Jessica is a young college student, going to school back east, but her family lives in a town nearby. Just before she returned home for the holiday season, she filled out a profile in One Model Place, including a few images, many of which she made herself. I don't know why I contacted her -- maybe it was her sexy, pouty lips, maybe it was a variety of "looks" she had on her profile. Who knows, but I did contact her, and we arranged a sitting.
Jessica is interesting in learning photography -- in fact, many of the pictures on her OMP profile were self-portraits. Her experience is with digital photography, so she was very interested in film & print processing, the strobes, and how we worked during the sitting. She brought her boyfriend, who was wonderful -- very supportive, also interested in photography & art, and very helpful. We put him to work.
First Impressions: I'm immediately struck by how young Jessica looks. She is, in fact, barely legal. There is a high school & a private school in my neighborhood -- I pass both every day when I walk my dog, and Jessica looks like the students that hang out around these schools. Her hair is currently purple -- as a B&W photographer, I don't mind this at all, but this picture above is a good look at my first impression of Jessica. Yes, she is very young, and that would normally make me a bit nervous, but she is beautiful, confident, and secure with herself -- she made me comfortable which was a great gift. We started having fun immediately.
For every sitting, especially with a model who is new to me, there's a thrill of anticipation before she removes her clothing. Usually, I get to see photographs of the models before I work with them, but in Jessica's case, I really didn't get to see any/many nudes. In general, I really don't know what anyone looks like until I get them under lighting I've devised. Such is the case with Jessica -- already she looks quite different from the images on her profile.
So, to give you folks (at least those who read these notes) a taste of the anticipation I feel during the first moments of a sitting, I'll take this opportunity to make a few comments. Look only at the photograph above & think about what she will look like.
First, the furniture: The funky chair is one of a matched (mirror imaged) set of two that came with a lovely table made out of finished barn boards. Also, take a close look at the marvelous table in the background: you can barely see it, but it looks like it's been covered with a little table cloth that has been pulled back to reveal a corner, but that table cloth is made of carved wood and is part of the table. Both the chair and this table were made by the Meier Brothers, twin brothers who produce wonderful handmade furniture art from their studio in Half Moon Bay, California -- I have several pieces from them. The lamp comes from a local store called The Real Mother Goose, which features fine American craft. I obtained both when I had a real job (i.e. before I got laid off) -- maybe someday I'll be able to extend my collection: I love stuff like this.
Second, the lighting: Lately, I've seen a lot of "art" photographs that utilize a single light source, finding beauty in shadowy execution. I don't have any problem with that -- heck, I do that myself on occasion, but I look at a lot of photographs, and I've got to admit that I'm beginning to find single light source images to be boring & a bit cliché. This is closer to more "classic" lighting -- there's a medium soft box to the left of the camera that is the main light -- it's positioned quite a bit to the side of Jessica, creating shadows on the far side of her face. There is a fill light to the right of the camera & a bit behind Jessica; this provides some light into the deep shadows created by the placement of the main light. Finally, there is a hair light above & behind Jessica: this provides the highlights on her hair & shoulders. Because of the careful placement of the lights, we create shadowy spots which contribute to the three-dimensionality of the images. I find these pictures much more interesting than those single light source images. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that the hair light wasn't optimally placed or balanced, and it created some hot spots on Jessica's torso.
I am mostly self-taught where it comes to photography, and the single most important contributing factor to my growth is my habit of deconstructing images. When I look at an image that I like, I have the habit of trying to figure out how it was lit & how it was produced. I would encourage any photographer who wants to grow to do the same. For this sitting, we used variations of this classic lighting setup. That's unusual for me, especially when working with a new model: I like to see how the model looks under a variety of lighting. But this lighting, this model, and our moods seems to be a perfect match, and we rarely strayed from it. I hope you like it.
Okay, I've made you wait in an approximation of the anticipation I feel after setting up a sitting & waiting for the moment when we get started. Look at the image above, again, and try to image what this woman looks like nude. We began with a few digital images to fine-tune the lighting, we get started. Jessica gets undressed, and we work with the chair & lamp.
The good news -- earlier this year, I was having technical problems with my processing; I was producing negatives & prints of (for me) poor quality. These images, however, are fine, with the kind of quality I expect from my images. The bad news -- for some unknown reason, I am having a very difficult time scanning these images & producing scans that are worthy of the quality of the images. In particular, the details in the background are totally lost. Anyone know why? I guess I need to experiment to solve this problem -- I'm thinking that I can produce the best scans from prints that are a bit lighter than optimal. Anyhow, I apologize for these scans -- there really is detail in the black areas; I just can't seem to scan them.
Enough -- let's get back to the images.
Because of the pose, the hair light intrudes a bit more into this image than is normal, but I like it.
Speaking of things I like, Jessica is lovely without clothes. She has an athletic body that comes from an active lifestyle. Her skin is smooth, clear, & unmarked. She has a lovely face that simmers with sensuality. She is definitely easy on the eyes. More later. Anyway, we get the table & lamp out of the way, but you'll notice with the following images that without the lamp, there is no fill light on the off side of Jessica. Sure, the hair light helps, but look at the image on the right, below: the shadow side (her left side) disappears into the background -- that's not my style: I would prefer that I either add a bit of light to that side of her or that I throw some light on the background behind her. I just hate it when body parts simply disappear into shadow.
|Jessica is constantly in motion -- in fact, her childhood nickname is "Fidget". I don't know about other photographers, but for me, it is a joy to work with a model who keeps moving.|