44 Photo Tips From The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue (Part 4 of 5)

 

Hey, what’s up?

It’s time for Part 4 in our continuing quest to improve our photographic abilities by studying the techniques of excellent practitioners of the the art form (also known as “good photographers”).

 

 

Page 92-93

We live on a big planet. A planet so big that an inch here or there rarely makes much of a difference.

However, there are some situations when a mere inch can have a huge impact.

This picture is one of those situations. My guess is you’ve already spotted it.

The small act of bringing the model’s swimsuit bottom an inch lower than it’s meant to be has turned an attractive and innocent picture into an attractive and not quite so innocent picture.

The very slightly lowered bottom adds a great deal of sexiness to the shot. This seemingly small adjustment greatly changes how the picture is viewed. All of a sudden, there a lot more to it.

Slight modifications like this one can often have a great deal of impact on the quality of the shot.

Three more things to take from this picture:

1. Note the extremely graceful position of the model’s right hand. This is not nearly as easy as it looks.

2. This shot is a good example of taking advantage of the light that an overcast day provides.

3. Yet again, her feet are extended and the toes are pointed (you’ll have to train yourself to keep an eye on your model’s feet whenever they appear in a shot).

 

Page 98

This is an important tip that is equally valuable for any picture you take that includes people (not just swimsuit models).

Notice the model’s left hand. At first glance it looks like she’s leaning her head on that hand. However, if she were actually doing that, there would be a slightly “squished” look to that side of her face where her fingers are placed.

However, you’ll notice that this shot contains no visible “squishiness”.

This means that she’s not actually leaning on her hand at all; she’s merely giving the illusion that she is. In reality, her fingers are barely brushing against her face. This allows her face to remain perfectly symmetrical (i.e., no visible “squishiness”).

Keeping an eye out for this potential problem is equally important whether you’re shooting internationally known fashion models or your Aunt Millie (I’m assuming you have an Aunt Millie).

 

Page 100

I’ve included this picture because it’s one of the few shots in the entire issue in which the actual location plays a very small role.

While it’s true that this model is standing against a stone wall at an exotic Australian beach, she wouldn’t have to be to make the picture work.

The picture would be just as effective and attractive if she were standing against a dark wall in a back alley in St. Louis (and it doesn’t even have to be St. Louis; any city or town will do the trick).

The significant aspects of this shot are the soft lighting, the way her skin tone works well against the color of the stone, and the bright splash of color that her swimsuit provides.

In other words, there’s no need to go to Australia.

Or even St. Louis.

 

Page 104

This shot requires a location even less exotic than the one on page 100. It’s an attractive and very softly lit shot. I would guess that it was taken during the day in full shade (shade can provide beautiful soft lighting).

However, what makes this picture stand out is how she’s tugging on her swimsuit with her thumb. A simple gesture like this one can add a great deal of sexiness and “attitude” to an otherwise fairly straightforward shot.

In this shot, the simple use of the model’s thumb transforms this image from good to very good.

 

 

 

 

Pages 122-123

Similar to the shot on page 6, the model in this shot is small in comparison to the full frame.

However, even though she’s small, no viewer is likely to miss her.

In spite of her size, she’s still the obvious focal point of the image. Why is this the case? What techniques were used to accomplish this?

One technique used by the photographer was following the compositional guideline known as “The Rule of Thirds”. One aspect of this guideline is that it encourages the photographer to avoid placing the main subject matter directly in the center of the frame. Placing the main subject in the center of the frame will often create a static composition (not a good thing).

In this shot, the model is placed in the lower left third of the frame. This placement creates a more interesting dynamic to the picture.

The use of a “diagonal” is another important compositional technique used in this shot. Specifically, the trunk of the palm tree creates a diagonal (from upper right to lower left). A viewer’s eyes will naturally follow the diagonal and, in this particular shot, the path leads to the model.

Finally, the color of her skin and her bikini contrast sharply with the dark greens and blues that comprise the rest of the image.

While I’m a bit hesitant to bring it up yet again, take note of her foot position. Again, it’s extended with the toes pointed.

By now, the importance of how a glamour model positions her feet should be imprinted on your brain forever.


All photos courtesy of Sports Illustrated


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44 Photo Tips From The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue (Part 3 of 5)

 

 

Here we are for the third time.

