Thursday, July 10, 2014

A New Beginning...

Throughout my life, I've been obsessed with makeup. I grew up watching my mother transition from model to photographer. I watched my father design homes for people. I was destined and groomed to be a creative force. I reveled in the experience and the freedom to express myself. As I grew older, I got involved in the theater programs and stage makeup, and, of course, I drove into those transformations at full speed. After high school, and the tumultuous time of coming out and finding myself, I transitioned into the role of a drag queen.   Being a drag queen wasn't really for me, (I can't stand the catty nature of the game,) but I took a lot away from the experience.

Along side my love for transformations and costumes, art dutifully travelled along side each new stage of my life. I went to college and got a degree in fashion design, concentrating on costume design. I painted, I sculpted, I drew everything I could think of, and filled journal upon journal with ideas and inspirations. However, like most hopeful college grads, life got in the way of dreams and aspirations. One boring office job after another came my way, and I excelled in the field, but my creative side was tired of crunching numbers, and so, once again,  I retreated into the night life. I created the persona of L.A. Berlyn, the over-the-top personality that let me express everything I couldn't with words. By day I was a mild mannered office manager, but at night, I'd blank out my image with paints and makeup. I would glue anything to my face. I was, in my mind, the club kid reborn. I wanted to be a living work of art. Sometimes I succeeded, other times... well, not so much.

No matter where I was in my life, I dreamed of owning my own costume shop and working as a makeup artist. However, at thirty, I was telling myself I needed to be more practical and retreated back into the boring world of office work. I also quit going out and doing transformations and shows, because, "I'm too old." Now, I work nonstop at an office job, I'm not particularly fond of, but it pays the bills and offers me a nice life. So I should be content, right?

Yeah, I'm not, and for the last few months, I've watched people follow their dreams. Honestly, I was getting pretty jealous as I watched my friends put up gallery shows, appear in magazines, and get awarded trophies and sponsorships for their work.  Then I remembered exactly why I got this job in the first place. Yes, it was to be a practical, "normal," adult, but it was also so I could use the impressive paychecks to make my dreams come true. Those little gears in my head started working and I started thinking that I shouldn't be so scared to just go after a dream, for once. If I fail at it, at least I tried.

So here's where I am. I'm at my new beginning. Still on shaky ground and a little nervous, but I'm bringing back my small company, Dead On Makeup, that I gave up on; and blogging as I go along. My dream is to own a costume shop and be recognized as a makeup artist and not as just a guy with a hobby and a love for transformation. As I told my best friend yesterday, I don't think I'll ever be happy, unless I can do what I love. So here's to being happy, and an inspiring future!

So, why the blog? Well, I love to share my work, and what I've learned with people. I'm not saying I know everything -- Hell, I'm still learning, myself. But if we go through this process together, we can all learn something from it. Perhaps, I can even inspire you to follow your dreams too. So let's just keep this one little motto going throughout the blog:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How to work with photographers.

Originally a guest blog for the now defunct Image Maker blog

Hello Lover-muffins, it is I, L.A. Berlyn, back with another collaboration with Image Maker and Famous 4 Nothing. As someone who spends 50% of his time in front of a camera, 30% behind the scenes, and 20% writing about climbing the steep walls of fabulousity, I was the perfect pick to write on this topic. That's right, I'm giving you lovely readers the dish on working with photographers. Be it for your modelling portfolio, family portrait, event souvenir, or for the sheer glamour of being in front of a camera, I've got you covered.

Now before we get into the real dirty dirt of it all, you've got to ask yourself several questions. Why do you want to work with a photographer? Is it for art or documentation? Are you photogenic or at the very least, camera ready? Do you realize that, even as a popular subject to photograph, you will probably have to pay for your images? Once you have the answer to all those questions, you'll be ready to hit up the harder stuff, like how to find a good photographer and whether or not you should strip down for a picture. As most of you are the die hard fame seekers looking to make a name for yourself, we'll cover event photos first.

How do I get my picture taken at night clubs?

Should you live in a town like Charlotte who has a rag, like Creative Loafing, that posts pictures of nightlife in print and online, grab a copy of it. Analyze the images, figure out which hot spots are featured most, who gets featured, and who took the pictures. Now before you go running off to the hippest disco featured to get your picture taken know this one very important rule: Never go up to the roaming photographer and ask them to take your picture! I can guarantee that your picture will not run. I'm paraphrasing Charlotte-based photographer, Austin Caine, when I say that those lovely roaming photographers are out there to snag pictures of interesting people who are caught up in the moment. People who look like they are genuinely having a good time at the event. That being said, take my advice, wear a look that fits the brand you have made for yourself and have fun. Photographers are more willing to snap away at individuals who are wearing something eye catching, are unique, and seem pretty damn cool, rather than the sad drunken girl who slurs "Takes me pishture!" Unless, of course, she has an exposed nipple, but I, nor the rest of us at Image Maker, Famous 4 Nothing and The Handsome Savage, suggest this. Save the nudity for art shots and when you're sober.

What about taking nudes?

