Commitment is the most important attitude we can find in the women we photograph. Personal commitment not only easily overcomes physical beauty, but it brings the best out of us as photographers.
Having in front of us a person who blindly trust us, and is herself through and through give us a blank canvas with which we can work. The attitude of your subject fuels the relation with the photographer, and commitment to the shoot is one of the best you can get.
Disclaimer: Mark is not one of the people mentioned in this post, and he is both very handsome and his commitment was fantastic!
The story of two models: the committed and the beautiful
Few months ago, we had a test shoot with two models being shoot the same day. One of the models was a woman we booked well in advance as we were convinced she would have been perfect for our portfolio. The second model was brought on board at the last minute. When they walked in the studio, we looked at them and we thought that there would have been no doubts on who we would have enjoyed shooting more.
The first model was lean, with the right curves, she had a very regular face and, overall, she was a woman you would have considered beautiful. The second model was slightly younger, but her curves were distributed in a completely different way and she had certain element of her body which were not the most beautiful. By no mean to be considered ugly, the second model held no comparison with the first one.
Few minutes into the makeup, we were already reminded that beauty in itself is not a good element to evaluate a model. Whilst the first woman was questioning the makeup, the second one was radiant and ecstatic about our ideas for her. The same attitude extended in the selection of garments and was particularly present while discussing the nudity in the shoot. The beautiful woman was very concerned about what we could have produced for her, whilst the second told us that she knew our work, and that she would have trusted us completely, knowing that we would have never produced an image of which she would not be proud of. These kind of things make your job as photographer easy. Her commitment and trust were a refreshing breath of air.
When we moved into the shoot, we had some very hard time shooting the first model. She knew how to pose, no doubt about it, but it felt that the session was just another job for her. The soul we are looking for while capturing a woman’s body was nowhere to be found. The movement we encourage as part of trying to capture a subject for who she really is were stiff. She expected to be posed and she was not interested in being herself, conscious that her beauty was there. Her beauty, yes, but certainly not her commitment.
With our energies and creative sparkle very low, we started working with our second model. The moment she walked into the room, we started looking at ways of underlining the beautiful parts of her, while covering the parts of her body which were not aesthetically pleasing. Our clinical mind was immediately shut down, though, as her confidence and her commitment were so high, that the moment she started being directed, we knew she was gold. She moved as she could have truly done no wrong. She was not concerned with how her body looked, she knew we would have cared for it. She did not for one second questioned our style, as she knew it and she knew we would have taken great shoot. Commitment at its highest.
She turned the day upside down, she showed us that commitment can go much further than beauty alone.
In the end, the first model did not ended up on our portfolio, and not even on our website. She was not here because she loved what we do, she was not committed. The second model, on the contrary, did. She felt that this was an opportunity for her, and she invested herself in it. Her level of commitment was great and she made the most out of her day, as did we. Without saying who she is, we can tell you that we are proud of having her in the pages of our blog
What can you learn from our story?
Beauty is overrated, big time. I would pick commitment over it every day. I would pick the right attitude over physical attractiveness hands down. Photography is about the connection, the rapport you can create with your subject. Commitment, both ways, goes a long way in generating a great connection. A great connection makes magic, it brings your creativity on the table, it brings trust and, generally, great images.
How to deal with lack of commitment
Lack of commitment is a deal killer for us. Unfortunately beauty and “free rides” are two of the elements that undermines commitment. Women who feels themselves “too pretty” tend to feel that their beauty is enough to shine. At the same time, receiving a free session is often seen as “not exclusive” therefore not worthy of commitment. I know I am generalising, but these two elements are amongst the top two to undermine commitment.
In order to overcome this, a good pre session management is vital. Involve your subject in the weeks/days before the shoot, make them understand that this will be their shoot as well as yours. Make them part of what you want to do. Preparation is key! Moreover, during the shoot, work hard to make them feel at ease, make sure to treat them as women, never as models, mannequins or dolls: they are women and it is your responsibility as photographer to make their personality to shine.
Sometimes things will not as planned, and if you have to deal with the lack of commitment from your subject, you need to strengthen the rapport with the person you are photographing. Start posing your subject more and be ready to shoot the moment between poses will help.
How to deal with lack of beauty, but plenty of commitment
When your subject is committed, you are already winning your game. Make sure to highlight the positive elements of your subject, focusing on those. We wrote an article on “how to photograph ugly people” you should read. If your subject is committed, your professionalism, your critical eyes and the ability to pose a women is all you really need.