That’s why it’s called Part 3. Simple enough, right?

So grab your copy of SI and let’s take a look at some very good photography.

 

 

Page 55

Adding a lion to a photograph is guaranteed to add quite a bit of drama to almost any image (one exception would be an image that already includes a bunch of lions; but when’s the last time you had that problem?).

Unfortunately, on the vast majority of your shoots, chances are good that you won’t have a lion nearby to spice up your shots. Because of this, it’s important to know other techniques you can use to add dramatic aspects to your glamour and nude images.

The picture here is a good example of two of those techniques put to good use.

First, the model is creating a more dramatic body shape by leaning sharply on her right hip. This simple move is the first step in creating the always seductive “S” pose.

Quite often, simply directing your model to place the majority of her weight on one hip or the other is all it takes to create a much more alluring and sexy glamour photograph.

The position of her left arm also helps to create a more interesting and dramatic feel to the shot (in fact, it’s very similar to the arm position of the cover model seen at the top of this page).

Second, this picture is a good example of the importance of pointed toes and “extended” feet in nearly all glamour and nude images. Take notice of the fact that even though the model is wearing flat sandals, she’s still up on the toes of her left foot.

Doing this essentially puts her foot in the same position it would be in if she were wearing heels.

And as I’m sure you know, the positive visual effects on the legs of a model wearing heels can’t be underestimated when it comes to getting sexy shots. Obviously, women don’t wear high heels just to be taller (if that’s all they wanted, they could go with stilts).

In this particular shot, a close look reveals that even the lioness is up on her back toes.

Well done, big cat. Well done.

 

Page 56

In the vast majority of shots that attempt to feature women in seductive ways (glamour, swimsuit, nude, erotic, etc.), you’ll usually want your models to arch their backs to some degree.

An arched back (or at least a very straight one) makes almost any pose sexier and more visually interesting.

Experienced models like the one seen here are already well aware of how important an arched back is to good posing. Consequently, they’ll most likely do it automatically and without a thought.

However, when you’re shooting less experienced models, you’ll need to keep an eye on this and remind them to be aware of their back position at all times.

Of course, this puts some added pressure on you to remember to remind her. But that’s part of the job.

My best advice: No matter how you do it, remember to remind her.

 

 

 

Page 66

In my opinion, this shot is by far the most interesting one in the entire issue. It’s the only shot that takes any real risk in trying to create a truly unique image.

The slightly distorted image quality that makes this picture so interesting is the result of using a moderately wide-angle lens (in contrast to most of the other pictures in the issue that were shot with moderate telephoto to long telephoto lenses).

From the shadow under her left arm, you can tell that the picture was shot at midday (usually not the best idea).

However, it works in this case because the model is lying flat on her back. Because of this, there’s nothing to cast any harsh and unflattering shadows across her body or face.

The model’s body position and the hard light conveys a sense of “sun-worshipper” to the image (an appropriate vibe in an issue dedicated entirely to swimsuits)

And once again, notice how she has remembered to point her left foot even though it’s an extremely small part of the overall composition.

Little details like this can make or break a picture. The extreme “length” of her body in this shot is what makes the picture so interesting. Without a pointed toe, much of this length would have been lost.

 

Page 68

There are a few things in life you just can’t depend on.

One of them is that lazy brother-in-law of yours (yeah, you know who I’m talking about).

Another one is the wind.

Thus, if you want to take pictures of a model with her hair blowing in the wind, you’ll definitely have to bring a fan along.

And without question, you’re going to run into difficulty finding electrical outlets anywhere near the beach. Damn nature!

Unfortunately, small battery-powered fans will rarely do the job. So you’ll probably need to bring along a heavy gas-powered generator that will power a larger fan.

However, going this route will also require you to bring along an assistant or two to help carry the generator. The whole process tends to be quite a hassle (trust me, I used to be an assistant).

My advice: Take some quality time and ask yourself, “Do I really need her hair to be blowing in the wind?”

 

Pages 86-87

This image demonstrates the power of using unique shooting angles to capture interesting images.

Shooting a model who is laying down in the sand from a low angle and from behind might not be the first idea that comes to mind when composing an image of this type.

