Five Exercises You Can Do Anywhere on Tour

By: Abby DivDate: Aug. 15, 2019

Staying fit and healthy while traveling can be a challenge when there are so many wonderful, delicious temptations on the road. The calories from the BBQ pit in Memphis and pulled pork sandwiches of North Carolina quickly add up not to mention a few inches on the waistline. Discovering delicious new treats is exciting, especially one that you cannot find anywhere else. Balance though is the key to enjoying new experiences while also keeping healthy habits. In a pinch to squeeze in a quick workout these five conditioning exercises can be done anywhere on tour.

Leg lifts

This is a favorite exercises while on the road. It does not require a lot of space and does a targeted glute exercise from those hours sitting while traveling. At most you'll need a mat or soft surface to lay so that it does not become uncomfortable. The key to received the benefits is to engage your core, maintaining the space between your abdominal area and the surface while lifting your leg. Variations include side lifts, laying on your back, or laying on your stomach.

Squats

This is one of the most effective exercises to maximize results while minimizing time. Again it does not take a lot of space (evening less than leg lifts) and is a good targeted exercise for the glutes and quads. For those with problematic knees this one may not be best choice as if done incorrectly will put additional strain on the joints. Squatting so that your knees stay parallel with you ankles is a great targeted exercise.

Push ups

To balance the leg conditioning, do push ups for a complimentary upper body exercise. It can be also a cardio workout depending on how fast they are performed. One of the many benefits is that it requires no equipment, just enough floor space so your body is in a plank position. There are also so many variations that you can do to target different muscle groups: wide arm. one arm, or yoga push ups as a few examples.

Planks

Planks are the second cousin to push ups without the arm movement. They are great core and abdominal workout and require very little equipment. Having a mat or towel under your forearms and elbows if you're doing them on a hard surface will reduce the additional pressure of your body weight on your arms. They also have many variations to target different muscles: straight arm, one arm, one leg (if you're feeling adventurous), or bent arm with pivoting hips.

Handstands

This last one is not for the untrained or those in very confined areas to train. You'll need to have at least a body width of space in front of wall or solid surface you're using and to be safe a few feet on either side. But if you have the room to do them, they are a great full body exercise. They target areas in your back, arms, core, and legs. There are also variations for working without a wall, like forearm handstands or crow pose.

Conclusion

Maintaining a routine can be an effort of its own while on a long trip. A local gym may not be accessible, space may be limited, or time may be short to fit in the complete regime. Having a few basic, effective exercises to supplement the workout will not only keep muscles toned, but you conscious of the not-so-everyday habits. Consistency will make all the difference. And that way you can also enjoy the culinary delights while traveling.

Signs to Look for in a Photography Studio

By: Abby DivDate: Aug. 8, 2019

Finding a space to shoot can be as difficult as coordinating all of the other elements to make a shoot happen. Aside from model, hair stylist, makeup artists and set assistants schedules there's coordinating a space that is not only available but also meets shoot requirements. There's a few signs to look out in order to avoid a big headache when it comes to the day of the shoot.

Price

Possibly the most important factor to any rental is the cost. 'Studio' can be a broad term and include spaces intended for multi-day, multi-set productions with a staff of directors, assistants, MUAs, and models or more minimalist endeavors of headshots and one-on-one shoots. Cost and production level are generally correlated and if it looks out of price range that may be the reason.

Size

Similar to cost, the size of a studio is related to the type of usage. If you're shooting automobiles or large set designs a 24 x 30 cyclorama with green screen is ideal, but not for a bodyscape. And if you're shooting environmental portraits with custom canvases, an artist's studio is a good fit but not for an action shoot with dancers leaping and dancing.

Lighting

You’ll need them. Even a natural light studio with the optimal window orientation and elevation above or apart from other buildings or structures that may impede sunlight requires supplemental lighting. It’s not staging the scene or abandoning the natural light style of 'natural light' shooters. It’s enhancing the light that is already available while filling the light that directionally is not there.

Some studios will provide lighting as part of the rental, reducing the equipment needed to carry into the facility. Others have them as add-ons available for rent as individual units. Still others will not rent them at all and you’ll have to BYOL (bring your own lights). Check with the studio owner or manager for their options.

