The fight against bullying

Who hasn’t seen an extreme case of bullying and the devastating results that are often highly publicized with a massive outcry of rage from the public? It’s everywhere.

Know your place Bobby, next time just stay down.

Bullies have been around since the beginning of man. Child bullies are no secret, hell even back in the day the popular opinion was that it was necessary for children to establish a pecking order. That’s right, the same actions that would get an adult arrested were deemed healthy and necessary for children.

Now people are launching a full out war against bullying and are taking the most typical lazy American route as an attempt to staunch an ever growing problem: Making it illegal to do. Oh no, that will stop children from bullying because all kids are born with an inherit understanding that their actions dictate consequences. Oh no wait, don’t we spend 18 years trying to teach children that before unleashing them on the world?

So some people have sat back, satisfied in the knowledge that children will be arrested for crimes they don’t even have the psychological capacity to fully understand. As long as someone is punished, justice has been served.

Punishment is a big aspect of our American social scale and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many private organizations have a special interest in keeping our jails full. For them, this is a win/win situation, it doesn’t stop something from happening, and it just makes it a crime.

What are we as a society lacking? America keeps fighting battles from one angle alone. Let’s punish the bullies and ignore the victims. It is absolutely heartbreaking when a child decides to take his or her own life because of bullying and what’s even worse for me is: No one sees it coming.

No this isn’t a critical bashing of parents for not psychically knowing when their children are upset, this is a broad accusation of our cold and uncommunicative society. The first and really last introduction to socializing for children is kindergarten, where they are taught to play nicely together. From there we put so much emphasis on books, grades, math, and writing cursive that no one even considers that social interaction and psychology might be even more important.

Children are regularly sent to heavily condensed areas of population called schools and are thrust into social situations they haven’t even prepared for. As adults, we are already so used to social interaction we barely consider that children are struggling to comprehend it. Instead of guiding and teaching, we push them through it because homework is more important.

When bullying occurs, it is usually met with a “No, stop it.” response and left at that. Anyone who has raised a child should know the basic problem here: You don’t just tell a child to not touch a stove, you tell them not to touch it because it will burn them. Teachers are not psychiatrists, they can’t be expected to schedule children for counseling sessions so they can explain the intricate workings of the human mind and social interaction. The concepts of why or why not are often left in the dust.

How many times have you told a child “Use your words.”? It’s not just a request that they stop speaking in gibberish; it’s a request for them to gather their thoughts and feelings and communicate with us on an equal level. It seems like once a child grasps the language they are expected to speak, we forget what communication is. They know how to ask for things, they know to report a boo-boo, but why do we stop teaching them to examine their own emotions and communicate it to us?

It seems like children to reach a certain age and find themselves alone with the assurance that if they even want to talk, we’re here for them… Yet American society doesn’t seem to remember that we just barely scratched the surface of teaching children how to communicate their feelings. Now they are expected to not only self reflect and figure out what’s bothering them, they’re supposed to translate it into words and initiate a very vulnerable and sometimes embarrassing conversation? I don’t think so.

This is the equivalent of showing an inexperienced teenager how to start a car and then leaving them without any further directions, but telling them that if they need help figuring out how to drive, they can drive to your house and you’ll answer their questions.

I think everyone is getting the basic idea of what I’m saying here. American society has turned communication into a one way road and expects the victims to just come forward, yet we tend to view being a victim of something as being humiliating. How many child molestation charges come as a complete shock and how many children come forward to report the abuse they faced only after someone ELSE does first?

My point is that fighting bullying and abuse needs to be done from more than one angle. We cannot seek greater and greater punishment for crimes being committed while we ignore those who are victims of abuse and leave others ill equipped to both understand what is happening to them and how to communicate to those they can trust.

Propose two new mentalities: It is NOT okay to bully and it is OKAY to ask for help.

Map? What are that?

I am constantly stunned by how many of my fellow Americans are incapable of comprehending the fact that New York is a STATE, not just a City. What’s even more interesting is how they automatically think you’ve made it big if you’re a photographer in NYC.
“She’s a photographer, from New York.
Wow! What’s the big city like?!?!?”
“No, Buffalo New York.”
“…………Oh.”

