Page created October 19, 2007
Sitting date:  September 20, 2007


Mid-September is a strange time here in the Pacific Northwest.  For much of the warm months, I've been using natural, ambient light, and I started this sitting with some wonderful natural light over by the big comfy chair.  But around here, for much of the cooler months, there just isn't enough good natural light, and in order to continue to produce images, you've got to create your own light.  

So, I close the roman blinds covering the big windows, and we move over to the other side of the room, where the strobes & soft boxes were awaiting.

I really didn't have anything specific in mind.  That's not a good thing.  My best images come after I do a little preconceiving of them.  But remember, I first heard from Valentine just the day before, so I hadn't really thought of anything up.

That's okay -- I really have to work with a model a couple of times before I can figure out some good specific concepts based on our unique chemistry.  Here, we are only getting acquainted.

Still, Valentine does well, gracing a dining room chair with her lovely self.

Honesty time:  I don't like this picture much, primarily because of the expression on Valentine's face.  But I'm committed to sharing my experience here, so sometimes you need to take the bad with the good.




Here she is, in all her glory.  I do find her lovely face compelling, and this light is nice on her face.  Sometimes it is a challenge to create good lighting that works for both the model's face & figure -- this works fairly well.

Those eyes are captivating.





With a little trepidation, let's talk about the elephant in the room:  Valentine is blessed with large fabulous breasts.  I've worried about speaking about this explicitly, for a lot of reasons:
  • When I look at a model, I like to look at the whole gestalt and not just one particular feature.
  • I'm not really a big breast fan.  Don't get me wrong, I love generous breasts, but I'm more likely to be drawn to other features (you'll have to guess which ones).
  • As lovely as the images of Valentine I've seen before, all tended to feature her breasts.  I wanted to create something different from the images I've seen in her portfolio.
  • I like to think that I photograph nude people, not body parts.

Still, her wonderful breasts, coupled with her long limbed & slim figure, make her unique.   




From the old days -- I like to play with unusual compositions.

Help me -- what is it about this particular model that makes me want to post more color images of her?



Okay, I admitted that I'm not really a breast guy.  Let me admit to something else.  There was a time, not too long ago, when I would have been intimidated working with a beauty like Valentine.  She had posed for so many wonderful images before me -- I wasn't sure that the images I'd make would measure up.  Also, because the images I've seen were so good, I had the assumption that Valentine had lots & lots of experience.

Well, I'm older now, and I realize that I don't photograph competitively.  It doesn't matter to me how my photographs of Valentine will measure up to the other images she posed for.  What matters is that I continue my own growth as a photographer and that we both have fun during the sitting.

Further, Valentine turned out to be younger & less experienced than I had assumed.  So, in a way, that's a compliment for Valentine -- she works so naturally that she appears more experienced than she really is.  That, too, didn't / doesn't matter.  What matters is whether we get to a place where we are comfortable together and where we can communicate well together. I was at ease with her, and I think she was at ease with me.


Folks know that I'm not a big fan of tattoos.  As much as I make fun of Valentine for looking like a 1968 hippie chick, she is a modern woman, and she does have two tattoos -- one of which is at the top of her left calf, on the outside.  She crosses her leg for me, covering that tattoo.  (You'll note that she's covering her tattoo in the previous images, too).

Folks also know that I am a big fan of straight and/or exaggerated posture.  Valentine further accommodates me by moving from the previous leaning-forward poses to poses like this one, where she exaggerates good posture.

During a sitting, the model & I are communicating constantly.  I've seen photographers go silent when working with models -- they just walk around & snap away, and I believe that such sittings are incredibly boring to the model.  I'm the opposite:  I tell the model what I see, what I like, what I don't like, what we should try, etc.  Hopefully, the model finds that more involving.

In fact, when we first started, Valentine did request that I provide her with direction, and I have no problem with that. 




Continuing -- I also like when a model gives me a twist or a stretch to her torso.  I mention this, and Valentine throws her left arm over the back of the chair.  That works for me.

That's a good example of how I work -- I don't always suggest specific poses.  Rather, I just make a general comment & challenge the model to find a solution.

