I think that the thing that improved my photography even more than increasing my technical knowledge, upgrading equipment or piling up hours behind the lens, was the simple piece of advice offered by more seasoned photographers to refrain from shooting even a single shot until taking whatever time is needed to find what interests you about the subject. Almost overnight, when I began to heed this advice to study each subject with as much attention to what captivates my interest as I give to the lighting and background and f/stops and so on, my photography became much better, more compelling and, well, more interesting.
In the current feature gallery, I wanted to show four aspects that directed how I shot Gazelle. The first, which was immediately apparent, was her exceptionally well-defined musculature. The last two “back” shots presented in the gallery (among the first set that I shot) were taken with the light power of a studio strobe intentionally set higher than metered. This use of harsher lighting produced exaggerated highlights and shadows that emphasize Gazelle’s musculature. Finishing the black-and-white images in a very high contrast further emphasized these hills and crevices, and made light reflections on her skin appear wet and oily.
Then there were her long, long lines. Long, elegant lines are not surprising in figure models. But these extra-long muscles did surprise (and delight) me when they came in a body that is so compact… who am I kidding… in a body that is exceptionally teeny. Images 5 and 6 were shot using only the modeling light attached to a strobe (a continuous light source normally used only to select angles and detect shadows that will be produced from the much brighter flash of the strobe). Combined with my compositional choice to fill each frame with her extended limbs, I hoped to emphasize the length and elegance of Gazelle’s lines.
As I usually think in black-and-white when shooting figure models, Gazelle’s skin color did not initially peak my interest until she adorned a sheer orange scarf. Immediately her skin tone popped. The hot light shining through the scarf (along with a lens artifact I suppose) cast a stunning orange glow onto her caramel skin, the effect of which is most pronounced in Gazelle 2, and somewhat more subtly in image 3. In the detail of image 3 at the top of this post, notice the orange cast along the edge of the beautiful curve of her back, and splashing forward toward her abdomen.
Finally, there were the facial expressions. When shooting figure models, my attention to the model’s facial expression typically is limited only to assuring that it presents no distractions from my or the viewers’ focus on… you know… her figure. But Gazelle’s beautifully contemplative and, perhaps, somber expressions drew me in and compelled me to ignore her figure and focus solely on her face for at least a short while, yielding images 1 and 4.
To view all the images of Gazelle, please visit the featured gallery, the nature of gazelle.