Places & Spaces | Week 1 With Kwamia Smith

Places & Spaces is my attempt at a 52 week project. When I decided to select a project I wanted to make sure that it displayed my growth as a photographer, not only through my images, but I wanted to include the non-technical side of things, the scouting of locations, the networking, the directing and most importantly the planning. So many non-creatives (clients) never factor in the other aspects of this business, and as new photographers sometimes we don't either.

I think because I my paid shoots are so spaced out that sometimes I get desperate and I can undervalue myself. I'm not shooting every week, so I'm just happy to be emailed, but I no longer wanted to live like this. I felt if I shot more, and I really got that experience then I would feel confident in my ability, and prices. I wanted the life of a full time photographer, I needed to experience all the forgotten obstacles, and see what it was like to constantly create.

Initially my idea was to reach out to friends, co workers, even family, get them to shoot in the early stages of the project. After a few weeks of posting spectacular images on Instagram and my website I figured countless people would contact me to do a  shoot of their own. This was suppose to lead to revenue and hopefully an easy 52 week workflow. one week into the project and I can see this will not be the case. The most difficult part, which I didn't think I'd have a problem with, is actually finding a model. Not just any model, but one that fits my vision.

So, enough with the introduction, welcome to Week 1! This location was on the corner of Randolph & Monroe (no physical address), right in front of the Buffalo Wild Wings downtown, it's a parking lot, that no one ever uses. I really liked the graffiti on the wall, and the isolated, raunchy look.

It's week 1 and I already had so many issues, I didn't think the shoot was ever going to happen to be honest, everyone was either too busy, or complained about the cold weather. The model for this week was Kwamia Smith. Kwamia is no employed model, nor is she aspiring to be one, she's simply someone who enjoys being in front of the camera. I messaged her last minute Sunday afternoon after my initial subject canceled on me and was happy that she agreed to help me.

Upon messaging her she was informed to wear a dress, she obliged, but when I arrived it wasn't the exact look I had hoped for. This series for me was suppose to be fantasy like, a fine arts type of vibe, beautiful photography immersed with mesmerizing backgrounds. Kwamia's attire was the complete opposite, instead she had on a dress that was a little more urban, along with the rest of her attire. This blog or project is in no way to bash people, but simply to state the troubles that one may have as a beginning photographer. 

Already in Week 1 I've learned that I need to utilize my full week when planning the shoot, maybe consultations are in order, so me and the model can go over an indepth look at what I'm expecting out of this shoot and what she can expect in return. "Wear a dress" simply won't cut it moving forward. A few more conversations would have resulted in the look I wanted, and probably would have raised my confidence as I would be able to at least plan a few shots out.

Kwamia Smith, Detroit MI | Edited In Lightroom 5

When we arrived to the parking lot I had no idea what Kwamia was suppose to do, the lot was empty and I had to really work with what I had. She was really shy, most people aren't comfortable being themselves in front of the lens, she didn't know where to place her hands or what pose to perform. Rather she should look sexy or fierce. The shoot really reminded me of a senior shoot, but these things were all my fault. I didn't research the look, Kwamia was a backup plan and it was probably obvious to her that I had no idea what I was doing. 

After a few failed poses I got a little more comfortable, had her try a few things and I was more aggressive when it came to telling her what I wanted. When I say aggressive I don't mean angry or forceful, but I helped position her and gave examples so she could mimic them. However this really didn't help, Kwamia was either frustrated by this time or too cold to care. At that point I kind of gave up as well, I could tell that I didn't gain her confidence.

Towards the end of the shoot I remembered that I wanted to shoot something for the Places & Spaces homepage, I had Kwamia rest along the wall and told her to act natural, like anyone else her first mind was to position her leg on the wall. Instead of telling her what I wanted I continued to shoot and I ended up hating the results.

Kwamia was happy with the shot, but me as photographer, not at all. I couldn't add any of these images to my portfolio, but I could definitely learn and grow from this shoot. My first thought was to scrap these images, as I still have 3 days to complete the weekly challenge, but instead I decided to just roll with the punches, and use this as an educational lesson, for both me and the reader. I selected 3 images from this session, and that was a reach. Below you can find the entire Places & Spaces series, as well as directions to the location from this weeks shoot.



Gear Used