The Model To-Do List

August 19, 2017 | 12 Comments

Here comes another weekend!  The end of many nine to five work weeks and the beginning of two days with creative possibilities.  Last week we discussed modeling from an emotional perspective in “The Basics of Emoting,” but today we’ll examine more of the practical side.  Today I am going to go over ways a model can prepare for his/her next big shoot and make the final images a success.  That’s right, today I will be going over my Model To-Do List.

Most people imagine modeling in the elite sense – a girl wakes up, eats a breakfast of fruit and granola, and grabs some coffee to-go on her way to a shoot where she is greeted by a team of professionals. Professionals who transform her into airbrushed perfection before she steps in front of the camera. All she needs to do is look pretty and pose well, right? Wrong.

For many up-and-coming models a shoot consists of a longer list of preparation and a smaller (sometimes nonexistent) team of professionals assisting with the pre-shoot transformation.  Many models are placed in the position where they must be their own hair artist, makeup artist, wardrobe supplier, and posing director. If you find yourself in this predicament it’s a huge responsibility and crucial to realize the importance of your role in the success of the shoot.  You will need to be mindful of everything from clothing fabric and color choice, to packing the correct supplies. Here I will go over what I have learned to do before my shoots in my three years of modeling experience.  And believe me, the list grows with every shoot…

1. Prepare The Canvas

YOU will be the painting on display.  As we all know, every masterpiece begins with a clean slate.  A clear canvas. This begins with good skin care all the time.  On the days before a shoot I am careful not to wear too much makeup to avoid clogging my pores or causing irritation.  Yes, I often go the more natural route on days off and it pays to have fresh and well-rested skin for “shoot days.”

It is also important to shave everything meticulously the day of the shoot.  Careful! No razor bumps!  You never know if the photographer will ask you to wear something unplanned, or if creativity will strike and you wear something a different way than how it was intended.  Also be sure to bring lotion on-set and give your skin a quick nourishing rub before the camera clicks.  All of this will help ensure luminous, smooth skin in the shots (with minimal photoshop from the photographer).  The same goes for facial hair removal.  Do your best to pluck and remove all dark, course hairs.

Model: Ashley BeLoat (myself) Photographer: Red Scott https://www.facebook.com/RedScottPhoto/?ref=br_rs

2. Plan Accordingly

Pre-shoot planning is so important!  A model should never expect to simply show up, pose, and receive impeccable images as a result.  To begin my preparation, I ask the photographer to provide me with a list of adjectives they want people to associate the final images with – power, strength, vulnerability, weightlessness, sadness?  I also study the location of the shoot as best I can.  This information is crucial when choosing outfits.  If the images are meant to be powerful and strong, opt for fabrics and pieces with mores structure.  If the photographer desires to create something more carefree, be mindful to choose lighter fabrics that can be thrown and flicked to capture motion and communicate a weightless feeling. Choose colors that will compliment your surroundings without blending entirely in. It may be helpful to do a little research on complementing colors and use this knowledge while making your choices.

Also, ask the photographer to send a few pictures that are inspiring them for this set.  Take note of the poses and expressions the models are using, and be sure to practice them in the mirror before the shoot.  You do not have to replicate these precisely, rather seek to put your own twist on them to make the final poses your own.

Model: Ashley BeLoat (myself) Photographer: Dan Mahar – http://www.danielvmahar.com/ Wardrobe: Brittany Jones – https://www.facebook.com/amusemeantforfashion/?ref=br_rs Makeup Artist: Nicki Marie – https://www.facebook.com/NickMarieMUA/

3. Hair & Makeup

If multiple looks will be executed, arrive with a good base of foundation, contouring and highlight (if desired by the photographer), and a neutral eye/lip.  As the outfits change, add more makeup to provide a good variety of looks for the final selection.  It is good to plan similarly for hair, beginning with one style that can easily be transformed into another.  What I personally like to do is begin with my hair down – either curled or straight.  As the humidity begins to make the curls fall or ruin the sleekness of my strands, I get to work teasing and tousling it further for another look.  For further variety, I will then put it up in a bun or ponytail.   At the end of my shoots I have also been known to attempt an unforgettable finish by committing irreversible “damage” for a final set of photos.  This entails things like getting completely soaked in a lake, intentionally smearing dirt or mud over my body and face, or streaking makeup across my exposed skin to mimic tribal paint.  This may not be a creative goal for the current photoshoot, but the mindset is to begin with the most natural ideas first, and finish with the most-styled ideas last.