First, and foremost, if you are under age. Don't you dare. You are not Brooke Shields, and something better come between you and your Calvins! If you are a professional model and are pressured into this, know that this is not part of your contract and you should not be asked to do it. Now for you grown fame seekers, nudity isn't something to step into lightly. You don't want to go Full Monty for just anyone with a fancy camera. Find a reputable artist you trust and feel comfortable with. I, personally, have shed the clothes for the sake of art, but only after fully researching the artist, seeing his work, how nudity is applied to his trade, and only if I am fully comfortable with the photographer and where his work will be exhibited. If at any moment you feel creeped out, pressured or uncomfortable, follow your gut feelings and say no. You don't want these to come back and haunt you.

How do I know I have a good photographer?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that opinion is up to you in regards to the look and style of photographs you want to have taken or be a part of. Finding a great photographer is easy with such a digital network out there. Do some research, see what's in local publications, who have friends or family members worked with, what's been put out that you really enjoy seeing and want to be a part of. Grab your friend in the art world and have them make suggestions. Grill your makeup artist, hair stylists, and wardrobe gurus for who's hot. Chances are they've worked with at least one of the photographers on your bucket list and can give you the scoop on whether or not you can work with them. Once you've got enough names, start Googling them and look at their work. Pick the ones you can work with, who have a style you like the most.

How much is this going to cost me?

Unless you are a paid, booked model or have an agreement with the photographer (such as a look book collaboration.) You will always have to pay for your images, even if you are the artist's best friend. Never pester you dear photographer friend to take your picture for free. Never assume that the photographer's time and talent isn't worth being paid for. You get what you paid for. Prices will vary depending on the services rendered, you may also have to figure in the additional price of the makeup artist and wardrobe stylist if those are provided as well. Make sure you've got a good agreement that fits your budget before you sign your contract. As a side note to aspiring models: Your agency should never require you to pay a cent upfront for photography that they have hired. Part of the commission that is taken out of your pay covers the prices charged for your initial head shots and comp cards. If you are asked to pay in advance, darling, you're being scammed. Turn around on your little stilettos and walk out of there as quickly as possible.

What do I do once I book a photographer?

Once you're booked, always show up on time. Let me repeat that for those of you that weren't listening: Always show up on time, and show up no earlier than ten minutes early unless requested for styling. Unless you have a makeup artist or stylist with you, you're doing it on your own. Grab your model bag full of everything you need to go out. For those of you not in the business: Make sure you've got your makeup and hair done (carry the makeup used with you) and have a selection of outfits for you and the photographer to choose from. Be prepared, because the more you make the photographer wait for you to get dolled up, the less time you have for your photo session.

It's also good to practice poses before you go in front of a mirror. This will let you feel a little more comfortable with moving your body. You'll also learn what positions make you look taller, slimmer, or just better in general. While your photograph is being taken, listen to what the photographer tells you to do. The poses you practiced and admired may not be what they are looking for. They are the ones peeking at you through the lens and they aren't going to get you do to something that will make you look horrid. They know the placement of the lights, how you look under them, and what's going to make you look the best. Both you and the photographer are only as good as the last photograph they have taken, so keep that in mind before you start complaining about your "bad side." Also keep in mind that models, professional and aspiring, who take direction well or need little at all are frequently booked again for future projects. This may lead to more work for you and, at the very least, give you a good review on the lips of the photographer.

And what about afterwards?

Once you've got your images, use them to your advantage, but always credit the photographer who took the images, even when posting them to Facebook. It only takes a few minutes to tag the artist. Keep in mind, fame-seekers, that tag also links that wonderful image of you to them. When people find the image beautiful, they may want to look up the models in the shot, thus giving you more coverage as well as promoting the great photographer you just worked with.

How do I get hired on as a costumer, makeup artist, hair stylist, or prop designer with a photographer?

I hate to burst your bubble darling, but it's all about reputation and word of mouth. Your work has to be top notch to be considered as a hire-able artist. If your just starting out, break out your portfolio and hit up the photography schools near by. Students are always willing to collaborate with others to produce the best images for their own portfolios. Try and work and agreement so you get a copy of the work as well instead of getting paid. Together you two will build a great portfolio and option off more chances for each of you to get booked. Sometimes you have to work for free to get your name out there. Word of mouth is everything so make sure you're on point each and every time.

As for me, I lucked out. With a former model and amateur photographer as a mother, I was thrust into the world quick and early. I've also made a name for myself out of crazy looks and editorial styling through my own collaborations with clients, photographers, and other artists. I've been brought on as both a makeup artist and costumer by a client independently from the photographer and made connections through this method. It can be a crap shoot, or luck of the draw, as some people call it, but check with your photographer friends too. If they know the type of work you've done, you'll be a shoe in for collaborations with them. As I mentioned for the models, be professional, be on time, and be able to produce your looks and props in the time frame you've stated.

Now, fame-seekers, I haven't given you all the tricks of the trade. In reality, I've only touched on a few major points that you should always keep in mind. Use these tips to your advantage, make a good name for yourself, and create beautiful images with wonderful photographers. Be sure to keep me posted on your success in the comments section or sending me messages on my personal site