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Working with models

From: Narrative Portraiture: On Location in New York with Rodney Smith

Video: Working with models

Rodney Smith: Well, the best thing for me with the models is to have some time with them, which obviously you don't. As the days go on, if it's a two-day shoot or a three-day shoot, that's particularly great. The first few hours maybe they don't understand what I want, but they quickly get it. They actually quickly get it. I mean, my first comment to them would be, don't model. I am not interested in you as being a model. I am interested in you as just being a person, being yourself.

Working with models

Rodney Smith: Well, the best thing for me with the models is to have some time with them, which obviously you don't. As the days go on, if it's a two-day shoot or a three-day shoot, that's particularly great. The first few hours maybe they don't understand what I want, but they quickly get it. They actually quickly get it. I mean, my first comment to them would be, don't model. I am not interested in you as being a model. I am interested in you as just being a person, being yourself.

So don't do any of that stuff. I don't like it. Chris Orwig: In other places in this series, we have talked about this whole idea of how do we work with someone that we are photographing? How do we connect with that person, put them at ease, and maybe even capture a bit of the essence of who they are? I like how Rodney talked about this topic. He said it's ideal if you have a lot of time, and that's true, isn't it? With most relationships, they just take time. But in reality we don't have much time.

We have to act quickly. So Rodney starts off by saying, "Don't model." Now those are pretty profound words. They cut right to the chase. In a way, he's kind of verbalizing something that I felt internally that I just didn't know how to articulate. It's getting to this whole idea that we don't want to photograph someone if they're impersonating themselves, or if they are trying too hard, or if they are inauthentic. So he says, "Don't model. Don't do any of that stuff.

That's not what I want. What I want is you." And they get it. One of the things that you want to do, as you start to hear this conversation, is if there is anything that connects with you, or resonates with you, like those words, write them down in a journal or in some notes. So I wrote down those words in my journal, "don't model, don't model, "and then a lot of times you want to take that thought further. Well, how else does this connect to who I am, to the art I create, to other thoughts that I have about this topic?

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  1. 2m 13s
    1. Welcome
      1m 27s
    2. Introduction to Rodney Smith
      46s
  2. 31m 37s
    1. Creating serene photographs...spontaneously
      4m 37s
    2. Creating photographs that ask questions
      4m 43s
    3. What makes a photograph good?
      5m 28s
    4. Film, digital, and the importance of the artifact
      6m 1s
    5. Contrast, tone, and black and white versus color
      5m 0s
    6. The early years and photography today
      5m 48s
  3. 13m 16s
    1. First impressions: A portrait without the subject
      3m 52s
    2. The finishing room
      1m 4s
    3. The darkroom
      7m 13s
    4. The final print room
      1m 7s
  4. 23m 11s
    1. Selecting the gear
      3m 41s
    2. Shooting the portrait
      6m 13s
    3. Reviewing the plan for the shoot
      2m 6s
    4. The portrait in review
      6m 36s
    5. Large prints in review
      4m 35s
  5. 8m 33s
    1. Why take pictures?
      2m 11s
    2. Cultivating the discipline to print
      2m 8s
    3. Exploring Rodney Smith's "The End"
      4m 14s
  6. 5m 27s
    1. Embracing a theme: Surprise, whimsy, or cliché
      55s
    2. Creating photos that ask questions
      2m 22s
    3. Creating fashion photos with a unique style
      2m 10s
  7. 26m 40s
    1. Photography is a reflection of who we are
      1m 47s
    2. Photography is about the art of observation
      1m 57s
    3. Working with models
      2m 10s
    4. Raise more questions than you answer
      3m 5s
    5. Mentors strengthen our vision
      3m 37s
    6. There is a right place for certain things
      4m 39s
    7. What influences you?
      3m 22s
    8. The camera as a tool for gaining wisdom
      3m 6s
    9. Creating photographs deepens who we are
      2m 57s
  8. 33s
    1. Conclusion
      33s

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