Module 1 - Finding and Working with Pretty Young Girls (PYGs)
By the end of this module, you will be able to:
If practiced consistently and regularly, the knowledge obtained in this module will enable you to:
I used to think that there were very few things in this world more fulfilling and satisfying than having a conversation with an intelligent, pretty young woman. Ive recently discovered, however, that I was wrong.
Photographing an intelligent, pretty young woman who is at ease with her body, and who sees nothing wrong with nudity, is one of the most enjoyable experiences I have ever had. This kind of activity epitomizes the essence of innocence. Women of this sort love the appreciation of the photographer, and almost always are excited about working with him or her to produce a series of photographs that show womanhood in all its splendor. When done properly, an almost childish, bubbly, innocent enthusiasm takes over the shoot, and magic happens.
As much as Id love to be able to say "Do these 5 things and you will have women flocking to your door, begging you to take their pictures," nothing in life is that easy. Life is challenging, and purposely so. It demands of us concentrated effort, consistent practice, and lots of hard work. Only through this effort does true success come to us. But there are two secrets that will help us avoid many of the dead-end paths that force us to retrace our steps.
Before you begin, check your motives.
Make a list of your motives for becoming a portrait photographer. Keep adding items until you feel youve covered every aspect of your desire. Leave the list for a day, and then take another look at it. As you reread each item, figure out whether that motive is aimed at giving, or getting. Put an O beside the motives that focus on what youre giving to others, and an S beside those that focus on yourself. Theres nothing wrong with gaining benefit from doing something you love, but your path will be simpler and more rewarding if you focus on giving to others.
Become proficient at your art.
Some artists develop their art for themselves. After receiving enough criticism, its easy to become inwardly focused, and convince yourself that the only person who counts is you. That may work. But when it comes to finding PYGs to work with, your life will be much easier if they find beauty in your work. And if deriving financial benefit is a goal, then that will be much easier if your work speaks to others, your "customers", too.
Watch the movie "Groundhog Day," with Bill Murray. To me, this movie speaks volumes about life. Murray plays TV weatherman Phil Connors, on assignment in Punxsatawney, USA, covering the annual Groundhog Day celebrations. The only problem is, he keeps waking up on the same day over and over again! Watch Phil as he first tries to manipulate others into giving him what he wants, then tries to escape the situation by repeatedly killing himself, and finally realizes that the best way to gain what he truly desires is by giving the best of himself to others.
Like most other jobs, getting started is sometimes the toughest part. Every college graduates woe is that they cant get jobs without a great resume, but they cant build a good resume before they get a job! In ways, photography is the same. Finding PYGs willing to let you take their picture is much easier when you have a portfolio that proves youre a competent photographer.
There is a solution to this dilemma. First, realize you dont need to start with nudes. In fact youll have a much easier time if your portfolio includes a wide variety of non-nude work, and even scenic, architecture, or other types of photography. So tell your friends and neighbors youre practicing your portrait photography. At some point, someone you know will ask if youll do some shots of their daughter, and youll have the basis for a portfolio that includes some good samples of your ability to work with young females. From there, you can start looking for Time for Print (TFP) work with models (more on this later), and before you know it youre on your way.
The key is this; you need to establish yourself as a reputable, professional photographer, and the best way to do that is to get lots of practice working essentially for free.
Finding Models for Your Nude Work
Particularly if you live near a large city, the Internet can be a great source for young women willing to pose for you, frequently at quite reasonable rates, or even for free (although nude work usually demands at least a nominal fee). There are hundreds of modeling web sites and "forums" where models advertise their availability for all kinds of different work. The advantages of using the Internet are many:
There are a couple of ways to get started. You can use any of the search engines available. Google is recommended, it gives by far the best results currently available.
Another route is through the forums. One of the best sources is Brent's forum list. His page is one of the most complete listings of modeling forums Ive seen, although it does focus primarily on North America. There are several worldwide listings, however, and you can use these to begin your search if you live outside of the US/Canada area.
Spend at least one hour "surfing" the Internet. Use at least three search engines, and try a variety of search words to see which ones give you the best results. Most search engines provide a help function that let you get fancier with your search results.
Although Ive never tried it myself, you could put an ad in the classified section of your local newspaper. This may not work in a small town, but if youre in a moderately sized city apparently this can yield good results, particularly if youre willing to pay. If you take this route, be totally upfront about the kind of work youre looking for. Specify if you want to shoot nudes, so there are no surprises. You may want to do a couple of non-nude shoots with a model first to check out how she looks on film, but this can get expensive if youre paying. Either way, make it extremely clear in the ad what kind of shot youre looking for.
Friends, Neighbours, and Others
Finding people to pose fully clothed is not too tricky, particularly if you know them. The trick is moving beyond that to nude shots. It can be done, but you have to be the ultimate professional in your treatment of the girl before bringing up the subject. The best thing to do is move gradually to less clothing as you spend more time together, suggesting the next stage ("Would you be interested in doing a swimsuit shoot next time?") after youve finished your current shoot, so theres no misinterpretation.
This is a very controversial source for subjects. On the plus side, you know the girls there dont mind being nude, although posing for pictures can be an entirely different matter than dancing on stage. On the negative side, many women in that profession look too "professional". At least a large percentage of them have breast implants (which always make the breasts look weird) and tattoos. If youre a fan of domai.com, youre probably looking for a sweet and innocent look, which may be different than the average stripper. Having said that, when I did visit upscale locations in my younger days, there were some really sweet girls there just working their way through college. You definitely wont get any freebies here, but the price may not be too steep. And Ive noticed many of the nude models on the internet do work in strip clubs, so you just never know.
It can be said that there are myriad ways of finding models. Some photographers have great success simply walking up to pretty girls on the street and talking to them. If you aren't shy and communicate well, this may work for you. Otherwise there are as many ways as there are for people to communicate. Notices on notice boards in supermarkets, in universities, recruiting friends to help, etc, etc. Use your imagination. The important part is that you probably have to make contact to many people to find one model. Quality is good, but quantity is often necessary. Don't be discouraged if you don't find anybody on the first day, remember that there still are thousands of people who still don't know about your model search.
Working with PYGs
While there arent any policemen around to enforce the "rules," these points are more than just suggestions. Theyre as critical to your success as understanding exposure, lighting, and focus.
Always, always, always treat your subject with respect and the utmost professionalism. I cant tell you how many models I know who have been burned by people representing themselves as photographers who end up being extremely unprofessional. If youre doing a TFP (Time for Prints) shoot, meaning that what the model gets out of it is prints to show, deliver the prints as soon as humanly possible. She should not have to bug you for them. If you make an appointment to meet before the shoot, or for the shoot itself, show up on time, or call ahead to tell her youll be late. And above all, remember that she is a subject for a work of art, not someone to fondle, flirt with, talk dirty to, or talk into doing anything more than pose for you.
If you treat a girl like gold, she will respond. If you tell even the most beautiful girl youve ever seen that she looks incredible, shell react as if no one has ever told her that before in her life. Find out what her interests are, why she likes modeling, and prove that youre interested in her well-being, and she will know that you are a unique human being with her best interests at heart. Once youve established a relationship based on that, she will go out of her way to give you what youre looking for.
You now know the basics of finding subjects for your photography, and how to treat those subjects so that they will come back to you and recommend their friends to you. Youve also learned two key element of success that will set you apart from an amateur:
The next module describes more technical details about composing your photographs so that your work will be in high demand.