Initially, it might seem that having the model look back over her shoulder would cause an odd or uncomfortable vibe to the shot. However, as this picture proves, that definitely does not have to be the case.

It’s a great idea to always be on the lookout for unique shooting angles. I believe that failing to do this is one of the most common mistakes amateur photographers make. I cover this topic extensively in my eBook, SKIN: The Complete Guide To Glamour and Nude Photography.

In addition, notice the arched back of the model and how it greatly enhances the sensuality of the pose. Like pointed toes and lions, it’s hard to go wrong with a seductively arched back (her’s, not yours).

 

Page 88

If you have to shoot at the beach at midday, this is a good way to do it. From the background, it’s easy to tell that it was a bright and sunny day at the time the shot was taken.

Shooting in the bright sun would have made it difficult to create an attractive image (due to the problem of hard shadows).

However, the problem was easily solved in this case by simply finding a shaded area. Outdoor shade can provide you with a very soft, even, and seductive light quality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


All photos courtesy of Sports Illustrated


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44 Photo Tips From The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue (Part 2 of 5)

 

Hey!

I assume you’ve already read my semi-rant that kicked off this series. Now it’s time to take a look at some images from the 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and figure out what makes these pictures special.

Do you have a fresh copy of the 2012 issue in front of you?

If so, cool.

If not, less cool. But not the end of the world.

Let’s get started:

 

Pages 6-7

It’s doubtful that you or I are going to find ourselves in a location like the one seen here anytime soon. Obviously, a great deal of the drama that this shot contains is due to the waterfall setting.

However, there’s still a valuable lesson we can take from this shot: When the vast majority of an image contains relatively similar colors, all it takes is a splash of a very different color to steal the show.

In this shot, the color of the model’s skin and swimsuit naturally draw the viewer’s eyes. In spite of how small she is in relation to the entire frame, there’s no doubt that she’s the prime subject of the shot.

In contrast, if the model had been forced to compete against a very colorful background, she would have had a much more difficult time establishing her role as the main subject of the shot.

It’s also important to note how the model’s pose delivers a sense of drama and brings the viewer’s eyes toward her. The extremely arched back, along with the position of her hands behind her head, create a silhouette that is hard to ignore. In other words, it’s a much more effective pose than would have been obtained if the photographer had simply directed the model to, “go stand over there in the water.”

It’s important to know that this technique of drawing a viewer’s eyes to the main subject by using contrasting colors or textures is equally effective in all styles of photography (whether the picture includes people or not).

 

Page 11

This shot is a good example of the importance of shooting outdoor glamour images primarily very early or very late in the day.

Among photographers, there is a term for these times of day: “The Magic Hours”. One Magic Hour occurs near sunrise, the other one occurs around sunset.

At these two times of day, the sun is very low in the sky and delivers an even and soft light that is ideal for photographing people.

However, don’t be fooled by the word “hour” in Magic Hour. In reality, you’ll often only have a shooting window of a few minutes when the light is ideal.

At these times of day the sun produces an extremely warm, slightly orange light. This color adds a healthy glow to a model’s skin. Because of this, it’s a great time for shooting pictures that feature a lot of skin, such as swimsuit or nude images.

Since you’ll often only have a few minutes when the sun is producing the exact light you desire, shooting during The Magic Hours requires concentration and preparation.

Because of this, every aspect of the shot – from the camera position to the model’s position, and everything in between – must be set up and ready to go in order to take full advantage when the light is just right.

You can be sure that this shot was taken very close to sunrise or sunset due to the catchlights in the model’s eyes that reflect a low sun position, the long shadows being cast, and the golden glow of her skin.

There’s another thing to learn from this picture. Take a look at the model’s smile. Do you see the space between her top teeth and her bottom lip? In the “real world”,  people rarely smile in this way. It just isn’t natural. However, in photographs of smiling models, the space between the top teeth and the lower lip add a great deal of energy and make the the shot far more dynamic.

It may seem strange, but it’s true. Trust me. It can make a huge difference in the energy that comes across in a shot.

Before the shoot, it’s a good idea to explain to your model what you want to accomplish. When the time comes for this kind of look, simply use a phrase such as, “Big smile, without the teeth touching” to remind her of what you’re going for.

 

Page 37

The shot seen here is a good counter-argument to the type of lighting we discussed with the previous image (page 11).

