What is being open-minded in photoshoot?

Photoshoot with Jun

One of the models I have worked with has started shooting with weird photographers (including blacklisted photographers) after our shoot. She happens to get to know a mutual friend of ours, who has no experience in modelling, and starts giving the newbie advice like she has to be more open-minded. We (the newbie and I) are not very sure what does she imply, but this has led me to ponder a lot about being "open-minded". Since many models and model-wannabes have been approaching me often, I find it necessary to share my thoughts and rules.

Being open-minded certainly does not mean you have to do nude shoot. If anyone, especially a photographer, were to say that you have to remove all your clothes for a shoot to show that you are open-minded or professional, you better start warning all your friends about him. Being open-minded also does not warrant anyone to touch you during the shoot, even to "helpfully" adjust your posture.

Everyone has different perspective of being open-minded in a photoshoot. As an experienced photographer who has done intimate portrait shoots for girls, my tolerance level for open-mindedness is likely way higher than most people, however, I do set a lower standard for my models to the extent that the quality of shoot will not be affected. If the model has to "wrap herself up" for the shoot, she is definitely not being open-minded.

To me, open-minded is the willingness to accept ideas/themes and being professional but not at the cost of being taken advantage of.

The theme may be something unusual or sexy to the model. For instance, if the model is exposed only to supermodelling style of shoot, she will definitely find lifestyle style to be weird. I have experienced instructing my models to imagine they are enjoying themselves in a beautiful garden while I snap them in their most natural moments but some of them find it weird because they are not open to different styles of modelling.

For the outfit of the theme, the model should be able to show some skin, like cleavage, if the theme requires it to bring out the feel or maturity. Short and bodycon (figure-hugging) clothes are in the same league. If the outfit requires, the model should use nipple stickers, strapless or nude bra, or simply detach the straps from their normal bras, because showing of the bra or bra straps are likely going to affect the feel in a negative way. Examples of the outfits that should not be worn with normal bra are tube top and dress. Translucent bra straps will likely make the styling look more awful for it is ugly, reflective, represents lack of confidence and it adds visible marks on the shoulders while pressing onto the skin. Of course, displaying of bra straps can be a form of sexiness or youthful, depending on the theme and outfit. Bikini shoot may be more exposing but if the model has uploaded causal bikini photographs of herself in her social media profiles, she should be open to doing a more tasteful bikini shoot.

Being professional has a broader meaning. A model who is not open-minded may tend to look awkward in both expression and posture. She is likely to be too self conscious and worry a lot about accidentally showing more skin or underwear, known as "zao geng" (upskirt, downblouse... etc). I have worked with a few very professional models who are even ready to remove their bras and panties in order to get better results. For example, if the outfit is a low-cut dress, showing of the bra will it look like a fashion disaster instead of looking elegant. There were times when the models' underwears were "visible" due to the shape or colour caused on the bodycon dresses/outfits, the models volunteered to remove their underwears. When it comes to changing of the outfits, sometimes the location may not have a toilet nearby. An open-minded model should be able to use makeshift changing areas, including changing under a sarong. The photographer should definitely help to take extra care of the models in such circumstances.

There are, of course, other genres of photoshoot that only more open-minded models will take up. For examples, boudoir (lingerie) and implied nude. These types of shoot can command for higher fees for freelance models if photographers were to engage them for "private shoot". However, similar to nude shoot, a model does not need to take them up in order to be considered open-minded.

I do not work with girls who are not open-minded because it will likely reduce the quality of my work, such that viewers may think I'm just a photographer for young girls. My HMUA friend, Tricia Lee, calls it Garden Shoot, which is boring. It often casts an impression that the "photographer" is doing the shoot just to date the young girls who are very likely not able to afford a professional portrait shoot. When a photographer's portfolio is filled with this kind of work, it will lead to more requests for similar work, which is a vicious cycle. Trust me, it takes me very long time at the initial stage of my photography career to get out of this because my friends who have helped me to build my portfolio are very shy girls who also have very limited type of outfits.

Modelling does require some sort of open-mindedness. Being open-minded will greatly help in producing a very good photograph compared to a good photograph; being very open-minded can help to create more mind-blowing artwork. Eventually, the model has to trust her team-mates, including the photographer, be it what kind of shoot. Most importantly, the model has to check out the photographer's portfolio and background before setting up a shoot.



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