By: Jarmo Pohjaniemi OMP Member #68348
I recently had on a one-on-one with photographer Michael Straley for an awesome day of making magic behind (and in front of) the camera. Micheal is very passionate about his photography and doesn’t like taking “no” for an answer when it comes to getting top images. His energetic approach to a project means a great day of shooting for all.
After a selection process that included top agency, glamour and Playboy models, Michael’s model choice for the day was STC’s very own Mary Alejo. I spoke with Michael to get his take on how the day’s shoot went.
OMP: Michael, it’s a pleasure to have to you here with us and despite it being a rainy Monday, you seem upbeat and walking around with two fully-loaded Nikons.
Michael: I sure am! I’m on the hunt for that magical light I see in the pages of Playboy. I am going to use what I learn here to take my images to the next level – as I told you on the phone, Jarmo, I chose you because I love what you do with light.
OMP: What have you learned from this experience?
Michael: One thing I’ve learned has to do with movement and Jarmo’s philosophy that you need to “learn to look before you shoot” – it works wonders. Posing is also something that can either make or break your shot. I think the mistake that a lot of photographers make is that they think model’s bodies are all the same and that if a pose works for one, it’ll work with another. That’s not true.
To get the best images, you really have to understand basic anatomy and while each model’s anatomy might look the same, it’s very different and singular on an aesthetic level. I thought I had paid attention to poses before, but I will from now on I am going to spend even more time!
I like the fact that not only have I learned photography, but I’ve come to realize that planning the shoot and considering the facts is just as important – if not more so – than the actual shoot.
The more planning you do in advance when you’ve got some time and a pencil in front of you, the easier it is to get the job done when you’re behind a camera. Producing the set and adjusting everything took quite a while today – a bunch of testing, and adjusting, and I am so glad I was here to be able to see it done from scratch – it clearly shows in the results and that’s what I need to be able to do on my own when this session is over. Having an experienced crew is pretty great too these guys are great.
OMP: We mutually agree that quality vs. quantity should always be the goal. A good shoot does not have to consist of thousands of shutter clicks. You just need to make sure that you cover enough of a variety of shots so your clients will have an adequate number of options. If you shoot for yourself, make sure to cover enough poses and looks where you can later assemble a pictorial. Editors like to see variety and diversity; it makes their job easy when it comes to picking good image candidates for their pictorials. Same goes for advertising agencies.
Michael: I want to thank Jarmo, Mary and Shoot The Centerfold crew; Chris and Derrick, who were assisting with the shoot. What an amazing team with skills to spare!
OMP: Thank you for the amazing words, good times and believing in STC and its programs. Today, we’ve bonded through a sharing of wisdom and photography that will pave the way for a better future. We hope to see great images from you in the future and perhaps you will join us at our next seminar and workshop in October. Thank you, Michael.
Michael: I like to think this isn’t “goodbye,” but “until we meet again.”
To learn these and other techniques, visit Shoot The Centerfold.