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Bikini Photoshoot is Underrated
I have come across many people who seem to have very negative impression of bikini photoshoot. I'm not surprised since Asians, in general, are more conservative. I'm located in Singapore, so what's new?
I'm slightly luckier than many other photographers for there are people who would approach me for photoshoot every now and then. I would usually ask if there's any restriction, so that I can try to come out with more creative theme or something that's more artsy. There are many cases when female model-wannabes would then list nude, lingerie and BIKINI. Opting out nude and lingerie shoot is understandable and absolutely normal, but bikini shoot shouldn't be branded and categorized with them.
Does doing a bikini photoshoot mean the model is loose or immoral and does doing it mean the photographer is a pervert?
The most interesting fact is that there are many girls who have been posting a lot of bikini photographs of themselves, including selfie in suggestive angles, in their social media accounts and yet they seem to be very biased against bikini photoshoot.
Isn't posting of bikini photographs in lousy quality (hair, makeup, poses, angles, lighting, resolution...etc) worse than posting of bikini photographs that are being done professionally?
The reasons behind the negativity
There are, of course, various reasons that may lead to the negative impression towards bikini photoshoot.
Asians are generally more conservative
As mentioned before, Asians are more conservative, and I emphasize "in general". To them, less clothes simply means sluttier. There are actually many Asians who are extremely open-minded and they can take things to further levels that even an experienced photographer like me cannot appreciate. I do have received weird requests that I have to turn down even though they are good business opportunities.
I have encountered various open-minded and decent girls who seem to be able to appreciate art, but they are worried about the views of the society.
I guess people are slowly trying to open out their view in arts and time will help.
There are always dangers in doing photoshoots, especially the sexier genres. However, the fact is that doing everything will definitely pose some dangers, including going out with a guy you deem is decent.
If a girl is doing a bikini shoot in Singapore, she will probably be doing outdoor bikini shoot at a beach or swimming pool. Whereas in an over-populated country like Singapore, it's weird if there's no passer-by during day time, and thus any ill-minded "photographer" should be smart enough to not try anything funny.
Of course, doing a bikini photoshoot in a private and enclosed place like hotel room will definitely be more dangerous. Nevertheless, as long as the girl isn't feeling the itch for extra cash or between her legs, no one can force her to do anything.
After all, every girl should learn to judge the photographer before agreeing to do any shoot with him.
Sleazy and amateur photographs
The poor quality, especially distastefulness, of the commonly seen bikini photoshoot photographs online have also given the very bad impression. Most of the bikini photographs I have seen online in social media are selfies or taken by amateur or sleazy photographers.
There are many professional photographers around but the number of "photographers" with DSLR is much larger. Somehow, the latter usually have the ability to charm young girls by monetary or words to do bikini shoots and thus the exposure of such quality of photographs is much higher.
Bikini photographs usually go viral easier than other kind of photographs, and thus more audience are reached and they will compliment on the hot models regardless of the quality of work. Therefore, every girl should learn how to judge quality of photographers in order to figure out which photographer to work with and not simply based on the reactions of the social media posts.
Objectifying of bikini models
There are some guys who would objectify bikini models as they tend to use their second heads to think. Some people also make use of these models to make profit.
Organising of paid group bikini shoot is common but some people's execution may make it seem sleazy, or perhaps, the reputation of the organiser may already be in doubt since long ago.
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Objectifying of bikini models is something we cannot avoid; however, the impact can be reduced by doing proper bikini shoots instead. This means, again, to choose the right photographer to work with.
Learn to appreciate bikini photoshoot
The contestants in most of the beauty pageants like Miss Singapore (Examples: Earth, World and Universe) have to do bikini shoots and even walk on the stage in bikini. Do you doubt their chastity or moral?
One of my goals in doing photography is to educate the public. I hope people will learn to appreciate good photography, including those belonging to the sexier genres, such as bikini shoot. I try to lead by example to prove to everyone that bikini shoots can be done stylishly. Of course, I'm sure there are many better photographers out there and you can also take their work as references.
I'm one of the luckiest photographers in Singapore because my good friend, Tricia Lee, is a very experienced commercial hair and makeup artist, although she has kind of retired in order to take very good care of her three children. My art sense has been largely affected by her since the beginning of my portrait photography journey. I still seek her opinions.
My fashion sense for bikini shoot involves the combination of some clothes over the bikini set. I like to keep my photoshoot tasteful. It is a form of art - not the selling sex kind of work.