This picture proves that there are exceptions to every rule and guideline. Specifically, this shot demonstrates that it’s also possible to get great outdoor glamour shots during the middle of the day (not just during “The Magic Hours”).

However, it’ll often require an overcast day such as the one seen here. Overcast days can deliver very soft and flattering light (it’s as if the sky becomes a giant soft-box).

Make sure you don’t underestimate the value of the sky being overcast. It’s still true that shooting at midday in bright sunlight will usually produce very unflattering shadows on the model.

Though these unwanted shadows can often be dealt with by the proper use of various lighting accessories, it’s much simpler to shoot very early in the day, very late in the day, on overcast days, or in the shade.

In this particular picture, the softness of her pose (legs tucked underneath, relaxed hands), coupled with her gentle expression and her soft and sheer top perfectly complement the feel of the lighting and the picture’s composition. Taken together, these factors create a very gentle and attractive image.

 

Page 38

I can’t say for sure, but I would bet that every Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue (since the first one in 1964) has had at least one picture featuring sand sticking to a model’s skin.

Sand on skin is a definite cliche when it comes to shooting at the beach. However, just because it’s a cliche, doesn’t mean it should be avoided. Some cliches are cliches for good reason. This is one of them.

The rough texture of the sand against the smooth skin of the model provides an interesting photographic contrast.

How the sand looks on skin will depend on a few variables: Is the sand wet or dry? Is the model wet or dry? Is the sand light and fluffy or a bit clumpy?

Thus, you’ll have to do a bit of experimentation to get the look you want.

As far as the lighting in this shot, it’s a very good example of manipulating light for specific purposes.

The very hard and contrasty shadows that appear on the model’s body are good evidence that the shot was taken in midday. This picture is a also a good example of how hard shadows can often be used for dramatic effect.

In this case, the hard shadows that appear on the body of the model serve to accentuate her curves and give the photograph a very dramatic overall vibe.

However, a closer examination reveals that these hard shadows don’t appear on her face (for example, there are no (unattractive) shadows under her eyes or nose). This was accomplished by using some sort of light manipulation device in order to keep the harsh sun off her face but allow it to hit her body.

The reason for this is simple: Faces tend to not look so good when engulfed in harsh shadows.

Of course, when I say this, I’m referring to the faces of young swimsuit models that are supposed to be as “pretty” as possible. In contrast, deep and hard shadows might be exactly what’s needed is you’re attempting to convey a “tough-guy” look (think Robert De Niro).

 

Page 44

This shot is a virtual treasure chest of techniques you should be familiar with:

-Even though the model is lying down, the photographer shot the picture eye-to-eye by getting down to her level. This simple move gives an interesting and personal perspective to the shot. Photographers often get a bit lazy and don’t give enough thought to their shooting angles and how these angles can have a dramatic effect on how an image turns out.

-A wide aperture setting on the lens was used. This enables the model’s face (especially her eyes) to be in sharp focus while the remainder of the shot’s focus drops of quickly. By using selective focus in this way, you can easily put added emphasis on a specific area of a photo. In this particular case, the emphasis is on the face and eyes of the model.

-The model’s upper arms are “pulled in” close together to accentuate and emphasize the breasts.

-The slight tilt of the model’s head (down and to her right) gives her face an attractive angle. This slight tilt also adds a bit of mystery to the shot that wouldn’t have been present had her face been straight on to the camera.

-It’s often difficult for models to attain attractive and graceful hand positions. The shot seen here is a good example of a very good hand position. Additionally, using her left hand to gently tug at a piece of hair adds a softness to the shot (note the subtle curve of the fingers on her left hand).

-Even though her body is in soft focus and not the main subject of the shot; her feet are still extended and her toes are pointed. This foot position is nearly always the most attractive way to photograph women’s feet (no matter what style of photography is being done).

 

Page 50

Rule Number 1:  

You can’t go wrong with a cheetah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All photos courtesy of Sports Illustrated

Sign up for the free Inside Glamour Photography newsletter and instantly receive your free report 7 Killer Mistakes to Avoid When Shooting Nude Models!” You’ll find a quick and easy sign-up box at the top right of each page.

 

 Tips, Techniques, and Ideas for Glamour and Nude Photography