This young lady should teach workshops to models on the art of posing. Yes. Larva is her name. Click on the ‘Nudes’ categories link beside the title for more of her astounding work. Mine? Meh.
When I first started shooting women’s basketball, the instructions from my boss at the publication were to not just bring back action shots from the floor, but shots of fans, cheerleaders, the band, etc. Everything and anything that would capture the atmosphere in the arena.
But he made it pretty clear that what he really wanted was cheerleader shots. That should be perfectly understandable; it’s an online publication, he needs traffic just as much as any other online publication does. And pretty girls equal heavy traffic.
No better place on Earth than to fulfill our need for click bait than the campus of USC, where the cheerleaders are icons of youth, beauty, energy, and style. I’ve seen a lot of cheerleaders, but USC’s “Song Girls” (that’s right, they don’t even call them cheerleaders) are in a class all their own.
But these fabulous ladies strut their stuff at Rose Bowl games played on New Years Day which decide the national championship of college football. (Or they did back then, anyway.) There can’t be any question that sitting on the baseline during sparsely attended women’s basketball games would be on the other end of the spectrum for the Song Girls in terms of the excitement and exposure they enjoy as USC’s finest.
So, in that first season, when a pasty middle-aged male pointed his long lens in their direction as they dutifully performed their Song Girl responsibilities at women’s basketball games, more than once I came away with looks like this.
Beautiful, yes. But I pride myself on being able to read people’s faces and maybe, hopefully, photograph what they might be feeling or thinking at the instant I trip the shutter. This was not good.
Where’s the famous USC ‘V’ for Victory sign? This seems to be teetering dangerously into ‘Hit the Road Jack’ territory and I’m just glad the razor thin depth of field on this shot only captured the scornful glare of Song Girl number one. I don’t know that my ego could have survived all three of them giving me that look.
Okay, I’ve had my fun with this shot. It was just an instant, it wasn’t planned, I know that. But I don’t think the looks being given to me here are at all misleading. After all, I was there before and after this shot was taken. I kind of know.
But I persevered, as a man with a camera is sometimes known to do. I continued to work the baselines of USC and other schools and accumulated my share of pretty good cheerleader shots to go along with hundreds of, I hope, pretty good basketball shots.
It was probably in the third season when I had prints made of some digital images and, just to see how colors in these lighting environments transferred to print, I threw in to the order a handful of the better cheerleader shots.
Well, I really liked the way the cheerleader shots looked from USC. The lighting in the Galen Center is fantastic. Colors were gorgeous, the subjects were stunning.
And far from the somewhat violated look I got from the ladies in the image above, the Song Girls had gotten used to me and went about their business and I went about mine. The images I took of cheerleaders became very good.
So I decided that I should share the prints of the images I took of them with USC’s Song Girls. I put about a half dozen in an envelope, including the image at the very top and the two below, and, I think, it was at halftime one afternoon that I handed them off to the sports information director for women’s sports at USC, who shall remain nameless because she’s a wonderful lady and we subsequently become pals and I don’t want to drag her into any of this.
At that point, however, she really didn’t know me and when I said I had some cheerleader shots that I really liked she kind of gave me a look and muttered something about not being interested in pictures of cheerleaders. But I handed her the envelope anyway and asked her to pass them along to whomever is in charge of the Song Girls.
Never heard another word about my cheerleading pictures. As I said, the SID and I became pals as I continued to shoot USC basketball for the next couple of years. USC even presented one of my shots, blown up large, to a graduating senior. That was a tremendous honor. The SID told me once to keep doing what I was doing, calling it a ‘fine art’ style of baseline shooting. Oh yes, that SID was a pal o’ mine.
But here’s the punch line. Starting maybe the next season, and for the rest of my two or so years shooting USC, I literally could not point my camera at the USC cheerleaders (or majorettes even) without finding them already looking at me. Smiling broadly. I would notice them looking at me as I sat there doing absolutely nothing. It was all so obvious. I told my significant other about it, she agreed it was happening and we would laugh about it.
The USC Song Girls were now very willing subjects for me. Too willing. It was hard to get the spontaneity, the far off looks in someone’s eyes that you only get in truly candid moments. It was no longer sports journalism; it was something else, and the pictures were never quite the same.
And, of course, I LOVED every minute of it.
Anyway. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, as my mom used to say. And I’m not going to be humble regarding the images. I think these shots are almost iconically wonderful images of the USC Song Girls, caught candidly doing what they so cheerfully do for the University of Southern California.
Hope you like them as much as the subjects seemed to.
Just remembering one of the happiest days of my adult life. The wedding of my best friend Sheri just five years ago. I’m not a wedding photographer but she didn’t trust the one she hired so she told me to be sure to bring my gear.
Good thing, he was a hack. She loved my shots and everybody was happy. All pictures were taken with a Nikon D3 and either a 70-200 2.8 Nikkor VR or the 24-70 2.8 Nikkor. Would give anything to go back to that day.
Admittedly, this is an odd one. At times I’ve thought it was great, at other times I’ve thought, don’t ever show this image to anyone unless you plan to kill them soon after.
But I’m drawn back to it because I like weirdness in photography. Not necessarily 50 layers of Photoshop ‘arty’ weirdness, but something different. As I’ve stated in a previous post I never really wanted to be associated with glamour photography. But I think most glamour photographers would run quickly away from an image like this.
