LAST weekend, I handled another fashion photography workshop at the Philippine Center for Creative Imaging (PCCI). It was surprising to see photographers interested in this genre to come from different industries. One was an IT consultant who loves to shoot fashion on the side. There was one who owns a printing company, and another owns a trading business.
I myself also came from the graphics industry for two decades of my career but decided to go full-time shooting commercial and fashion. My students last weekend did not only come from different industries, they were also different in character. We had one that completely mutes when shooting the model to one that won’t stop talking in the set.
In the part where I asked them about their expectation in the workshop, one said he really loves to shoot models but he’s too shy to communicate. There were actually a number of students who were experiencing the same case of shyness. I told everybody that I’m not really good in small talk myself. I’m only confident when I’m talking about something I’m deeply interested in.
I went through exactly the same stage when you don’t know how to interact with the model. Maybe I was just good in pretending that I was not exploding inside back then, but the truth is, I went through a lot of self-confidence issues. I said to myself that it is impossible to manage the set if I can’t be the source of confidence in the team.
In our first day of shooting, I warmed up the students by letting them shoot our resident model in PCCI. Some started to hide inside their shell but managed to break out, so in our second day I asked for an international model to pose for us. This one was a bit feisty and speaks her mind so the students would really be put to the test.
My idea was if they can survive this, they can manage to find confidence in themselves when they’re on their own. The typical introduce yourself to the model is a textbook example, but the real issue is you cannot communicate if there’s nothing to communicate. It is the failure to organize your thoughts and establish an objective in mind on what you really have in your imagination.
This means that you have to have in image in your imagination. A concept or a feel that you would like to achieve. There must be an objective for you to creatively find a way to visually transform your imagination into a photo. This can only work if both the photographer and the subject are working together to achieve the shot.
In the end, they were so engrossed about creating an image in mind that they forgot that they were already finding ways on how to communicate it. At that stage, it was not a question of communication anymore, this time it’s more of finding inspiration to fill up their imagination. It’s about finding out which one works and which ones don’t.
Keep on shooting, everyone!