Models in Photographic Images Feed

Photography -- Model Challenges & Working Out the Details

Working with a live model requires a lot more planning than any other option for photographing jewelry or art clothing.  Finding a model is the first challenge. A close friend agreed to model, but I would have loved to have had more model options just to experiment. 

Clothing for the model becomes a critical issue. While planning for the photographic documentation of the Black Plastic Gyre Necklace, I purchased two white dance dresses plus sewed a transparent organza dress. Just sewing up the dress was a stress test in itself.  Twelve hours of stitching double layers of slippery sheer organza without knowing if it would fit, look good, function well, or live up to the vision I had for this photo shoot. 

We started with a dress rehearsal in my living room (shown below) and practiced a full range of movements and poses.

test photo shoot with dress

adjusting the models dress at Phil Cohen PhotographicYou can not imagine my relief! The dress fit perfectly but I had all kinds of contingency plans for a nip and tuck emergency sew.  During the dress rehearsal, Jen Ohara (the model) and I reviewed underwear options and practiced the poses. Every detail counts. Ultimately we decided to have her wear one of the dance costumes and the organza dress at the same time which gave more layers of fabric. 

Before the actual photography even began at Philip Cohen Photographic, I am snipping at raw edges of the fabric edge. It is hard to know in advance what the camera will ignore and what the camera will see as a major flaw.

If I could make any recommendation when using a model in addition to all the advance preparation, it is to have an extra person as an assistant.  I knew this but didn't have anyone to help this time.  Thus you see me in the photos below at Philip Cohen photo studio making all the adjustments to the model and the necklace.  The necklace was long and heavy.  Sometimes we needed two people just to move it.working with a model phil Cohen Photographic
During a photo shoot with a live model, an assistant can step in to make each of the adjustments while you keep your eye on the bigger picture. When I had to go into the camera frame for each adjustment, it was very hard to see everything.

I would move into the frame, change the Black Plastic Gyre Necklace, model, dress, fan, and move out of the camera view for an inspection.  It was all distracting and time-consuming, and I never had time to study the composition. 

photographing with a model at Philip Cohen Photographic

In two hours we tried several poses, standing, sitting, and a few unusual postures for an experimental photographic composition.  (This will be next week's post as the Photoshop iterations still need work.)  Modeling can be tiring as well.  Jen had to balance on two saw horses as just one example. 

Model balancing on two saw horses

Model photo shoot at Philip Cohen Photographic







This was the third photoshoot in five days.  Both Phil Cohen and I were getting progressively more tired.  Creativity takes energy. I am still having decision fatigue

A few of the final contending images (from over 100 possibilities) are shown below. There is some variability in the exposure. Ignore that issue. It will be fixed. (These are the proof shots for review rather than the final photos.)

Let me know what you think of the different poses of the model and layout of the Black Plastic Gyre Necklace. Pick your favorite.

Model photo shoot at Philip Cohen Photographic
Model shot #2
Model photo shoot at Philip Cohen Photographic
Model shot #3
Model at philip Cohen Photographic
Model shot #4
Model photo shoot at Philip Cohen Photographic
Model shot #5




Model Shot #6





Model photo shoot at Philip Cohen Photographic
Model shot #7









I'd appreciate hearing about your opinions about the images.



Posts in this series about photographing the Black Plastic Gyre Necklace: 

Photography -- Model Challenges & Working Out the Details

Photography -- Mannequin Needed! Rent, Buy, or Borrow? Basic or Stylized?

Photography and The Plain White Background

Photography - More than Documentation?


Behind the Camera: Inexpensive Secrets for A Great Model Shoot!

Recycle.BR.BW.arm up72
Are there any inexpensive ways to obtain a great model shot?

  • Four people at least.
  • Mirrors, and/or aluminum foil on cardboard.
  • Hair Spray and hair gel (little fuzzy hairs look really bad.)


Makeup is a complex issue.
The model's makeup needs to match the model's style and the style of your jewelry or clothing. 

My model was very tan with fabulous skin. All we used was a little lip gloss for lips and some mascara. This is what America's Top Model often does for their "beauty shots."

Makeup generally has to be heavier or more dramatic for a photoshoot than would be worn every day.

BACKGROUND is important and a challenge.  We used a white sheet as the background. 
But no wrinkles can show. Although I ironed and stretched the sheet, it still had wrinkles. Next time I am going to try a sheet of white laminate. It costs a lot less than a sheet. No wrinkles.