There are actually many planning and consideration involved in doing a bikini shoot. Below are some of the bikini shoots I have done before. The description and limitation are based on the time of the shoots.
Jade was playful, confident and open-minded. She had a couple of bikini sets and a few stylish outerwears that could be worn over the bikinis. With the involvement of an extremely experienced and creative commercial hair and makeup artist who beautified her on the spot within a short timeframe, we went for a very lifestyle and stylish looks.
We made good use of the existing props on the location to further nail the shoot. I depended on the late afternoon's natural light and without the use of artificial light allowed the model to move around conveniently to push her creativity to the maximum.
Esther was energetic and open-minded. Unfortunately, she only had a set of bikini and very limited tops that could match with her bikini. No hair and makeup artist was involved and she did not process very strong makeup skill. With all the limitations, I decided not to be too ambitious and thus chose a lively kind of bikini shoot that could make full use of her energy and cute bikini set. I chose the most suitable hairstyle that I could find inside her Facebook photographs and got her to do her basic makeup. I also planned some props that would suit the theme well.
I was not sure the management of the condominium would allow me to set up my light modifiers by the poolside. I chose to shoot in the early morning to get the best light possible and with the aid of the venue that blocked most of the direct sunlight, I was able to shoot using natural light. There was only a slight problem of strong reflection of sunlight from the glass of the buildings.
Bianca was energetic, open-minded and creative. It was the last second morning of her short holidays in Singapore and we had to shoot in the early morning just a few hours after she contacted me. The shooting location was at the condominium where she was staying and thus I needed not worry about her outfits - I could get her to change her outfits any time and we just had to use whatever she had with her for her trip. She was able to do her own basic makeup. Since she was a Caucasian, I decided it was good to do a lifestyle shoot that could display emotion.
Since I was unsure if I could set up my lighting again, I could only make use of the ambient light. It was a partially cloudy day and the constant changing of the brightness of the sun posed difficulty for me. After getting some good expressive shots of the non-bikini outfits, she was very satisfied with them and her energy level increased. Thus, I made use of her creativeness and hyperactiveness to work on the set for the bikini to show a different side of hers. We also used existing props like the buoy.
Lovelle was composed and had this lady-like look. She did her own makeup. I was invited to her group shoot and thus I did not make any planning on the outfits, location, timing and props. After she ended her shoot, I had only two choices of outfits - a red bikini and an unattractive designed swimsuit. Since she had been doing "supermodel" kind of shoots with her customers (hobbyist photographers), I decided to keep this shoot lifestyle. As I was quite unlikely to be able to set up my lighting equipment over there, I was in no hurry to begin the shoot but to wait for better natural lighting.
The hotel's pool was not super crowded but there were still guests all over the place and thus it was difficult to find good spots and angles. She was a non-swimmer and it was not safe to make her go into the water. The biggest problem was that her then-boyfriend was there and even though we were all friends, there was some awkwardness. However, I let him take the lead in cracking her up.
Beverley was energetic and feminine. She had quite a number of outfits but I did make a big mistake by not insisting her to try on the clothes in order to visualize the looks properly. She was able to do her own makeup. Due to her talent in dancing, I decided to focus on her energy and fitness. The first set was a warm-up shoot to show her youthfulness with props, second set to do something more towards fitness and third set were to focus on sunset, although the weather prevented us from working on the last set.
Since we spent quite some time inside the water and the weather was bad that we had to hide from the rain halfway, I did not set up any lighting and thus was using the limited quantity of ambient light filtered by the very dark clouds. Halfway through the shoot after the rain stopped, a staff from the hotel nearby claimed the part of the beach was owned by them and thus we had some restriction of angles. Besides, there were many photobombs.
Martina was very confident and open-minded. Since she was a foreigner, she actually had limited clothes with her in Singapore. She was able to do her own simple makeup. Caucasians looked naturally exotic, which was a benefit. She also had years of experience working with other photographers and thus I decided to go for a lifestyle and stylish shoot. She was one of the models I had limited discussion with and thus even though she was extremely open-minded, I did not dare to go for a more provocative feel.
The location was temporary emptied due to the year-end beach party and thus my plan to use some of the props as backgrounds was eliminated. The sky was clear and the sunlight was extremely harsh even though the weather forecast told me that the afternoon would be partially cloudy. There were limited open shade areas to hide at, with sunlight piercing through the tree branches and leaves to cast bad shadows on her. The sunlight also caused problem to my camera's auto focus system at times. Even though I was using a 600-watt studio strobe, it was not sufficient to overcome the brightness of the sun after putting on the diffuser. We had limited time while she had to leave before the golden hour arrived, however, with her experience, we were able to get some good shots.
