Catalog Photographer Train Wreck

- - Photography Business

I know, I know, I shouldn’t be giving “The Shot” on VH1 (here) any “press” but it was free on itunes and now I’m hooked (I have a secret love of really bad photography). I think it’s more of a disservice to the young impressionable photographers who read this blog to not point out the fallacies and I can at least highlight the important lessons that can be learned and… oh hell, it’s such an effing disaster I can’t turn away.

Here’s some of the takeaway:

  • Russell James is a master at shooting swimwear with dappled sunset lighting so whoever’s gonna win this thing needs to get the assistants to light everything that way. Russell is the client here and has a certain taste in photography.
  • As long as your photos are good it doesn’t matter if you follow instructions. One team shot a dress twice but their photos were better so they still won. Yeah, follow the art direction but don’t let it get in the way of making good pictures first.
  • Talking about photography is really difficult so people tend to focus on shit they know something about. During the critique it was: Oh, that hair is horrible or that dress is awful or the position of her head is odd.
  • Fashion people love graphically strong images. Russell was hinting at this when discussing the big beautiful ship that no one took advantage of to create strong elements in the background.

When you’re given a bad situation and very little time to make something out of it people rely on instinct and that’s where experience comes into play (this is why you only hire veterans to shoot covers, it’s virtually guaranteed something will go wrong). If you threw Russell James into either of the situations presented in the first episode I’ll bet a million bucks he would recreate something that could be found in his book. That’s just how it works; no one is going to reinvent themselves in 5 minutes.

Unfortunately, that meant the wedding photographer just had to go and recreate a wedding scene. Come on man, time to step up, I’m pulling for you.

I got the photo assistants out of the credits because these guys are probably the only reason any of those photos even came close to working out: Adam Franzino, Doyle Leading, Tim O’Malley and Ben Tietge.

There Are 13 Comments On This Article.

  1. I agree with you on the assistants making it happen, mine work their arse off! Furthermore, why the heck didn’t they send that girl packin yesterday? I suppose as long as big guy is directing little guy…little guy wont ever have a chance!

  2. is it me, or does that dude Dean need to go. That kid shoot was disturbing. It seemed like some kind of Bosnia war scene. Seriously. He was like orchestrating it!
    PS: Ed. Thanks for keeping an eye on the Shot! It’s like friggin crack!

  3. PE: I really thrilled you acknowledged the assistants. In the second episode (yes, I’m a little embarrassed we watched it last night) one of the contestants rearranged the lighting that was set for them (by assistants I’m sure) and didn’t even get a single shot off in the short 15 minutes they had. I’m watching with full expectation that those who think the are already great are going to lose big because they don’t know how to listen to, and rely on their crew.

  4. I am betting the least-sucking (oh, jeez, that sounds counter-intuitive) contestant wins.

    I just want to know how the first show relates to any sort of approximation of reality? In what universe would a gaggle of ego-driven fashion photographers be forced to work TOGETHER, with a TEAM LEADER?

    How would this challenge be a metric of anything?

    Would the Next Great Fashion Photographer (sic ) be a good leader of fellow photographers or of assistants?

    I felt so sorry for the supermodel. Beauty isnt supposed to barf.

    Nika
    _____
    http://nikaboyce.com

  5. # As long as your photos are good it doesn’t matter if you follow instructions. …follow the art direction but don’t let it get in the way of making good pictures first.

    I’ve learned this to be the painful truth as well. When the sh*t hits the fan, what it definitely boils down to at the end of the day is people want to see pretty stuff. And it is apparently more acceptable to come up with pretty pictures than make a strong artistic statement. It may go against your fundamental artistic principles, but in the commercial or magazine world, this is clearly the rule. This is why America is America and France is France.

    # Talking about photography is really difficult so people tend to focus on shit they know something about.

    Another ugly truth. Sometimes it’s just their failure to articulate what they truly mean, but sometimes they just don’t care about craftsmanship or subtlety. This makes sense however if your audience sees things that way. A lot of people don’t really see proportions, rhythm, nuances in expression, or structural principles, they just see hair, boobs, lips, fat, and occasionally, “fashion”.

    # Fashion people love graphically strong images.

    Amen. This is a euphemism for: if the images do not “blow you away”, they are BOOORRRING. A typical knee-jerk reaction. With the exception of celebrity photography, people usually go for very colorful stuff, or something soft-focus/dreamy, or something outrageous (or rare). This explains the popularity of bad hair/makeup art (that for some reason people equate with being creative), retro photography and polaroids, and random props (though random props can be good, if used in an witty way).

  6. Bosnian Dean

    Leesten to me stupids. Dean ees de best fotographer. I fight en Bosnian Warr.

    Eh you, follow my ruhles!

    Ruhle 1: SHUT UPS! Wen I talks, you mouth closed.

    Ruhle 2: eef talent give you problem, punch face. Even childs.

    Ruhle 3: Never leesten girlman Russel Jemmes. He look like girl homosexual and like the keesing boys.

    Ruhle 4: Have “vision.” (F step 2.8)

    Ruhle 5: Asseestants are like toilet peyper. Only for wipeeng buttholes and for crying like baby.

    I wil WIN! Too bad retard Ivan gone. Now I make wedding fotographer my bitch.

    Fuchs you,

    Dean from Bosnia