Accessibility

Many, many studios are located in converted warehouses, art spaces, or pre-war structures. This means that they likely do not have an elevator or freight elevator to haul the truckload of equipment and stands we all have a tendency of overpacking. Do your research before packing to determine 1. the floor of the space 2. the equipment already in the space and 3. the number of steps you’ll be climbing with it.

Add-Ons

This is where any non-obvious or hidden fees can start adding up. Shooting in a standard studio there are a few basic pieces of equipment you'll need to have at your disposal: lights, backdrops, and camera. The lights may not come with the studio rental nor the backdrop. I've seen charge by the pull (ie how much you can pull down of the backdrop in one arm length). Lights can be charged as an unit or by the individual.

Cleaning fees may be the highest expense though. There may be a flat fee with every rental which includes equipment breakdown and facility maintenance for that shoot you just embedded glitter into the cracks of the hardwood floor or flour that has left a white film on the concrete. There alternatively could be a fee for leaving the space in a lesser state than you entered.

HVAC

This may seem obvious for most modern spaces with modern amenities. For studios in modern or modernized facilities this is not a question. For those, though, in converted or unfinished space there may not be centralized systems for heating and cooling. This becomes a more than pressing concern when you're in New Hampshire in the middle of the winter down to your birthday suit without heat or drenched in sweat in St. Louis without air conditioning in the heat of summer.

The Must-Have Routine to Be Shoot Ready

By: Abby DivDate: Aug. 1, 2019

The expectation for care and well-being is relatively high when you compare modeling to other industries. There is the expectation when you arrive in an office to be wearing the appropriate clothing and apparel or work site to have the correct headwear and steel toed boot. But there is far more behind-the-scenes maintenance that goes into the appearance of anyone stepping in front of a camera. It’s that effort that distinguishes the layman from the professional.

Haircare

One of the essential elements of looking the part is keeping hair healthy and moisturized. With the level to travel that the average model, agency or independent alike, does on a yearly basis introduces a variable amount of humidity, temperature fluctuations and weather conditions. This can wreak havoc on the balance of scalp and follicles. Use a deep moisturizing shampoo and conditioner and stay away from products with alcohol or other drying agents that are known to aggravate. When possible use products with natural ingredients like coconut, shea or argan oil to tame those nasty flyaways!

Nail care

Nail-ready digits are a must have to a polished final image. There may be nothing more jarring than a perfect complexion and toned body than un-sculpted nails. They may be a very small number of pixels in a shot but when they’re noticed it will change the perception of your overall image. Have a manicure and pedicure before whole traveling nails shine. Bring the polish and a file with you for any periodic touch ups or repainting as nails chip over time. Keep your cuticles and hands moisturized as the frequent changes in altitude and weather will more dramatically effect health of that fragile skin.

Skincare

It’s all in the face...and an investment it is to keeping it looking as flawless as the cosmetic ads. We’re bombarded with commercials elevating youth culture and ageless perfection. For women, in particular, the target is to take back time and with that lines, wrinkles, spotting as the list goes on and on. As a model the ideal is also to capture the brilliance of youth and untouched skin. Having a good, consistent skincare regime is essential to regulating your skin. A five-step program using cleanser, scrub, toner, moisturizer and serum routinely will create a base so that when applying makeup the skin a clean palate for the work. And your makeup artist will thank you for it.

Bodycare

What goes on your body will go into your body. It’s a basic principle but has a tendency of being of lesser concern. Your skin will absorb the topical products you use on it. So when choosing the tutti-frutti watermelon melon body lotion consider the chemicals being used to achieve that not so natural scent. Now It’s nearly impossible unless you are living in a plastic bubble to avoid contaminants in every day life but there can be a conscious effort to not put them on yourself. Choose body care products that reduce the injection of those twenty-odd named chemicals made in a laboratory and look when all else fails for the fewest ingredients possible, ideally those with names you can not only pronounce but know their source.

