Breaking Down How to Pose Models

November 15, 2022 | 0 Comments

A very common question that I encounter when discussing portraiture is “How do I pose a model?” It seems that many photographers struggle with posing models when they are in the early stages of their portraiture journey. This is important because you want to avoid saying things like, “Sorry, I’m so bad at telling people what to do,” or “I’m still getting comfortable with posing people.” You want to achieve photos where your model looks as natural as possible, and avoid making them look robotic or uncomfortable! Quite simply, knowing how to pose someone properly can make or break an image.

One of the most important general tips when posing someone is communication – you need to make sure that your model is comfortable. If they AREN’T comfortable it will show in their poses, especially if the model is inexperienced. Note that being ‘comfortable’ extends to more than just being physically comfortable. They also need to be comfortable in their environment, and they need to be comfortable in their relationship with you – this includes your demeanor, communication, direction, and more. Do not be afraid to direct your model, and be explicit in explaining the type of look you are after and what you would like to achieve. If done correctly this will put the two of you on the same page, which is where you want to be! A good idea can be to put together an inspiration board to send your model in advance so they have an idea of the type of style you are looking to achieve.

You also want to avoid being shy when talking to your model, as this will make the model feel uncomfortable or make them doubt your ability as a photographer. If a model starts doubting your ability it will show in her poses and emotion and not give you the final result you are after. Confidence is king!


I will now discuss some specific tips on posing a model and illustrate how it only takes very small changes to create a big difference in your photos. Let’s begin from a neutral place, in a front-facing pose. The below image is a great example of a model who doesn’t know what she should be doing – she looks uncomfortable, unnatural, and has a stiff posture. This I would call a ‘snap shot’ or ‘tourist shot’, as there is no emotion or interest in the image in terms of its posing.

Let’s look at some simple movements that can change the overall image drastically. For now, we will ignore the upper body and just focus on the lower body. In the image below the model is in the exact same position as the above image, the only difference is that I asked the model to put her weight onto her left side and pop her hip slightly. This is only a start, but already we can see a big difference. Just by shifting her weight, her body looks a bit more relaxed, natural, and comfortable. Her upper body certainly is still looking stiff and unnatural in comparison, but this is just the start.

So let’s address that upper body now. I always try to ensure that my model’s arms and hands are doing something going with the flow of the pose – we want this to look completely comfortable and natural as well. If you look at the below image here I asked the model to put her left arm on her hip. That goes a long way toward making her look more natural, but we’re not quite there yet!

Before we finish with this pose though, let’s look at where posing can go wrong. We still need to address her right hand, and one thing I could do is ask her to do is raise her elbow and put her hands around her neck, as depicted in the photo below. This seems like a very ‘model-esque’ type of pose and you might be tempted to try something like this, but in reality, this is a very unflattering pose. The reason for this is that an elbow facing the camera always results in a somewhat awkward-looking image – it’s simply not an angle that we’re used to seeing. In this particular example, it also makes her arms and head look stiff and not relaxed.

So let’s drop the elbow look, but we still need to address the right arm, because it looks awkward if it’s just hanging there. One trick you can employ is to have your model brush their hands through their hair until they reach a position that you are happy with, and then tell them to stop. By doing this action their body will be relaxed, and once stopped it will be at a place where she looks natural, as opposed to just placing her directly in that position. This is a tip that can apply to more than just brushing their hair, you can utilize it in a wide range of situations. Generally speaking, if you directly tell a model to take a specific position, it may look forced. But if the position involves some movement, just tell them to complete the movement and stop them in the position you want, and it will look much more natural. This works because their body instinctively knows how to complete movements naturally, but when they have to actively think about it there is the potential to look forced. I’ve utilized this tip in the image below and would consider this to be a completed pose. Overall we haven’t changed the initial pose incredibly radically, but it’s evident how a number of small changes can go a long way to improving your final image.


Let’s take a look at another example that uses a profile view. You’ll want to avoid having them just stand straight and turn their head towards the camera. The below image makes the model look like a robot who is stopping at your command – you would definitely want to avoid submitting this to a client!

Let’s use 5 simple steps similar to what we used in the last series.

  1. Have the model put her weight onto her right leg
  2. Pop her left knee out
  3. Put her left arm around her waist
  4. Have her right elbow rest above her left arm (which is around her waist) and have her right hand rest under her chin. Avoid having her rest the weight of her head on her hand, we just want her to gently touch the bottom of her chin slightly. 
  5. Have her angle her upper body slightly to her right to open her torso up to the camera more.

Just by applying these simple steps the overall image changes and becomes much more flattering. Certainly, you won’t want to use these exact steps all the time, as you want variety in your posing. But what I am trying to instill here is to have you think granularly about the elements of the pose and how you can break it down by limb or element to build something overall that is effective and unique.


Let’s try another example, this time from a sitting position. As always, let’s start with an unflattering neutral position, as evidenced in the image below. One thing I always tell new photographers is that, if your model is sitting on the floor, never have them sit in a way where the bottom of their feet is facing the camera. This is because this moves the focal point of the image to their feet, and the face and body become drowned in the background. Again, this is a classic ‘snap shot’ style of image, not something we want to achieve in proper portraiture.

As we’ve seen before, let’s apply a series of small adjustments to the image to create an overall more professional look. In this case, I applied 4 steps:

  1. Have the model raise her right leg up.
  2. Cross her left leg under her right leg, so that it rests on the floor.
  3. Cross her hands above her knee.
  4. Have her relax her head and lean slightly towards her right.

With these simple steps, the image suddenly becomes a lot more appealing. It conveys a lot more emotion and style and will make the viewer feel a lot more connected to the image. And all of this just through a few simple changes!

Against a Wall

Let’s take a look at one final example, this time incorporating the model leaning against a wall. Again, to start her body language looks very stiff, and she looks uncomfortable. Her body doesn’t show any emotion or tell any story (other than maybe that she doesn’t want to be there!). We’re also losing the chance to take advantage of the model’s shape – a straight standing position will minimize the curves and lines in your model’s body that showcases a more dramatic image. This is true for both female and male models, you want to accentuate the lines of their body and avoid making them look lifeless and shapeless.

As before, let’s employ a series of small changes to improve the image. First we will have the model cross her right leg over left leg and pop her left hip out (notice the hip-popping is a recurring theme). This shows more of her curves and makes her look less lifeless, as discussed above.

Second, I asked the model to raise her right arm and lean it against the wall, resting her hand on the back of her head. You’ll note that this does result in her elbow facing the camera, which breaks the rule about this that I made in the first example. This just goes to show that with some experience you can learn to bend or break the rules. However, I did make particular care to make sure that the elbow was not right up against her face and that it was at a more oblique angle.

Finally, for the third step, we’ll address her left arm. I had the model put her thumb in one of her belt loops and relax her arms. That’s it! If you compare the below-completed image to the original, we can again see a huge difference that a few simple steps can achieve.

Final Tips

There are many other ways that you can achieve natural poses. One is to have your model walk towards or away from you and then spin around to face the camera. Adding that organic movement can add a lot of energy in the still frame, although you’ll have to have good timing in order to capture it properly. You can also have your model utilize their hands in a variety of different movements, whether softly tucking their hair behind their ear, playing with a necklace, or grazing a finger across their lips. The hands make a big impact and add to the story, so you want to avoid poses that will leave their hands hidden (unless you are capturing a headshot).