A behind the scenes shot of getting wet for the final images in a shoot with photographer Josie Brooks. http://josiebrooksphotography.com/

 

4. Pack Like A Fashion Boy Scout

The boy scouts may not concern themselves with color-matching and wardrobe planning, but they are certainly prepared!  Keep in this mindset.  You want to arrive with a perfect bag of tricks that will allow you to perform well no matter what complications arise. Be sure to bring…

  • Bobby pins & hair ties
  • Bug spray if shooting outdoors (nothing is worse than holding a pose while being eaten alive by mosquitos)
  • Your makeup supplies & brushes
  • Hairspray, comb, & hairbrush
  • Nude or white undergarments
  • Breast petals (nipple covers)
  • Scissors (for stray strands on clothing)
  • Accessories
  • Backup fake nails (if you are wearing them) or a bottle of matching nail polish for quick touch-ups
  • Lotion
  • Small, nutritious snacks & water (some of my shoots have lasted up to 13 hours)
  • Inspiration photos saved to your phone for a quick refocus before stepping in front of the camera
  • Pepper spray (trust me, I intend to do a future post on model safety)
  • Confidence!! Or at the very least, enthusiasm!!

I hope this list of tips and secrets gives some insight and helps make your future shoots a success!  If there are any tips you would like to share from your own experience, please leave a comment!  I would love to hear from you.   Now I dare everyone to go create a new set of inspiring, exciting, superior images.

Until next week,

~Ashley BeLoat

Instagram: @ashleybeloat

Professional Page: https://www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images/

Model: Ashley BeLoat (Myself)
Bridal and Fashion Designer: Yong Lin – http://yonglinbridal.com/collection
Photographer: Kevin Coates – http://kevincoatesphotography.com/
Hair & Makeup: Buffy Solina

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The Basics of Emoting

August 11, 2017 | 9 Comments
By Ashley Beloat

With the end of another week around the corner comes another time for me to share a model’s point of view.  I’ve given many invitations for topic requests, and received numerous suggestions.  Today we will be covering a suggestion by model Shante Armstrong – emoting for the lens.

While this post may be considered primarily for new models, it is truly for all models and photographers alike.  I feel it is crucial for the photographer to understand what we must mentally go through to deliver an emotive image on set.  So without further ado, here are some of my strategies, stories, and personal experiences with showing emotion for the camera.

Photo by Josie Brooks Photography www.josiebrooksphotography.com & IG @josiebrooksphotography Model: Myself

Back when I first began modeling I had only two expressions.  I would toggle between a bright, radiant smile and casting a shy gaze downward.  That was it.  Yes, there was more that I wanted to do.  More that I wanted to say with my expressions and body language…  But I was not confident enough to release myself to do so for fear that it would look silly or the photographer would laugh at my choices.  I soon learned that the worst thing a model can do is cripple him/herself with hesitation and fear.

The first important step is CONFIDENCE.  Not necessarily a self-assurance that what you are doing will look amazing, but maintaining the courage to try.   Part of communication between photographer and model includes the photographer sensing what you are trying to do and giving you tips on how to fine-tune your poses to make it work.  If they give suggestions or constructive criticism it is not intended personally.  It may be a simple matter of the photographer’s taste, the overall mood of the particular shoot, or taking your instinct and tailoring it to the photographer’s vision.   Never be afraid of the photographer not liking what you are doing.  Modeling is a vulnerable profession; you open yourself to constructive criticism every time you step in front of the camera.  Refrain from receiving feedback as an attack.  Instead, take it as the photographer saying; “This is how we can make our images more incredible.”  What model doesn’t want suggestions like that?

The next thing I want to stress is the importance of taking yourself on a mental journey.  When I am in front of a camera I often give myself a character I am trying to portray.  If not an entire character, I will focus on a clear mood with each pose.  There are many useful tips for conveying moods through body language and facial expressions I have found.   Anything meant to convey power, confidence, or strength requires tension and structure.  Limbs should be more rigid, more triangles should be formed through stance and arm placement.  Eyes should be boring into whatever target you choose to gaze at.

When communicating more demure and relaxed moods such as subtle flirting, timidity, sadness, etc. the body and face needs to be more fluid and relaxed.  The lines your limbs create should be more subtle and gentle.  The face should be more relaxed with little changes like the simple raise of an eyebrow, a coy smile, or a soft, mournful gaze.  Think in your mind what you want to communicate, feel it deep inside, then decipher if the body language and expression is tense or relaxed.  It also may be helpful to do some personal research on the science of body language.  This will help everything be congruent in the final images.