Five Questions to ask Yourself before Charging to Model

By: Abby DivDate: July 22, 2019

When to charge for your work is a common question asked by many photographers and models. Maybe you've done a few shoots or you've been shooting for years. It's not an easy question to answer either as there can be many factors that play into the value of your work which will tell if there's a fee to charge. These are the signs of whether it's time to change that expensive past time into a profession or casual creative outlet into a commodity:

Who are you shooting for?

The number one reason creatives start photography is due to something that sounds very obvious...because it's creative. It’s not trivial though as the motivation guides the content. If this sounds familiar ask yourself "Am I shooting for myself or someone else?". If the answer is personal then charging a client will not hit its target, mainly because the chance you're producing work that they also want is rarely synchronous.

Instead, if a business endeavor is the objective consider "Am I shooting for the right audience?". Getting in the mindset of your ideal client changes not only what you shoot, but how it is shot. To appeal to your target market then becomes the objective as opposed to tapping into a creative outlet.

Is the content niche or for general audiences?

The contemporary argument goes: it’s better to be a generalist than a specialist in an overly specialized world. As individuals become more specialized in a trade or skill set it becomes more apparent that you need to have many adaptable skills in order to be successful. Applying this theory, it is better to model for a range of content or shoot a variety of genres to show versatility and appeal to the largest segment possible.

This argument breaks down for photography when being overly generalized confuses audiences as to just what it is that you shoot. Having multiple portfolios of work to distinguish genres is a step right direction, but when there are more than a few types it starts to get cluttered instead of clustered.

After segmenting the type of work, understanding the market size is the next considerations. There are genres like fine art photography that is an extremely niche interest to headshots or lifestyle photography for more general audiences. Appealing to a niche means there is less competition balanced by also a smaller pool who want the service. Appealing to general audiences means more competition but also higher demand for the service.

Is there interest in the target market?

You may now be shooting or modeling in the genres you enjoy, producing a soufflé of imagery that reflects your creativity and interest. There is an essential ingredient to the recipe of success aside from personal initiative, interest. Is there interest in the market for the work?

For example, if you’re in non-major marketplace for fashion it may an uphill battle to find work or interested clientele for editorial work. If you're by the beach shooting studio headshots there may not be the highest demand then if you're shooting in a capitol for film or theater. Consider where you can thrive in the market you're currently working in and if you need to shift focus to tailor to the demand.

Do you have the set up to go professional?

There's a large gap between casually shooting in the park and having the latest Profoto gear in a ten thousand square foot studio. Similarly there's an equally large gap between shooting second hand clothing to the latest couture collection. The quality of the set up reflects directly on the impression you set for potential clientele.

Do you have a base of potential clients?

Making the move from building a solid portfolio to charging for that work usually entails shooting a lot of trade for service, trading time for the ability to shoot. It’s a process almost every creative has to go through to establish their reputation and content. Overcoming the upstart costs, there then comes competing in the industry where others have been for years.

That’s where really being creative starts. Chances are you don’t already know your potential clientele. Marketing and direct sales then becomes the foundation for outreach to promote yourself. It’s definitely not the moment to be shy about your product or branding.

Conclusion

There is no right way to enter a professional pursuit or direct path that will lead there. Everyone’s journey is different and unique based on the compilation of experiences. Where one succeeds the other may fail. The important takeaway is to not limit your scope on a singular objective of getting paid to the broader view of the industry and how to optimize your potential within it.

Taking It to the Streets: 101 of Street Modeling

By: Abby DivDate: July 19, 2019

Street photography is a genre that encapsulates many other forms of photography: urban, architectural, model and some times even still life. Perfecting the skill of shooting outdoors with natural light as well as the challenges of changing environments and weather conditions make street shooting a challenging endeavor for the less experienced. Managing crowds and having to scout locations are just the tip of the iceberg in creating a streamlined experience that leave a general impression of goodwill towards all. As a model on the streets to be shoot ready and achieve a flawless look requires preparing the basic needs:

Who to Attend

Even on the brightest of days, for instance noon in the middle of summer with a cloudless sky, the available light may not fill the entire shot. Hard lines from direct sun under the eyes and on the neck are unsightly and give the appearance of a sunken face. To avoid the unsightly shadows having supplemental lighting or reflectors to manipulate the light can reduce those effects. This is where having an assistant on hand comes in handy.

