Archive for the ‘Modelling’ Category

Beauty photoshoot – make-up makes the image!

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

This week I had the pleasure of Leanne James at the studio, shooting some tattoo shots, and some more ‘way out’ ones.  Just in case you don’t know who Leanne is, she graces the cover of the current edition of Skin Deep magazine.  She is with Spirit Model Management, an agency with a great range of interesting alternative models.

Shonagh Munday came along to provide her make-up and hair styling talents.  She is a really excellent stylist and make-up artist and lately she has been making a name for herself with her airbrush skills.  Using her exceptional skills the face becomes a canvas…with stunning results.  I guarantee you will be seeing a lot more of her work – check out her blog and you will see why I am so confident!

Leanne James - alternative model

Leanne during the first 'tattoo oriented' part of our shoot

Starting the second make-up look with the airbrush

Starting the second make-up look with the airbrush

Shonagh builds up the shading

Shonagh builds up the shading in subtle steps

Applying black make-up by painting freehand

Applying black by painting freehand

Final make-up airbrush with matt black

Final airbrush with matt black to complete the look

The finished look!

The finished look - what a change from the first image above!

Vintage Twists – rockabilly & retro styles

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

Browsing the internet I happened across a new website,Vintage Twists, selling ‘modern dresses with a vintage style’.  It felt like passing someone in the street, then realising as you pass, and do a double-take, that you know them from somewhere.  It was great to see Vintage Twists banner features several recent Retro Photostudio shoots for Limb dresses.

Vintage Twists - retro styled modern clothing

The models featured are, from left to right, Christy GouleSINderella RockafellaRuby Fortune and Miss Phoenix (then Christy again!)

I wish this very clean looking site with its selection of well-chosen products every success.

Airbrush make-up demo

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

If you have visited the studio for a pin-up shoot, your hair and make-up were, in all probability, undertaken by the very talented Shonagh.

However her talents extend well beyond this genre – she has worked in music videos and movies – including horror!   The video below shows her using her airbrush. In her capable hands this produces remarkable effects, as this ‘taster’ shows.

Pin-up hair styling

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

In a previous blog I mentioned some tips for pin-up models.  These related to posing and facial expression.   Equally important of course is the ‘look’…which as far as hair styling is concerned means victory rolls.

For a curl by curl demonstration on how you can achieve this look, check out this video by SINderella Rockafella.


Pin-up Modelling – the basics

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

I so often get asked for modelling tips, particularly from novice models,   on how to get the best from a pin-up shoot so I thought I would share a few hints here.

Where is the logic?
Back in the thirties, forties and fifties, those geniuses of the airbrush like Elvgren, Vargas, Petty and Driben produced masterpieces of artwork. 

Pick any image and really study it.  The model may be pulling a face…but always for a reason.  There is a logic to each image, an underlying story. 

So many modern ‘photo pin-ups’ fail this logic test. Countless girls bending forward, eyes wide and rounded mouth expressing shock…but why?  OK, maybe her stocking tops are showing, but unless she has a reason for bending forward, say to pick something up, there is no logic to the image.

Here’s Amy Oh showing surprise/shock, but the logic is that she has just fallen on her behind!

Amy Oh - skating malfunction


Warm up is normal
Don’t expect the first ten minutes of the shoot to produce any gems.  It is usual to have to ‘warm up’, to get used to the surroundings, for a rapport to build between you and the photographer.   Save your best outfits/poses for later on in the shoot.

 Get over embarassment
In my own studio I advise models to leave their friend or partner in the dressing room.  It is one thing being in the unfamiliar surroundings of a studio and trying to pull faces for the camera.  It is ten times worse when one of your close friends is watching you too! 


The mirror is your friend
Take time at home to practice faces. You need to feel confident that you can produce a range of facial expressions.  There are two that seem to defeat most people – the first is surprise with the mouth in an ‘O’…most girls manage an ‘o’ instead!  And the second is a convincing wink to camera!

Select a few of the classic pin-up images and copy them  in front of the mirror.  Airbrush artists often photographed a live model, then accentuated and exxagerated the pose to produce elegant lines in the final image. A lot of the poses will seem awkward – and some really are downright impossible!

