Model Student: Photo Shoot with Kat St. John

I recently had the pleasure of a fun photo shoot with Kat St. John, an MUA and photographer here in the Puget Sound. She’s working on a before/after series that showcases women and “what makes them beautiful.”

_MG_0400Photo: Kat St. John

 524916_10151335455489001_724299824_nKat and I worked together on a short film earlier this year, (where she gave me a rockin’ smoky eye, by the way) and I was really excited to play around a little again.

She enlisted her friend Jennifer (designer at Stone Crow Designs—seriously, uniquely gorgeous pieces) as “stylist, light-mistress, and hat-rack” (oh the hats), and set up a simple, but really effective lit backdrop.

You can read her blog about our photo session here, wherein she brings up how I chose to be like my three-year. Be sure to check out some of the other before/after shots as she continues with her project.

For me, the photo shoot was not just a fun way to spend a Monday night getting to know a couple of hi-larious ladies and getting beautified and trying on silly clothes. It was actually a great opportunity to learn.

I figure that any time spent in front of the camera is time well-spent… so much of being on camera is just… being… while on-camera. People who are electric on film are the ones who have learned the secret to living—just for a moment—as if the fish-eye is not on, the crew is not there, and the story is theirs to tell or conceal, in a private moment. They know how to breathe in and out and don’t worry about where to put their hands or where there eye-line is going… and those are all pretty technical skills—driven by instinct, but perfected with technical knowledge. It’s tough to master, and something I know I need some work with.

The first shots were fun, but I was definitely “warming up.” Modeling is a whole different tool box than acting. It’s … slow acting. Sustained moments that shift, slightly, but remain intensely driven. And frankly, for a novice, it’s a bit strange to me to just sit there, and try to accomplish two equally important, and admittedly paradoxical things. You want to act your way through the shoot, not just pose. AND you want to act within a striking/flattering/interesting pose.

_MG_0305 (1)Photo: Kat St. John

Seattle headshot photographer, John Ulman recently posted a list of his “10 Tips for a Great Headshot,” on the Freehold Theatre blog. One of these 10 was particularly salient to the above, and caught my attention: “The camera basically captures your thoughts. […] Figure out what kind of shot you’re going for, set up the internal monologue of that ‘character,’ and give it to the camera. […] think of things that genuinely make you happy so the smile is honest and not just saying ‘cheese’ for the camera with dead eyes.”

_MG_0433In one of her emails with the preview images, Kat said, “I think we hit our stride near the end.” And she was right… that’s when I had on my favorite dress, and had already stood in front of the lens and the ladies for a good hour, been through a costume change or two. I was just playing around, choosing some zany characters in my head.

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Whether you can tell or not, I was making emotional choices, not “just posing,” and not worrying about finding the flattering angle. (Except of course, where I was just trying not to smile and make the stache fall off. ) And, no surprise, those ended up being my favorite, and certainly the most interesting shots of the bunch.

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Plus, you can’t go wrong with Captain America.

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