Frequently Asked Questions: Figure Projects
What are shoots like?
It’s totally up to you, but typically they run 1-2 hours, and are often in the hours around sunrise (yes, dawn), or occassionally prior to sunset (it’s all about the light). My workspace is informal. It’s in my apartment in North Beach. It’s nicely lit, hardwood floors, glass walls, a couple sofas, dark and light backdrops sometimes. I use no artificial lights or flashes. I aim for naturalistic: unposed and uncontrived. The backdrops help isolate subjects. Sometimes that's good.
It’s less like “modeling” and more like “you’re over at a friends and they’re taking photos of you while you’re hanging out.” I don’t use props except, perhaps, various sorts of fabrics.
I don’t think of this as “boudoir photography” although there are obviously similarities. They are intimate. They can be sexy. But I try to avoid the “lingerie and high-heels” kind of photograph, unless for some reason it was appropriately contextual to hanging out. I try to make each image unique, which is not that easy when the variables are only you and the lighting of the day.
How many pictures do you take?
This varies. In broad numbers, I've noticed that we'll take about 100 images/hour... which produces 10 interesting shots and maybe 1 good one. So in a 2-hour shoot, there might be 200 images, 20 solid selects, and 2 really great shots. I'm interested in the one or two great shots. You might be excited for selects. But none of this is a rule. What's great is when everything comes together and magic happens and there are many wins.
What kind of lighting is best? Is there an ideal time of day?
Diffuse and flattering. Blue-sky afternoons get direct sun and while it might look like a nice day, it’s crappy for photos. I like overcast days. I love rainy days. In fact, on really stormy days I often check around to see if anyone (even people I’ve shot before) want to be shot again, to take advantage of the environment. Low light is nice for moody, emotional shots—I tend to make them a little blurry and indistinct. The last hour of the day is “golden” and bathes the rooms in a stunning light, but it’s short lived and just good to pick up at the end of a shoot. Early mornings can be best and recently i've been focusing on the hours just at and after sunrise.
I’ll shoot any time it can be scheduled. I like all lighting conditions simply for the various challenges they pose.
Can I bring a friend?
It’s possible, but I prefer not. Anything would need to be discussed in advance of the shoot. The shoot is intimate in the sense that me and the camera are getting to know you. A third party changes that.
Now, if what concerns you is your safety, that’s a different story, and it would have to be addressed up front. If you don’t feel safe or comfortable, a shoot isn’t going to happen.
I will say that if another person is present, they're very likely going to be in the shoot too. There is no off-camera.
It’s up to you. If you can do these yourself, then sure. I don’t employ a hair/makeup teammate. The goal is still naturalistic, so minimally, sure. Also, most images are anonymous, as opposed to portraits/head shots, so it’s not quite as big a deal for these shoots. Still, there are always going to be some images "of you” so yes, a little preparation can be good -- particularly to help you feel comfortable!
Do you only shoot nudes?
Well... No. I shoot whatever we want to shoot. It’s true, however, that the images are pretty intimate and personal. If they’re not nude, they’re still usually going to involve being unselfconsciously dressed. We’ll go over your expectations before any shooting, and usually well ahead of time. Maybe i should reanswer that: yes.
I'd reframe the question: nude is preferable for a few reasons. First, lingerie (while cool) also breaks up your body into regions that are artificial delineations. Your body might be great, but the way lingerie breaks you up is less great. It also pinches and squeezes a body in sometimes awkward ways. Usually best to avoid. Second, lingerie is "sexy" and in general i find it just tries too hard for that goal. It ascribes meanings that may or may not be there, and while it might feel more modest, it's actually more loaded with subtext than the alternative (which you might want, obviously, but it's not always the goal). All that said, we achieve discretion and modesty through the framing/composition, the use of light, your body position--and not through proscribed covering. So regardless of anything else, you'd best be prepared to be nude for everything else to go well. If not, maybe rethink the session.
Do you only shoot black and white?
I choose to work in black and white for a range of reasons. There will be color images, but I try to avoid that. I only print in black-and-white.
Why don't you charge?
Well, I DO charge, i just don't charge for shoots up front. I don't think of this as a work-for-hire. I don't know if anything good will get shot, and i like the ability to make creative decisions and take creative risks that might produce nothing good. Consequently i prefer not to charge people to model for my art projects. I do charge for output -- $10 for each JPG digital file you want (these are web resolution, very lightly watermarked, and generally the images people find cool to have. They are only $5/each if you buy a print of any size.) Prints are what we're aiming for: the smaller ones, unmounted, are $125; the larger ones are $375. Once Neomodern is open i'll add in the mounting and matting, but until then i'm only producing unmounted prints. Portfolios of prints have special pricing.
What do I bring/wear?