There are hundreds of creative ways to pose a model, and listing them all would be impossible. But the key is to learn to break the pose down piece by piece and understand how different elements can be combined to make an exciting and dramatic pose. A great way to test out some of those elements is to stand in front of a mirror and experiment – it may feel silly, but it will both let you try new positions and give you some insight into what it feels like to be the model, both of which are valuable! The key here is practice. The more you are familiar with the human body the more quickly and easily you will be able to recognize strong posing opportunities for your situation and execute them effectively. Good luck!

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Environmental Portraits – Tips & Tricks

November 12, 2019 | 0 Comments

One of my favourite types of portraits to shoot is environmental portraits. To give you a bit of an understanding of what environmental portraits is, it is shooting a subject Usual environment, such as in their home, workplace or where the environment is also the main focus of an image. Typically illuminates the subject’s life and surroundings.

For me environmental portraits I like to shoot a portrait in an interesting area or surroundings, where the model will blend nicely and suit the surroundings. So once the viewers see the image the subject doesn’t look out of place from the surroundings. It also depends on the theme or outfits the subject is wearing to know whether or not it will suit the environment you are trying to capture. Here I will go through with you on the type of lens I use to shoot this genre and what I look for when shooting environmental portraits.


For me, the lens I choose to shoot in capturing environmental portraits is either the Sony 24mm f1.4 GM or the Sony 35mm f1.4 Zeiss. The reason why I rarely use a longer focal length is I want to show more of the environment and by using a wider lens it will achieve that. Here is an example where on my trip to Melbourne I wanted to do some City night portraits, and to showcase that you are in the city I needed to use a wider lens which my choice for this shot was the 35mm f1.4. Looking at this image you can see the city in the background showing that city night light, I choose to shoot wide open to create some nice bokeh with the f1.4 aperture but having my subject nice and sharp.

Here is an image where I used the 24mm f1.4 GM. I was limited with space to move and the 24mm allowed me to get a bit closer to my subject and capture her with a large portion of the environment. Showing the leading lines of the escalators giving that urban style look.


With locations, it is best to pick something that will match an outfit that will suit the environment the subject is in. If the outfit doesn’t suit the location it will throw the image off balance and will look out of place. Locations is a very vital part of capturing an environmental portrait as the surroundings will help draw the viewers eyes to the image. I know I said I prefer to use wider angle lens showcasing more of the environment but where I find it is exceptional to use a larger focal length is when you have plenty of room to move to get more in the frame. Here is an example of a wedding I shot where I used the Sony 70200 f2.8 GM. Now you don’t always have to shoot wide open as the whole point of environmental portraits is showcasing the surroundings. Here I used an aperture of f4, due to shooting at 200mm the depth of field still allowed the background with a slight blur but showcasing the surrounds of the sand dunes and allowing the subject to still to be the main focus. I used the Godox ad600 to fill in the shadows giving an even light on my subject since we were shooting in harsh lighting.

Here is another example of using the 70200 f2.8 where I captured this image for a client on their wedding day. I wanted the waterfall to be in the background so I placed the couple on the rocks and due to limited space, I couldn’t use a wide-angle lens so I can to go across the lake and use the 70200 at 200mm. Shooting at f4 allowing the background to show clearly and putting a slow shutter speed to show movement in the water. I used the Godox ad200 with Magmod mag grid and Magsphere to light the couple.


Earlier I mentioned about clothing, You don’t want to pick a surrounding, for example, a graphite wall that is colourful and the subject is wearing colourful clothing that when you look at the image they blend into the background and the viewer’s eyes get lost on what they are looking at. Or another example where the subject is positioned in an environment where it looks messy or there is a lot of stuff there that will distract the viewers and doesn’t look pleasing to look at. Here is an example of an image I captured which it was a last-minute rushed shoot so had limited time to prepare and pick the outfit to suit. Now I love the reflection, the sunset, the colours BUT the outfit didn’t 100% suit the environment she was in. The colours didn’t blend in nicely to go with the flow of everything.

Here in this image is a great example of how the outfit plays a big role when shooting environmental portraits. A designer had recently received a new dress and wanted to get some fashion portraits done but she wanted more of an environment in the image. So we picked this place which didn’t have much of background but had these amazing stairs. When we placed the couple on the stairs with the colour of their outfit everything started to fall into place. The stairs showcased like they are going to a ball or wedding. Here I used the 35mm f1.4 to capture this image shooting at f4 as I wanted the surroundings to also be in focus. The stairs also act as a leading line to help draw the viewers eyes to the couple. Here I used 2 x ad200 in the Magmod Magbox to light the subject allowing that pop and separation from the background bushes.

This next image I want to show you why I don’t intend to use longer focal lengths for environmental portraits especially wide open. This was shot with Sony 85mm f1.4 GM lens wide open, in this shoot, we were doing a fashion shoot and by shooting wide open it allowed for some nice bokeh but you can’t tell 100% what the surroundings as everything is blurred out.

But here I changed my f stop down to f2 giving that slight separation between background and my subject but still allowing you to make out what the environment is. Again picking the right outfit to suit your environment is very crucial, here the model is in a suit and we wanting to have the city in the background showcase that business look. I choose to have the windows shown as it was more pleasing to look at. Whereas right behind him there were bins and plenty of cars which would put off the look I wanted to achieve.

This is another shoot we did in the Blue Mountains, where I had the model wear a red dress to stand out from the background. Here I used the 70200 f2.8 but shooting at f4 still showing the background and the environment she is in

Always remember for environmental portraits you don’t want to always shoot wide open you want to showcase the surrounds so best to shoot around f4. With the surroundings make sure your subject is wearing an outfit to blend nicely with the background and don’t get lost. The composition is also important making sure you frame the surroundings and subject well.

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November 10, 2019 | 4 Comments

A question that has always been asked on social media is what gear do you recommend for weddings and why? In today’s blog, I decided to write about the gear I use and why I use them for weddings. I recently did a blog on Preparations to shoot a Wedding. If you haven’t yet make sure to check that blog out.

Bags –

The most crucial item that is needed for shooting weddings is a camera bag, let’s face it without a camera bag you won’t be able to carry the gear you need to shoot a wedding.

The bag I use for a wedding is the Tenba Roadie Roller 24. I use this bag because of the size been able to fit all the gear I need to bring and use for my weddings, this way I am only bringing one bag to oppose to multiple bags. The Roadie Roller 24 is well designed and can customise the compartments to suit the gear you would like to store in the bag. It is a roller bag making it so much easier to drag around on different locations and constantly been on the go changing locations it is a lifesaver instead of having a large backpack carrying it on your back feeling the weight and pressure. The Tenba bag also has a TSA lock so you can lock your bag avoiding people from accessing your gear, in addition, it also has a locking cable as well been able to tie it against something avoiding people from picking the bag up and walking away with it. The Tenba bags are solid built, they have reinforced sides protecting your gear from damages when the bag has been hit.

Cameras –

Shooting a wedding it is very important to have 2 cameras, one main camera which you will be using the majority of the time and a backup camera. I use the Sony a7iii as my main body and the Sony a7r3 (i have recently upgraded to the Sony a7rIV) as my back up camera. Both these cameras do really well in low at high iso and with fast focusing. Having the a7iii has my main camera due to the 24mp, that way I save on storage as the 42mp you would need to be prepared in having a lot of storage space. The Sony a7r3 I use as my back up for more candid shots due to switching the camera in crop mode if I need the extra reach to capture images of the guest enjoying themselves.