An assistant can carry equipment, wardrobe, and props leaving the photographer to photography and model to model. They are particularly helpful when it comes to handling the changing light conditions to hold a reflector or a portable light. They are also another pair of eyes for styling mishaps to adjust hair or makeup. And with other concentrating on the shot they can look out for pedestrians passing or potentially entering the 'scene'.

What to Wear

Shooting on the streets as opposed to studio or indoor space makes wardrobe far more limited in terms of what you wear during the shoot and can carry. First, there’s wearing what is weather appropriate, light fabrics in the summer and layers in the fall, to stay physically comfortable. Second, there is what you can change into and out of with ease. Unlike studios there’s no changing rooms to do sophisticated outfit swaps to get a different look. Plan to wear the more complex look at the beginning and deconstruct in layers. Have a bag or carrying case to put the pieces as you take them off.

What to Carry

The arsenal of model must-haves for outdoor shoots changes based on the shoot scenario. For urban street shooting there are a few essentials to stay well tempered. Working with natural light and increasing levels of UV, sun protection is a must: sunscreen, parasol, or both. Bug repellent even in the most urban jungle is also a basic to have for every shoot. Bottled water to hydrate is possibly the most important. Lastly there’s footwear. Always have a pair of sneakers and slide on flip flops to change between the stilettos and boots. There’s nothing more complicated than walking a few miles in heels to find sore feet and blisters the day after.

Where to Go

Location, location, location...it can make the shoot a success or unforeseen challenge. Choosing the location and framing the composition for the shots before venturing outside will make shooting significantly easier. Plan the angle, crop, and pose before going out. Also consider the locations to shoot and the distances between them. It may change the spaces or mode of transportation.

Keeping it Novel: Finding the Right Shoot Location

By: Abby DivDate: July 11, 2019

If you started shooting in a studio setting it’s an all too familiar scenario to find the repetition in shoot backdrops and studio sets. Without the proper level of preparation for styling, set design and wardrobe a shoot can either look like a catalog ad or a half baked idea where parties are ‘winging it’, crossing fingers for the best results without the forethought on how to frame, pose and highlight the shots. It’s also one of the top reasons photographers make an active effort to find alternative spaces with different environments. When looking for a new space to mix it up there are a few considerations to keep in mind before committing to the location:

Environment: Inside vs Outside

The decision of indoors versus outdoors can entirely change the set up and expectation for a shoot. Not only does it requires different lights, reflectors and backdrops but it’s essentially using a different source of main light. Hard midday light from overhead sun can create unbecoming shadows under the eyes and neck, requiring reflectors to bounce back light or a full light to ‘overpower’ the sun. In a studio, light is more easily manipulated to follow the directions it’s been directed and there are fewer unknown variables to counteract.

Temperature: Hot vs Cold

The less you have on the more important this one will become. Whether in Texas midsummer or the Midwest in the deep cold of winter, temperature plays directly into how comfortable it is to shoot. This is not just for outdoor location shoots but also indoors when studios or creative spaces don’t have air conditioning or heating.

This may sound counterintuitive but for places that don’t reach extreme temperatures save a few days or weeks of the year they may not see a need for them. For example, a studio in Minneapolis may not have air conditioning or a space in Orlando may not have heating. Better not to assume the environment and ask about the amenities before entering the space. After all very few photographers want a frigid model or that sweating off your makeup look.

Design: Natural Environment vs Designed Set

The backdrop for a photo shoot is almost as important as the person or object that you’re putting in the foreground. It should complement the scenario or narrative you’ve conceptualized and bringing to life. When considering design then the question becomes, is it a natural environment or a hypothetically plausible environment made from a set.

Both come with positives and negatives depending on the level of control you want over the environment. Natural may appear more organic and convincing as a potential shoot scenario. However, it also may have less predictable factors like spectators or less than pristine conditions. Conversely, a designed set may be more under the control of the director but has the potential of looking fabricated.

