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Lesson 18 from: The Business of Photography

Nigel Barker

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Lesson Info

18. Connection

Next Lesson: Provoking Reaction

Lesson Info


You know what I might do, actually? Although this is the raw setup. I might just remove this wall for you because I think it's easier for you all to see. So it will change the look of the light just a little bit, but that's okay 'cause this is a demonstration. I normally kept that in there. Remember how it just brings in the darkness on both sides? This will open it up a little bit more. I want this class to be more about how I get emotion out of an individual. So you ready to be provoked? Yes. (laughing) Okay, wonder. Can I get you right here? We've got a little middle mark on this one, and we got side marks. Okay. Okay So, something that's obvious right now, it's very quiet, other than me speaking, and that's unusual for a set. I love to have music. Music is a great part of, you know, a great way to relax the subject. I have my own music that I like to listen too, but as I've said, it's not about me in this situations, it's always about my model. I'd normally do research and ...

find out what that person likes or I simply ask them. But I like to in advance find out what they like because, like I mentioned, it's so nice when someone enters the studio and they hear, down the corridor when they get into the studio, the music they love. As they walk in they're like, and sometimes I'd even have my people at the front desk go, "They're on their way up." And we'll change the music and put the right thing on, and they'll come up and they'll be like, "Man, I love this song." And you already see things, you know, and it's the same way if you want to change the reaction, you can put on music that they don't like. Then that also provokes a reaction in itself. So music is great, but there isn't any music. I learnt this on Top Model actually, because I was so, I always shoot with music, and there's no music on the t.v show 'cause we're recording audio. So I would say to the models, "In your mind, "just imagine your favorite song." Can you do that for me right now? And you can hear that song playing in you mind. And I want you just to feel the rhythm, and let your shoulders move, and exactly you're gonna rock to the music a little bit and just get that beat. Feel that song. Feel that music. Boom. (camera clicking) what is the song? Shaday. Shaday! I love Shaday. What song by Shaday is it? Your Love is King. Oh, I love it. Smooth Operator I think is one of my favorites. I love that one too. (camera clicking) Now, you see how just talking about the artist and that music, and I know that song it's a great song, it's sexy, it's got a lot of saxophone going on in there. Even though the music wasn't playing, she started to play it in her head. So even when there is no music and your in the street, and you want something, you want inspiration, you want to inspire someone, you can put them through very simple exercise like that. I often say to the person, "Literally just close your eyes "and just imagine the music." And we would do that on Top Model 'cause I'm trying to get a reaction out of them through the girls and I'm like, "Hey, remember that trick "I taught you ages ago? "Let's do that now. "Let's bring it back, otherwise we're gonna have "that deer in the headlights look that we don't want." And you heard us say that over and over again to people, "You look like a deer in the headlights. "We're not lookin' for that." All right, so there's on concept, one idea. Another one, I'm gonna ask you now, now you're miked aren't you. Mm hmm. Good. What does raw mean to you? Raw is authentic, real. There you go. Yeah. You heard it from her right now. (laughing) Real and authentic. You know, I was thinking of raw vegetables and raw fruit (laughing) but you know it is what it is. So one of the important things is obviously not to shoot to fast, but is keeping your camera up. One of the great stories that I've always is one of Avedon, who photographed the English Royal Family and he did something to provoke a reaction out of them, he essentially was very late to photograph the Duchess and Duke of Windsor, who are on set, and are rather angry and upset, and eventually he showed up and when he arrived he said to them, "Oh God I'm so sorry I'm late." And they were like, "Pff, who ever keeps us waiting." And then went on to follow with, "I hit a dog, corgi, "on the way." And they burst into tears 'cause they actually loved corgis and actually bred them. The Duchess was horrified and almost burst into tears, and the husband, the Duke, was like, "It's okay darling." And he took the picture, bam! Avedon. First time in this Royal Family being photographed showing emotion. Always very stiff and proper in all their pictures. That photograph became revelation for the Royal Family because it showed them this human side to them, and people loved it. Avedon did not hit the dog, hadn't killed the corgi, was not late, he was waiting in the background for them to be sufficiently pissed off, then came in, And has done his research so he knew that they had bred corgis, and so he by saying that provoked a reaction out of them to create a picture that become one of the most iconic photographs of English Royal Family in history. So it's things like that, that create that. So what my point there is that he took the picture as he asked the question, then he saw that happening. I'm doing this for you but often times I'll talk a lot, but the camera's up here. If you do this and ask the question, if you do this and ask the question, then wait, and then take the picture you could miss the moment. So you kind of have to either glue it to your face and shoot like that, which I often do, or of course you can set it on the tripod with the shutter release and wait for those moments to happen. But it's those in between camera moments that are often really important. Do we have any water in here? yes. Hold the water. Okay. (laughing) I thought you were gonna pour it on me. (audience laughing) (camera clicking) I might do. (laughing) I got nervous. Do you see, look. (camera clicking) She got nervous. All these are things, these are real things. And by bringing in actual, so holding something, people often don't know what to do with their hands. Give them something to hold, give them something, a cold drink, a hot drink, they react differently to both. It's very interesting how if you put hot tea in someone's hand, or a hot cup of coffee, or hot chocolate, or something like that, how the person's body language changes. Versus putting an ice cold drink in their hand and it's a totally different feeling. In the way they look, the hair on the back of their neck, all these create reactions. And these are ways to provoke the model, or your subject, whoever it might be to feel and look a certain way. I'll save you from having to have that poured over your lovely face. Maybe I'll torture our other model a little bit more. Now earlier I asked you to scream, (camera clicking) I'm gonna ask you to do the same thing again. Go. (screaming) And again. (screaming) And one more time. (screaming) How do you feel? Like my lungs kinda hurt a little bit. My throat's dry now. (laughing) (camera clicking) So screaming is amazing because there's something about it that, you know, there's that great famous painting where the person's screaming, right? Getting rid of all their emotion, and letting it all out. Then you feel exhausted in a way afterwards 'cause it's like (gasping) and you almost have to, kind of, recenter yourself. Like, "Okay, where am I?" And your whole face is like aahh. Not just does it, kind of, completely astound the person, but your face, by screaming, all the muscles in your face contract afterwards and it pulls the face together. So it does incredible things. Not just do I ask models to scream, but I also often ask them to do, not for me to take their picture, but I ask them to go, and stretch their jaw as I'm taking pictures. You look ridiculous doing it like I am, but actually all those muscles in the face contract and help the face come together. When people are standing there, like anything, everything can get like soft. If the person's not necessarily jumping or moving, but you still want that tension in the face. You can bring that tension back to the face by simply, literally putting faces. Then it comes back together. So I use all these tricks to help energize the face, energize the mouth, energize the eyes, and what have you.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Raw Beauty Equipment List
Raw Beauty Light Diagram

Ratings and Reviews

Michael Spatola

This is one of my favorite Creative Live classes so far. The storytelling and human interaction parts were my favorites! The ability for Nigel to get such amazing expressions in such a brief time shooting was amazing. Everything he demonstrated seemed almost effortless, and all without a shred of ego. Great class!

Margaret Lovell

Nigel is a wonderfully engaging instructor. I like that he walks his students through his photoshoots. The set ups. How to interact with the models. Even though there are a couple of genres I'm most active in, I appreciate that Nigel says that you can have different photographic interests, so long as you brand yourself properly. I like taking photos of lots of things, although my outdoor photos generate the most interest. I highly recommend all of Nigel's classes.

a Creativelive Student

Passion, personal, inspiring! Nigel, thanks for amazing class and a lot of great advices.

Student Work