Welcome to my little Photographic adventures with Cina post!
I had written previously about a photoshoot I had called Cina versus Sam which was the story of two models that worked together incredibly well to produce hilarity and a great series:
As a photographer, you can’t help but build up friendships with the creatives around you. The work can be stressful and exhausting, both rewarding and super unrewarding, you work with lots of strong personalities and the end results can be incredible, or really disappointing. Personal space and modesty tend to fly out the window to get the brief filled, and so you can’t help but make strong friendships along the way with the people you click with.
I’m not sure how many times I worked with Cina, but we’d often call on each other when either one of us had an idea we wanted to try out.
This photo above is one of the first photos I ever took, let alone my first ones of Cina. The photo is so closely cropped because my makeshift studio was just a dark blanket in a very small room… with reading lights and a window.
This was actually the first photo I ever took in my later studio, which was a garage with proper studio lights and back drops.
It’s a little dark, and a little too photoshopped, but we were both new to the industry and really were learning together.
I didn’t know it at the time, but Cina drove over 2 hours to shoot with me that session. A lot of my favourite models to work with were from the country. I think models who grew up in the city were used to getting a huge amount of attention for their looks, which often meant they were a really reserved and guarded… and so couldn’t really push out of their comfort zone for the camera. Models from the country weren’t treated any differently than anyone else and in my experience often had strong personalities, a really strong work ethic, were super patient and didn’t take themselves too seriously. Obviously I’m generalizing, but it was a pattern I definitely noticed…
When I had the idea for the Urban Gladiator series, Cina was the model that I first trialed it on to see if I could make it work. I never actually did a full comic with her, but she would have been amazing.
I hadn’t quite got the hair and skin tones down yet for the art work… but it’s a great example of Cina not taking herself too seriously… she’s pretending to be mad at no one.
I did portrait photography for a long time… mainly for dancers, actors and professionals. As word got out, I started to get requests for glamour photography shoots.
Glamour photography is super weird.
You basically have to try and capture sexy or super attractive shots, in a super not-sexy situation. While things might look glamourous on one side of the lens, on the other side are photographers lunging in weird positions, makeup artists fretting over the makeup, assistants adjusting lights, stylists banging clothes around. It’s really strange.
When I wanted to try glamour photography, Cina was again, the first person I spoke to about it. It’s super weird for the model too, hanging out in your underwear when everyone else is fully clothed… and it’s almost always too cold. I’d try and heat the studio, but then myself and all my gear would start to overheat.
The above shots were definitely from my first ever glamour shoot, and I’m not sure but I think it was maybe Cina’s second shoot wearing only underwear… but again, she was extremely patient and kind as I tried to work on different lighting and styles to suit the Glamour genre.
Again, it must be super weird hanging out in your underwear while the photographer spends absolutely ages testing out every possible lighting combination.
Modelling is really hard…. like really hard.
In most jobs you work during work time, and then can relax when you’re not working. A professional model needs to work hard on their body 24/7… there are no pizza and beer nights to blow off steam…
Cina knew this and had an extremely healthy diet and did Pilates several times a week, so when I asked her to trial a type of photoshoot I wanted to market to dancers, she was good to go:
We actually ended up buying the place we had been renting… and that meant that we renovated the whole house to make it more stylistic.
These photos above is from the very first shoot I did after the renos. In all 3 shots I feel like the lighting is a bit off, but again, Cina was amazing in her patience and her willingness to do a trial shoot where she may not get usable photos for her own look book. She saw it as practice and I can’t tell you how grateful I was for that.
In portraiture and glamour photography, you want to keep trying new things to increase your range and the value you can provide to your customers and clients… but when there is a living, breathing person who is paying you, you don’t want to waste their time faffing around with camera settings and lighting angles… you basically go with what you know to produce the best shots you can the most efficiently.
So then, when do you trial and error new ideas? When you’ve got a model who is willing to experiment with you, who is willing to walk away from a shoot with absolutely nothing but the experience of trying new things. By this point Cina had moved fairly close to me… she moved for work but she did try and make sure she was close so we could try things. She would come to me with ideas too.
The below shot was an idea that she had for more of a soulful sad image…. which I really struggled with the lighting. She’s against the window which was really bright… so to try and balance, but without over-lighting her was really hard, and the focus/sharpness suffered. I’m not sure I quite got there to be honest.
I love this shot above… I’ve always loved black and white but this shot is special because it was really the first time I shot anyone that didn’t have a top on. They call this style Implied Nudity which means that the model is somewhat naked… but you can’t see the bits that stresses everyone out.
Again, it’s super weird… as a photographer you’re trying to be super polite and respectful, but you also have to say sentences with the word ‘nipple’ in them. You do actually get used to nudity really quickly… honestly, after about 2 minutes it’s not even a big deal.
I can’t remember if the above shot was a practice session because I had an Implied Nudity shot coming up, or if Cina had one coming up and wanted to try it out before fully committing. It’s a big deal for a model, because pretty much, once there are shots out there on the internet of you without much clothing on, you can’t ever take it back.
We were really good friends by this point, and were always excited to see each other… we’d accidentally end up talking for hours before the shoot, catching up, and then panicked and had to power through a photoshoot when we realised we were running out of time.
I think we were both a bit nervous… but when it was time to shoot, we both just became super professional and made it happen, and we were both really happy with the resulting shot. I love how dark it is, and how both her face and hair fade into the darkness…
Thanks for joining me on this little photographic journey. The internet is filled with photographer stories of exact lighting techniques and whatnot, so I wanted to share a story about one of the people who helped me grow and develop my craft. It was honestly incredible to find someone so patient who was starting out at the same time. I’ll be eternally grateful to her.
This last shot I ever took of Cina before I closed down my studio in Australia and moved to the USA. I honestly can’t even remember what it was for… but I love how bright and piercing her eyes are, and the shadows of her hair.
Cina isn’t a working model anymore, it’s a career with a ridiculously small window of opportunity and she’s moved on to more exciting life adventures, so I’m really super excited I got to work with her as many times as I did, and that we were able to help each other learn about our respective crafts… and I’m confident she’d find it hilarious that I’ve included this shot:
I have no idea what she was up to, but I know it was amazing.
If you want to be good at something, find someone that’ll support and push you…. or at least make you laugh the entire time…
Thanks for reading this little Photographic adventures with Cina post! If you’re excited to talk about all things photographic, please shoot me a message on Twitter.
————————–Sources: All photos were taken by me on my Canon 1D-————————–
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