Friday, July 19, 2013

Will you model for me?

I was so nervous the first time I asked that of a model.  It was back in 2003 (when I still only used film) and I had found Katie's ad on Craiglist offering her modeling services.  She sent me a few of her photos and I sent her samples of mine and then I popped the question.  She said yes and then the rest became a whole other story on her bravery and endurance in creating art.

Katie - 071913 - SideB

There are two different circumstances for me to ask a person to model for me - I am being paid for the work, or it is for my own art and pursuits.  Both have different requirements.  The paid shoots usually have an artistic director, production crew, etc.  My freedom to choose the model is limited and I work within the parameters of the moment.

When I am photographing for my own private work, I usually find my models one of two ways.  The first is I develop a theme, create the narrative and think of the colors palette, message, location, photographic style, and discern what I want from it in a mega or meta way.  At that point I start to think about the model and what he/she will look like and the types of expression/emotion I want from her/him.   I go through all the models I've worked with and see if one will be perfect.  If none fit, then I go to Model Mayhem and search for one.  I almost never have to "settle" because I usually find one that is an instant "YES" that I want for the shoot.  After that, the photographer/artist/art model/muse courtship begins.

One example of this was my work with Valya in New York.  I was visiting the city for a week of photography and I wanted a model that represented the city as I saw it.  I wanted a dark-haired beauty with a unique look that conveyed sultry realism that reflects how I experience New York.  I found her on Model Mayhem, looked at her work and new instantly she was the perfect model.  We corresponded a bit via email to set up details and work the theme and narrative.  I've worked with her three times now.  She was the perfect model to work with and I greatly appreciate her.

Valya - 071913 - SideB

The second way I find a model is serendipity or "model first".  This is usually when a model contacts me wanting to work together.  This happens a bit since many models give me as a reference to their friends or models find me on Model Mayhem or my website.  Depending on what the model says she has found interesting in my work, I then review her portfolio and ideas start springing to mind from there.  I will create a whole theme/narrative around her.  An example of this was meeting Candace Nirvana.  She contacted me and I saw her fair skin and new I wanted to experiment with LCD projections on her.  I've worked with her three times as well.
Candace Nirvana / After Salvador Dali - 071913 - SideB

Even though all this process sounds very logically thought out and systematic, it actually comes down to the one moment when I first saw their photos or portfolios.  I usually knew within one or two images that they would be perfect for my work.  Something about them spoke to me and I knew I wanted to work with them.

What is that something that spoke to me?  I guess it could be called the X factor. It is hard to describe, but I appreciate how Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear describes it.  It is that extra specialness that makes something transcend the ordinary.

For me, it has to be unique beauty, style, feeling, seduction, emotion, energy, attitude and sexiness that matches what I want or need for the art.  She or he has to have that spark that makes them more than a two-dimensional pixel representation and become something tactile, palpable, and wanting to spend more time with.  I have to feel an instant connection to her, usually feeling inspiration suddenly flowing through me.  It feels like I sense her powers as muse from just a few pictures.  This sixth sense for me is almost always true for when we meet and work,  the energy grows and fills the moment.   I've never been let down by this gut feeling when I chose a model this way.

I haven't found a model that is perfect for every photo shoot and that is because no human is perfect in every condition.  This is also true of me as a photographer as well in that I can't create all types of photographic arts.  Some just aren't a part of me.  (With all that said, almost every model I've worked with that has seen my projection work wants to play with that after the shoot is over.  I always accommodate and work with them to determine what I should project onto them.  It becomes very personal for both of us that way.)

I've been very blessed with the models I've worked with.  All have been sexy, creative, professional, friendly, exciting, and great to work with.  Many have been one-time models for me because they were perfect for the moment while a few have graced me with their magic multiple times.

In a future post we will explore what we do to get what we need, including working with the models, pushing them to give us what they rarely, if ever, share with others while respecting their boundaries.  It is a delicate balance.

PS - If you want to model for SideB or Miz B, we are open to gender, look, age (18 +), and style. Please be in the San Francisco bay area or Las Vegas for SideB or the San Antonio area for Miz B, & contact us via our email address  We do travel quite a bit and are open to shoot in other locales for the right project.  Please also note that we do discreet private commission work as well - not all of our erotic work goes on this blog - some of it is for our clients' eyes only, as it should be! :-)

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