Meetups vs Solo Modeling Shoots

I’ve been to several Meetup.com meetups to practice shooting models. There’s a difference when shooting models through meetup vs shooting them one-on-one. Both have pros and cons, and here’s what I’ve discovered so  far.

Meetups Pros

  • Great way to meet and network with a lot of people trying to get into the industry like photographers, MUAs, hair stylists, models, etc.
  • You get to shoot a lot of models
  • You can bounce ideas off other photographers, ask them for help, etc. Sometimes they have a guru photographer to guide everyone who isn’t as experienced. 
  • You don’t need to worry about having hair, makeup, wardrobe, creative direction, etc. All these should be taken care for you.
  • If the other photographers suck, your stuff looks better compared to them, even though you suck too. You just happen to suck less. 
  • Awesome for beginners who need to start shooting fashion, beauty, models, etc. 

Meetup Cons

  • There are too many photographers. You won’t be able to get good 1-on-1 time with models. The ratio of photographers to models range from 2:1 to 10:1. Once you get over that 3:1 ratio, you end up doing paparazzi style, which sucks. 
  • Some of these meetups are expensive. They can cost from $20-$200 to shoot. That’s a lot of money to do paparazzi style shoots. You can use that money to hire a model for an hour or 2 and get all the shots you need. 
  • Having everything done for you is also a bad thing. On some of the meetups where everything is laid out for you, I feel all I’m doing is pressing the shutter button. I feel these aren’t my pictures because I had no input in them. I feel more and more guilty when I post them up.
  • Sometimes, at these meetups, you get no feedback. You don’t know if the models hated your pictures or liked them. It’s understandable. They probably get contacted by creeper photographers every day. So it doesn’t bother me too much if they don’t say anything about my photos or reply to my emails. Usually, if I don’t hear anything from the models, I just assume they hated my pics and move on. 

One on One Pros

  • You get to have the models all to yourself.
  • No other photographers to “steal” your shot or get in your way. Also, dealing with other ego-manic photographers is a pain. Besides, I can’t stand people with egos big as mine. 
  • You get complete creative control.
  • They’re very educational. If you’re starting out, you’ll make a lot of mistakes. There’s no one to blame but yourself. You’re the one who set the lights wrong. You’re the one that composed the image wrong. There were no other photographers rushing you or getting in your way. You have no excuse. This helps you to learn fast and hard. 
  • You can actually create rapport with the models, depending on their personality (and yours). This makes the shoot fun. 

One on One Cons

  • Models can flake
  • You need to provide Hair, Makeup, and wardrobe. You can get models to do their own hair and makeup. You can get the models to bring their own clothes too. But sometimes, the models can’t do hair and makeup themselves. 
  • Models are expensive. They range from about $50-$200++ hour. And you would need about 2-4 hours of shooting time. You can do TFP of course, if they like you enough.
  • You’re all alone. Sometimes you get stuck and have no idea what you’re doing. You can’t “steal” from other photographer’s idea or poses. It’s all you. I feel nervous every time I get a model alone because I have no idea what to do. 
  • There’s more administrative and prep you need to do. You should get a model release written up. You should scout the location. You should make story boards and notes on what you want to cover. 

Overall, I like one on ones. They are nerve-wracking and most of the time, I don’t deliver the quality the model wants. But I like the bootcamp feel and the creative control I have.

Also, I like to make fun of the models one-on-one. I can’t do that when there’s 10 other photographers trying to get the model’s attention. 

I Need a New Camera

I’ve outgrown my Fuji X100s. It was my first “real” camera, and I had it for about 9 months. So after 9 months of “serious” shooting I’ve outgrown it. 

I’m not suffering from Gear Acquisition Syndrome. If you don’t know, the Fuji X100 is a fixed lens, APSC, compact camera. The lens is stuck at 23mm with a crop sensor. So I can’t change lenses. I’m stuck.

I’ve managed to squeeze a lot out of my little Fuji X100. I love this camera. But I need a longer lens. I wish Fuji came out with a 85mm equivalent of the X100. Then I can just use that camera along with the Fuji X100 and be good for another year or so.

Why do I need a longer lens? Well, since I mostly shoot people, it’s great for that. I don’t have to worry about distortion so much. Even when posing models, I have to watch out for limbs that’s nearer to the lens because it could look bigger.

So what system should I upgrade to? I’m not sure yet. But here are my thoughts:

A Full Frame Can-Nikon/Sony System

Canon has there 5d Mark III that looks freaking sweet. They have those gorgeous 85mm 1.2 or 70-200mm 2.8 lenses. Of course, Nikon and Sony have similar quality lenses and bodies as well. 

Unfortunately, I don’t think I can move up to a DSLR. Why? They’re just too dang big and heavy. I’m so used to my compact and light Fuji x100. Every time I use those behemoths, I get tired. Also, the 5D Mark III is about $3000. They’re too expensive. Not to mention I have to get a $2000 lens. To me, it doesn’t justify the cost for the same image quality, bigger and heavier system, and to learn a new system.

Micro 4/3 Mirror less Cameras

I seriously thought about the Olympus OMD before I got the Fuji X100. But now, there’s no way I can “step down” to micro 4/3 sensor after using the APSC sensor. Using a M 4/3 camera would feel like a downgrade for me. 

Fuji X-Pro/ Fuji XE1

Well, this would look like a logical choice. I mean I love Fuji. The X-Pro or the XE1 would work almost identically as my X100s. And they would keep the same Fuji Colors in my images. I love those colors.

But, their 56/1.2 won’t come out until next year! That means I would have to wait a while. And their 55-200mm lens is too slow. And since I have the X100s, getting the X-Pro or XE1 would be a downgrade in speed and technology. 

Pentax 645d

Now this is where it gets interesting. When I heard about this camera, it intrigued me. A medium format (kinda) camera for less than $10,000! This thing costs as much as a Canon 1DX, and it’s (almost) medium format! 

This is probably is the most tempting right now. Sure it’s big and heavy, and I did say I don’t like big and heavy. And I did say I don’t like expensive. However, it’s medium format! I’ll sacrifice the bulk and weight to get some gorgeous pictures. The upgrade in quality would be worth it unlike the Full Frame cameras. 

Also, if want to get serious into Fashion/Commercial/Editorial photography, the industry standard is a Medium Format Camera. 

Of course, there are some cons to this system. Their lenses are not leaf lenses like the other Medium Format cameras. Their sync speed is a pathetic 1/125 sec. 

Also, it’s a medium format camera. So it’s going to be slow, unusable in low light, and clunky. It would force me to slow down, and I’m not a patient person. Then again, maybe that’ll be a good thing for me. 

Sony Nex

I’m not a fan of Sony Nex’s. Maybe if they come out with the rumored mirrorless Full Frame camera, I would be more interested. But by that time, I would probably get the Pentax or the Fuji X-Pro 2 anyway.

Leica M

Leica was pretty tempting to me. They have gorgeous lenses. They have great image quality.  But their low-light capability is bad. Also they’re all manual focus. Also, they cost as much as the Pentax. So if I had to choose, I would go up to medium format anyway.

Phase IQ180

Ah, my dream camera. Too bad it costs $45000 or so. For that money, I rather buy a Tesla.

The Winner is…

So what would I do? What will my next camera be? I’m not sure. I’ll probably end up just using my Fuji X100s until the X-Pro 2 comes out or I save up enough money for the Pentax.