Holding your head right…or left!
Head posture greatly influences the final result, and here you will need to be guided by the photographer. Girls so often raise the chin, to tighten the jawline and smooth the neck.  However the result is an aloof expression and the eyelids covering much of the iris. Drop the chin and it is a much sexier look, with the eyes much more open and inviting.    A head tilt, when used to balance the composition, can be much cheekier, friendlier and attractive than the head straight on, passport style.  When in doubt, ask the photographer…or if he is not the communicative type, give him all three variations – tilt to left, tilt to right and straight on.

The most important tip – just have fun.  If there is that sparkle in your eye the camera will capture it!



Star in a Vintage / Pin-up Shoot in Brighton

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

Next month I will be down to Brighton again, and will be shooting pin-up and retro in the Hotel Pelirocco on Saturday 28th January.  Last year’s shoot with the lovely Acid Doll made the cover of Milkcow Vintage magazine.   For this shoot I am delighted to say The Vanity Box will also be attending,  looking after hair and makeup. has a feature on their blog about the forthcoming shoot,  but in essence you have the chance of featuring in the shoot.  If you are interested, you will need to email the studio, on, attaching between two and five images (each file no bigger than 200K please!).  You will also need to advise on your mobile contact number.

The lucky winner or winners will be advised by mid January.

How do I become a model?  Part 2

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Promoting your portfolio

In the last part I gave tips on assembling a high quality portfolio.

The next step is to get yourself known and get some experience. There are quite a number of online sites for models and photographers. They are mostly free to join and give you a place to showcase your portfolio, add specific information about genres of shoot you are interested in, your location, whether you are willing to travel to shoots etc

Pick yourself a modelling name and keep to the name across any of the sites you join.

My personal favourite sites are Model Mayhem, Net Model and Purestorm.  Generally your portfolio will be assessed and will need to be approved before it goes live. Take care selecting the correct genres when joining – one model I sent to the sites was amazed at how much response she got as soon as her profile went live “and every photographer wanted to do nude shoots” she had accidentally selected ‘art nude’!

Initially you will want to gain experience and confidence, so browse photographers in your area; if you find a style you like, check out the feedback on their portfolio and if all looks promising, drop the photographer a message asking if they would be interested in a shoot.

Don’t expect to be paid for the first few shoots as you are seeking experience and more images to diversify your portfolio.  Such shoots are often called TF or Tfcd or TFP. This means “Time For (CD/prints)”. It means you provide your time for free, and the photographer “pays” by way of an agreed number of images, either as prints, on CD or web files.

Checklist before booking a Photoshoot

Does the photographer have a studio or is it in his house?
Can you bring along a chaperone? (may be a sensible precaution if the studio is in a house)
Is there somewhere private you can change?
How many pictures you will get, and will they be retouched?
What will be timescale between shoot and getting the pictures?
What will you be allowed to do with the pictures?
Will there be hair and makeup artist?

Getting your images widely seen is relatively easy these days.  A good way is to create a modelling page on Facebook, but make sure you add that link to your profile on all the modelling sites too for maximum exposure.

Spelling, punctuation and grammar may not be your strong points – if this sounds like you then please get friends to carefully read what you are putting on your various profiles…it is a small point but it could make the difference between someone taking the time to browse your images, or just moving on to the next model.

Model Mayhem allows you to add comments (tags) to other model and photographer profiles, and also to comment on individual pictures.  Find pictures  or profiles you admire and add some positive feedback – most will reciprocate. The bonus is that anyone coming across your comment can click through to your profile, and the more comments there are on your images the more widely they are being viewed.  You can even solicit for comments on the front page of the site (there are always plenty of people wanting to swap comments with you there)

A word about copyright, tear sheets and credits…

The copyright or “ownership” of any image automatically is the property of the photographer. Even if you pay for a shoot and pay for retouches, unless you have specifically arranged in advance that you will be paying for the copyright to be assigned to you ( and expect to pay considerably more for acquiring that asset), the copyright and therefore control of how the image may be used/published remains with the photographer. This means you do not have the right to use images for everything and anything.   So if you are arranging to shoot with a photographer and want to offer the images to a magazine, for example, make sure you discuss this in advance!   Photographers are generally very happy to work with you, provided their work is not being edited without permission and they and their studio are given full credit.

