Professional Guidelines improve your images!
Photo Magic or "POOF" Photo Disaster - The Hand as a Prop in the Photographic Image

The model or the pedestal? Which is the more effective image?

Photographing jewelry, sculpture or clothing intended to be worn on the body presents specific challenges. The biggest question is what is the most effective  photographic image-- a model or a more "neutral" background without the figure? This is one of the topics to be discussed at the Professional Development Seminar.

Spring Green Necklace
Painted papeier mache
© 1993 Marjorie Schick
Photo Credit: Gary Pollmiller

Using a mannequin can be a striking solution, midway between a live model and an isolated object. This photo (left) of work by Marjorie Schick uses a mannequin that is stylistically consistent with the work. It works perfectly!

Don't confuse this dramatic solution with a headless muslin sewing mannequin that was "found" at a flea market. It is NOT the same thing.

On the other hand, a live model is sometimes the only solution to bring out the best for your work, but a model in the photo adds multiple levels of complexity.


If using a live model, begin with the Model Release Contract from the Professional Guidelines. At least this contract lets you be comfortable knowing that your model is allowing you to use their image in your photos.

Boris Bally necklace on model
  Scrap Leaves: B Wear Necklace
© 2005 Boris Bally
  Constructed  from street signs.
  Artist: Boris Bally
  Photo Credit: Aaron UsherIII


Next decision, use a model consistent with the type of work. The appearance of your model has a HUGE IMPACT on the artwork being photographed.  Boris Bally's work on the right made from street signs finds context with a model right out of the urban environment.  If a professional model is outside your budget, use a dancer, athlete or yoga participant. Their body positions are often more graceful.

  Photo shoot
  emiko oye photographer

Lighting is KEY to great photos. Bounce cards with natural lighting is the easiest way for amateur photographers to get better "fill light" with or without a model.



Bounce cards can be plain white foam core, a mirror or aluminum foil over cardboard. You can also buy professional level photography umbrellas, etc. but the "homemade suggestions" work just fine.

At the shoot with a live model, be prepared. You need at least one or two extra people to hold bounce cards when you try to capture the right moment of sunshine.

Recycledstraight72 For example, the photos in this post were from a recent "home grown" photo shoot.

I must confess that I've learned a lot about shooting models from watching America's Top Model. Laugh at me all you want, but if you need to use models to photograph your work, then watch this show for helpful insights. (Cycle 16 premieres Wednesday, Feb. 23!) Listen to the experts critique the photos, learn from their voices of experience. While fashion photography is not the same as photographing art and craft, there are many tips you can carry back to your own photography.

Recycled2or When using models, be prepared for a long photo shoot. Working with models always seems to take at least twice as long as you plan. Hair, make-up, clothing, lighting are all a significant factor. Adding the problems involved in the way the jewelry, clothing or art actually fits (or doesn't fit) on the model, is a very complex puzzle.


What do you think? The model or the pedestal?

The next post will be about the problem with hands in a photo shoot. Don't shoot yourself in the foot, or should I say hand. Do you know how to get great hand model photos?


Recycle Plastic Bracelets shown above by Harriete Estel Berman constructed from post consumer recycled plastic. Photos by emiko oye

51yuPuUf-bL._SL160_ Looking for a beautiful book with amazing images of the manequin and the model. Marjorie Schick's book about her art to wear offers 100's of images that might inspire your next photo shoot.