Friday, December 16, 2011

Sharing Some Thoughts from Joe McNally

Neicy Moss with Dixie, Models with Horses Photoshoot
Oh boy, do I have friends that need to read the Finding Faces chapter of Joe McNally’s latest book, Chasing the Light. As some may know, last year I joined a meet up group that had a goal of taking new modeling talent and combining it with new photographic talent so that each could assist the other in achieving their goals. I enjoyed it very much because I love to shoot photographs of people and here the people were eager to be in front of a camera. I have pretty much dropped out of the group because all the models were very young, from twelve or so up to early twenties. They were beautiful, they, at least some, were fairly talented. There were two older models, forties/fifties, but they did not participate on a regular bases and when they did they were not ignored but not really pursued. I really couldn’t put my finger on what the problem was but Joe has hit the nail on the head in talking about the photo workshop scene.

”…These models were very young, wonderful people, eager to get pictures made, and easy to work with. Their lineless faces ranged from downright pretty to open and friendly. They also knew how to vamp it up and project the notion of sexy into the lens. Which was great for everyone involved in this particular educational scenario.”

“Given the popularity of the photo workshop scene and the flash movement out there, young ladies such as I’m describing are pretty ubiquitous. Has anybody out there cruised through the website known as Model Mayhem? Yikes. Seems like a rite of passage now, really. Everybody’s out there, working it. “Do pouty…that’s it, do sexy, yeah, now work it, work it…” (Really not being sexist here. I don’t think. I know there are men being photographed, as well, But at the end of the day, most of the people in front of the lens are women, and most of the people behind the lens are men.)”

“And there’s some really good work out there, with many talented folks creating it. But there are also yards and yards of stuff that are facsimiles, they are poorly done reproductions of a look that is supposed to be au courant, or hollow replicas of something seen in a magazine. In other words, it’s posing that is about something I think I’m supposed to look like, and if I wear very little and move around a lot and my boobs are stuffed into a corset that makes them look like missile launchers…man, is that hot or what?”

“Well, to turn a time honored phrase around a bit, pretty or hot or sexy is nice, but is sure isn’t interesting. Or different. Or fun to shoot, necessarily… after a few dozen of these you start to realize it’s really more about exercise than thoughtful photography…”

“Sometimes, though, when confronted with this type of energetic scenario—and maybe I’m just getting old--I actually want the person to stop. Please, just stop and look at me, and consequently, the camera. Do thoughtful. Look away. Remember something important. Look at me like you know something I don’t and these pictures are a series of question you answer, a little at a time, giving me dollops of knowledge about you and your life, but not all at once. Like an investigative reporter, the camera seeks, and it is quite content with snippets that can be put together later. Let’s just take this a pixel at a time, shall we?”

 Joe goes on to discuss the difference that I found between shooting women that have little or no real life experience as opposed to a mature woman that could bring something to the shoot beyond physical attributes. I understand that I am well past the age of most of the males in the group and that my priorities are no longer the same but it sure would have been nice to have had the opportunity to photograph someone with more depth to offer. Or maybe I am just missing Janet.

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