But what do you think? Comments welcome!
A successful boudoir photography business is probably the dream of a lot of photographers right now. There are classes and seminars on YouTube on how to shoot and grow a profitable boudoir photography business as either a sideline or as the main part of your business. If that’s your dream, then you should go for it.
But I, and excuse me while my nose goes up into the air, could never do that kind of photography. Call me a big-city snob but my own aesthetic compass would never allow me to light and shoot and grease my lens with vaseline (just kidding there) to photograph some pink chubby housewives in Sears lingerie just to earn a dollar.
Because you KNOW that’s what it’s going to come down to. Eventually and at some point. For a buck, you’re going to be powdering and blowing smoke up the rear end of some fabulously good humored lady who, and there’s not a damned thing wrong with this, wants some sexy slightly naughty images of her soft 50 year old body to try to kick start her fast asleep husband’s heart one last time.
I have another idea. One you’ve NEVER heard before, but I bet you’re going to like it.
Take the high road. If you DO live in or near a city, then you also live near educated and classy women many of whom spend hours in the gym honing their bodies into fat-burning machines that they are very very proud of.
And because they have different tastes than the ladies seeking boudoir photographers, and they don’t shop at Sears, they also might be likely to have an appreciation for the aesthetics of classic form and figure studies.
Maybe they might like nothing more than to have their own stunning hard bodies recorded for the ages via the visual medium of photography.
And, yeah, maybe it’s something that exists only somewhere in the back of their high-brow minds, waiting for someone like you to come along and offer your services.
Do I need to say more?
I think probably that most of you who are perpetually looking to maximize your income stream are probably way ahead of me at this point. I’m sure also that the wheels are turning now for some of you who, like me, just don’t want to go there as it applies to standard ‘boudoir’ photography.
My suggestion. Pick up some classic nude sculpture or drawing books, visit a museum or library, and start getting a repertoire established in your mind in terms of poses, angles, lighting, etc.
So get your noses up in the air and hang a shingle as a fine-art photographer specializing in classic nudes of physically fit women.
Do I have your attention now?
You say you want an example?
Below is a woman in her 40s. Click on it for a larger version. Please don’t ask me about lighting set ups. I supply the ideas. You have to bring something to the table. And you don’t want to waste anyone’s time or money not knowing what you’re doing.
This picture exists because of what’s inside MY head as much as it does because of what’s in front of the lens. Could the image be more perfect? Could I have cloned out the lines left from the imprint of her clothing? Diffused the light more? Of course I could have. But I chose not to. My aesthetic says no to these things.
That is why, if you get this income stream up and running, I’m going to be needing my cut!
Yeah. I know. So let me tell you the story.
I get a call from a BET producer on a Friday night asking if I can go shoot an event for her at the Playboy Mansion the next night. It might come as a surprise to most people but the Playboy Mansion is the site of innumerable charity functions. I’ve been up there a number of times. Swam in the grotto pool. Blah blah blah.
But never, slow my rapidly beating heart, had I ever been there with a camera and a press credential.
So of course, I say yes! The problem, however, is that at that time in my life my health was absolutely miserable. So when the next day dawned blisteringly hot, I was both sick and apprehensive.
To get to these things at the Playboy Mansion you have to shuttle over. Actually they’re full-sized buses and you usually depart from a giant multi-level parking garage somewhere else on the Westside of Los Angeles. That was the case when I had my significant and dubious girlfriend of over three decades drop me off at the parking garage.
And I was still feeling very bad. And it was hot as Hades. I gave her strict instructions to be ‘on call’ cell phone on because I knew there’d be a long wait in a smothering parking garage and that I’d probably bail even before the first bus departed.
That was at 5:00 pm west coast time. Girlfriend didn’t hear from me again until near 1:00 am, when she found me lying on the sidewalk where she left me, drenched in sweat, with an absolutely stupid semi-permanent smile plastered on my half-crocked visage.
Yes. I was there a LONG time. I went through three or four different types of event photography all in one night. Red carpet. Long lens daylight candids. Available lowlight shooting. Standard event flash photography with the SB-800 and the 24-70 f2.8 Nikkor.
Lot of great stories. Met a lot of great people, believe it or not.
A pair of young female reporters for an online publication that covers charity events hooked up with me on the bus over. I guess this is when you know you’re getting old and harmless as a guy and maybe just a little pathetic. One of the girls was LOVELY. For a lot of the evening she carried my heavy camera back pack around for me. Are you kidding me? Nice girl, definitely not from L.A.
At one point in the dusky part of the early evening, after sundown but when there’s still some light in the air, and of course there’s plenty of lighting at the event, a heavily geared up Canon shooter came up to me while I was shooting with the 70-200 f2.8 Nikkor. This is in the early days of the D3. He was very irritated with me for some reason and he says, “You know you’re not getting anything with that lens in this light?”
That was right around the time the picture at the top of this post was taken. And this one.
I’m linking to a Flickr slideshow of the images that ended up being used not by BET but another publication. They might appear a little soft in the slideshow as they are only 800x on the long end. It’s the entire gallery of ‘safe’ images.
But I’m also including below a definitevly NSFW slideshow of images that have never been seen by anyone but myself. These are of body-painted girls and when I say NSFW I really mean it! These are not your father’s body-painted naked girls here.
It’s the Playboy Mansion. What’d you expect?