Online Resources

Some go-to resources when looking for spaces online can help to narrow the pool of potential candidates:

Peerspace: The AirBnB equivalent for hourly studio rentals. In large cities like New York City, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles (unfortunately they're not ubiquitous yet like their BnB contemporary) there are hundreds of listings for unique and eclectic spaces. Options range from airstream trailers to

Breather: This is more geared towards office and meeting spaces, but can be used for rentals as well. Note: because they are not conventional shoot spaces you'll have to bring your own lights and other equipment. Anticipate also having to move furniture around to make space if you don't like the office look.

AirBnB: Tread lightly when it comes to this resource. AirBnB has great options when it comes to booking an overnight stay. It can be trickier though when it comes to shoot space. Not all hosts welcome shoots, commercial or non-commercial alike, and will specific in their rental terms so read carefully. If they do though it opens the opportunity to create multiple vignettes within the shoot and a number of distinctive looks that may add to creating different scenes.

What to Expect When You're Not Expecting

By: Abby DivDate: June 25, 2019

There are so many variables that are a part of booking a model and planning a shoot. Time, day, location and other logistics all have to align so that even the most minimalist shoot can happen. If you're including hair, makeup artists and stylists the complexity only increases exponentially to the challenge of coordinating a shoot.

Unexpected Guests

Shoots can be elaborate multi-person endeavors including the skill sets of many different artists. Planning these productions typically requires the input of those involved so that skill sets and aesthetics are paired and will produce the best quality imagery. Connecting the model with the makeup artist or hair stylist to communicate about stying or photographer with production assistants streamlines the process.

The key to all this coordination is communication. By the complexity of the execution everyone has to be in conversation. Some times this can break down, or rather, never be established if the shoot is smaller. One-on-one shoots for example by necessity are not elaborate multi-day productions. They tend to be intimate closed sets where two artists are collaborating with one another. Bringing anyone (however reliable and professional) to a set unannounced is not going to win any accolades or trust from the opposite party.

Unexpected Environments

There's an environment for everyone but not everyone is fit for every environment. Simply stated, a model may adore shooting in the out-of-doors while another is purely a studio model. It's a reflection of personal preferences and comfort with the spaces they're used to working.

Similar to adding unexpected concepts last minute to a shoot proposing unspoken environments without notice is a big no-no. If you've decided on a studio shoot and it's not available have a Plan B for another space that you can book. Or if it's an outdoors shoot overlooking a beautiful landscape have a indoor space reserved in the case it rains on the day of the shoot.

Unexpected Concepts

Before the process of negotiating location, compensation and logistics a conversation about shoot concepts should be at the top of the list for discussion. Creating a list of genres of work as a model you do reduces the ambiguity for concepts that will not only be proposed, but also given without notice on the day of the shoot. Being clear and firm about about this causes less confusion on both sides and will establish guidelines for potential ideas. As an artist we want to let creativity thrive on terms that work for everyone.

Before Taking the Next Shoot Evaluate these Five Things

By: Abby DivDate: May 26, 2019

Getting your first assignment can be an exciting and gratifying experience. It's a sign that not only is your work valuable but has larger appeal to the audience you are marketing and distributing your content. It's easy to become wrapped up in exhilaration of success and forget about a few essential steps before accepting a new job. Before taking that assignment there a five basic considerations you should make into account so that every job will be successful:

Travel time

It’s common for studios to be located in the suburbs or outer reaches of cities. Because of the size of spaces this makes it more affordable to operate warehouse size facilities and store production equipment. With that in mind you may not be close to the studio and have to plan additional time into your schedule in order to arrive and depart on time. Also, there may be additional transportation cost (gas, Uber/Lyft etc) to calculate into the factor of time.

Hair, Makeup, and Wardrobe

Depending on the production size, hair, makeup and wardrobe may be components that are provided or you may provide them as part of your service. If the production is small, one-on-one or with a few set assistants, it’s likely that the model will provide one or more these components, many being versatile MUAs, art directors, and set designers. Asking on initial contact if these elements will be provided will go into contract negotiation for the services being provided.

