Impure Thoughts Tony Berling

Within the Cleveland Photographic Society, photographer Tony Berling is best known for his remarkable photographs of wolves (one of which appears later in this book). More recently, however, Berling has begun branching out into a less dangerous type of photography—portraits and glamour. This picture, "Impure Thoughts," was selected for the book because it perfectly embodies the kind of photograph that provides a sultry, glamorous look that has definite sex appeal without venturing beyond PG-13 territory. Indeed, this picture is effective because the image leaves so much to the imagination. Model Rae Gentry's facial expression says it all.

Tony Berling's engaging shot was taken in a studio, using a sofa-sleeper that had been moved over to the natural light coming in a window. "For this type of shot I prefer natural light, because it gives a nice softness to the shot. Berling threw a white photo backdrop onto the sofa so it had the appearance of a bed sheet. He snapped away with a Pentax K20D equipped with a 50-135mm f/2.8 lens, using a focal length of 80mm, an aperture of f/4 (to keep the background out of focus), and a shutter speed of 1/160th second at ISO 400.

Studio shots of this type are frequently taken using strobe (with its effective short duration/fast shutter speed). If you do shoot by available light at a relatively slow shutter speed of 1/160th second, you'll want to hold the camera very steady or, possibly, use a tripod. In Berling's case, his Pentax camera has shake reduction technology built into the camera that's quite good, offering at least three stops worth of stabilization in the x and y directions (up/down and side to side) as well as rotational stabilization (if you turn the camera from one side to another while shooting). So, his 1/160th second shutter speed was easily fast enough to produce a sharp picture with Berling's 15-megapixel Pentax. If you use Nikon or Canon equipment, an image-stabilized lens may be your solution when shooting at such slow shutter speeds. When he'd selected a shot he liked, Berling converted the image to a sepia version.

Eventually, there may come a time when you want to take this type of photography to the next level. Perhaps you want to build your photography portfolio with some glamour shots, and want to help aspiring models build their own books. At that point, you'll want to hook up with local groups and clubs (such as the Cleveland Photographic Society) or, better yet, a reputable online resource that pairs photographers, makeup artists (MUAs), hair stylists, models, and others. Two nationwide organizations that I use include and Depending on where you live, there may already be a Meetup group devoted to photography that includes models or access to models. If not, you can start your own Meetup. Model Mayhem is less generic, devoted exclusively to photographers, models, studios, and others who either are already professional or aspire to be.

Tony Berling's model Rae Gentry can be found on Model Mayhem (, as can the talented makeup artist he used for this shoot (Jenna Lowe, "Using experienced folks makes life a lot easier for any photographer. Surrounding yourself with talented people and running a relaxed and fun session where everyone is comfortable will always make a photographer's job much easier to produce incredible shots."

Rae Gentry Modelmayhem
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