SD Cards –

I currently use the Sony Pro SD cards, I have 64gb and a 128gb. It is very important to keep some spares with you in case one card gets full and need to put in a new card. Both bodies allow having dual SD cards, that way you record on one card and it will automatically backup the images to the second card.

Batteries –

With the 3rd generation Sony bodies they now have the larger Z batteries, unlike the first and second-generation batteries that are a lot smaller. Before I would carry at least 8 batteries and will go through 4 on each body. Now with the Z batteries, I can shoot a full 14-hour day and will have about 6% battery left at the end of the night. With the Z batteries, I can get close to a 1000 shot on a full battery, I do however have 4 batteries.

Camera Straps –

Camera straps I say is a photographer’s worse nightmare. I have been through so many cameras straps and was always disappointed with them. But now I have thrown out all my straps and currently using the Spider Holster Light system, and I have to say the holster system is a lifesaver. Been able to go through a 14-hour day wedding and not have sore shoulders as the camera straps will weigh down on your shoulders and necks giving you pain at the end of the day. I can’t tell you how many weddings and events I have done where I would be in pain due to the weight. Whereas the Spider Holster Light system it distributes the weight around your waist making it easy and quick to access your cameras especially been on the go. I have the Dual Spider Holster Light system, been able to fit 2 cameras on either side of my hip with quick and easy access. The Spider Holster is very easy to set up. I do also have the Spider Holster Light hand strap on both bodies. That way my cameras are well secure in my hand without accidentally dropping. The Hand strap fits very comfortable on your hand, it has a perfect mould giving you that flexibility to changing the settings without restrictions. Use both these combos as made weddings so much easier to shoot, knowing I don’t have restrictions or limitation with camera straps.

Bride & Groom house –

The lenses I use for both bride and groom house are the Sony 90mm f2.8 macro, 35mm f1.4 AF (this lens will stay on my a7iii for the whole day and is used 90% of the time), For my Sony a7riii I will have the Sony 85mm f1.4 GM. I do occasionally use the 55mm f1.8 Zeiss just depends on the space at the house if the 85mm will be too tight. I love to use natural light for the houses oppose to flash as it gives more of a nice natural look.

I love the 90mm f2.8 macro, it is Sony’s sharpest lens and in my books the best for detail shots.

Sony a7rii + FE90mm f2.8 macro. This shot I had my phone torch backlighting the ring and above it, I had my godox v860ii flash set up. The rings were placed in the plastic cup and sitting on top of some bark

The 35mm f1.4 and the 85mm f1.4 I use for when the bride or groom getting ready, this is my favourite focal length to shoot with at weddings. Been able to get some nice wide shots and can get in close to the subject if needed.

Sony a7riii + 85mm f1.4 GM (natural light)
Sony a7III + 24mm f1.4 GM

Church –

During the ceremony, I use the 35mm f1.4 and the 70200 f2.8 GM. A lot of worship places would not allow flash which does not bother me as I love to use the natural light that comes into the church. What I love about the 35mm f1.4 I am able to get some nice wide shots of the bride walking in or some candid shots at a wide aperture especially if the church has low light.

A candid shot of the flower girl looking outside the church at the bride. Captured with the 35mm f1.4 AF lens – ISO 125, f1.4, shutter 1/1250

What I love about the a7r3 + 70200 f2.8 combination is the reach I get to be able to capture nice tight shots of the moments that are happening.

Sony a7iii + 24mm f1.4 GM

Location –

When it comes to the location I intend to just use one camera and one lens. The lens I choose to use for location is the 85mm f1.4 GM. I also will add off-camera flash for the location shoot, which I will use the Godox ad200 with my Magmod Magsphere and MagGrid, sometimes I will use the ad600 with a 27inch beauty dish depending on time and if I have an assistant. I will however at times use the 35mm f1.4 if I want to capture more of a scene with the couple.

Sony a7rIII + 70200 f2.8 GM with Godox ad200 & Magmod Maggrid & magsphere

Reception –

For the reception, I will stick with my 35mm f1.4 on my main body but will change to my 24mm f1.4 GM for table shots as the 35mm won’t be wide enough or if I have a second photographer I will have him/her cover the table shots. My second body I will change between the 55mm f1.8 Zeiss, 85mm f1.4 GM or the 70200 f2.8 GM depending on the size of the reception as I will use these lenses to get some nice tight candid shots of the guest, bride and groom having fun. I will try and not use flash if I can but if I end up using flash I have 2 x Godox v860ii flash and will use the Magmod Sphere or Bounce.

Sony a7iii + 24mm f1.4 GM

Thank you for reading. Do check out my social media pages and my facebook groups below.

Art Of Portrait Photography

Art Of Street Photography

Art Of Macro Photography –

Sony a7/a9 –

Landscape – seascape – cityscape

Gear group –

Bokeh Group –

Art Of Animal Photography –

Sony A6000 – a6300 – a6500

Sony a77ii/a99ii group

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Preparations to shoot a Wedding

November 7, 2019 | 1 Comment

Capturing weddings can be the most stressful but fun thing to shoot. But for me, I absolutely love shooting weddings because I am able to capture those special and unique moments for my clients. Just seeing the smile on their faces when I hand the images over to them for viewing is priceless

The key things for weddings to know are:

Getting to know your clients: The first meeting is always the most crucial part for a couple looking to get married. Building that connection with the couple and making them feel comfortable for them to trust you and hire you to capture their special day. Spend some time chatting to the Bride and Groom, find out their story and get to know them. It is also a great time for them to get to know you as well. They are here to find out what they are hoping you as a photographer will be able to achieve for them in capturing the special moments of their lives and what they expect of you. Pre-wedding shoots are a great way for you and the couple to get comfortable with each other and for the couple to understand how you work and for you as a photographer to understand what the couples want.


Make sure to always have a signed contract between you and the bride and groom. The contract is there to describe the fees, services and products offered to the couple. And will also protect you as a photographer. It is best to hire an attorney to create a contract suited for you.


Ask for the Schedule for the wedding, finding out the times of the import parts of the day making sure not to miss a moment. If it is the first time going to the church, location and reception, take some time to visit the places. It is important to know what to expect at the locations and prepare as you don’t want to turn up at these locations and see something you were not expecting that will through you off from what you planned to do. Eg. Church, whether or not flash can be used. As you won’t know how well the light is. Check out the location and find some key sections where you can take the couple for some shots (make sure the couple is aware that a permit may be needed and to organise getting the permit). Visit the venue see the lighting that is used in the venue.


Go through your equipment a week before the wedding making sure sensors are cleaned, Lenses and cameras are functioning well (if there is an issue with any of the items you have time to get a replacement). SD cards are in working order and formatted (You don’t want to turn up to a wedding and realise your SD card was either Full or faulty) make sure to have extra SD cards. Take Spare batteries as depending on how long you are shooting the wedding you may need to swap batteries. The last thing you need is having your battery to go flat and no spares to continue capturing the day. Always carry 2 bodies, one main body and one backup. My main body which is the Sony a7iii I will have either 24mm f1.4 GM or the Sony 35mm f1.4 Zeiss just depending on space that is available, this is my most used lens 90% of the time for a wedding. My backup body I will have my Sony a7Riii with either my Sony 135mm f1.8 GM, 85mm f1.4 GM, 70200 f2.8 depending on the venue. Have a good bag to carry your items in, I Currently use the Tenba Roadie Roller 24 which will fit all my bag and it is a roller and easy to carry around. With the Tenba bag, it is a cable lock so you can tie it to places and know that no one will come and pick up your bag. I also use the Spider Holster Light Belt to carry my gear throughout the day instead of camera straps. The reason I use the Spider Holster is that I am on my feet all day and having straps puts a lot of strains on your shoulders. Whereas the Spider Holster distributes the weight around your waist and frees your shoulders so you will not have any pain at the end of the day. And the most important thing is Flash. I have 2 x Godox V860ii flashes and I do bring either my Godox ad200 with Magmod MagSphere, MagGrid and Maggrip or the Godox Ad600Pro for location shoots.

