November 15, 2004

Jesse's First Session

Jesse had contacted me about modeling after hearing about my work through Kylie - the irony of the digital world is that a model in Moncton, where I live, learned out my work through a model in Halifax, three hours away. Jesse and I met up and spent a couple of hours talking about my photography, and her interests. She'd responded to my work well, and me made plans to have our first session together several days later.
8"x10" film
Often, Indoor work takes a little more preparation than working outdoors (for that, I generally pack up my gear, and head out the door, deciding on a location while en route). For this session, I spent most of the morning watching the light in the house, and trying to anticipate where it would be by the time Jesse arrived. The kitchen is probably the best room in the house for photography, but this late in the year the light is very different from during the summer. It took about fifteen minutes to move around the furniture, and have everything in place by the time Jesse came through the door..

Because she's had previous experience modeling nude, Jesse and I started working shortly after her arrival (with new model without previous experience, the transition between arriving and modeling is often much slower). I'd left the futon-couch in its upright position for the start of the session, making some images of her first sitting, then lying on the couch. The first image of the session that really resounded with me was the first portrait we made, with Jessie lying down on the couch and looking at the camera over her bent arm. The light, while a little low, was beautifully soft, and when I added a white reflector to soften the shadows, the resulting portrait was a beautiful mix of delicate skin tones, and rich, dark shadows around Jesse's hair and face.
Digital original, 3 frame stitch
Regardless of the experience of the model, a first session is always about exploring the model's response to the camera, and about learning their personal body language and mannerisms. These are what make an image of Jesse different from one of Victoria or Miranda. Most of my focus for a first session is on making the model comfortable, and watching how they move, and responding to that with the cameras. In some ways, this is the magic of a first session, as until you start working with a model, the tone and flow of the session is unknown and is exactly what makes or breaks a session.

Jesse very quickly relaxed and at ease, responding positively to my suggestions and refinements of the images we were creating. We worked for a couple of hours (until the light dropped too low to work easily without resorting to flash) and made a broad range of images. Most of the photographs focused on portraiture, as this is where I tend to begin working with new models but we made a number of bodyscapes and more abstract images.
Digital original
As the end of the session came, I moved the futon out of the kitchen totally, and worked with Jesse standing. Standing poses can feel quite vulnerable and are often difficult to do during first sessions but, based on Jesse's comfort with everything else, I suspected she'd have little or no problem; I was more than correct - some of the best portraits of her were her standing, capturing her personality quite successfully!

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