Paper may be difficult as a background outside.  I knew the photoshoot had to be outside and it is often windy at my house. If you want to use paper as a background, you can buy large rolls of paper in many colors at a photo supply store.


Lots of natural bright light (no direct sunlight) is the final secret for a low-cost photo shoot. Direct sunlight is too harsh and creates strong shadows. Professional photoshoots are often done at sun up or sun down for great horizontal golden light. If you can take your photos on an overcast or foggy day, that is another option, but it is difficult to coordinate four or five people and the weather. This is why we used bounce cards. See the previous posts for an explanation.


P.S. If you want some background about The Model or the Pedestal? Which is the more effective image? check out this post from ASK Harriete.

ALSO: Tomorrow's post includes a surprise! Don't miss it! Subscribe to ASK Harriete.

This post was updated on February 9, 2022.

Behind the Camera: Secrets Revealed in a PhotoShoot with a Model

A photographic image with a model is the most challenging photo session ever. It takes at least three, preferably four, people at a minimum. Take my word for it.

Below are two sets of recent photos, one the "money shot" followed by the "behind the scenes" reality.

Money Shot #1

Photo shoot of Aqua necklace, photo by Alyssa Endoq

Now a behind-the-scenes revelation. We had five people working; the model, photographer, stylist/lighting, gaffer, and documentary photographer. The day we took the photos was less than ideal as it was very windy, and getting windier, but we wanted to be outside with natural light. We had to make it work! Everyone had already scheduled the four-hour time slot. 

photo by Alyssa Endo as we fix the model's
Photo by Alyssa Endo      Model Jen Ohara

We were all fussing over the model. Even so much as one hair out of place looks terrible in a photo. I must have put a ton of hairspray on the model's hair. The jewelry photos are filled with warm glowing sunlight, but in fact, we were all freezing including the model.

The photographer is leaning in to check exposure up close so the camera is not tricked by reflected light.

Below, two people (me and Ace Shelander) are both holding panels to bounce the light (indicated by white lines and arrows) onto the model. I am using a flexible hoop that is metallic on one side and white on the other. Ace has a white foam core board.

Photo by Alyssa Endo , the light bounces off bounce cardsg lilight EndoPHOTOshootaquabehindcameraboucinglight.
Photo by Alyssa Endo.

We also had two mirrors (outside of the camera's view) bouncing light into the eaves above the model. This showered the model from above with beautiful soft white light. On the ground, below the model, are large sheets of white foam core board bouncing light up into the eaves of the house.

Photo by Alyssa Endo shows a photo shoot of bracelet by Harriete Estel Bermanuabehindcamera800
Photo by Alyssa Endo.

The light bounced from the foam core is very white, soft, and subtle. This is why it works so well - no harsh shadows, just warm glowing light. Of course, because the sun keeps moving, you have to frequently move the mirrors and bounce cards to maintain the light.

Photos by Francois Duhamel © 2008
All Rights Reserved.

Bouncing light is not for the lighthearted. The entire movie, Revolutionary Road, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet was filmed in a small Connecticut house. They constructed huge bounce cards to push soft white light from outside into a small house. (left photos)

To maintain the consistent feel of natural light outside the Connecticut house, giant 12' x 12' ultra bounce reflectors and large muslin sheets were arranged to bounce light into the scene.

 Photo by Alyssa Endo of photo shoot with bracelet by Harriete Estel Bermanshirt
Photo Credit: Alyssa Endo

Everything counts for a great shot. So much can go wrong when using a model. Above, the shirt is too wrinkled. We are all looking at the angles of the model, the bracelet, the slightest angle of the hand, her fingers, wrist, arm, body, clothing, and jewelry. We tried to fix the shirt in the photo below.

Photo by Alyssa Endo as we fix the shirt during a photo shoot for jewelry by Harriete Estel Bermanrt
Photo Credit: Alyssa Endo

The photographer, stylist, and gaffer are all responsible for spotting problems.


Money Shot #2

Jewelry by Harriete Estel Berman in a proposed Billboard formatBerman02
Photo by Alyssa Endo

I am using this amazing shot (above) for an outdoor billboard.  

Below, check out the reality.

Photo by Alyssa Endo

I had two jobs during this shoot, bouncing light onto the model while trying to "see" what the camera sees. The photographer only gets to look through the camera. The stylist and the assistants need to see what is going on around the model and the camera. What is happening with the light? Everything counts when doing a shoot with the model.


Money Shot #3

Photo Credit: Alyssa Endo

In the above image of jewelry by emiko oye, the model glows serenely. The necklace looks fantastic! The reality was a lot less polished until we got it right.