Ceremony and Reception

With the ceremony, majority of worship places do not allow flash (it is important to ask, as you don’t want the priest or person who is performing the ceremony to stop and ask you to turn your flash off in the middle of the wedding). It is best to have a camera that handles low light really well and be able to increase your ISO without adding grain. Example the sony cameras I am able to shoot up to ISO 12800 with very little noise in. It is important to have fast lenses especially for low light with worship places and reception. I generally use primes with an aperture of f1.4 or a 70200 zoom which is an f2.8 that way you allow more light through your lens without increasing your ISO too high. Key moments to capture during a ceremony is the Bride walking down the aisle, Exchanging the rings and the first kiss. These moments are very important to capture and should not be missed. During Ceremony it is good to blend in the crowd and capture candid shots of the guest laughing and having fun. For this, I would use my 85mm f1.4 (Hopefully Samyang will release an 85mm f1.4 AF and a 135mm f2) or 70200 f2.8 this way I can get some nice close tight shots at a distance without been seen. It is best to capture emotions as they are happening.

What do you need?

Make Sure to bring snacks and water as it will be a long day and would not have enough time to stop somewhere where you can get something. Dress appropriate for a wedding as you want to blend in and be able to capture those special candid moments of the guest or couple, You don’t want to stand out. Wear comfortable shoes been on your feet the whole day without a break is tiring, I had my fair share of uncomfortable shoes where it killed my feet. Invest in a good pair as without your feet you won’t be able to work.

What to do after a wedding?

The first thing you do when you finish a wedding and get back home or to the office is to BACKUP your images. As you don’t want to accidentally delete them or something happen to the SD cards and you lose all the images. That is the last thing you and the couple needs.
A lot of People always ask me, Why do I use the 35mm 90% of the times. First of all, I am a prime shooter and the only zoom lens I use is the 70200 f2.8 which is mainly used at the ceremony. For me, the 35mm is my favourite focal that allows me to get close to my subject for some nice detail shots and to capture images showing more what is happening around your subject. With the f1.4 which is great in low light and produces a stunning bokeh or background separation. Below are images I have captured during a wedding using the 35mm.

Sony a7rIII + 85mm f1.4 GM – ISO 100, f1.4, shutter 1/400

Sony a7III + 24mm F1.4 GM – ISO 400, f1.4, shutter 1/250
Sony a7III + 24mm f1.4 GM – ISO 100, f1.4, shutter 1/1000
Sony a7rIII + 70200 f2.8 – ISO 100, f2.8, shutter 1/1500
Sony a7III + 24mm f1.4 GM – ISO 100, f2, shutter 1/4000
Sony a7rIII + 70200 f2.8 GM – ISO 80, f8, shutter 1/50
Sony a7III + 24mm f1.4 GM – ISO 800, f2, shutter 1/250
Sony a7III + 24mm f1.4 GM – ISO 800, f1.4, shutter 1/250
Sony a7III + 24mm f1.4 GM – ISO 100, f2, shutter 1/250
Sony a7rIII + 135mm f1.8 GM – ISO 100, f1.8, shutter 1/800
Sony a7rIII + 135mm f1.8 GM – ISO 100, f1.8, shutter 1/400

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Experimenting with Portrait Focal Lengths – 24mm vs 85mm

November 6, 2019 | 6 Comments

When shooting portraits, the focal length of your lens has a lot of influence on the final result. It’s very common to hear a lot of discussion surrounding 85mm, 100mm, and 70-200mm lenses, as these are the most common focal lengths used for “traditional” portrait photography. However, there really is no right or wrong answer about which is the best lens for portraits – it completely depends on the style and results you want to achieve! In this article we’ll be discussing how you can use a more unusual 24mm focal length for effective portraits. We’ll compare that to using a more traditional 85mm focal length, we’ll see the different situations in which each lens excels, and we’ll discuss the best situations in which to use either focal length and why.

When NOT to Use a 24mm Lens for Portraits

While a 24mm lens is a great focal length that has a lot of portrait applications, let’s start the discussion by pointing out the kind of portrait where I would AVOID using a 24mm lens – headshots. The reason for this is because 24mm is quite wide (particularly on a full frame camera), and as such it suffers from the perspective distortion that most wide lenses exhibit. Specifically, it exaggerates distances, making close objects appear larger than normal and distant objects smaller than normal. This is more pronounced the closer you are to the subject, and when trying to get a close-up headshot it can really distort the human face. This distortion is not a pleasing look and gives a bit of a “Funhouse Mirror” effect, which is typically not what your clients will be looking for!

In contrast, a longer 85mm lens has the opposite effect. Rather than distorting features, it compresses them, which actually has quite a flattering effect on the human face. This gives your headshots more of a realistic look and is why I primarily shoot headshots on 85mm or longer lenses.

Let’s demonstrate this by having a look at the below images. We can clearly see the difference between two lenses here; the 24mm lens results in a distorted look while the 85mm gives a much more pleasing result. For this reason, I would avoid a 24mm lens when shooting headshots.

24mm lens exaggerates distance, which is not flattering to the human face
In contrast, a longer 85mm lens flattens the subject, which is generally flattering for headshots.

Benefits of a 24mm Lens for Portraits

Now that we know when to avoid a 24mm, when should we use it? The best application of a 24mm lens for portraits is for environmental portraits. These are situations where you want to capture your subject in the larger context of the environment in which they are situated. This is as opposed to close-ups and headshots where we typically want to almost completely obscure the environment through use of shallow depth of field and tight composition. Environmental portraits instead aim to tell a story about the subject; the environment can establish context about who they are, what they are doing, and generally provide more nuance than a standard headshot.

Whenever I want to tell a story via an environmental portrait, a 24mm lens is almost always what I reach for. Because it’s wide focal length allows me to take a step back and pay attention to a larger field of view, it’s a great lens to capture the scene in which your model or couple is in.

A 24mm lens is also great for those tight spots where you want to capture the full body of your subject and can’t use any longer focal length due to limited space. This can be common in restricted spaces, such as churches, indoor venues, and even portrait studios!

Let’s examine some images that I’ve shot using a 24mm lens.

If I had attempted the above shot with an 85mm, I wouldn’t have enough room to step further back and be able to capture the whole body of the couple including the bridge. So instead I used the Sony 24mm f/1.4 GM (on a Sony A7 III) to capture this shot, which allowed me capture a wide shot of the couple with the bridge. And since I’ve put some distance between myself and the subject, we don’t see those distortion issues that we noticed on our close-up headshot examples previously.

Let’s look at some more examples, this time showing a few different shooting positions. In this case, we’ll look at one with full body and the other with half body. In the first image below, my back was completely against a wall and I couldn’t step back. I wanted to capture more of the environment and another focal length wouldn’t be wide enough to capture what I had envisioned. The 24mm allowed me to include the lovely background imagery as well as a full-body shot without any distortion on the couple.