Yes apparently we Buffalo NY photographers have sacrificed the guaranteed instant success of the Big Apple to live in actual houses, breathe actual air, and in general not be around NYC’ers.

Lotus

I have definitely been on a hiatus this past month, photographically speaking. I’m slow at becoming accustomed to a new area so I definitely have slacked off. Anyway, today was the perfect day to do a nice shoot inside (cold and rainy outside) so I asked my sister if she would be willing to pose for me again. The last time I did a session with Terina was three or so years ago so it was interesting to meet again in a familiar setting to see how much has changed. For instance, I am WAY better at styling hair now, thank God.

Halfway through the shoot we decided to change some things up as I often like to do. Getting more than one concept per shoot is my favorite thing to do as it gives everyone more variety and often leads to spur of the moment creativity.

This was one of those situations. With one piece of fabric we changed Terina into a witchy character, but something was missing. I felt like she should have a companion or a strange embodiment of power. That’s when she said “I have the weirdest thing downstairs”.

You know how sometimes people will say that and then when they show you what they had in mind, you’re completely unimpressed? This was not one of those situations. This indeed was the “weirdest thing” – but what a character! For the curious, it was something that was found washed up on the beach. That’s about all we know.

I like creating names for the characters the models play. I thought the vibrant makeup character would be known simply as Lotus and when I looked at the veiled character I spelled Lotus backwards to get her name, Sutol.

It was a great shoot and we had a lot of fun.

Top 5 Mistakes Models Can Make

While out in the wide wild world of photography we all notice some things that kind of rub us the wrong way. I have worked with many amazing models and stylists who are an absolute blast as well as professional and creative. This blog is about the warning signs that cause myself and other photographers to hesitate when it comes to booking a model or working with them again.

 

1. Tell a photographer you’re bringing an escort for “your safety”.
This is not a dig against bringing an escort (bringing someone you know to a photo shoot). People opt to bring escorts for various reasons whether it’s simple transportation or help with styling and makeup. Security does come in to play but you should never begin a professional situation by informing the person you’re working with that they make you fear for your safety. No photographer wants to deal with that. We know safety is important but we don’t like being treated as a threat.

2. Stating your universal right to all photos taken of you.
Negotiating rights to images should be done on paper with a signed release, not as a general verbal claim to all photographers who are looking for someone to book.  By default, copyright belongs to the photographer while an image’s usage is determined by a release.  Demanding that all images belong to you without consideration for the type of shoot you may be booked for will cause photographers to scratch you off their list and never look back.

3.  Over direct a shoot or other models.
This isn’t about a power struggle; it’s about remembering where your focus as a model should be. Personally I appreciate a model’s input or suggestions because we’re all creative people getting together to bring something to life but it’s vital that models don’t forget to really be in the moment of the shoot. Distracting other models by “over-supporting” and giving them tips can interrupt and derail a shoot as well. Directing is done from the outside of a shoot so don’t remove yourself.

4.  Edit images without permission/crop out watermarks.
This is a bit of a doozy and can get you blacklisted by photographers. (Ooh scary scary).  Part of the responsibility here lies with the photographer and the release they put together for a model to sign. If you don’t want models to edit the photos you’ve taken of them you need to include that restriction in a contract. Regardless, cropping down a photo and removing a watermark (even for a facebook profile photo) can reflect poorly on you as a model. Most photographers aren’t going to pitch a fit about you changing a color photo to black and white, but drastically editing an image without permission can land you in hot water.

5. List warnings in your portfolio.
Unless you have a medical condition that people need to be made aware of first and foremost, avoid listing warnings on your website or modeling site profile. Let me put it this way; we don’t want to date you or get you naked. Any douchebag photographers out there who DO want you naked or as their significant other aren’t likely to pay attention to your warnings. The only people you are keeping at bay are photographers who know it’s important to work in a comfortable and professional environment. Yes you don’t mean it to be taken personally, but when you make general statements that put photographers in a bad light can work against you.