Photographers are frequently in a better position to secure publication of images from a shoot. You will therefore usually be asked to sign a Model Release form – this is a standard document that shows the magazine that you have consented to your image being published.  It is hugely beneficial to being able to put on your profile that you are a published model. Try to get hold of a copy of the publication, so you can add the “tear sheet” to your profile.

As your experience grows, and you have a few tear sheets to show, you will attract higher profile photographers and will get to the point where you will be able to start charging for your time!  however it is a good idea to have a flexible approach. If you have the opportunity to work with a very experienced photographer, more experienced than you are in modelling, you may be better to work for free…or even pay towards the overheads of the shoot.  You stand to gain far more from the shoot than he does, in terms of experience, exposure and status.  On the other hand, if a novice photographer, with an unproven track record, wants to work with you, it is fair to expect him to pay you, as he will gain more – you may not end up with images you would wish to have on your portfolio!

Tips on becoming a model. Part 1

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

I’ve often been asked for suggestions on how to become a model so here are a few suggestions on how you can make a start…

Modelling is great fun, and sought-after models get to travel and make very good money.  Unfortunately, only a tiny fraction of models can make enough from their modelling to be able to treat this as their only income. Expect to carry on with your ‘day job’ for a long time to come. When the modelling starts to happen, treat it as an enjoyable hobby and any income from it as a bonus!

If you are very tall then you have a headstart – literally. If you want to be a catwalk model then height will be essential  But there are plenty of modelling opportunities outside of the catwalk.

The modelling portfolio

Initially you will need a portfolio of striking images – so iPhone self-portraits are not suitable !  Your portfolio is your advert –  the way any potential client will judge your appearance.  One way is to ask a friend, although if they are not used to taking people pictures, and directing poses, a set of images with you looking uncomfortable is not ideal.

Alternatively contact a studio – each studio will have an online gallery, so select one that produces the kind of images you like. I offer special packages for model portfolios…and am very used to directing new models who may not have been in a studio before.

It is also well worthwhile investing in the services of a professional make-up artist and hair stylist for this studio shoot.

Even if youve already done a few photoshoots, the presence of an audience of a friend or relative as an audience is guaranteed to give rise to self-conscious awkward pictures.  So although I do recommend you bring along a friend to an initial shoot as chaperone – at my studio they get to wait in the dressing room whilst we are shooting.

Following a shoot at Retro Photostudio a password-protected gallery will be uploaded for you to choose your shortlist of favourites. It is a good idea to select double the number you need and I will help you whittle these down to select the ‘best of the best’

Oh, and an important tip when selecting a studio – beware of any that offer a full makeover and one free print, all at a knockdown price.  There is no such thing as a free lunch and  at the end of such a shoot you will undoubtedly be subjected to some very high pressure selling at hugely inflated prices  – and the results will be indifferent too.

Preparing for a photo shoot
Study the fashion magazines and copy the poses and facial expressions in front of a mirror.  The aim is to build a repertoire of poses – the saying is “if it bends, bend it”.

You need to get over the feeling that you might be appearing foolish – think yourself into the character you wish to project – it is like acting, but for a still camera instead of a movie camera!  Contorting your body (and face!) will seem very unnatural to begin with, but it is remarkable how well an extreme pose can appear in front of the camera.

Remember that the goal is not to produce 200 amazing images, but only ten – so never be afraid to experiment in front of the camera and have fun. If one in ten images are good then that is more than you need – most images from most fashion shoots never see the light of day.

In the next part I will cover how you can promote yourself and expand your portfolio, without breaking the bank!

Maybe you are an established model, or perhaps you are just starting out. Let’s hear your thoughts on my tips.

Perhaps you have tips of your own you can offer?  Feel free to add your comments.