Below is the exact same posing, except that I stepped in closer for more of a half-body shot. This allowed me to still show the background but have the couple fill more of the frame. Notice how it still provides some nice separation between subject and background, which is why a fast aperture can still be useful on a wider lens.

The 24mm also allows you to more freely capture creative perspectives when a longer 85mm focal length would be more limiting. In the below image I was standing on a small ledge and stretching my arms out above the couple in order to show a different perspective than normal portraits. If using an 85mm lens this would have required a dedicated ladder or more! 

The image below is a close up that was shot with the 24mm. Now, this is close enough that I had to be careful about encountering the distortion that we discussed at the beginning, but it’s not too overpowering in this instance. If you carefully manage your positioning and angle, it can be possible to minimise this effect to some degree (although it will always be there). It’s something that I would recommend practising so that it becomes second-nature when on a shoot.

When Does an 85mm Lens Excel?

Now that we’ve talked about the 24mm, let’s discuss when a more traditional 85mm lens can be the right choice. I love using an 85mm when I want to get close, or when I want to achieve a very shallow depth of field. This is because a longer focal length provides a more shallow depth of field than a wider one, so an 85mm lens will always be natively better at capturing a beautifully out-of-focus background than a 24mm one. As discussed earlier, an 85mm also gives you more of a realistic perspective of the persons face when shooting close up due to the compression of the longer focal length.

The below image was shot at a local park. The background had quite a few busy and distracting elements, but shooting at a wide f/1.4 aperture on an 85mm allowed me to blur those elements out, keeping the focus on the subject and creating artful background bokeh.

You can also use an 85mm for full-body shots in a similar way that you might on a 24mm, but you will have to be further back in order to do so. In this example, I was on the other side of the pond from the model as I wanted to capture the water in the foreground. A 24mm would be too wide in this situation, as the model would be far in the distance! The 85mm allowed me just enough reach to show the environment and full body of my subject while also producing a bit of bokeh in the background. 

In the image below I knew I wanted a blurry background, so I knew I needed to be close to the subject. However I also wanted a full-body shot, so I was careful about my distance in order to achieve both of these. You’ll notice that many of the full-body shots on an 85mm involve the subject sitting or in some other non-standing position. This means that they don’t have as much height, which will allow you to get a bit closer in order to fill the frame and maximise the bokeh. It can sometimes feel a bit contrived to position a model this way, so I would recommend experimenting with some more natural-feeling poses with a family member in order to get a feel for this type of posing.

When discussing the 24mm, we looked at a half-body shot with a couple. In that instance, the background was slightly blurred but was still mostly visible because the 24mm can only achieve a certain amount of bokeh due to its wide-angle. Below is an example of a half-body shot using an 85mm – notice how the background is almost completely blurred out, a much different effect than we found on the 24mm. Of course, I was much further away from the subject in order to achieve this framing on an 85mm than I was for the 24mm shot. The takeaway is that even if you have the positioning freedom to achieve the same type of image in terms of framing, these different lens choices can still significantly affect the result! Neither is better, it’s just a matter of different styles for the job at hand.

A great example of where an 85mm certainly excels over a 24mm is in-studio headshots. As studio backgrounds are often simply a solid colour, they tend to heavily emphasise the subject over the background, making them a natural fit for an 85mm. In addition, you’ll often be using more complex flash and lighting setups in a studio, which can be easier to manage when you’re only focusing on how that lighting affects a model’s upper body vs their entire body. Here is an image captured with the 85mm in the studio which gives a perfect perspective of the model’s face while avoiding distortion.

Shooting portraits can be one of the most rewarding styles of photography, particularly if you enjoy working with people. While there are tried-and-true methods, using unusual focal lengths like 24mm can lead to more creativity and experimentation, giving your portraits the “pop” needed to stand out from the rest. On the other hand, the 85mm look has a lot of benefits as well and is a classic for a reason. Mastering both styles can be a very exciting and rewarding experience!

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Capturing a Self-Portrait – Tips & Tricks

November 5, 2019 | 0 Comments

In this article, I will be talking to you about how to capture some good self-portraits. The benefits of this are two-fold. Firstly, you get a fun picture of yourself! But secondly, and more importantly, it can be a great learning experience because it presents an opportunity for you to experiment with and learn about portraiture in a setting that doesn’t present any time pressure. Also, having some experience being on the “subject” side of the camera can also make you more effective at communicating and directing your subjects in future.

A self-portrait doesn’t have to be just a simplistic portrait of yourself, you can make it pretty creative with just a little bit of work. For this particular self-portrait, I decided to go for a fun “ninja” style with a moody dark look. The goal was to showcase a mysterious person behind a hood and face mask!

The first step in self-portraits is to have the right gear. In terms of camera bodies, any brand will be able to capture a great image. I used the Sony a7R III, in particular utilising its real-time Eye-AF feature. This makes a big difference, as it made it easy for me to ensure the eyes are sharp and in focus, something that can otherwise be a bit tricky in a self-portrait. In terms of lenses, I used the Sony 85mm f1.4 GM.

Setting-wise, I had the focus set on Wide with continuous focus, which allowed me to utilise real-time Eye-AF at its full potential. If you don’t have a Sony camera with this feature, don’t worry, you can achieve this in other ways. Set the focus mode to Wide, then pre-focus where you want to stand and mark that spot. Take a test shot and once you are happy that the image is in sharp focus you can then switch it to manual focus. That will ensure that the autofocus won’t hunt and re-focus. Utilise your fully articulating screen (or if you don’t have one, use an external monitor) so you are able to see a live view of your positioning. Another option would be to tether the camera to your laptop, so you are able to view the images as you capture them.

Below is an image of my full set up. I had the camera mounted on my Benro tripod, and I used a wireless remote to trigger the camera. Make sure to have your camera set on a timer so when you are using the trigger it doesn’t fire instantly before you are able to get into position! I had my camera set on a 10-second timer so that when I use the wireless remote I was able to get into position and hide the remote before the picture was taken.

Homemade outdoor portrait studio

Welcome to my “studio”

My main source of light was the Godox AD600Pro on my left side with a Godox 90cm Strip Box. My backlight was the Godox AD400Pro, similarly with a Godox 90cm Strip Box, set up just behind me on my right side. Both strip boxes have a grid attached to them. The grid allows you to control the light better and minimises the light spread so it only hits the subject and doesn’t spread it to the background or the floor. Both lights were triggered with the Godox Xpro trigger. The main light was set to Group A and the backlight was set to Group B, which allowed me to control both lights individually.

The first question – the goal was to capture studio-style portraits with a black background, so how did I achieve this when there is such a busy background? And why did I not shoot this indoors or in a studio environment? I wanted to show you that if you have no access to a studio or even a large indoor space, you can still capture shots like this even your own backyard.