Bring anything you particularly want to be shot in. As I mentioned, these are not boudoir/lingerie/heels kinds of shoots, but almost everyone tends to start with this kind of outfit, mostly to warm up to the idea of getting shot. Images are monochromatic, so colors don’t tend to matter. I’m not a fan of complex patterns as they tend to distract. I prefer simple, white/grey/black types of materials. I find gauzy/lacy/diaphanous materials good for shoots. (Consequently, i keep small range of cool fabrics around to drape over you, wrap you in. So even if you bring nothing, there's some material to work with.)
Loose fitting sleepwear is a great way to think about it -- a big tank top or t-shirt, some simple underwear, something you might wear to bed (and we're shooting you as if it was the next morning... It's almost always more natural and lovely than heels and lingerie. But bring what you have. One never knows and the project is improvisational.
NOTE: Professional models have taught me that a "trick" for looking good is not to arrive in any tight fitting clothing--elastic and even skinny jeans will leave marks on your body and they can take a surprisingly long time to dissipate. Best to put that sort of thing on just prior to shooting, where the marks go away much quicker when we shift.
What if I need to reschedule?
Obviously, if you can’t make an appointment, you simply need to let me know with sufficient notice. With a few days notice, we’ll just do our best to reschedule. If it’s less than 24 hours, you can certainly cancel but I’m not inclined to set up another shoot and you forfeit your deposit. This relatively intimate dynamic, the sort of disrespect involved in late and canceled appointments is hard to overcome.
As for being late--just realize that this entire project is based on natural light. If your shoot is at 3pm, coming an hour late completely changes the lighting situation and the time we have to work. Make sure you account for time to get to North Beach, and parking (if applicable).
Who owns the pictures you take?
As a rule, I do. I own the copyrights of pictures I take unless we work out something different. Now, there’s a difference between copyright and “image rights” – meaning, that if you’re recognizable in the image, you do have control of your image.
How does this transaction go?
We should talk.
(Prices clearly are subject to change without notice, so until you've put in a deposit, anything might happen.)
Unless something else is worked out, you'll send a deposit of $100 (paypal or any other method you like) when we lock in a date. We'll apply this to the JPGs and hopefully prints you will likely want to get.
Only in the specific case where we have discussed it would you own the images, the raw files, the copyrights and so forth. This, however, is an exception and not the rule. I very rarely hand out a lot of files, particularly full resolution files.
These projects are less "boudoir" and more "figure studies that you're modeling for." If it was just for me, my fine art work is almost always anonymous and the shoot will be part of whatever creative project i'm currently exploring. But i'm collaborating with you too, and if there's something you'd like to try, or an image you'd like to imitate in some way, we can often try that. Frequently you will want photos "of you" meaning it has your face in it, but this is for you, not me. No one but you will ever see those photos. The anonymous ones are more likely to show up in my porfolios.
How long will it be before I see finished images, or get the images I’m getting?
I’m usually working on the images immediately after the shoot – partly due to momentum and partly because I’m curious and excited to see how it went. I will often do this with you around, if you want to watch, at least for a little while. It can take hours to go through them. But as soon as I have some viable finished images, I’ll email or text you some so you can share them or do whatever you’d like. To complete going through them, if I have time, will be that day. But if I’m very busy it might be a number of days. I like to deal with this right away, however. So not long.
I’ll send a few top picks right away. It takes a little longer for me to move a dozen or two dozen images to a dropbox for you.
Are you going to post these on Facebook or Instagram?
As a rule, no. I’m absolutely not going to post a picture that someone would identify as you. Now YOU can take the files you get from me and do whatever you’d like – email them, post them, etc. I’ll add the very best to my online portfolio (www.byrubin.com) and sometimes add not-too-sensual, totally anonymous ones to my facebook fan page as well (Pictures by Rubin https://www.facebook.com/rubin.pix/). I understand the sensitivity of these images, and I’m not going to do anything inappropriate with them. Still, if for any reason, something is in public and you’re uncomfortable, let me know asap and (unless I totally feel you’re privacy is secure) I’m going to immediately remove it.
What if I don’t like any of the images shot?
That can happen. It’s not likely, but it’s certainly possible. You never know how a shoot will go or what will work. I tend to think of my work as improvisational (like jazz) and while I’m comfortable with my approach, there is a lot of uncertainty. The not-knowing is the fun part, but the result is that there might be no great shots or there might be many.
Am I going to see an image from my shoot in some book or in a gallery some day?
That would be cool, right? You might. If it’s an image where you’re recognizable, it’s not likely, and you’d totally be involved with decisions about that. If it’s a more typical image where you’re not recognizable, yes, very rare and beautiful shots come from the shoots I do – in fact, it’s WHY I do these shoots: for the off chance that something magical happens and a fantastic image is produced. The fact that you might end up with a set of cool shots of yourself is a bonus.
Do you have references?
Absolutely. If you'd like to talk to any number of people i've shot, just ask. I don't advertise, and pretty much all my work comes from personal recommendations.