My last suggestion is to never hold back.  It is far better to give the photographer more than they asked for rather than less. Doing something unprompted may spark new ideas in their creative visions as well, and the most successful shot of the day may be a result of that spur of the moment pose.  I love to do spontaneous things with my hands including but not limited to things like covering one eye, forming a telescope with my hands to peer through, or forming somewhat of a box around my face.  I’ve been laughed at a couple times and redirected, but I have more so received the reaction of; “Oh my goodness!! Do that again!”  That reaction is the most rewarding as a model.  It means you’ve sparked an idea that was not previously in the photographer’s mind.

As a final touch I’d like to share with you some of my more emotional images and the stories behind them so you may see my suggestions put into practice.  My first examples will be with photographer Abby Lynn Pierce of Ablynn Photo. You can find her at https://www.facebook.com/AblynnPhoto/.

Our very first series was designed for Depression Awareness Month.  We wanted to communicate the emptiness people with depression must mask and coexist with every day.  We wanted to communicate a sadness that was so commonplace, I had no more tears left to cry. I shot the entire first portion without a dab of makeup.  Every pose I struck was supposed to be vulnerable and sad without overt theatrics.  I remember meeting Abby for the first time on set, I remember being nervous about how real and candid I was about to become…and I remember the chills we both felt as the camera continued to click.

This next set is again with Abby. This time we chose the concept of eating disorders.  I had the challenge of playing two parts in this series, and I took it very seriously communicating the mental battle an eating disorder entails.  Having had my own struggle with anorexia it was very important to me to do this concept justice.

 

Here is another set I completed with photographer Josie Brooks (the master behind the first image in this post). This set was completed after someone I know and love attempted to take their own life.  I remember being in front of Josie’s camera, thinking about how my friend must have felt.  I began to tailor my expressions and body language as such, and Josie told me to continue.  This is what we ended up creating…

I could go through and show many more images, but I will save those for future discussions.  But this week I want every model to leave this screen feeling encouraged to let themselves go in front of the camera.  A truly captivating shot requires vulnerability.  To make the viewer feel something you must first be unafraid to feel it yourself.  Give yourself the permission to say whatever it is you want to say through your silent lips, your body language, and your candid gaze.  And to all the photographers reading – I hope this has given you a useful glimpse inside the model’s mind.

Until next week,
~Ashley BeLoat
www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images
IG: @ashleybeloat

 

 

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Introduction

August 3, 2017 | 4 Comments

By Ashley BeLoat

Hello everyone! Welcome to my section of The Art of Portrait Photography. My name is Ashley and I have never once taken a photo that gives me the right to call myself a photographer. My place is in front of the camera. I am the object photographers take pictures of, the “model” so to speak. I am the canvas for the wedding dress, the expression that communicates an emotion, and the body that must tell a story with its pose.

  Nice to meet you.

  My goal is to answer questions and start discussions that are pertinent to models and photographers alike. The Art of Portrait Photography requires participation from both parties to create a truly stunning image. My hope is that this section of our website will help other models develop their craft while offering perspective to photographers, confessing what it is like on the other side of the lens.

  Modeling is truly an art form that – like photography – has the power to be a creative journey. We have the power to set the tone of the overall image with our body language, eyes, and persona. But with every journey comes a starting point. Everyone must begin somewhere, and sometimes those beginnings reveal many opportunities for improvement. I remember this stage for me…

  I was incredibly spoiled. My first photographer ever was incredibly talented and to this day still captures some of my best images. But in the beginning? I was no model. Not even close. Want to know why? I will show you.

That was my first photoshoot ever. The fear is blatantly plastered all across my face. My soft smile is obviously forced and the eyes are dull. I was shaking so terribly, and my heart was beating faster with every click of the camera. What was I doing?

  Then the photographer sent me the images. I was amazed at the way she viewed me through her camera. It was a perspective I had never once had of myself. It was then I decided I would learn to become better. I would conquer this place in front of the camera.

  I soon learned the potential a model has to set the scene. The stories he/she can tell by interacting with or ignoring the camera. A pretty picture was no longer enough for me – I wanted to make people feel something with my photos.

  I began researching strategies that would help me reach this goal. I began studying posing strategies, looking up makeup tutorials, quizzing other models who had “made it” with agencies and runways. It became a bit of an obsession for me, I must confess. But without all of this work to learn and improve, I could never have participated in pieces like these…

Three years later I now have hundreds of photos, have had the honor of posing for nearly 50 photographers, been the canvas of numerous talented hair/makeup artists, and been the proud display of several designers’ creations. Never would any of this have happened if I had not constantly pushed myself to imrpove. It’s an honor to now share this quest with other models around the world! Join me as we work to perfect the art of portraiture – from our side of the lens.

 

Until next week,

Ashley BeLoat

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