In order to achieve a pure black background, I chose to do this at night. To start, I set my camera to ISO 100, an f/11 aperture, and a 1/250 shutter speed. This allowed me to completely block all ambient light and achieve a pitch-black background. The reason for shooting f/11 is that I want everything in focus and sharp. While portraits often have a blurry background, in this case, there IS no background, which means a shallow depth of field would only result in half of my face being in focus and half being blurred out. Instead of relying on shallow depth of field for background separation, we’ll instead rely on light separation. The first image was a simple test show with the stated settings and no lights:

Baseline black background

Test shots are important for dialling in your baseline settings

Once you have that set before we do any work on posing we will have to adjust the lights properly. To start I added only my backlight, the Godox AD400Pro. That way I could tweak that light and change it’s effect independently of my main light. You could use a light meter for this to get more of an accurate reading, but I decided to do it by feel – an advantage that comes with experience! I wanted the backlight to be brighter than the main light, so I set the light to full power (1/1). I then took a test shot and below is the straight-out-of-camera result. Already we have a very cool moody look, which we’ve achieved with just a bit of outdoor space and the dark of night! This is the most cost-effective way to capture studio-style portraits with a black background. You just need to remember to cut out the ambient light so that the flash will be the only source of light on your subject, which will provide a very dramatic look. Of course, you may have to go back a couple of times to adjust the light if it is too bright or too dark.

Self Portrait - backlight only

Simple lighting decisions can go a long way to capturing your vision

Now that I am happy with these results, I decided to add my main light, the Godox AD600Pro. Adding a second light allows me to stand out more from the background. I then adjusted my main source of light to about 1/8th, quite a lot dimmer than the backlight, as I didn’t want the main light to overpower the backlight. I wanted it to have just enough power to light the left side of my face but retain that moody, dark look. Here is the result (straight-out-of-camera) from adding the second light.

Self portrait - dual light test shot

Adding in the main light. Framing is not perfect, but that’s why its called a test shot!

Now that all our settings are dialled in we can start to work on the pose and getting the framing right. In the below image I positioned my body more towards the backlight and faced towards the main light. I angled towards the backlight as I didn’t want my body to be completely lost in the background – I wanted it to pop. This was particularly important as I was wearing black clothing. I also added some props in my hands to add a bit of interest to the image. You can see in the image below that this allowed me to make the pose more interesting while still retaining separation from the background and still capturing that moody feel.

Self portraits - using props

Having some simple props and testing out different poses can add more interest to your photo

Frankly speaking, with self-portraits the sky is the limit – there is no right or wrong answer about how many lights you can use, and you can take all the time you need to experiment because you’re the only one there! Your particular decisions will depend on the vibe and feel that you are going for. Experiment with lighting and posing to achieve differing results. For example, in the below image I decided to use only my dim main light, and I moved the position of it slightly.

Self portrait - single light

Tweak your lighting to try out different looks

Still using that same one-light setup, I positioned the light at a slight angle on my left-hand side. I then added the props back in my hand to add more of an effect to the image.

Self portrait - low light with props

Adding the props back in for dramatic effect

You’ll notice that the framing is not perfect here. That’s something that you may find happening more commonly in self-portraits because you don’t have a photographer behind the camera to ensure the framing is perfect as you change your posing. No worries though, as some simple cropping in post-production can solve that issue!

Self portrait - low light with props reframe

Don’t be worried if your framing isn’t perfect, that’s an easy fix in post

Certainly, I’ve found that the Eye AF feature on recent Sony cameras makes this procedure a fair amount easier, as you don’t need to worry so much about your exact position in the frame in order for your eyes to be perfectly in focus. However many other brands are starting to add similar features, and you can get away without it with just a little bit of extra work. Note that you also don’t necessarily need to use strobes, a Speedlight will also work for self-portraits. 

Self-portraits can be a lot of fun, but more importantly, they can be an excellent learning experience, especially if you are new at portrait photography. They allow you to try different lighting conditions, camera settings and poses all without any time pressure at all. You can spend your whole day at it! You’ll learn a lot about setting up your portrait shots, not only as a photographer but also as a model. While it might feel awkward, having first-hand experience with posing and having your photo taken will allow you to communicate more clearly and creatively with your model once you’re on a more traditional shoot. I’d highly recommend that you experiment with self-portraits in a variety of settings.

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A Model’s Perspective on Media Theft

March 28, 2019 | 3 Comments

This blog post is not meant to be a rant of sorts, rather a look into what happens every day in the industry.  My hope is to open the eyes of models starting out and give a perspective to the people on the other side of the camera.  I hope to promote a business model where teams look out for and promote each other.  That being said…

I found out yesterday that one of my videos was stolen for a music video. I had not signed a model release and the videographer consented to have “parts of it” used for a lyric video without asking/telling me…

The entire video was used.

A year later a friend sends it to me saying how famous I am, that I’m in a music video. First, I am shocked. I never consented for this to be used. Second, I’m surprised to find the videographer credited in the description. He was a family friend and surely would have told me if somebody wanted to buy our video. Third, I’m extremely hurt because there is no mention of who the actress is…and I am the sole subject of the video…included throughout.

How did everyone think this was okay?

Model: Ashley BeLoat
Photographer: William P Cook

This happens a striking amount for independent models. We are often cheated out of our rates, manipulated into paying or losing money to work for someone, or found in a situation where an agreed upon TFP is redistributed or sold behind our backs.

This is unnerving enough in itself. The startling thing? The average model nowadays starts in their early to mid-teens. What will a child — yes, child — of that age know to do about this sort of thing? How would they know the gravity of what happened or even how to fight it? They likely will not know if or how to sue for pirated/stolen use of their image.

Models, actresses, musicians, photographers alike — we are all victims of stolen work. The one difference is that models are often the youngest of these populations and hence often the most seemingly defenseless. The likelihood of people getting away with the theft of our image is greater than that of a well known photographer’s work. We are less likely to pursue rightful legal ramifications.

In this case, many people were at fault. The maker of the lyric video asked my videographer for consent to use “parts of” our video and used the entire thing. My videographer gave consent on my behalf for a project of which he had no right to give full release (no model release was signed, I owned the video every bit as much as did he). The music artist never asked if consent was provided by the talent, or even asked for my name to credit me…

And once again, I was never notified anything about this project. I found out from a friend a year down the road.  What could I have done better?  I should have created a contract prohibiting further distribution of my work without my consent or compensation.  This is something I still need to create for my protection in the future. 

Nothing about this process was rightful or honest. Everyone was lied to or left in the dark, but I the most. This is the reality of the creative field. This is why we need to fight more than ever for rightful use of our work, and ensure the proper credits of our teams. This is why we need to remain professional, like we would expect anyone else to be towards ourselves.

Model: Ashley BeLoat
Photographer: William P Cook

              Has your work ever been stolen or pirated by another artist/brand?  What did you do about it?  What is your opinion on how business was conducted in this instance?  Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Ashley BeLoat
Print | Runway | Television
Instagram: @ashleybeloat

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The TFP Epidemic

February 21, 2019 | 4 Comments

You may have noticed a trend in the world of modeling.  Some people have spoken out about it, others stay silent.  I think there is something crucial here that needs to be said.  Something that needs to not only spark a conversation, but a change. It’s time to speak out about the epidemic of TFP modeling.

               If you’ve been in the industry long you’ve likely learned the concept of TFP or “time for print.”  In a nutshell, this phrase means “free work for free images.”  The concept has its proper time and place, but I’ve noted a shameful misuse and over-exhaustion of this principle in my time as an independent model.                

Naturally I must start this article off with a disclaimer of sorts.  If a model has no experience and is just starting out, it can be perfectly acceptable to request time for print.  If a photographer is highly notable and puts out consistently incredible work, there are occasions where time for print may be acceptable based on the model’s portfolio and what the shoot is for. And lastly, if the model and photographer are mutually looking for portfolio updates, this can be an acceptable practice as well – provided that both parties mutually benefit.

