Friday, 28 September 2012

Do you always need a team?

Ok so... This is another "observation"..

Why do some people always need and rely on teams of people? - I'm not talking about guys who are shooting for a fashion magazine, just a dude from Scotland who's work is mediocre... at best.

I wanted to do a little blog on it

- Total - 3
I wanted to start off with a picture from a shoot in which the MUA/Hairstylist was an important part of it, I selected June Long to do my hair and makeup out of about 15 different people who applied. June's portfolio was beautiful, there was nothing "garish" or badly photographed and the models all looked lovely.

We didn't have a stylist or any body holding a reflector, it was freezing in the location - having somebody standing by with a blanket to warm me up with was a massive bonus too. I love June, she is a very talented person and worth her weight in gold. I had about 7 outfits with accessories ready and hung up when June arrived that day, she selected which ones she thought would work the best and we just got on with it.

I also want to take note that I value GOOD makeup artists - I have paid June since that collaboration on another shoot. So I'm not a "freeloader" who expects something for nothing all the time. I value peoples skills. I don't expect them to want to do everything just to be part of an image even if that image isn't very good.

Total - 4 and a half..

I say 4 and a half because I will count myself as half, I was basically the warmer upper and acting as an extra body to hold things for Rory or to scare away drunk people. This was one of Rory's first shoots, we had the model - Esther Kungu - Hairstylist - Nickie Flemming - Photographer- Rory and main assistant was Craig Mcguire. In this particular shot there may not have been a need for a hairstylist but the previous ones were vital. So this is the type of situation where I feel an assistant is needed for the lighting - to hold things or to watch over bags. In a studio we would never use one, or in a closed location.

Total - 4

This is Rachael Lyon, I wont count myself as a vital part of this shoot but I was there..we had the talented Sophie Alexis on Makeup and Nickie Flemming on Hair. There was no stylist or assistants, when you work with a model like Rachael she is a stylist and model all rolled into one. None of these shots where planned, Rachael pulled some looks out the bag and we worked with whatever she had. Which is how we generally work.

Total - 2

This is the super talented Maz, who I will use as the first example for this post, she is a wicked example really. She can easily do her own hair and makeup and throw together a look which is consistent and works. I was holding a reflector for a couple of shots but this was not one of them so the total for this shot was 2. Only the model and the photographer, I don't think there was any need for a 3rd/4th/5th/6th person to get this picture. Maz is not a qualified MUA but like me - she knows how to apply makeup, its maybe a skill we have learned over the years we have been modelling. Maz also submits video tutorials on youtube, videos I have watched and used before doing my makeup in the past.  Her makeup work is actually better than many of the MUA's work I've seen.

The following are all shoots Rory and I have done - with just the two of us.
We didn't have assistants - hairstylists - Nail Technicians - Photography assistants or makeup artists - stylists.. and I don't really think we would have needed one. (Latex was supplied by Miss Hell cat).
I guess the difference is we never really set out to get the images below, it wasn't planned a month in advance it was more a case of "ok lets throw this on... try this" type thing, and it worked. I could have chucked up more examples but I didn't want to bore people with too many images I've already posted previously.

Maybe its because I'm used to doing things on my own - or that I get inspired in the middle of the night, and just feel the need to create something at times when the only people available are myself and Rory. I've worked with a total of 5 makeup artists in the past - and 4 hairstylists (2 of which were also MUA's). I would say about half the time it has added to the shoot, the other times its ended up being a 2 hour waste of time and ended up costing the photographer even more time in photoshop. 

I'm a red head, I have freckles and pale skin - I remember at an early on shoot I had with a MUA I ended up orange and flakey.. I was so tempted to pass her my foundation and suggest she uses that but then I trusted her, she was the qualified expert and that it would somehow work in front of a camera (it didn't). Another time I worked with one who pretty much dictated the shots, she moved me around like I was a doll - which might work for models who cannot pose freely themselves but I do what comes naturally and that generally works for me. During that shoot I banged into another photographer in the place we were shooting, he actually laughed at me and said "eww you look ridiculous, you looked better before they arrived" not much of a confidence booster and I knew the makeup made me look like I had some sort of skin condition or had spent 3 years under a sunbed.. but there isn't much you can do about it really and the photographer who was shooting me didn't seem to mind how I looked. I got a grand total of 2 images from that 6 hour shoot - its ranked up there in my "worst shoots of all time" and part of that was because I looked stupid. The 2 images were so photoshopped that half the makeup was changed in post processing and it didn't even look like me. None went on my main portfolios either, so it didn't benefit me in the slightest..  After those experiences it took me a long time to "trust" anybody to even come near my face, these were qualified makeup artists who had trained and passed their courses. If they made me look worse I didn't have much hope for anybody else. 

I'm not great at doing makeup or very knowledgeable when it comes to fashion, I don't have the best hair and am not trained in hairdressing but I don't think thats always needed. 

I know for some models the added bonus of having a team of people do everything for you is an incentive, a big incentive.. For photographers it's also an incentive as it apparently cuts down editing times and means they can focus on the photography and let everybody else deal with their own tasks  (my above negative examples kind of go against that rule) the images may not have been ruined because of the makeup artist but having one didn't benefit us. So is it a MUST?

 So is it? Do you need somebody to hold your winky for you while you do the toilet?

Chances are you don't. I'm not an agency model and I learned these skills myself (if you can call them skills) as did my other example Maz. We don't call ourselves hairstylists or makeup artists, I have seen some images from every set a photographer has taken where there has been a large team of people and I've looked at the makeup and thought "christ, I'm not very good but I could do mines better" and then looked at the hair and thought the same thing - why does it take a hair stylist to straighten a models hair or to put it up in a pony tail - or even curl it? Thats the basics, its often quite depressing seeing a models "photoshoot/styled" images and compare them to the models "night out" images and notice the night out ones look better.. That shouldn't really be the case. Then there is the "styling" - again I'm no expert but ill fitting clothes which do not suit the location/model or makeup just seem a waste of skills to me.. If its all photographed badly or edited badly then I sit scratching my head thinking "what was the point?".. 

Maybe its my earlier experiences which leave me somewhat negative about it all  - as I said though there have been positives for me. I have valued a MUA's skill enough to pay her to do my makeup so I'm not completely against the use of makeup artists, some are great at what they do - others just make an arse of things. 

I guess this is a rant, a rant that people feel the need to use 16 people on a shoot - when the resulting images could have been done without so many people. Possibly even done better if you have a model who is confident enough to work out a look herself, most models I've come into contact with are quite good at using their initiative and working out what would look great on them and work with the location and everything else.. But then most models I know are freelance models who kind of study what is "fashionable".

I'm noticing how much I observe.. I scratch my head in wonderment so often these days. I would say its a waste having 1 talented person collaborating with 5 not so talented people.. It just seems like a waste of time. So photographers, next time you ask for - nail technicians/Hairstylists/MUA's/Assisntants/Designers and Stylists don't just say "yeah" because they are willing to all do it for free.. If you are going to that much effort to get a team together make sure its a bloody good team who can actually produce something awesome, if not then it just makes you look a bit shit that you needed so many people to help you make such a boring and lifeless bunch of pictures which showcase nobodies skills in their best light.

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