Lana looked stylish in her short hair. As a Caucasian, she was also special and exotic like the previous ones I had worked with. Unlike the rest of them, she was petite size, although no one could really tell that in the photographs due to her body proportion and camera angles. She was open-minded and had a number of choices of swimwear - and I picked a black monokini and a red bikini, and had her to bring along some clothes/props to wear over the bikini. Since it was the first time we worked together, I played it safe and made use of her stylishness to create some edgy work.
The location's settings were exactly in my plan since I used to go there for beach volleyball games in the past and I also did my research online in case there would be changes. It was also the best beach among the three beaches in Sentosa to kick off the shoot in the early morning due to its location. I was not very blessed with the weather due to the cloud not covering the sun at times and the sunlight was so strong that I almost exerted my strobe for the most edgy shot, but I was glad it was manageable.
From her social media, my impression of Shinyi was that she was a bubbly girl. Her sunshine look with her slim figure probably had made her the eye candy of many guys. However, it wasn't her appearance that impressed me the most but her attitude - she was extremely cooperative. My initial plan was to do a cheerful lifestyle bikini shoot with her, which would help in marketing, as well as bringing out her charm. She had many bikini sets and I had to leave out the sexier ones due to their colours.
I chose Palawan Beach over the other two beaches since I thought it could be more suitable for the feel I wanted, partly because I hadn't been there for some time. Initially, I faced problem with photobombs. Later on, I figured out that the makeup, which was done by an unknown makeup artist, was more suitable for a glamour shoot. With the beautiful sky during sunset, she performed well and we managed to capture a few stylish photographs.
Do you only do bikini shoot?
No, bikini shoot is just a fraction of the portrait shoots that I have been doing. If you look through it (in order of the dates taken), you can get a clear picture. I don't stick to a certain genre in case I will get bored. I'm selective because in order to do a good bikini shoot, it depends on the looks, character and wardrobe collection of the girl. Of course, if a client approaches me for bikini shoot, I will do my best.
Why would you suggest doing a bikini shoot?
- To get reaction from the model in order to judge her because both attitude and EQ matter a lot to me - not just the looks.
- To see how open-minded the model is before I can think of a suitable and non-boring theme.
- If the model has the aura, figure and outfit, bikini shoot is a good marketing tool, why not?
- If the model is not very good looking and will only impress viewers with theme that is of a little sexy nature.
- To scare away the model who is incapable of producing good work with me easily (requires extreme makeover or has limited good angles), without directly rejecting her.
- I'm too bored with other shoots and maybe I suddenly have an inspiration.
What do you like about doing bikini shoot?
Fewer "models" do bikini shoot and thus it's more unique. I like the trust as well. Furthermore, being able to produce tasteful work is an achievement.
What do you dislike about doing bikini shoot?
It's usually done at the beach, apart from swimming pool or even studio, thus the fine sand can give problems to my equipment to shorten their lifespan. Moreover, the more skin the model reveals, the more editing work is needed.
What's the difference between your bikini shoots and other photographers'?
You have probably seen many bikini photographs in social media and it's good if you can do a side by side comparison with my work. Of course, every photographer has different styles and it's up to the viewer's personal taste to judge. Observe my lighting, selection of outfit, photograph's composition and the model's expression and poses. I keep my work tasteful no matter how little the model wears.
Can I do bikini shoot if I don't have big boobs?
Yes, doing a bikini shoot isn't about showing boobs, although it can be one of the reasons. If you have looked at my portfolio, most of the models are just average girls. Don't they all look good?
Can I do bikini shoot if I don't have a good figure?
Yes, we can play with angle, poses, outfit, props and lighting. Of course, there may a limitation to the quality of results.
What kind of bikini shoot suits me most?
It depends on individuals. I don't usually work with professional models and thus you can see that my shoots lean more towards lifestyle. If you don't have experience, you may not be able to do poses like professional models, and thus lifestyle is suitable.
It really depends on individual photographers to produce the quality and tastefulness of photographs, regardless of the type of outfits. A photographer can turn a lingerie shoot stylish while another photographer can turn a t-shirt shoot into porn. There are also many kinds of clothes that may show more skin than bikini.
Therefore, everyone, especially models and model-wannabes, should stop labelling bikini shoots and the models who do it with decent and professional photographers.
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