GOWLAND GUIDE TO PHOTOGRAPHY

Peter and Alice were never afraid of giving away their secrets.  They wrote numerous "how to" books on everything from lighting to posting and their specialty How to Photograph Women.  The one thing they had that could not be taught was their ability to make the models comfortable and capture the intimate essence of the moment in their images.   Peter believed that having models look directly into the camera created the most intimate reflection.  Here are a few examples of his photogrpahy tips. 

ACTION AND LIGHTING

"Dancers are easier to photograph than any other living subject. They do all the work. Find a location with a clear area, such as sky or smooth sand. Julie Newmar was on an asphalt parking lot which we sprinkled with sand to continue the white sand over the black parking lot. Shoot from a low angle, as with the three above. Use a fast shutter. Familiarize yourself with the peak of the action before making any exposures, as we did with Mara Lynn, so that you can accurately anticipate when to release the shutter just a fraction of a second before the peak.  Reflex cameras have to be given time for the mirror to move out of the way before the shutter takes the pictures. Sometimes a yellow or red filter will give drama to a black and white shot, as in Joy Langstaff's photo."

"Excitement can be added to an otherwise static portrait by using the hair to give drama or action. Miss Caler was photographed in our daylight studio with window light. Miss Edmundson first teased her hair, then a bare electronic flash bulb was placed behind her head and a single key light at camera left. Miss Ducas was in North light against our white garage door. She tipped her head down and flipped it up for the moment of exposure. Here, again, anticipation of the 'Peak' action was vital."

"We took advantage of the hard, dramatic, afternoon sun at Paradise Cove, Malibu, using slats from a walking path to cast a pattern on Barbara's swim suit which she designed. She was happy, warm and dry. Venetia was a good sport keeping a happy expression while being splashed with a cold wave. Peter's wife, Alice, jumped at the challenge to hold her breath and still look happy while all wet, sinking to the bottom of the pool."

"A buoy on the beach of Malibu in the late afternoon sun, is a fine prop for Barbara's perfect figure. The pose accentuates her legs, the lighting is dramatic. The sand provides a confusion-free background. Dolores poses 3/4 rear, knowing that only slim legs can take this angle. Studio shot with one light each side, against seamless, white paper background."

"Mara Corday's beautiful legs and shoulders are featured in this seated pose. Leaning slightly forward accentuates the bustline. Using the stool to direct her right leg creates that most important and pleasing diagonal line. Window light comes from camera left, with flood at camera right. Peter's favorite "pretzel" pose and position of Shirley Bonne's hands, makes it possible to fill the film's rectangle. No wasted space. Rose Marie Bowe, hugging her fur stole and bending her right knee slightly creates a subtle "S" curve. Gowland's studio with window light from camera right."

"As a rule I do not like complicated backgrounds but when we came upon this cluster of concrete pipes in late afternoon sun, the combination of light and dark areas worked perfectly for Pat Hall's "S" curve pose. The light side of her body is against the dark area and the shadowed side against the sunlit area. Even her silhouette twin fits with the overall theme. April Satow ("sugar" in Japanese) sits on a rail, under an overcast sky, at State Beach. The "S" curve is apparent here, too, by having April raise her left leg. Tipping the head lets her hair fall away from her face. In retrospect, we feel that flash would have improved the lighting on her face. Mara Corday uses the boom of a sail boat to steady herself in this full-length "S" pose. She stands out against the clear blue sky. A yellow filter helped to darken the blue background. A strobe filled in the dark shadows cast by the noonday sun."

POSING AND COMPOSING MODELS FOR GLAMOUR PHOTOGRAPHY

"The first concern of any artist is to create a pleasing composition in the rigid rectangle -- the frame of your viewfinder or groundglass. When working outdoors think of your model as line or form framed within that image. Consider the entire negative when arranging the pose. The background or objects should not obscure or overpower her. You can't move a tree or a wall, but you can move your subject or your camera until she becomes the main focus of the viewer in a clear area where trees, bushes, etc. frame her. Don't be afraid to come in close to the model. Otherwise you are forced to enlarge a small portion of the negative, sacrificing quality."

"Try to compose your pictures with strong diagonal lines. This is pleasing to the eye and can bring the camera closer to the model. In a full-length, the head can be near one corner and the feet near the diagonal opposite corner. Seated poses with the legs brought up form a more compact composition. There are standing poses where the body is bent, leaning over so that the figure fits well into the frame. There's nothing worse than a stick figure centered. Even a twist to the body helps."

"Placement of arms is often a dilemma for both model and photographer. You won't hear this from dancers or professional models. Posing is never a problem for them, but to the beginner, props help. In the woods she might hang on a tree, work with flowers or toss leaves in the air. At the beach, a towel is a natural prop. She can climb on rocks, hold a piece of seaweed, lean on a boat, play with a ball, or splash in the water. At home there are unlimited props: chairs, magazines, pillows, curtains, wine glass or food."

When posing with no props, the most popular arrangement for hands is termed, the "catalog pose", used in most clothing catalogs. Here the model relaxes the arms and holds her hands in front of her, very loosely or barely touching. She can also use them to: play with her hair, lean on, behind her head, folded across her midriff or on her hips. When a model has beautiful hands, feature them. They are the most difficult part of the body to pose. A general hint is to avoid flat-on angles, favoring the side views. I would recommend studying photographs where hands are prominent.

Leave the angle of head until last because expressions are fleeting. Very few subjects can hold a natural expression for more than a split-second. Consider that you are now making a portrait. Head tipped up slightly, shortens the nose and stretches out a double chin. Marilyn Monroe portraits are usually shown with this pose. It accentuated her slightly opened mouth and partially closed eyes resulting in a very sensuous look. The head tipped down gives an intimate expression but only if the nose is normal length or short. It can't be used on every model. Three quarter views slim down a wide face. Not so with a thin face, it becomes longer and thinner. Better to photograph that model straight on. A wide-jaw facial structure can also be slimmed down by use of shadowing one side. A profile works well with almost any shape. Remember, head up features mouth, head down features eyes.

This picture of Jill Osborn combines many of the important elements mentioned above:​

  1. Water background is complimentary and does not detract from her figure. Also the blue is good for the warm tones of her skin.

  2. Leaning forward accentuates her breasts.

  3. The strong diagonal body line is pleasing to the eye and the camera can move in to fill the rectangle.

  4. Sun is used as hard backlighting on her hair and highlights the body to separate it from the water background.

  5. Fill light of the strobe gives flattering light to the face and fills in body shadow.

  6. Electric fan was used to blow her hair.

  7. Tilting the head is always flattering and in this case also makes the hair fall away from the body.

  8. The dark area above the pool allows sun backlight on the hair to stand out.

© 2016 by PETER GOWLAND PHOTOGRAPHY.