Olivia, Getting Started

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Page created January 23, 2015
Sitting date: 
 June 12, 2014

The Portland area is just perfect for me.  Photographically, it is a beautiful city, and we are blessed to be a frequent destination for lovely traveling models.  We also have an active artistic community, and many of the local photographers communicate frequently, sharing resources, locations, references, and recommendations.

Olivia here is an experienced traveling model, skilled at many genres, including fashion, swimsuit, lingerie, and art posing (although her on-line portfolio features lifestyle & fashion pictures).

Previously, she had worked with a few other local photographers, and she consistently got rave reviews -- it's rare that local photographers are proactive with such feedback.  So, when Olivia scheduled a trip through town, I asked to work with her, pretty much sight unseen.

First impression:  she is very, very attractive.  What you can't "see" here is that she has a vivacious personality to boot.




I suspect that I will start nearly every photo session with my "Getting Started" setup, where a model starts clothed & then removes her clothing until she is nude.  It's a slow way of getting started, and I am fascinated by the transformation from a woman you might see on the street into a fine art nude model.  I like seeing what models choose as their starting outfit and how they remove their clothing.  It's magic. 

I assume that nearly all of the women agreeing to pose for me take a glance at my web site.  I tell models about this concept (and the others I'd like to try with them) well in advance of our scheduled session.  So, this is what Olivia chose for our "Getting Started" setup.






I have to admit that I started enjoying my time with Olivia right away, and I was happy to bask in the beauty of her lovely face.  For many models, "getting started" feels a bit awkward, and I have to encourage them to start removing clothing.  Olivia was ready quite early.  When she lifted her shirt to reveal her lovely abdomen, she took my breath away.  From this point on, we worked towards her nudity.









I think Olivia might be the most versatile poser of all the models I have known.  She can be the "girl next door" or she can be the seductress or she can be the art model.  I suspect that the "Getting Started" setup makes her feel sexy & sultry, and she does it well.

In the warmer months, the corner of the living room, where the big comfy chair normally resides, gets very nice afternoon light, as you can see here.  I help it a bit with that lamp behind Olivia, to provide a tonal separation with her shaded side.

However, I hate to admit this, but I often work with the camera set with the "P" setting, allowing the camera to set the exposure (and adjusting when needed during photo editing).  This normally makes me feel lazy, because I've often said that a photographer should never let a camera make a decision for him/her.  But here in the Pacific Northwest, the sky is constantly changing, even during the summer, and trying to keep up with these changes would interrupt the flow.  For me, working with models means communicating with the model, and I hate seeing some photographers split attention with their camera.  Indeed, some photographers snap a picture, and spend some valuable time staring at their camera's LCD screen while the model is left to her own devices.  That's one reason I like working with strobes -- they provide constant light, so once you've worked out the lighting & exposure, you can devote 100% of your attention to your model. 








I don't know if this is an accident or a manifestation of Olivia's skill as a model, but this is one sexy picture.  I have to admit that I'm approaching an age where I'm about as old as most models' grandfathers, and I am simply not a slave to my hormones as I was in my youth.  But I'm not dead yet.  Olivia has the kind of figure that I find attractive, and I especially like how that direct expression on her face peeks out from the shadows.  On top of all that (not pictured here), she has a vibrant, funny, and fun personality.

I know I repeat myself in the commentaries from session to session, but because of how I learned photography, I often look for interesting cropping when I edit the photos.  While Olivia's figure is stunning, I found her lovely face to be the most compelling part of this photo.  Hence, the cropping below, and while I was at it, I tried several of my favorite "artistic effects", too, including my new favorite, the "airbrush & ink".  Enjoy.






I like it when a session can be fun, and Olivia is a firecracker of expressive humor.  Here are a couple of shirt tossing images.  While I hate fake smiles, I love real ones, and it's always great to feel that the model is having a good time playing with me.

Of course, the control freak in me doesn't like these images because of the blur (necessitated by the slow shutter that I needed to use for the relatively low light level coming through the window.  But in my own age, I've become quite willing to sacrifice top quality controls for spontaneity.




I do love this pose.  I love the excellent posture, the arms down, the slight jog in her spine, and the wide stance -- she looks so strong in this pose.  I don't like telling models to adopt a specific pose -- anytime I (or any other photographer) tries to micro-manage a model's  pose, the more the pose looks artificial & forced.  I much prefer that a model move naturally, and I hope I'm fast enough to press the shutter at the perfect moment.  And that is an advantage of my old, fully manual film cameras -- there is no lag when the shutter is pressed.  In digital cameras, the ones which make decisions for the photographer, there always is a lag while the camera focuses the camera & calculates exposure.  When using strobes & the digital camera, I can override the exposure calculation, but my eyesight is poor enough that I need that autofocus.  But if the distance between the model & the camera remains constant, I can continue to use previous focus settings.




Olivia isn't teasing me -- she is moving through this setup at a good pace.  I'm just making a lot of exposures, because she is showing me so much that I want to photograph.  Her face is perfect; her figure is perfect; the light is perfect, and her movement is perfect.  We start to get more serious.



Like many experienced models, Olivia is quite comfortable in her skin.  I find that her looks are quite intensely distracting.  While I am enjoying the images we are making, I'm not sure we are making fine art.

That's one downside to the "Getting Started" is that it is a bit of a tease for me -- the anticipation of the moment is a big contribution to the appeal for me.

Below:  I really like this image.  I like the jog in her spine; I like that she is covering herself; and I like her engaged expression.






Olivia goes acrobatic for the final article of clothing, demonstrating that she looks good from any angle.  I like this image because there is action, her hands are doing something, and the light is very good. 






Here's another cropping exercise.  The image at the above left is close to the original, full-frame image, and the above right image is a preferred cropping.  I like reducing an image down to its essential parts -- I guess, for this image, I didn't find Olivia's feet "essential".  I also want to look at some "artistic effects" versions.




I've had the opportunity to observe how other photographers manage their photo session, and their "shooting style" varies greatly.  In particular, I like to see how the photographer moves around their subject.  Some are very energetic, jumping all around, getting down on the floor, climbing ladders -- it can make me dizzy. 

For me, "energetic" stopped decades ago, but before I finish with a setup, I do sing a little litany to myself:  "up, down, left, right, near, far", which is a reminder that I should look at multiple angles & compositions.  I tend not to run around the model, because nowadays, I first consider the light, and I often choose a specific angle to the light for the optimal lighting of the subject.

So, here, I try "far" -- admittedly by zooming out to the max wide angle my lens can handle.  I like this image a lot.  I love the light, and that includes not only the lovely window light but also the glow of the unseen lamp on the wall behind Olivia; it defines the shape of Olivia's unlit left side.  I also like Olivia's strong pose.  And I also like how the wide angle gives you the viewer a sense of the scene in that corner of the living room.



My first impression of Olivia is highly positive.  Her attractiveness is obvious.  What is not so obvious here is her fun and easy personality.  I am already enjoying myself a big lot.

This being our first sitting together, our objective is simply "get acquainted".  Working with natural light (like the images on this page) has its benefits, but I like to photograph new-to-me models in both natural & artificial light.  We move to the other side of the living room, where I have my strobes set up for a few more images.

Starting Again With Strobes


(Remember -- feedback is always appreciated) 

All images (c) 2015 Looknsee Photography

Olivia, First Visit Out Takes

Nearly 200 more images from this sitting are available in the Out Takes Galleries, which are available to those who have made a donation to the upkeep of this web site.  See this FAQ question for more details.