Got back some of the proofs from the Salem shoot! Hooray. This one was cosplay; I have the Black Widow outfit now, and sooner or later I'll get the ones I did in the Poison Ivy costume.

All by Matthew Phillion of 16 Degrees Photography.

I look like I come out ridiculously well in photographs mainly because you're not seeing all of them. Depictions of photoshoots in the media are hilariously inaccurate -- in the movies, the photographer goes snap! snap! snap! a dozen times, and gets a dozen photos to run in the magazine. In reality, there are multiple rounds of multiple people being incredibly fussy before anything is released into the wild.

It really goes something like this:

  1. I show up to the shoot. After getting my styling done -- which is a process in and of itself -- and the photographer taking a bunch of test shots and adjusting the lights, we get down to business. The number of proofs (original camera exposures, before any cropping or editing) I get back varies by photographer. The ones who began on film tend to take fewer shots; the ones who began on digital figure storage is so cheap they tend to snap anything that looks like it might come out right. The number of candid shots your friends take of you at parties to post to Facebook might be a couple dozen; the number of proofs in a professional photoshoot is usually in the hundreds.
  2. Someone, usually the photographer, goes through and weeds out the ones where I'm blinking, talking, making a strange face, standing at a weird angle, overexposed, underexposed, casting awkward shadows, not quite in the middle of the lighting field, wrinkling up the fabric backdrop, too close to the light stands, looking/not looking at the camera, unsuccessful at trying to keep stray hairs from sticking to my lip gloss, or unaware that some part of my outfit has shifted and I'm flashing everyone my undergarments, or lack thereof.
  3. At this point, some photographers send me everything that's not blatantly unusable. I kind of hate that. One, it's many many gigabytes of stuff that I have to put somewhere. I am a data whore, but I have a finite supply of hard drives here. Two, I have enough trouble being hypercritical of my own projects already, and I don't really need to spend three hours staring at photos of myself and going, "Goddamnit, I should have had my left arm up higher." Until time travel is invented and I can go back and fix this, I much prefer not to page through three hundred photos that look only slightly hinky.
  4. Regardless of whether the 'tog or I go first, someone sifts through the remaining shots, pitches the ones that they don't like, and then forwards their list of awesome things to the other, who repeats the process. By this point, my 700-proof shoot is down to 50-100 photographs, all of which, at minimum, look competent and professional.
  5. If the shoot is super-effects heavy and requires a lot of post-processing (like my Phoenix Wings Photography gallery here) then the 'tog has usually done the picking and run everything through Photoshop before sending me the finished images for me to select the ones I want to use in my portfolio; otherwise, editing goes here. I'm not usually retouched much, so far as I can tell, for the blatantly unfair reason that I am very, very pale, and between my powder foundation and my total lack of color, I reflect photo lights so hard that the bleed covers up a lot of things that are normally airbrushed over, like freckles, pores, and the less-aggressive zits. (Also works well for models who are very, very dark, for the opposite reason that only the brightest of highlights show up on them.) Other models also get stray hairs tamed and painted out, but I think the retouchers just look at mine and give up.
  6. I pick a handful of the finished, edited photographs, and stow them in my various modeling portfolios. Occasionally I remember to order a few 8 x 10s from CVS for the actual binder of stuff that I can hand to Luddites who don't want to look at Facebook. The photographer, I assume, does the same.
Ultimately, what you're seeing in my galleries is the best 1-5% of what comes out of my shoots. Even forgetting that I'm working with professionals who have loads of practice and use many thousands of dollars of cameras, lenses, and lighting equipment, if you had the option of only showing people the top 1% of all the photographs ever taken of you, you'd look fucking fabulous, too. 


  1. I don't think it's just the huge ratio of photos-taken to photos-kept.

    I remember the picture you posted when you were trying to decide whether to shorten a dress. It was just you in the dress, facing a mirror or something and concentrating on getting the camera angled right, but it had ooomph: an impression of purpose, focus, intensity, look-at-me. I guess it would be the photographic equivalent of stage presence, and probably the same thing your high-school portrait photographer picked up on.


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