photo&Design]):
Side note: ours was better, eat your… heart…. out :)
Curses – If a Bride comes to you with a full on print out of her entire wedding Pintrest board and says “I want every single shot, identical on here.”:
Now, that’s insane, and probably sounds pretty Bridezilla-ish, right? Chances are, it’ happened to someone. But the bottom line? You, as a photographer need to communicate with your Bride. “This can be taken into consideration but is not a realistic request to replicate every photo and here’s why.” They hired you initially because they like YOUR work. They need to remember that, and you need to be as tactful and kind as possible to remind them of that and not radiate any cocky behavior (egos again!). Your “creativity and judgment is not being insulted” by their request to copy the board, but remind them that you have your own style and ideas and you will do your best to make their wedding what they want it to be, as best as you possibly can, with using your talent, AND some ideas they like. Remember, it is their day, not yours. And in turn, your client will need to remember the reality of the situation: They only have so much time with you – and in a chaotic moment such as a “messy suite while getting ready” isn’t going to create the same image as the “made bed, crisp sheets, done up Bride in a calm state holding a bouquet with full makeup and gorgeous hair.” (See photo in article).
The thing I took from this article, though (despite its emotional undertones) is something important. Being that it is the “Bride and Groom’s Day” – they need to remember one simple thing: be them. Do you want to re-create a photo identically from someone else’s wedding? Or would you like to build your own ideas based on the things you’ve seen and make the photo your own? Make it special, make it unique, and most of all, make it you. There’s nothing worse than getting back your photos and realizing they don’t depict you as a couple.
Weddings are stressful enough – you want to remember why you’re doing it in the end when you see those photos. And that’s what I’m here for – to capture that for you.