I like this better.  It engages the model's brain, and the results are often more natural looking.

Challenge your models. 




Again, a color image.  There's something about Valentine that inspires me to look closer at the color versions of these images, but I don't know what that is.  If I really think about it, this image is full of warm toned colors, and there's nothing wrong with the B&W / sepia treatment I normally provide.  Yet I want to see Valentine in color.  Maybe that's part of her 1968 mystique.  

I'll have to think about this some more.  Let me know if you have any theories.

Meanwhile, I am a fan of poses in which the model's shoulders are of different height.   




I don't always remember, but when I'm working with a new-to-me model, I try to remember to make some horizontal images.  I remember this time.  Using the same basic lighting setup, we set up a couple small benches & my soft chenille blanket. 



I'm a big fan of flat tummies, probably because I don't have one myself.  I just love the lines in Valentine's figure.

I should mention that Valentine had a little cough, and this image was made just after a little coughing fit.  She told me that she's okay to continue, and continue we did, but I've photographed models with a cough before, and sometimes, these lying-down images become a little rough.  Although I like these images, I resolve not to keep her lying down for long.  In retrospect, there's a lot of horizontal ideas I'd love to try with Valentine -- that's what the second sitting is for.



I do like stretching, horizontal images of lean models, because images like this reveal the underlying architecture of the human body.  That's the initial appeal to this image, for me.  Other elements are appealing:  in particular, I like the contrasts in textures between the chenille blanket, Valentine's skin, and the canvas backdrop.  Not to be crude, but images like this one evoke my sense of touch, because I can easily imagine running my finger tips over all the contours of Valentine's figure.  In practice, however, there's no touching of the models during a sitting -- they've got too many cooties.



With this vertical image, I explore that texture idea further, including a little bit of the wooden floor.  I just like how Valentine's body looks here -- she's giving me just enough arch in her back.  I also like the contrasting diagonals (her right arm, her left thigh).

I'm glad that we got enough light at the small of her back to define her shape -- if all that area was in shadow, I doubt I would like this image as much. 



That last vertical image is actually a radical crop of this image.  I do like this image, too, but it's a little weird for me.  The furniture nor the setting isn't natural.  She kinda looks like a human sacrifice on a chenille altar.  But that's just my sick mind at work.  I like the vertical crop a lot more.



Just so I can see what it looks like, I ask Valentine for a radical arch to her back.  Then, I crop the resulting image, so you can't see her hands by her head.  Her torso looks like it's levitating.  (I'm also glad that her feet aren't exactly even with each other).



I might have mentioned how much I like my models to figure out how to stretch & twist a bit.



I ask Valentine to roll onto her side.  I'm glad I did.  I still think Valentine is a three ring circus, even without her clothing.  I can stare at this picture for a long time.  Study it for me a bit.

Besides the obvious, I just like letting my eye wander.  In particular, I like the light on Valentine's neck -- it inspires the inner vampire in me.  But there's more.  Like the the subtle tonal separation that outlines the shape of Valentine's ribs along her right side.  I like the lovely light on Valentine's face.




I ask Valentine to get lower.  It's amazing -- the lighting hasn't moved, but the light on her face is significantly different.  Although Valentine looks lovely, I don't like the light.  I could fuss around & fix it, but I was concerned about keeping Valentine horizontal, and I knew I wanted to get her into the shower.  So, after just a couple more exposures, we move to the bathroom.





I notice that I tend to photograph horizontal models kinda like how I'd photograph a building -- from the side.  Also, lighting a horizontal model is a different challenge from lighting a sitting or standing model.  With the right model, it would be fun to explore other alternatives.  Valentine would be a good candidate for this, but for now, it's time for us to go to the shower.

This sitting concludes with Wet & Steamy.


(Remember -- feedback is always appreciated) 

All images (c) 2007 Looknsee Photography

Valentine's First Sitting Out Takes

Over 130 more images from this sitting are available in the Out Takes Galleries, which are available to those who have made a donation to the upkeep of this web site.  See this FAQ question for more details.

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