Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Being an Artist and Being Paid

Being an Artist and Being Paid

We live in a day and age where there are so many individuals who claim to be a model or a photographer when the reality is this: There are so many "Instagram Models and Photographers" out there who simply post bathroom selfies or claim to be professional. There are so many GWC's (guys/girls with cameras) out there who in reality have no idea what they are doing and are just doing it to shoot naked bodies. Sadly, the fact is that these types of individuals over-saturate the industry and lower the market value for all of us. Here are two direct examples:

A couple of my photographer friends are absolutely excellent at wedding photography. They have an incredibly unique skill set that they have spent years mastering. They have thousands of dollars in equipment and are masters at editing. They are also not cheap! However, next to them is the GWC who lacks the skill set and equipment to accurately shoot a wedding but also only charges 300 dollars. The bride makes the mistake of going with the cheap alternative and ends up with appalling shots of her wedding she regrets her entire life. What does the professional photographer do? Lower their prices because of this over-saturation of stupidity in the market…

As a model, people write to me daily, expecting me to work for free (TFP or Trade For Prints). I tell them my rates which are extremely reasonable given my level of professionalism, time in the industry, and unique skill set as a professional dancer, ballerina, and aerialist. I never hear back from them. Nothing usually. Not even a polite response back. They would instead hire the "Instagram Model" who is willing to work for basically nothing… and is further prepared to take all their clothes off. In most cases, these people do not care about quality...which brings me to my next point….

QUALITY ARTISTS IN ALL ASPECTS OF THE INDUSTRY SHOULD BE PAID FOR THEIR WORK. If you want beautiful images… if you're going to work with a professional… hire them. In the end, the money is worth it, as the quality is crucial. If you see a person consistently posts quality work that you adore and admire than consider hiring them.

To all my Talented Fellow Artists out there; know your worth. Stop accepting jobs for free or for limited exposure. When you continually work for free, or for less than what you deserve, you lower the market value for all of us. I experience this in the dance world as well...just recently I was asked to do a gig downtown, and the pay rate was awful...long story short I tried to negotiate a reasonable pay rate, and they decided to hire someone else who would accept the terrible pay. If we all stuck together, this would happen a lot less. I encourage all my dance friends to do this. Just as I encourage models to stop taking their clothes off for free. I also encourage several of my photography friends who are ridiculously talented to stop continually working for free. You know who you are!

I will be writing a separate blog about TFP Vs. Paid Shoots. a.k.a when to decide to shoot TFP.

I lastly, want to note I will be writing another article about knowing who your target audience/ target market is. To a degree, some of this over-saturation can be avoided if your target market/audience is at the higher end of the economic class. A person who has a zillion dollars to spend on their wedding is not even going to consider hiring a photographer with the lower rate and skill set. They have the disposable income to spend more for the higher quality and thus will only seek people in this rate range- the more expensive photographers.

Stay tuned for these upcoming blogs:)

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Pro-Tips on How to Photograph a Dancer Part 2

Pro-Tips on How to Photograph a Dancer
This is the second article on how to photograph a ballerina in motion. You can find part 1 of the article on how to photograph a ballerina here.

3. Placement of the Legs
You always want to pick the shots that present the dancer at the apex of whatever pose, turn or jump he/she is completing. This moment is usually only a quarter of a second in duration, and probably less depending on the movement. For jump shots, such as "leaps," the hamstrings and behind the knees need to be at their fullest extension. You do not want images of a dancer taking off (the moment before reaching the full apex of the jump) or on the descent down where the legs begin to bend as they prepare to touch the ground again. Below is an example of what a good "leap" shot of a dancer should look like with the legs and feet at their fullest extended position: the apex of the jump. Please note there are jump positions where the legs are purposely bent. I have further included an example of this below: a "double stag jump" or "double attitude jump".

A Ballerina and Dance Model in a Graceful Leap
A Ballerina and Dance Model in a Double Stag or Double Attitude Jump
Photos by: David Black and Scott Detweiler 

4. The Upper Body
The upper body for Ballet photography, in particular, should be soft and elegant. The elbows should not be locked, the shoulders should not be up, and the fingers should be delicate with space in between each finger, almost like the petals of a flower. At times, a particular shot is supposed to be angular and edgy, so there will be exceptions. I have included a couple of shots below of each as an example.

