Photography of the Female Subject
Women as subjects have inspired the greatest artists in history to create some of their best work. I don’t need to explain, don’t even need to link to, the works or mention the artist’s names for you know what I’m talking about when I say “Whistler’s Mother”, “Lady Liberty”, “Girl with a Pearl Earring”, and of course, “Mona Lisa”. In photography, the female form is again a subject of inspiration, as well as being in demand.
Of course, the form that’s the most in demand is of an erotic nature, where it isn’t so inspiring. To men (well, straight ones, at least), having the job of taking nude pictures of gorgeous porn stars all day sounds like a delicious job. In practice, I can tell you that the glamour eventually wears off. Most pornography pays at the absolute bottom, your work is almost guaranteed to be copied and pirated if you bring it anywhere near a computer, and most online sites producing it care nothing for the quality of work anyway. In addition, nothing kills the eroticism of a female form like having to treat it like a piece of furniture – no, not that way, her arm is casting a shadow. Not this way – too much reflection from her lipstick. Cut the shoot and get makeup – she’s sweating from the lights again!
Working on your own in a loft studio sounds like a nice affair, until you get somebody trying to slap a sexual assault accusation on you. So you’ll always want witnesses nearby. Then you get hit with a sexual harassment suit. So it’s back to the professional studio.
Let’s talk about the non-nude side of things instead. Photography for the artistic value is a different world. Models and celebrities come to mind, and that means up-and-coming ones will be equally eager for a spot in front of your camera. Believe it or not, some women who do a temporary stint as a model do so because they believe it will help them overcome their shyness.
As with all portrait sessions, your people skills will get you far. Remember that you are the director and your subject will be trying to do what you say. Don’t ask her to hold a difficult pose for long. Set up the equipment and get everything else ready, then have her pose. Take numerous shots with a burst mode so that you can maximize your chances of catching her smile just before it droops. Be gentle and polite – never shout. If the model is just too uncooperative, just thank her for her time and send her away – the world is filled with eager models waiting to take her place.
A common saying amongst photographers is that they took some of their best shots when they were amateurs. This is because they were thinking about the artistic side – the composition – before they learned enough to start obsessing over f stops and ISO levels. Once you are more experienced, don’t fall into the habit of focusing entirely on the technical skills and ignoring the artistic part, or you will find yourself producing hundreds of pinpoint-accurate, technically brilliant images of boring, hum-drum subjects.
Ray guides you on starting a photography business and places strong emphasis on profitability issues & guidelines.