Model: Ashley BeLoat
Photographer: Yuliya Panchenko Photography
Hairstyling: Gretchen Gramlich
Makeup Artistry: Nicki Marie Makeup Artistry

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get into my qualms with TFP.  I will begin stating that independent models get the worst of this issue.  Since they don’t have an agent consistently fighting for the highest pay and demanding appropriate compensation from photographers/clients, they are the most susceptible to being preyed upon for free work.  Keep in mind that most models are teenaged or young adult women…and the vast majority of photographers will be older than their talent. This places the independent model on average at an automatic negotiating disadvantage. 

These models will be asked to give up or re-arrange work at their other jobs, commute hours on their own gas money, work shoots as long as 12 hours (not counting commute), do their own hair and makeup, provide their own wardrobe, and sometimes even fly out of state out of their own pocket.  Why do they do this?  “Oh, it’s TFP.  Everybody does it, so it’s what I have to do to make it.” 

This is such a lie.

Yes, dues need to be paid in order to build talent, character, and credibility.  But once a point is reached where you feel your experience, talent, and name are worth something you should begin expecting as much. Acceptable compensation will change on a case by case basis depending on who is pointing the camera at you.

Another issue with this business model I must speak about – withholding photos from models that have been booked “time for print.”  Certain photographers out there are more guilty of this than others.  It can be unintentional or downright calculated.  I cannot stand when a model is never supplied with photos from a time for print shoot. The photos may be provided years down the road, completely unedited and poorly lit, or even worse…never. This has happened to myself and countless other models out there. If you are a photographer and have done this to your talent, know that it’s completely unacceptable. If this was a conscious choice because the photos were not up to your standards, know that compensation must still be supplied to the model. An easy solution is to provide the edited photos and ask the model not to tag you, or simply PAY the model for her time/money/gas/makeup and any other expenses she paid to pose for you. If leaving your talent without images was due to having too much other work, then you should never have booked talent for a TFP project in the first place. Again, I would highly advice financial compensation to your talent in this case.

There comes a point in time after experience and a certain level of quality in a model’s portfolio when he/she should severely restrict the amount of TFP he/she accepts. Once a model gets to the point they are consistently booking work, it means they have proven themselves to be desirable for the job.  Just like a reputable mechanic would never be expected to fix a car for free, a reputable model should not be expected to work for free.  As stated before, there are times that TFP is worth it to the model if it’s a project or shoot beyond what existing portfolio merits.  Or, simply, the model feels they would benefit from the images as well.

I must also include this word to the models…Be very wary of the type of TFP you accept.  Ask yourself; is the purpose of the photoshoot or event solely to promote another individual?  Is it solely to promote a brand? What will you have to show for the experience once you walk away?  If “not much” is your answer, this is surely not a job you should take TFP.  Furthermore, if the brand you’re posing for will receive advertising, press, etc. remember you are damaging the modeling industry you know and love by providing them with free advertising.

Model: Ashley BeLoat
Photographer: Luyi Zhao Photography
Editor: Xiaolin Photo
Designer: Xiaolin Fashion Designer
Makeup Artistry: Zhang Yiwen
Produced for Stars Exchange

               My advice to photographers and brands?  If you want a model to spend her time, energy, and efforts promoting your image or product you should compensate her at the level her current work justifies. Remember that modeling takes time and money even when not in front of the camera.  There are health and beauty expenses, gym time, time for adequate sleep, and often time away from another job/source of income. Remember the time you are asking your model to relinquish by working for you.  Respect that modeling is a profession and craft that takes work, dedication, and talent. It is far beyond simply looking pretty.  If you’d like to learn this quickly, ask a pretty girl with zero camera experience to shoot and compare the difference at how smoothly and successfully the shoot runs.

               I will share with you the things I’ve been asked to do “time for print” with no compensation aside from images or “exposure.”  Sometimes the images were sharable and at my portfolio.  Other times, they were not and I walked away with nothing to show from the experience…

               I have been asked to shoot for brands to promote their products or garments. Sometimes castings were held, other times they reached out to me of their own accord. But every time in question there was one common tune they sang; “This will be great exposure for you.”  My thoughts?  If you found me, like my work, and want me, I have been properly “exposed” already and deserve compensation for my services.

               I’ve been asked to walk in numerous fashion shows where the only real images received – if any – are poorly lit, blurry behind-the-scenes of getting ready or possibly 2 shareable images on the runway. If you don’t know the routine of a fashion show, it is often a 5-8 hour day for the talent once preparations and rehearsals are counted in. There is usually little to no food supplied as well.  Can these opportunities be worth it?  Sometimes.  When gone about correctly, models can make lasting connections with the designers. But again, if you start off a working relationship with somebody where you provide services for free it will be expected of you in the future.

               Flying out of state?  Yes, I’ve been asked to do this for free many times.  I’ve even been asked to fly internationally to walk a London runway. But compensation?  Sometimes employers don’t feel it is necessary. I’m not quite sure how this mindset is justified and it still baffles me. If you want me to represent your brand so badly that you choose me versus models in your general vicinity, I must be bringing something valuable to the table for you. I find it rather insulting to expect me to do so for free.

               Exploit my connections with designers to provide you with free multi thousand dollar gowns to shoot?  Ask my bridal designer friend to give a dress to shoot outside in the dirt?  Not even bother to offer compensation to me or my designer?  It happens.  Sometimes this is a mutually beneficial situation if the images are of the highest quality and the designer consents as well. However, I am extremely cautious of who I will request to pull dresses for.  Not only am I being asked to work for free, but my designers may suffer damages to a dress. It’s my responsibility to ensure every collaboration with me is worth it for them – with minimal expenses for them after the fact.

Model: Ashley BeLoat
Photographer: Ina Pandora Photography
Makeup Artistry: Ina Pandora

                Please don’t take the impression this blog was written out of animosity.  This is truly an honest depiction of what is happening in many communities I’ve traveled to and lived in. In my experience working in New York, Los Angeles, Florida, and many surrounding islands this is what I’ve found to be common practice. Remember that I speak from the perspective of an independent model with no agent going to bat for her – I’ve been my own agent from day one. I’ve had to deal with people trying to cheat, take advantage of, assault, and rape me on the job.  I only wish to share my experiences to benefit the modeling community and provide a different perspective for photographers as they cast their talent.

               Above all, please strive to treat your entire team with respect. A bit of kindness goes a long way in front of – and behind – the camera. Conduct your businesses and practice your crafts with integrity.  Do this and success will surely find you.  Continue striving for greatness, my friends!

Until next time,
Ashley BeLoat
Print | Runway | Film | Television
Find me on Instagram @ashleybeloat

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Fashion Predictions for 2019

January 24, 2019 | 0 Comments

With the new year just around the corner everyone is frantically making their resolutions, checking their horoscope, and…updating their closet?  If you’re in the fashion industry, it’s very likely you have or are looking to do so.  But what trends are around the corner in 2019? What are some things we can expect to remain strong, fade away, or burst into the picture? 

  1. Long Live the 70’s

Or anything vintage-inspired for that matter. But bell bottoms, overalls, corduroy skirts, and jumpers in particular all enjoyed their time in the spotlight this year.  I don’t see this ending anytime soon with the wearable, colorful fashion preferences in California were the photography and videography community is very strong.  The question is – what vintage trends will be next to take the spotlight?  Who thinks pearls are going to claim their place in the fashion realm again?

