Let's face it, it's easy, very easy, to take what would be called good pictures when you have a beautiful woman in front of the lens. If she's nude, added bonus for the popularity of your shot. It's a different story to take a 'great' picture though, no matter who's in front of the lens. I've been spending a lot of time thinking about this lately with regard to my own direction and development.
Instagram is evidence of the above. Millions and millions of images of beautiful young women looking out at me. But what are they saying? That's the question for me - and that question is for the photographer who took the shot, not for the model. "What did you want your muse to say, or express FOR YOU, with this shot?" Or, if it's TFP, the question would be: "What did you AND your muse want to say, or express FOR YOU BOTH, with this shot?" She's nude, so what. What are YOU saying by having her nude? What is SHE saying by BEING nude?
My own Instagram feed is evidence of all of the above too. Plenty of shots of incredibly beautiful women looking out or striking some model pose. In some shots I've managed to say something, but in many it hasn't worked as well as it could. That's fine. It's a path. A path of development - and with shots that haven't worked it hasn't usually been due to the model - the result reflects on me directly. I feel like starting gain and doing a Frank Petronio - delete all and start again. That would be something. Sound like I'm jaded? I am, but I'm happy with that because without feeling that way I wouldn't be able to move forward with any great motivation.
As photographers, we often let the model go, we let the model do their thing - but that's their thing, and so it's their photograph, not ours. This aspect I've worked hard on over the last 8 months and I do feel some progress there. I've managed to assert my style and a limited amount of art on the photograph and achieved this without too much direction. So it's a delicate situation. How do you get the model to do what you'd like them to do without directing them? For me, it has to work and be organic for both parties, even if I'm paying the model. It's about investment and passion, not money. (I've run a number of workshops on this and continue to mentor other photographers post workshop through this tricky phase of development - this is almost as challenging to me as it is to them!).
For a while I'm trying hard to get some distance from social media, particularly Instagram, while I work more on developing some ideas. It's almost impossible to have that personal dialogue when I'm interacting either directly or indirectly with a world full of Instagram people and their 'Like' buttons. No one 'likes' my personal blog posts so I'm free here :)
So it's back to the drawing board. Researching photographers who I admire, looking at their development, methods etc. Researching models, looking at what they think, how they interact with their photographer (see Nick Knight's series on contemporary fashion photography through the eyes of the model). But then also working completely alone, sitting down in the sun with a beer or cup of tea and a pad and pen - along with longer bike rides, bush runs and dodging magpies. Creating ideas out of my own head, keywords, music and an environment that will help develop these ideas eventually into photographs.
That has to be magic surely? The creative process. Blurry and transient fleeting brain mirages connected to emotions and thoughts - slowly realised and transformed into actual photographs.