Once upon a time it seemed during almost every shoot the model would ask me some version of, “How did you get started in photography?” I rarely hear it anymore. I assume that’s because I’ve been working long enough now that how I started seems less interesting than what we’re going to do that day. Also possible that I’ve just gotten so much better at small talk during shoots that models don’t need to go to their standard bag of questions to fill the silence.
I bought my first digital camera embarrassingly early. That camera was little more than a toy and useful only for taking photos for web pages when speeds were measured in bits per second and not megabits per second. I came into photography through art. I started drawing and painting the nude, and then thought of photographing the nude. Moving to nude photography took a while. Finding models became the hardest challenge to working often enough to build my skills. I first photographed a nude in 2005, a female friend who was mostly just curious what it would be like to see herself nude in a photo. This was before everyone had cellphones to text naked pictures to each other making it a more unique experience then. I hired a professional model for a shoot later in the year, but my inexperience really showed there.
After a few more attempts that came to nothing as I moved through early 2006. Late in the spring I connected with a model traveling through the area and scheduled a shoot. She also introduced me to a friend also traveling through the area at the same time. In the end things worked out where one model would come through and we’d work one on one, the second model would arrive and I’d work with the pair, and I’d finish working solo with the second model for a while.
The circumstances for the shoot weren’t the best. I was scheduled to close on a house a couple of days before the scheduled shoot and really had no alternate plan had the house closing been delayed. Most of my belongings were in a storage shed so the only lighting I had available was a single halogen work light bought to use when renovating the house. The house had last been renovated in the 1970s and the color choices reflected that. On the day of the shoot I had only a couple of chairs for furniture and wifi had been installed late the day before. Most of the shoot took place in an empty room that’s now my bedroom.
I mainly remember being really nervous before the shoot working with both models. The first model was okay to work with, but the second model really taught me a lot about working with a model and getting good results. I learned more during that one day of photography working with these two models than any other single day I’ve had with a camera. While I had little idea what I was doing, that second model in particular was wonderful to work with and really taught me a lot about how to work with a model. That second model was Melissa Troutt. It was the first time I worked with her. While it would be several years before we’d work together again, a quick search of this site will show how much we’ve worked together over the years.
Melissa was great, but there’s little I look at from that shoot today without cringing at the mistakes I made. Here Melissa demonstrates why you should always make sure models are well fed before starting the shoot.
There are a few gems scattered in there though. Melissa probably deserves most of the credit for those, but I do think the idea to shoot some images using candlelight worked well. A good example below and this is a lighting I need to try again sometime. It’s also been a while now since I’ve had the chance to work with Melissa, and I hope that we can work together again soon.
Thanks to those of you that stuck around and read through these last few days. As I get to the end you might wonder what the point of this was? I’m hoping as I move into 2014 that I’m making the same jump I did in those times documented today or yesterday. A moment when I can move to a better level of work and one day look back as a similar transition point. In the last few days posts I’ve documented some of those moments along the way from the past. On Monday and Tuesday I touched on some frustrations from the last year and thoughts on where I want to go moving into 2014. Wednesday I looked at the worst stretch of my photography time. One Thursday I looked at the stretch that broke that frustration and titled it a new beginning. Today I looked back at my first beginning.
Later this morning comes my first real attempt in this direction in a shoot that will push me outside my comfort zone. The results will either be amazing or a mess. It makes me a little nervous, but I think that’s a good thing. Even if it doesn’t work, then I’ll learn from it and can take that forward and try again as I explore some new areas in photography. There will still be photos like you’ve seen in the past here, but expect some new things to show up in the future.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled post programming.