Below, you can see how we were meticulously and precisely placing the necklace. Every link of the chain had to lay just right....or it looked terrible. We spent a lot of time, while the entire crew waited, trying to fix the necklace chain just right - so many shots were rejected because of the chain not laying right.

The model doesn't look too happy, the light is shining in her eyes.

Photo by Alyssa Endo

Here I am are taping the necklace to the back of the model with masking tape because it needed to lay a little higher on her chest. The light is glowing....but in fact, we were freezing (which is why the model is wearing sweat pants). It was getting more windy by the minute. The model had to stand in the shade while we bounced sunlight into the photo and into the model's eyes. The model can't let any of this show.

Money Shot #

Photo Credit: Alyssa Endo

Look closely at the photo above, the bracelet looks like it is poking the model. We have to see this during the shoot and fix it.

Photo Credit: Alyssa Endo

We used a white sheet as the background. I ironed the sheet which we stretched and thumbtacked to the house, but it still had wrinkles. Next time I am going to try a sheet of white laminate.  

Look at the fabulous shot below.

Photo by Aryn Shelander of bracelet by Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Aryn Shelander

Did you wonder why the model is not standing in the sun? If the model stood in the sun, the lighting would be too harsh with strong shadows. Soft, diffuse, and glowing light is one of the secrets to success.

There are a number of things you need for a photoshoot that don't cost much, but help lead to success. Stay tuned for the next post.


This post was updated on February 9, 2022.

Jewelry on the Model - Skin, Skin, Skin

Marthe Le Van, Editor of Lark Books, says that the best background for jewelry is skin, skin, skin!!!! By this, she means that jewelry on the model produces a very effective photo.

21st Century Jewelry book includes jewelry by PeterHodgeboom
Spanish Collar by Peter Hoogeboom; Photo by Henni Van Beek

During Le Van's lecture for the Professional Development Seminar, she showed some of her favorite images with models from the new book, 21st Century Jewelry, The Best of the 500 Series. In this post on ASK Harriete, I have borrowed a few images from her PowerPoint and offer a preview to next Tuesday's post.

21st Century Jewelry book includes jewelry by Jesse Mathes
Rebato by Jesse Mathes; Photos by Michael Cavanagh & Kevin Montague

Next Tuesday, ASK Harriete will include the PowerPoint presentation with audio from the SNAG 2011 Professional Development Seminar. You can see Marthe Le Van's and Suzanne Ramljak's Powerpoint and hear the audio recording from the 2011 SNAG Conference.

Hear what both editors have to say about the best and worst photographic images. What makes a good cover shot? What is the future of print?

 21st Century Jewelry book includes jewelry by  Seainin Passi
Resin Droplet Neckpiece by Seainin Passi; Photo by Richard Boll

Marthe Le Van said that a book of photographs with page after page of standard photographic backgrounds would be really boring. The model shot brings jewelry to life and a more exciting book!

21st Century Jewelry book includes jewelry bykayo Saito
Floating Brooch by Kayo Saito;

When I first saw her lecture in May, I had not seen the book 21st Century JewelryNow sitting on my desk, this is the most beautiful jewelry book to date from Lark Books and a must for EVERYONE interested in contemporary jewelry.

21st Century Jewelry book The range of jewelry goes from traditional gold and diamonds to irreverent plastic, crotchet, and found materials. No matter your inclination or interest, you will find examples that will excite your passion for jewelry.

The embossed hardcover of the book focuses on the book as a precious object in itself.

Rebecca Hannon
Camino de Santiago by Rebecca Hannon

On occasion a model is the only way to show work effectively as in the body adornment by Rebecca Hannon (above photo).


"How to make a rabbit from a sock" to
"how to make a necklace from a frock"
Fran Allison © 2004-2005
Fabric, silver, steel cable, resin.
Photo Credit: Deborah Smith

However, nothing is more challenging than getting a great photo with the model. So much can go wrong; hair, make-up, clothing, eyes, mouth, posture, hands, jewelry placement, plus all the usual issues of background and lighting. The list goes on...


 21st Century Jewelry book includes jewelry by Lori Talcott
Mardoll II by Lori Talcott; Photo by Doug Yaple

Stay tuned for a future post on ASK Harriete about using the model
with tips for getting a better photograph. In the meantime, I can hardly wait to share Photography in Flux - Editors Perspective (next Tuesday). While editing the entire audio I heard it many times.  

