Photographers Are Not Magicians, But Together, Let’s Have A Great Photo Shoot

Model Photography

One of our photography workshops models on location.

The first time I entered Heather Carden’s hair salon, I noticed a sign in her work area meant for her clients that read, “I’m A Beautician, Not A Magician.” It made me think, and ever since, I’ve wanted to create a catchy saying for photographers to share with their clients that would provide a similar message filled with the same rhyme and eloquence—no luck so far.

The sign made me relate because as a photographer female clients often ask me, “Can you make me look like this, like her, like that, etc.?” No, not commercial clients, but female clients, many that come to me in hopes I can make them look like the next Victoria’s Secret model.

Obviously you want to provide your clients with everything they request, but obviously there are limits and common sense will tell you, a photographer can alter reality only so much through their talent, photography equipment, and postproduction. Photographers are not magicians; they’re more of a storyteller through their photos than being illusionists. That said, here are the top ten things potential female clients should know when it comes to photographers and their photography—and it doesn’t matter if you’re a professional model or not:

1. We are not an instant weight reduction clinic. Though the use of the right lighting, lenses, angles, posing, styling, and a few other things, professional photographers can remove some pounds, but we can’t remove weight instantly like that found with proper diets, fitness, willpower and bariatric surgeons. The “Liquify Tool” found in Adobe Photoshop is meant for artistic effects, it isn’t meant as a magic wand. There is nothing wrong with a curvy, healthy body. Plus-size models are in, we’re not there to judge your weight; we’re here to capture your beauty. Be proud of your beauty and let us show you how we can capture it to the best of our abilities.

2. We don’t like artificial tans. A freshly sprayed-on tan makes you look orange and streaky in photos because the human eye sees one thing and brain perception connects the dots. Cameras don’t connect dots; they capture the exact dots your body (skin) reflects in pixels. Cameras today are tack sharp, sometimes too sharp, so all the imperfections with sprayed on tans, or worse, the self-applied instant tans, photograph like crap and give us more work to do in postproduction. Through white-balance settings and/or gels on our lighting, we can make an albino look tanned, now that’s one of the few forms of magic we can do. If you are sporting a natural tan, that’s fine, just make sure you have no red spots.

3. We need you to arrive on time. It’s true, seasoned photographers will ask you to arrive at least 30 minutes before they really need you because they’ve learned, without sounding chauvinistic here, that women tend to run late. Whether it’s kids, traffic, make-up, or Murphy, veteran photographers understand that women are impacted by life in more ways than men—we get it. That said, 30 minutes late is max, our time is valuable too.

4. We don’t like being rushed. When you rush into something, the chances are greater you’ll ruin it. Don’t arrive for a shoot and say, “I’ve only got ‘X’ amount of time because I have other plans or things to do after the shoot.” Photographers don’t like being rushed anymore than you and the last thing we want is just when things are flowing with the shoot, for it to stop. Great things come in time, so give us that time, heck, give yourself that time especially if you want us to capture you at your best. It’s like sex, no one like an interruption right before the climax.

5. We don’t like our clients asking to do their own postproduction. If you’re that good in postproduction, take a selfie and post produce it where the result looks like it was a photo taken by a professional photographer. Now that’s magic if you can achieve great results and you might want to think about changing careers.

6. We don’t like street makeup. In photography, what is light will go lighter, what is dark will go darker; it’s called the 90-Percent Rule of Reflectance. What is pure white will reflect 90-percent of the light that strikes it, what is pure black, will absorb 90-percent of the light that strikes it. Simply said, darks go darker and lights go lighter. Show up with very little makeup plus bring your makeup with you, and we’ll provide feedback as you apply it. Better yet, it’s best to budget for a professional makeup artist.

7. We don’t like limited wardrobes. Arrive with various outfits, from A to Z. Give us choices and remember, what looked great on the mannequin the night before, might not look so great on you. Believe it or not, some of the things that are “wore out” because they are your favorites can and probably will photograph better than something brand new, and provides for less uncertainty—ultimately it’s about your face and an uncertain face never beats a face with confidence. Your favorite clothes are your favorite because you know you look great in them. Bring your favorites to the shoot and let us know they are your favorites.

8. We don’t like onlookers. If you must bring someone to the shoot, make sure they are aware they can’t watch the shoot. They will have to stay somewhere nearby. We’re more than happy to meet your chaperone, we just don’t like anyone looking over our shoulders, and besides, chances are, you’ll be distracted by them, or worried about what they think during your shoot. Without the face, we have nothing and the last thing we want is a face filled with worry.

9. We don’t work for free. Time is money and credentials carry value. We all deserve compensation for our talents. Unless we ask you personally for a “promotional shoot” where we both work for free, you are paying for what you get from an experienced photographer, quality work. While we know it takes you time to get ready for your shoot, and time is consumed during the shoot, please understand, the same applies to us plus the cost of our equipment, the cost it took to gain our experience, and the time of photo editing, then editing the photos (postproduction). The latter comes long after you’ve left the shoot—when you leave, we still have hours of work, oh, and besides photo editing and postproduction, we also have to tear down our gear too. (For more on our worth, see this article, “The Picasso Principle—Pricing Photos”)

10. We don’t like no-shows! If you have to cancel, give us plenty of notice, and that act alone might allow you to reschedule with us. Photographers have busy schedules too, so please understand that a no-show is like getting all ready for a movie, you arrive at the theater, purchase your popcorn and soda in hand, and after you take your seat, the projectionist tells you the movie never arrived so the show is cancelled.

So there you have it, the top ten things potential female clients should know when it comes to photographers and their photography. Take note, a lot of this can apply to males too. Use this advice and your photographer will love you as one of his clients, plus, it’s a better guarantee that together we can create some great photos. Photographers are not magicians and our goal isn’t to make you disappear, but to present you at your best, photographically.

With that I close and as always I ask you not to forget the men and women in uniform whom patriotically serve to protect our nation and freedoms. God Bless them, their families and friends, Rolando.

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