Growing up I never played individual sports, I always played team sports. Well, except for my brief foray into badminton. I never played golf or tennis, I played basketball, football & baseball. I like the team aspect of the games, I liked the camaraderie, meeting new people and working as a group towards a common goal – winning – but not really in the Charlie Sheen sense… I digress… When I got into photography I always really enjoyed going out with a group of people or even just one other person. Exploring together, learning from each other and trying to inspire one another. When I was in university our class would often go out on group trips to photograph together and I always greatly looked forward to these trips. Sure I like my alone time too, I don’t think I could edit or write in a group setting, and there are times when I just like to go out by myself and crank the music and explore shooting possibilities on my own. Since I started doing more fashion and portrait work I have seen the importance of working with the right people and how working with/as a team can make a huge difference in my images.
The images in this post are of one of my favourite models to work with, Meaghan. When I began doing this fashion stuff I quickly realized that who you put in front of the camera will make an enormous difference. When I’m photographing I’m also a director. I give a lot of direction to my models to guide them into their poses, always encouraging them, but also moving them around a lot to get them where they need to be. I haven’t worked with many “professional” models so many of the ones I have worked with have done little to no modelling prior to that shoot. With that said, there are times when you work with someone who just gets it. They understand how to move their face & their body in flattering ways and understand what angles are most flattering. They also will push me as a photographer and bring their own ideas to a shoot, always ready to keep going and push on through even after we’ve been working for hours. It’s inspiring and very rewarding as a photographer to work with these types of people as they push me to be more creative but they also make my job a little easier as I’m able to just focus on exposure and composition, not having to worry about posing them & directing them. Meaghan is one of those models.
There are a few models who I know coming into a shoot that I won’t have to worry much about posing. Every frame they will give me a different look, which can sometimes make the editing process much longer but well worth it. It is rare now that I won’t have a makeup artist, hair stylist & clothing stylist working with me on a shoot. After working with them numerous times I don’t think I could go back to working without at least 2 of them. I’m very lucky that my beautiful & extremely talented wife does pretty well all my clothing styling. I’m lucky because not only do I get to work alongside her & get to spend time with her (where I may not if she didn’t do this) but also that she has a very keen eye and is extremely talented at picking pieces that will flatter the models. She also pushes me creatively and some of my favourite images I’ve taken would not have been done had she not suggested a concept, or pushed me to take it further than I thought I could creatively.
Along with the models & stylist I have a network of hair & makeup people that I work with who are invaluable to my work. After the first time I worked with them I quickly realized that I probably wouldn’t be able to go back to working without them. I have 2 hair stylists & a few makeup artists that I usually work with. What is great is that it is now to the point where I don’t really have to give them any direction. I trust the work they do and if they want to run with an idea I let them go. I may make some minor adjustments but the styles you usually see are all their ideas. Working with people like that again allows me to worry only about lighting and location and photographically related things prior to a shoot. I don’t need to be constantly checking in to make sure things are looking the way they should.
No matter what type of photography you do, working as a team can be extremely rewarding. Pooling ideas together while working towards a common goal will sometimes bring out ideas & images you would not have had otherwise.
However be aware these are still your images and you should have final say, just don’t be a dictator and kill all the ideas you are given. If you’re always refusing ideas and being very territorial people will not want to work with you in the future and you will see your network shrink very rapidly. Always encourage ideas and creativity and you will see the difference in your images.
Article by Denis Duquette.
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