Photographing Models, by Mary DuPrie

Every so often you come across a photography product worth getting excited about, and it has nothing to do with corporate hype or industry buzz. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview PocketWizard user Mary DuPrie, of Mary DuPrie Studios. DuPrie also runs the well-written blog Photographing Models. To date, she’s released three instructional DVDs. This article will deal with one, Photographing Models.

In Photographing Models, DuPrie deviates from the norm, and does so in a wildly successful way. Most instructional products aimed at photographers are about lighting and equipment. They usually miss the most critical thing, and that’s the positioning of models. You can have a gorgeous woman posing in front of your lens, with a team of talented makeup artists and wardrobe stylists at the ready, plus all the lighting and camera equipment in the world, but if your subject doesn’t know how to move, the quality of the photos will be predictably disappointing. Crack all the dumb blonde jokes you want about models, but successful ones who keep working know how to move and pose. Good shots are typically not random, happy accidents.

DuPrie stands alone with this DVD. Not only will photographers learn what poses to avoid, but models will be fascinated to see how critical hand placement is, for instance. She demonstrates how to minimize hands, keep them relaxed, and have them add to the mood of a photo, and not, for instance, compete with a face. How many models know hands are such a deal-changer? More importantly, how many photographers know this?

DuPrie uses a monitor on set to explain to the model what poses work and why. ©Mary DuPrie

Over the course of this DVD, DuPrie does everything to physically detail to Sally, a young hopeful model, the problems with almost every standard pose imaginable, including getting on the floor and demonstrating the right way,  versus the drawbacks of the way most models naturally position themselves. Viewers follow along, learning how a head-tilt can hide a bad neck angle, how much to move eyes to avoid too much white area, and how to keep the rear of an upper-arm from bulging out unattractively. This and other critical minutia are not thought of or addressed by many professionals until it becomes time to spend hours in Photoshop fixing them. For any photographer, time is money, and the $80 DuPrie is charging for Photographing Models will be recouped during their first post-viewing shoot. For models, watching this DVD and putting the lessons into practice will mean getting hired repeatedly.

©Mary DuPrie

The other major content area of this DVD is the sets. DuPrie goes into some detail regarding how she creates, stores, and operates a veritable library of backdrops. Unlike many photography studios, DuPrie’s backdrops are solid and freestanding, not hung cloth. Most of her backdrops are styrofoam, and can be positioned and repositioned as needed. For instance, in one segment, she builds a V out of them, positioning her model directly in them. She typically fastens these backdrops with pins and Velcro: easy and non-permanent ways to transform her studio into a wide variety of looks. DuPrie paints each styrofoam panel herself, although this title does not go into the execution of that. It’s a fascinating and atypical way of creating scenes. Although this is a small part of the DVD, it’s incredibly inspiring, and will prompt photographers to consider working with these materials as a viable alternative to the cliched spattered hanging tarps.

DuPrie and a portion of her vast library of rigid backdrops. ©Mary DuPrie

Filmed with three cameras, Photographing Models is a professional production. The audio quality is excellent, and the editing does the subject matter justice. Although geared toward photographers interested in getting the most from their time with hired models, models themselves will benefit from understanding which movements and poses are camera-friendly, and which are not.

Making no claims this instructional DVD contains lighting information or best camera practices, DuPrie has filled a void in recent photography instructional materials. This is, however, everyday knowledge all photographers will benefit from. Instead of shooting with machine gun rapidity and hoping for attractive accidental poses, many hours and dollars will be saved employing the knowledge offered here.

In the future, we will feature our profile of Mary DuPrie, her own photography and techniques, including her use of PocketWizard technology.

©Mary DuPrie

Title: Photographing Models
Running time: approximately 110 minutes
Price: $80
Product and ordering information found here.

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