Despite last week's hiccups and an introduction to a few new projects (you'll be hearing about them soon) I've still managed to keep my 52 week portrait project going. This week I reached out to Melissa Niemasz via Facebook, I use to work with her at a mortgage company and thought she'd be a perfect addition to the series. My message was very vague, something along the lines of "Hey would you like to shoot?", she agreed, but like any normal person she wanted more information...
Unfortunately this is my downfall, when I'm reaching out to people I have no planned ideas, I don't start planning until they confirm, and even then I have less than a week to come up with something so my ideas are limited. So I've found a semi effective way to overcome this, I'll respond to their information request by letting them know my project is a collaboration, and if they first have any ideas they want to present I'd be open to trying them. I do this because you'd be surprised at what people come up with, they may open you up to new ideas or new locations, rather you book them or not.
Melissa was one of these people, she told me she was trying to get some professional shots to help market herself as a personal trainer, I've never done this style of photography, but I was open to the challenge, after all, this is about learning and perseverance, not to mention it could really add some depth to my portfolio if the shots came out good.
The location was Snap Fitness, it's on Woodward just north of 9 mile for those who don't know. It's a rather small gym, but has all the needs of someone who wants to get in a serious workout. I arrived to the location around 9:30, maybe 10, and when I walked in we both had no direction.
Most people in front of the camera expect the photographer to be the brains of the project, I guess if I was a consumer, this would make sense, but as a professional, my job is to shoot and help you achieve a look you requested, at least thats my workflow. I compare it to say someone who is a Taxi or Uber driver... Sure I'm a great driver, but if you say take me to the so and so it doesn't mean I 100% know how to get there.
So to break any tension I always ask my clients what are they looking to get out of the shoot, sometimes I get a good response, and other times I might get a long silence or a shrug of the shoulders, but still worth the attempt. Melissa wasn't to sure, she just wanted to show herself working out, so thats what we did. I had her go through her normal weekly routine, a few reps on every machine she uses regularly. The shots didn't turn out terrible, but they lacked facial expression, it was almost too natural, in a lot of the shots Melissa's eyes were closed, or hey face was in a struggle or painful state. None of this issues were her fault, it may have been bad timing or just the fact that she normally doesn't work out while posing for a beauty shot.
It made me think, should I be making her face look posey? Is she trying to go for a beauty type of shoot, or a girls can lift as well type of shoot. I kept these thoughts to myself initially, but later I asked... and thats the secret, ASK! It helps, she wanted a combination of both, strong, yet feminine, so during my edits I looked for those type of shots.
After her routine I can tell she started to become restless, we went into the room with mirrors, sorry, I don't know what the technical term is for that room, I just know it had a shit ton of mirrors and that was a gift and a curse. These shots were more relaxed, a little more posey and a chance to to give her a break. I had to shoot from the side for most of these shots, mainly to insure that my reflection didn't appear, tough task, but I'm satisfied with the results.
However, again, the expressions just weren't there, and even though it was communication amongst us both I really wasn't sure what I was shooting for... Melissa had another set of clothes she wanted to shoot in, and while she changed I reflected and just thought about what looks I wanted, and what I thought she'd be happy with, and you can see these results below. You can also find the entire Places & Spaces series, as well as directions to the location from this weeks shoot.