Environment

Since shoots can range from a warehouse loft studio with centrally controlled thermostat to a beach location in the direct sunlight anticipating the spaces positives and negatives will allow you to plan accordingly. Knowing the model’s physical comfort with temperature, weather (if outside), and stamina will streamline the experience. Some are used to running around in their birthday suits in subzero temperatures while others are comfortable in humidity controlled studio facilities.

Concept/Theme

Everyone cannot do everything well. This may seem like non-point but just keep reading. As a model you’re more like an actor being cast for a part in a script. If you cannot pull off the character your performance will always fall short of the anticipated result. The last thing that you want as a service provider is not to deliver on the product you’re being hired to perform. Therefore, saying no to a “script” that doesn’t not fit your outward personality is not a loss but a refinement of the character you want to play.

Compensation

Lastly, and possibly the most important, is getting paid. This can be an uneasy topic of conversation when it comes to mixing art and commerce as there is a common conception of making “art for art sake”. But there’s also supporting the the arts which very naturally requires compensation.

There are more variables that change on a case-by-case basis that will come into play based on the individual scenario. These are the basics to start the process of discussing a shoot before bringing it to fruition. If one is not cohesive then it’s better to come to common terms agreeable to all parties then bypass them to have a later conflict on set or down the booking process.

Five Tips to Shooting a Nude

By: Abby DivDate: April 21, 2019

The more you do it the easier it gets…

Being a traveling model means that nudity comes as part of the job. You can call it figure art, form studies, fine art, or any other number of terms but the fact is you’re naked. And that can be for a painter, drawer, or photographer.

If you want to shoot nudes, just say it!

There’s no need to be timid or shy about the request to shoot a nude. The body is a beautiful thing. If you want to shoot a nude, just say so.

No need to bring clothing if I don’t need them

On the top of the list of things that irk is bringing a suitcase of wardrobe and finding I don’t need any of it. If I know we’re shooting nudes I can bring the most important thing, myself (also refer to tip #1).

Keep the conversation casual (not crass)

I’m very comfortable with the body and shooting it in various states of undress. I’m also very comfortable with other people seeing me naked and appreciating my body. There’s a line that can very quickly be crossed from cute and playful to crass and disrespectful. As a general rule follow the leader in what is inbounds.

Keep on your clothes

There’s a meme circling the internet about photographer’s shooting in their birthday suits. You can be a self proclaimed nudist or very simply very comfortable in your own skin. That doesn’t mean I want to see it or what else you have to offer. Can you imagine how distracting it would be. I’d totally not be looking at the camera.

No sneak peeks

Limits are not a bad thing. If we haven’t spoken about it as part of the style being shot, trying to get a little extra for a little less doesn’t make you crafty, it makes you creepy. Don’t do it!

Five Things To Consider When Choosing Cities to Tour

By: Abby DivDate: April 5, 2019

Transportation

Life on the round means many stops between bus, trains, planes and the occasional automobile. As a New Yorker, there’s rarely been a time when I’ve needed a car in the city and generally choose not to have one. Planning trips for me means looking at the myriad of transit maps that connect the greater continental USA. If it wasn’t for the Eisenhower administration in the 1950s I simply couldn’t do what I do today.

Community

When planning a tour the second thing I consider is community. If there’s no one shooting, painting, drawing or creating there’s not going to be work to be found. Aesthetics are regional so if you’re not a bikini model booking work in Texas or a fine art nude model when booking work in Maine you may have trouble finding clients who want to hire you. That said there’s a style for every taste, it’s finding the community that fits it.

Hosting

The term hosting is an ambiguous term for the layman not experienced with the world of the traveling model. For anyone on the road it means accommodations within the creative photography and modeling community for models (i.e. in short terms place to stay). This helps us models reduce the cost of travel and also the opportunity to meet other creatives in the area.

4. Weather

Mother nature doesn’t always like to play nicely when planning a trip. My tours are planned months in advance knowing key seasons (like monsoons in the southwest or frigid winter in the central northeast) and avoiding them much like the plague. The unexpected does happen and some times the best planned tours have to take small detours ;)

Cost

This last one is probably the most important and often the least considered when booking a tour. It may seem obvious but the further from home you go the more it will cost. Ergo the more work you have to schedule in order to not only cover the cost but also (and hopefully always) be profitable.