How to get awesome & free epic-looking models

By on October 1, 2012


Note: My voice comes in quite loud so be sure to keep the volume a little down! Sorry!

How often do you go around looking at people’s shots and say: If only I had costumes like that I’d be able to do something so cool!!
Well, if you’re one of those people that just can’t seem to find a way to gather the resources necessary to put together an epic photoshoot but have always wanted to I have a solution for you: Crash a costume party.
Regardless of where you happen to be, chances are that you can find small communities of interesting individuals – whether they’re gothic, alternative, victorian, lolita, cosplay, fetish, medieval or otherwise… they very much exist and are very often quite friendly and quite enthusiastic to take photographs.

A couple tips when approaching these groups:

  • Don’t be shy. People that dress to stand out are used to the attention and often enjoy it.
  • Ask for permission before taking photographs. Often a simple head nod and a little eye contact is more than sufficient if you’re just looking to snap a quick shot.
  • Once the shot is taken, either give them a business card or take down their contact information so that you can tag them and share their image with them. Not only do you get to share your image with the model, it also opens up the possibility to future collaborations.
  • If you plan on putting together something a little bit more organized or of a larger scale, target the leaders of the group. No apparent leader? Ask!
  • This goes without saying but always be polite, respectful and open minded.

I think that people in general, especially photographers who are pre-dominantly observers rather than participants tend to fear directly approaching people that are different.  The general tendency for photographers seems to be to capture from a distance but the best results often come from those who had no fear of interacting with their subjects. The ability to create a connection between model and photographer, I think, is a huge factor in what will help make a photograph stand out.

If it is of any help, I have noticed that communities that are used to being different actually tend to be a lot more open-minded and accepting than the average folk. They are used to being looked at and judged but if you approach them with sincere interest, they will very quickly open up to you and (quite literally) show you their best side!

Once you get past the shyness and look to take things to the next level… check out a post I did for DIYPhotography on how to pull together an Epic Photoshoot!
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From a more narrative point of view, (in my case) I saw an event by the name of “Les grands Pique-niques Victoriens de Montréal” and contacted the organizer asking her if I could bring my portable studio and video gear to do a couple spontaneous shoots. She said that I would be more than welcome so long as I respected certain photo-free zones to protect the privacy of those who wanted to be left alone.

Rather than setup my studio immediately upon arrival which I thought would come off as a little bit too arrogant, I took the time to mingle and get to know people there before bringing out the big guns. This also allowed me to target certain people I thought that would look good together!

From there, it simply became a challenge of finding out who would look good with whom and gathering them in a variety of different location.

Without further ado, here are the results of the shoot:

Girl in red fashion von wong

Victorian in field von wong

Steampunk family von wong

Gothic family von Wong

VON 1709 2 Edit Edit

Credits:

  • Photo: Von Wong
  • Video Camera: Alliebee Henna
  • Retouch Assistant: Jessika Chiasson
  • Assistants: Bianca Lecompte, Nadia Zheng, Tom PM, Yves Pelletier

Gear Used:

  • White Lightning X1600, X3200
  • Einstein 640
  • Cybersyncs
  • Undfind Waist Shooter
    (that glorious fanny pack at my waist)

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