  • The Eyebrows Have It

While the reign of the unicorn and rainbow eyebrows came and went, the eyebrow will continue to go strong.  The artful interpretations of these arches will probably remain few and far between.  I predict we’ll continue to see bold, fierce, yet polished brows that command attention to piercing eyes in numerous fashion campaigns. Why?  A well-done brow holds the power to take any photo from “blah” to “ah” as it draws the focus to the most powerful human element in the overall image.  I mean after all, your eyes only have one – erm, two – frames.

  • The iPhone Photoshoot

               Technology advances, the rise of social influencers, and the never-ending rise in Instagram fashion pages equals only one thing. Higher quality iPhone photos!  This trend has been infamously embraced by the many Instagram models who rather than paying a photographer, have their boyfriend behind the (smartphone) camera.  Entrepreneurs have the power to advertise their own brands, models have the power to take their own submission photos, and every person has the means to become a “photographer.”   While this may pose a threat to the traditional photography community, I think it’s safe to say this is a trend that is here to stay.

  • The Rise of DIY

               “Oh, I have a personal stylist for that.” Something many of us wish we could say, but few people can. That’s not stopping millennials and fashion addicts from piecing together their own looks.  With the ever-changing trends and rapid-fire style releases I think 2019 will find fashionistas reaching into their beauty boxes to think outside of them.  This will be a year to become more resourceful and innovative.  Consumers will continue to not only consume – but produce for themselves.

 Isn’t creativity most of the fun when it comes to defining your personal style? 

  • Not-So-Unmentionable

               Who else is happily guilty of taking your lacey bralettes and bodysuits outside the bedroom? I, for one, am so excited for this new style “do.”  When executed well this trend can be daring, feminine, and edgy.  One of my personal favorites is to take a lacy camisole or bralette and top it off with a blazer or leather jacket.  Can you say instant style turn-on?  2019 will have more people revealing Victoria’s Secret in their everyday apparel. 

  • Full-On Faux

               It’s a fact – nothing makes a statement like a fur neckline or a glistening leather handbag.  But it’s no secret that veganism and the fight against animal cruelty is on the rise. Fashion is going to reflect this.  We’ll continue to mimic these style staples but the authentic animal products will become yet more far and few between.  Unless you’re willing to go digging through the aisles at the thrift store for some older pieces in good condition, you can kiss that rabbit-lined coat goodbye.

  • The Uprise of Upcycling

               Would you have guessed this piece by H&M has recycled silver and econyl woven into the textile?  This is a refreshing turn from the “fast fashion” industry our clothing market has become.  Our nation is producing/purchasing clothing at an alarming rate for the consumers, leading to excessive amounts of waste as trends change, styles fade, or poorly-constructed fabrics wear out.  The environmentally-conscious community is going to make some moves here.  I predict 2019 is going to continue in advances of recycling, upcycling, and re-using in its designs.  Big labels are already doing it, and I’m excited to see where it takes us.

               What do you think is in store for the fashion of 2019?  What trends would you like to see take the runway?  What pieces are beginning to fill your closet at the turn of the new year?  Let us know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Ashley BeLoat
Print | Runway | Television | Voiceover

Model: Ashley BeLoat
Photographer: Dan Mahar Photography
Hairstyling: Gretchen Gramlich
Makeup Artistry: Briana de Bengson
Wardrobe: Lin Exclusive by Yong Lin
Published in ELEGANT Magazine

Image Sources

Bell bottoms image. She Magazine, 25 May 2018,

DIY style. Fashion Trend Seeker, 9 January 2018,

Eyebrow beauty headshot. Luulla, 8 January 2018,

Faux fur and leather jacket. Asos, 2018,

iPhone photo image.  Chad Verzosa, 2018,

Recycled fashion photo. Fashion United, 26 March 2018,

Wearable lingerie studio image. Kat Rappaport, Spring 2018,

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The Deterioration of Modeling

November 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

If you judge my articles by their title you have probably already formed some strong opinions about this one. Models are becoming more diverse in size, shape, age, and everything in between. The plus-size market is stronger than ever and models with Downs Syndrome are walking runways in New York Fashion Week.  There are models with prosthetic limbs, scars, tattoos… Girls are often sought after for the things that make them unique and unlike anyone else. Modeling, you may argue, is stronger than ever.  This is true in some ways, but quite the opposite in others. Allow me to make my case on why modeling may be on the way out.

Model: Ashley BeLoat
Photographer: Andres Casallas Photography
Production Assistant: Michael Fried
MUA and Jewelry Designer: Tabitha Hayden
Hairstyling: Gretchen Gramlich


The “model” type used to be quite the stereotype.  Anyone with this job description was usually tall, young, slim, blonde, tan, and sporting a perfect smile of straight, white teeth.  A model rarely deviated from this set of characteristics as this was the image that saturated television and magazines. As stated before we are proud to see modeling evolving into a vast variety of looks. This communicates the truly marvelous reality that there is more than one type of beauty.  Every skin color, body type, eye color, age, etc. can all be appreciated for its uniqueness. Again, this is marvelous as more women and men are able to model… However, this means there is less steady work for models as there are less requirements to fit the job. Companies will continue to present diversity in their ads, and therefor rely less on an individual model’s specific look for their brand.  This is not to say it’s impossible to make your living as a model, but it certainly can make it more difficult to find jobs for your own look.

Whenever a model is blessed enough to be cast, there is often reluctance to pay him/her or a hefty portion of their compensation is directed toward their booker/agency.  When a model is unrepresented, they are often cheated out of rightful – or any – wages.  Not to mention much finances are usually invested in a credible, high-quality portfolio.  If a model does not do bikini, lingerie, nude, or implied nude work they will frequently encounter teams that are unwilling to pay for their time and talent.          I frequently tell models that while it’s possible to make decent money modeling, it is highly unlikely unless one of three things… Either you must be at least 5’8” and signed with a prestigious agency who regularly books you with the best of clients, you must already have an established name that people will seek to have representing their brand, or you must regularly do bikini/nude/lingerie work (as this work usually pays well).  The models that pursue high fashion, bridal, portraiture, and lifestyle work are often left underpaid – if paid at all. This can be discouraging for the not famous, 5’7”, modest model like myself. Again, it isn’t impossible…but I always tell younger girls with big dreams to at least plan another source of income.  The financial success can be few and far between.

Ashley BeLoat
Manhattan, NY
18 October 2018

Model: Ashley BeLoat
Photographer: Jeff Kravitz
Designer: Yong Lin

My final point is the overwhelming trend becoming adopted by more and more clothing brands… Have you noticed the rising trend on Instagram?  A brand will proudly state; “Tag #____ to be featured on our page!”  Consumers go to buy their clothing, have a friend snap a picture, and their photo can end up on the brand’s Instagram wall and website. It’s brilliant – it raises sales and provides free advertising.  It shows the wearability of the brand as real people are plastered all over their media in their clothing/accessories/makeup and promotes diversity in beauty.  However, there is one minute flaw in this marketing plan…  Businesses are relying on actual models less and less. There are fewer opportunities for the women and men who make this their career, and more opportunity for the average person.

What do you think this says about the future of modeling?  Do you feel this is changing modeling from a profession to a passion and hobby?  Let us know in the comments below what you think!

Until next time,
Ashley BeLoat
Print | Runway | Short Film | Live TV | Voiceover

Model: Ashley BeLoat
Photographer: Dan Mahar
Hairstyling: Gretchen Gramlich
MUA: Briana de Bengson
Designer: Yong Lin

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