Friday, July 27, 2012

Call Me Avedon

Jim 30, 2012
[Click on image to enlarge.]

Yesterday I did something I’ve never done before. I photographed live models in a professional photography studio. I’ve usually been on the other side of the lens when it comes to professional photo studios. I’m the one being photographed, not the one doing the photographing.

We’d spent most of the day before studying studio lighting basics, familiarizing ourselves with the vocabulary and physical layout and learning all the finer points of bossing around finicky models and lazy assistants.

By the way, when my daughter and I were at dinner the other night we were seated across from a group that included super model Ève Salvail. Salvail, who hails from across the border in the French-speaking part of Canada, is probably best known for her shaved head and extensive cranial dragon tattoo, both of which you can see here. Standing what must be a good foot taller than me, Salvail is indeed quite impressive.

The models we worked with yesterday do not have dragon tattoos across their heads (though the male model does have the bald part down). But they were terrific to work with and both helpful and patient with those of us who have never commanded a studio before.

It’s easy when you work with attractive people to want to do “beauty” shots. Indeed, most of my young classmates made photographs that could easily appear in Vogue or Elle. But being young and fresh and, for the most part, free of the inhibitions of Americans, they fresh and interesting perspectives to a category in which one has to believe every possible physical permutation of body shape and clothing has been done hundreds of times.

I, on the other hand, followed my traditional “try to do something unexpected” approach and asked my two models to work with me to create a variety of hostile and aggressive poses. My studio partner for the day—we alternated as shooters and each other’s assistant—is a high school chemistry teacher who similarly wanted to shake things up a little. She had them jump up and down and crawl across the studio floor. 

My results for the day aren’t all that out there. But for someone who’d never worked with models in a studio before and whose entire previous lighting experience consisted of shining a flashlight up under my chin on Halloween--which is, I've learned, known in the studio trade as "Halloween light"--I was pleased that I could remember how to do anything when entrusted with a bunch of wireless devices, several thousand dollars worth of lights and vast expanses of seamless backdrops. These are just a few of the almost two hundred photographs made during an hour of shooting. There are lots of really aggressively hostile images. But these were some of the shots I liked the most.

[You can click on any image to enlarge it.]

Jim 26, 2012

Jim 44, 2012

Jim 62, 2012

Katrine 108, 2012

Katrine 119, 2012


  1. These are great, Chris! Very creative. That first of Katrine is really cool.

  2. Nice work! I like your approach. It sounds like a great course - I'm glad you're having fun. Thanks too for the mention of Ève Salvail - I'd never heard of her or seen her before. Now I'm in the know.

  3. I coud gladly live with the pair of Katrine pix on the wall forever. Stunning and so captivating - and, yes, unusual - and non-agressive (could not have agression on the wall everyday!) Lucky you for this opportunity

  4. These photos are all very exciting -- I love seeing this work from you. I hope there will be more to come!