A Beautiful Ballerina in Motion Wearing a Flowing Red DressA Beautiful Ballet Dancer in Motion Wearing a Red Dress and Holding Flowing Red Silk Fabric Through the Air

The first image shows the space between each finger: delicate like a flower pedal. The second image shows the elbows which are still engaged but are not stiff, rigid or locked into place.  
Photos by: Christine Wehbe

A Golden Ballerina Posed

In the above photo, the arms are clearly angular and locked into place for a specific stylistic choice. 
Photo by: Jerry Alt

As a quick endnote: I know this is a lot of information to absorb at once. If you have questions, comments, or concerns, please do not hesitate to comment below and I can help.

No one likes terrible dance/ballet photography. If you do not know ballet or dance- send the dancer or ballerina a gallery of culled down images so they can help you select final edits that will highlight the best of both worlds: The Dance and The Photography World. In the end, this process benefits both parties, and we all end up happy with beautiful imagery. As a photographer, this will potentially help you to get more paid jobs in the future shooting professional dancers and companies or student performances or recitals. Studios are always in need of promotional images. I also teach a lot of high school juniors and seniors that need beautiful dance photos for company and college auditions! 

I hope you enjoyed this blog- Jennifer.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Pro-Tips on How to Photograph a Dancer Part 1

Pro-Tips on How to Photograph a Dancer
Part 1

In this article, I will briefly highlight some dance and ballet details that any professional dancers will IMMEDIATELY spot in a photo. I will give you a simple guide to some do's and don'ts when it comes to selecting a dance photo to turn into a final edit. Keep in mind that the technique behind our art form is hard to accurately capture! Any live action shot is going to be difficult, even if you feel the image you have is perfect. Ballet has such a specific and beautifully sophisticated rich history behind how the technique has evolved over the past 100's of years. Whether a professional photographer, hobbyists, or aspiring photographer, let me help guide you on how to pick images that highlight the best of both worlds in one great shot! From bottom to top here we go!
Pointe Class Video!

1. Placement of the Feet
You never want to capture a dancer with what (in either a static pose or jump shot) we would call a "sickled" foot. Below you will find a picture of the proper ankle alignment for several critical positions vs. what "sickled" means. In layman's terms, think of this foot position looking similar to a broken ankle. You also want to make sure during static or actions shots you are capturing a dancer when they are entirely "on pointe" over the arches of their feet. You do not want to post images that are a quarter of a second before or after they hit full pointe. Below you will find examples of being entirely over the arches/box of one's pointe shoes vs. the quarter of a second prior. It is imperative to make sure a dancer is over the box of their shoe!

A Ballerina on Pointe Demonstrating Bad Technique A Ballerina Beautifully Placed in her Pointe Shoes

The first image is an example of the quarter of a second prior to when I arrive in full sous-sus position. You do not want to select this image. The second image shows my feet when they have arrived in the proper position for sous-sus with the feet fully articulated over the box of the shoe.

A Professional Ballerina Highlighting Proper Position in Second

The first image is an example of the quarter of a second prior to my feet arriving fully over the box of the shoe in secondé position on relevé. The second photo highlights the proper alignment of the foot and ankle in this position.

A Professional Ballet Dancer Showing Pointe Work

The above photo is an example of being fully over ones pointe shoes. The feet are beautifully arched and pointed.

A Professional Ballet Dancer Highlighting What A Sickled Foot Means

The above photo is an example of a "sickled" foot. Note how the ankle of the working foot essentially looks like it is broken. The supporting foot is not on full relevé over the box of the pointe shoes. This would be an example of a photo that would be no good to use and post. 

2. Placement of the Feet Continued
You always want to make sure the shots you are selecting captures the dancer's feet at their full pointed position. This pertains especially to "jump" shots (although is also reiterating #1 above). When a dancer's foot is not at its full extension, we call this a "biscuit" foot during jump shots or even in positions like tendu. An excellent person to follow on Instagram is @biscuitballerina. Through the use of humor, she highlights this very elegantly. I have highlighted below (with permission from the photographer) a jump shot where my feet are at their fullest extent and a blooper shot where I was coming down from the jump.

A Dance Model Showing a Fully Pointed Foot on Pointe

The first image is an example of my foot when I am just beginning to descend from my jump. Note how the foot is not fully extended. The arch is not engaged and fully pointed. This would be an example of a photo that would not be wise to select for a final edit. In the second photo, the arch of my foot is fully engaged and pointed. I am at the apex of my jump.

Check out part 2 of how to photograph a ballerina!

Industry Do's and Don'ts Part 2

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