21st Century Jewelry book includes jewelry by HarrieteEstelBerman
Bead Embellishment Bracelets by Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

In the interest of full disclosure: I was invited to be one of 85 guest jurors to select work for 21st Century Jewelry. Some of my descriptions and quotes were used in the book along with an image for three of my bracelets.


This post was updated on February 8, 2022, to provide current links.

Hands in the Photograph -The MAGIC Is ALL In The Hands

Gloves Magic The world of art and craft is no "slight of hand" magic show.

Yet, there is a growing trend for including hands in photographs displaying jewelry, accessories, and clothing. This increases the need to pay attention to the hands used as props.  

HangnailsWrinkledskinA poorly chosen hand prop can detract from the work in the photo and ruin any chance of being accepted in a book, magazine, show, or exhibition. The harsh reality is that a bad photo is summarily dismissed as bad work. Conversely, a good photo is assumed to include good work until proven otherwise.


During the Professional Development Seminar (SNAG Conference 2011) several speakers mentioned the hand in photographic images.

 Marthe Le Van, the editor at Lark Books, showed us three example photos (left) with cut-up artist's hands, wrinkled skin and chipped fingernail polish. Needless to say, these photos were not included in a Lark Book.
Even a brief look online delivers an overabundance of BAD photos
that include regrettable choices of hand models or awkward hand positions. I have resisted the impulse to show more bad photos -- they are too easy to find.  I think you get the idea.
Great skin, unblemished hands, and a perfect manicure
with light to neutral nail polish is the first requirement for a hand model.

The gesture of the hand is equally important.

Handfist I secretly watch America's Next Top Model (please don't tell anyone) to learn about using models in photography. One of the primary issues when they critique the photos is the gesture of the hand. Avoid the claw shape hand position or a clenched fist. (Perhaps the photo to the upper left is an attempt to be forceful, to hide dirty fingernails, or maybe the ring doesn't fit, but it isn't working.)


Emiko oyehandholdingnecklaces
   Bracelet and Necklaces by  Reware
   Artist: emiko oye
   Photo Credit: emiko oye
   Model: Jen Ohara


Emiko oye photo shows a hand holding a whole group of bracelets.holdingbracelets
   Bracelets by Reware
   Artist: emiko oye
   Photo Credit: emiko oye
   Model: Jen Ohara

Graceful hands are your best choice to help viewers focus on the work.

In the photo to the right, a graceful hand gesture effectively holds an entire handful of necklaces. What a great way to capture the variety in your line of work.

Can't you just see these photos BLOWN-UP LARGE in the back of a craft show booth? What a way to attract an audience!

In the photo to the right, a stack of bracelets on the model's wrist with a few in her hand displays a whole group of work. Both of these photos are effective ways to showcase multiple pieces at the same time. They would be a great postcard, advertisement, or publicity shot.

Would I send these shots for a juried show?  Hmmm....that is a risky decision. Some shots, however fabulous, are not appropriate for every situation. It depends on the opportunity.

Jen hands EMIKO OYE
  Bracelets and Necklaces by Reware
  Artist: emiko oye
  Photo Credit: emiko oye
  Model: Jen Ohara

While these shots look simple, there were more than 30 other shots that were rejected from the same photoshoot. Plan on taking 20 to 40 shots of each pose, position, or idea.....then adjust the lighting, the bounce card, the model's hand, and the jewelry/accessories/clothing until the photo is just right.

How do I know?  I was there as the "photo stylist" and emiko oye was the photographer. It was a lot of seemingly repetitive effort, but in the end, a magical day.


This post was updated on February 4, 2022.

Nudity, Nipples or TMI in Your Photos

X ratedTRUE CONFESSION: I am NOT trying to sell a new car, TV, or any other consumer product with the allure of sex. But is this tactic from consumer advertising as effective in the art and craft community?

Recently during the photo series on ASK Harriete the subject of nudity, nipples, or TMI ("too much information") in photos of jewelry, clothing, and small objects was raised by a number of readers.

Andy Cooperman commented about the juror's dilemma when judging photography submissions. "While jurying exhibitions, I have invariably come across images in which the work (usually a neckpiece) is featured frontally on a nude (usually female) model. "

Curtis ARIMA plant sculpture with breastsPLANT
  Sterling Silver, Copper, 18k
   © Curtis Arima

He continues, "While this offers certain benefits, it is most often a turnoff to me as a juror because I feel that there is a manipulative aspect to the image. Am I responding to the work or to the body? Am I responding as a man or as a juror? The work had better be VERY good for me to get past this feeling and accept it. No one wants to feel that they are being manipulated."



