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Posing People Shots On The Road; Arranging For And Photographing Foreign Models:
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Framing a subject with a window is akin to using the graphic form of an arch to focus attention where you want it. That’s what I did in both (12 and 13). These are shots that were set up to look serendipitous—like I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. In fact I instructed the models where to stand, what to do, and of course I chose the best time of day to get attractive lighting.



Nature also makes a great background. For subjects like a Bushmen hunting party in Namibia (#14), a natural background is the only thing that makes sense. It was tough to frame these young men without including too much clutter in the background, though, because this portion of the Namib Desert has a lot of vegetation. The telephoto portrait I made of one of the Bushmen (#15) included foreground grass to give a feeling of their environment, but I used the sky as a clean backdrop so our attention is not diverted from the subject by distracting graphic elements that might have been behind him.



In Irian Jaya, which is the western portion of the island of New Guinea and part of Indonesia, I also used a natural backdrop to photograph warriors of the Dani tribe (#16). When I went to their village to do individual portraits, the background elements were very messy and visually unappealing—at least for my own sense of aesthetics. It was definitely authentic, but I prefer a cleaner look. Therefore, I used a telephoto lens to photograph the young woman (#17) covered in mud (this indicated she was in mourning for the loss of a loved one). The lens threw the background elements completely out of focus.



Ornate backgrounds, on the other hand, can help create outstanding images in some circumstances. I photographed a Javanese bride with a traditional set behind her in Blitar, Indonesia (#18), and the lady from whom I rented the clothing provided the backdrop. This is the typical set erected for the wedding party during a marriage ceremony.


If you study the lighting in the pictures of foreign models in this section you will see that they were taken with two types of lighting. I used either soft and diffused light from an overcast sky or I took the pictures when the sun was close to the horizon at sunrise or sunset. These two lighting scenarios are best for outdoor shooting. Dawn and dusk offer photo opportunities as well, as you see in the Venetian Carnival photos, because the lighting is soft. I avoid midday sunlight whenever I can because the light is too harsh. When you expose for the highlights, as you should, the shadows that are created by direct sunlight tend to go black. This is especially unattractive on a face where the shadow from a protruding brow makes the eyes go dark and, at the same time, the nose is highlighted. In my opinion, the nose should never be highlighted no matter how attractive or interesting it may be.

The Papua New Guinea tribesman I photographed during the annual Sing Sing (#19) is a perfect example of what not to do. You should always avoid this kind of light on a person unless you are seeking revenge on a friend or foe and you want their picture to be as ugly as possible!


Breaking The Ice
Many photographers are uncomfortable or intimidated shooting strangers when they travel. If you relate to this, there is one way you can make it easier on yourself and, at the same time, have fun interacting with the people you encounter on your trip. When you show someone their image on your LCD monitor on the back of the camera, almost invariably you’ll get a smile of appreciation and then they want you to take more pictures—and everyone in the area wants their picture taken, too. This works especially well with children.

Model Releases
Most people don’t travel with the intention of selling their work. However, if you have a passion for photography, sooner or later the thought crosses your mind that it would be great to sell some of your images so you and your friends and family can see them published. It would also be nice to make back some of the money you’ve spent on camera gear, computer hardware and software, and travel. Therefore, let me discuss the issue of model releases.

In the past, model releases were required if a person’s face was recognizable and if the images of him or her might be used for advertising purposes as opposed to editorial layouts. Editorial usually refers to newspapers and magazines and advertising refers to everything else.

Today, due to our litigious society, stock agencies and some of their clients—as well as other end users of photography—have been sued in a variety of circumstances. Corporations with deep pockets attract lawsuits, and therefore many of them now demand that photographers get model releases for everyone—recognizable or not. This means that if a person is in a Carnival costume and not one square inch of skin is showing, a release would still be required. After all, the person inside the costume could claim that he or she was in there when the picture was taken. I have submitted silhouettes of people where the agency wanted a release, as in (#20). Sometimes I’ve zoomed in tight and photographed from the neck down, and an agency still required a release to sell the image in the advertising arena. Editorial usage is still more relaxed, but sometimes publishers require releases as a precaution against frivolous lawsuits.


There are many different kinds of model releases you can use, but an industry standard is the one that the stock agency Getty uses. Here is a link to several releases that are available to all photographers without charge:

I used to have model releases translated into other languages when I traveled. Now I don’t. If I pay models, as I almost always do, then part of the deal is that they must sign the release in English. That makes it very easy for an American stock agency or publisher to understand it.

When I photograph a tribal village, it’s obviously very difficult and certainly inconvenient to get releases from everyone. In addition, many people in these circumstances are illiterate and can’t write their own names. I’ve consulted with the legal department of my stock agency, and they accept a blanket release that covers the entire group of people signed by the chief of the village.

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