Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows… no wait, sorry, that’s Rocky. What I mean to say is that during a photo shoot, there’s a lot going on behind the camera. I won’t go into specifics nor will I force you to listen as I explain the Byzantine relationship between shutter speed, aperture and ISO (unless you ask nicely, in which case it is very probable that I will get all Byzantine on you), but, trust you me, there is a lot going on behind the camera. At this stage of my short photo career, I have taken thousands and thousands of pictures, to the point that now my camera feels like it operates itself, my fingers adjusting settings with barely a thought. This is nice because it would make for a pretty awkward photo shoot if all I could concentrate on was my camera and could not focus my attention on the people I’m shooting.
There is a thing in photography now-a-days that the cool kids all call “chimping”. “Chimping” is done when you take a picture and look at the back of your camera to see how it turned out. It’s a habit I know I possess. Case in point: when I take a picture with my old film camera. I cannot count the number of times where I have caught myself checking the back after I take a picture, and hey, guess what? There’s no LCD screen there!
Don’t get me wrong, I believe that a little “chimping” is not a bad thing because I have been saved, countless times, by “chimping”. Inevitably, during one of these sessions I will discover that I have made a terrible mistake in reading my light meter, horribly over or under exposing the image, and with the instant feedback I can have from the screen on my camera, I can solve the problem, lickety-split.
But I digress. Besides the technical stuff going on behind the camera, I’m also working hard to keep the people I’m shooting comfortable and relaxed, and mostly I accomplish this through inane chatter. I just talk randomly, asking questions, making casual conversation and, more often than not, saying things that, upon reflecting on the shoot afterward, I think to myself, “Man! They must think I am a total nerd!”
Now, the only reason I bring this up is because one of the strange and nerdy things I love to ask people is about the show, America’s Next Top Model. If you have every been on a shoot with me in the past, inevitably I will have asked if you know how to smile with your eyes. For some reason I love asking this question–well, actually I know the reason I love asking this question: because it generates some pretty hilarious reactions, especially when you ask a guy to do it.
I do believe that this question is not that difficult to answer, because either you know how to smile with your eyes or you don’t, making it kind of a yes or no type of question. Well, enter Raoul, stage left. With Sara and Raoul there was not a lot of ice-breaking needed, nor was it a lot of work to get them to start having fun together in front of the camera, but I still went for my old stand by and asked Raoul if he knew how to smile with his eyes. Like I said, simple yes or no question, right? Wrong. I wish someone was there to catch my reaction because I nearly dropped my camera in amazement when Raoul answered, “Oh, man! I can never do this!”
“You mean you’ve practiced this?” I asked him, my mouth hanging slack with shock. Most of the time when I ask a guy to smile with his eyes, I get a half snort, half laugh and adamant “no”, but this was something totally unexpected.
At this moment, Sara chimed in and said to Raoul,
“This is probably going to make Jan’s blog.”
And guess what?
She was right.