Curtis ARIMA man NECKLACEsbellybutton
"Spiculum Necklaces"
and "ball and chain necklace"
Sterling silver, and 18k gold
© Curtis Ariman

Nude SEX selling JEWELRY.NAKED Brigitte Martin from Crafthaus added: "Andy's point regarding the choice of model and how much skin is revealed to manipulate a buyer or jury is spot on. I would not put certain 'tactics' above some artists. In a world loaded with information, why not add a little something to be noticed... I am sure it is done on purpose. "


She adds: "Can I as an artist use this to my advantage?
Should I be employing this technique at all?  Is it ethical and under which circumstances does this work?  Most importantly, when and where does it not work? Oh boy, what a can of worms."

I agree with both Brigitte and Andy. From my perspective, the nude in a photograph of jewelry, clothing, or three-dimensional objects is problematic for lots of reasons.


"Spiculum Necklace"
Sterling silver, 18k
© Curtis Arima

Considering the difficulty of getting a great shot with the model that does NOT distract from your art or craft, is it better to focus on the work with less of the body, nudity, or nipples?  At what point is the model distracting or enhancing?

What do you think?

Is this TMI?

Thank you to Curtis Arima who has allowed images of his work to be used in this post on ASK Harriete.
Find more of Curtis Arima's work at his website or visit his studio at: the SawTooth Building, 2547 8th Street Studio 30B, Berkeley, CA 94710.

This post was updated on January 27, 2022.

Photo Magic or "POOF" Photo Disaster - The Hand as a Prop in the Photographic Image

Hands are particularly challenging in a photo. This is because our brains are engineered to stare at our hands. Thus we can't help looking at the hands in the photo before anything else. Another problem is that most people's hands tend to look a little awkward. Bad combination! For these reasons, hands are particularly challenging in a photo.

HANDS of Harriete Estel Berman with Jeweler'sTattoos.
My very calloused and scarred hands with
"Jeweler's tattoos" (those little trophies
from drilling into your fingers).

The hands of artists and makers can be very unattractive. Calloused, cut, worn, scarred, muscular, and downright unsightly makers' hands ruin the whole photo. "Poof" photo disaster.  My first suggestion for "photo magic" is that artists should avoid using their own hands in a photoshoot.

Recycled Glass Bead Bracelet by Harriete Estel Berman When photographing jewelry or clothing to be worn on the hand or arm,  decide whether the benefits of a model's hand outweigh the distractions.  In this case, the hand is a prop.  Its purpose is to highlight key elements of the work.

To achieve "photo magic" make sure the hands look attractive. This requires long graceful fingers and clean, perfectly manicured fingernails.

 Recycled straight  Bracelet by Harriete Estel BermanDuring the photoshoot, pay close attention to the model's hand positions. If the model's hands aren't working naturally, either position the hands exactly as you want them or try a position such that the hands don't show.

Professional Guidelines Brochure Model Release Contract.If you can avoid including hands in the photo it is much easier to get successful photo magic. For example, two photos in the new Professional Guidelines brochure (left) have taken this approach.

In the far left image of Jesse Mathes' necklace, the hands are hidden behind the model's back. This gives the body a sculptural form with no distraction.

Marj-schick-collar In the photo of Marjorie Schick's body sculpture (left) the model's hands are also hidden. Just imagine what this photo would look like with the model's hands showing.  Hopefully, you realize how distracting hands can be.



Photo shoot by Harriete EStel Berman  and Emiko Oye Even with beautiful hands, it might be one out of 50 shots with varying light and positions to get just the right photographic image.

Ask for some honest critique to see if the hand is drawing attention away from the work or contributing to the focus of the photo and comprehension of the artist's intent.

The next post will describe a few MISTAKES and SOLUTIONS with photographs of hands. Either you will have Photo Magic or "POOF" photo disaster! It's all in the hands.


Recycle plastic jewelry work by Harriete Estel Beman. Photo Credit: emiko oye.

Photo of my hands: Photo Credit: Aryn Shelander

This post was updated on January 27, 2022, to provide current links.

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 paper 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.

  emiko oye photographer

Lighting is KEY to great photos. Bounce cards with natural lighting are 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 "homegrown" photoshoot.

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. 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 photoshoot. Working with models always seems to take at least twice as long as you plan. Hair, make-up, clothing, lighting are all significant factors. 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 photoshoot. 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 are constructed from post-consumer recycled plastic. Photos by emiko oye

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

This post was updated on January 27, 2022.