Stunt Babies

Be forewarned that this rant has nothing to do with photography. It’s something that has been bothering me for years and it has to do with the movie industry. Not every movie involving a newborn does this, but growing up with my mother who is an OB Nurse led me to be critical of the film industry’s accuracy in portraying infants “freshly born”.
To be specific: According to the film industry, a women’s vagina is a garage.

Example scene: A woman is on her back, legs up, screaming sweating and yelling while someone can be heard in the background calling for warm water and rags and suddenly without any warning a child is pops out and they hold the infant up for the mother audience to see.
Having a mother experienced with newborn infants meant hearing her scoff during such scenes and inform us that the mother in this movie must have given birth two months later than expected for how huge the child is.

Left in my wake, destruction.

Many movie makers are wising up to this and doing a better job casting naturally small babies or even better, using animatronic stunt babies. Think about it, all they have to do is have their mouths open and twitch their arms. The problem is these robo-babies are not likely to be cheap so it may not be an option for every film’s budget….
So I propose yet another idea: Baby Suppliers International.
All over the world, parents can register their expectancy dates and the expected physical characteristics of their infant (Caucasian, brown hair, six fingers on right hand, etc). Then if a production in that general area needs a newborn baby, someone can look in the database, select the appropriate family and schedule the shoot around their due date.
Baby is born, mom gives it a kiss, casting director bursts in and snatches baby, lights, camera, action, cut, print, beautiful. (oh and return the baby…)

 I’ll make millions.

Pixels or Brushes?

Are Photoshop Wizards taking work away from MUAs and Props folk?
Truth be told, I’ve heard the panic about this from very few people. It might have something to do with the already close relationship of editors and photographers that makes such a thing less unexpected and threatening. Whether photographers retouch themselves or hire out for it, editing has long been a staple in photography.
Is it possible that one will phase out the other aspects of photography, specifically, editors eliminating the need for makeup artists(a.k.a. MUAs) and prop creators? An important facet to this argument is cost and convenience.

Many people, mostly editors trying to sell their services, claim that using their skills instead of hiring a MUA (Make-Up Artist) saves a photographer time and money. On average, retouching prices seem to range from $10 to $30 per image on the more affordable end of the scale scale. Many retouchers charge more than that if they have to add makeup and special effects.

Is it worth it?
You should only continue reading if you want my personal opinion based on how I do things.

Simply put: No.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to hiring an experienced editor to put a finishing touch on my photos but I would not request anything more than high end skin and hair retouching and the standard fixing of makeup. (Darken eyeliner, enhance colors, etc)

Why?

Let me put it this way: A single makeup pallet I got over 3 years ago for $30 still has ALL of its colors. I do all of my own makeup effects except when the infamous Joseph Frank graces my studio.

 

My makeup brushes cost me $25 (love ebay) and my extensive collection of makeup has lasted me for years and still has more to go. If we’re talking about at least $10 per photo to add the makeup effects I want, doing my own makeup styling is more affordable.
If you’re not someone who can do makeup then it might make more sense to hire a digital artist to add it in for you. Personally I would find it difficult to do a photo shoot where all effects are added in post production; how could I possibly be sure I’m conveying the right feeling during the shoot?

A photo session that is going to depend entirely on post production to be completed is going to focus more on making sure that the photos taken will accommodate post shoot editing and that’s just not my style. I prefer a shooting environment where I and the model can move and be flexible with how we shoot.
When the effects are really there, the feeling changes. Sometimes literally. Michelle’s thorns were so effective I got cut while finishing her makeup.

As far as shopped in props and other extensive effects, I view it the same as movies that overuse CG effects. I’m not a big fan of either outcome. No matter how experienced the artist is and how good the results are, most people know it’s fake. If you want to give your entire image a fantasy feel that might be perfect for you, but if you need reality with a touch of special effects, relying on an editor to create your props from 3D files, stock art, or by hand will be both expensive and have a somewhat unrealistic result.

In conclusion, you can spend 10 minutes on a photography networking site looking at MUAs, stylists and other artists and know for certain that no Photoshop Wizard will be able to take away their jobs. Saying otherwise is to completely ignore the fact that many of these people are ARTISTS and often come up with concepts that make the entire photoshoot complete.
Can't fake it
You just can’t fake it.