Anthony Neste has been a photographer for many years. He started off taking sports photography and then he took photos for networks like HBO. Nowadays, he’s shooting beautiful women.
I first came across Anthony Neste on Model Mayhem where I marvelled at the great photographs and beautiful women he’s worked with.
Neste happens to also be a great photography educator. After talking with him I learned a TON. Make sure to check out his workshops.
The man of the moment Anthony Neste interviewed by PhotoWhoa. Read along to know more.
You began your career shooting sports photography. How did you get into model photography?
Well if you want to go to the beginning, my career started in film & television production. Through working in that industry I had the opportunity to work in still photography. Then the sports came into my life in the late 70s. I started working for Sports Illustrated. I was working with HBO working on sports and films. My daughter Jessica Neste was an established model and after she quit modeling she started to pursue her next passion, publishing. She and a friend created a magazine, IMAGE. Of course they had no money so they went to daddy for pictures. That’s really what started my new passion. Before that in 2001, I did Baywatch Hawaii so I worked with all the models and actresses for that series and did some great stuff, but I guess that was when I got my first taste.
How did you get the Baywatch gig?
At the time I was working with HBO, I was doing The Sopranos. I was the set publicity still photographer. While I was doing that, when we had a 6 month hiatus, some friends I met asked me if I wanted to work for Pierson TV, who had the rights to Baywatch. They contacted me and asked me if I wanted to do this gig. I couldn’t refuse the gig because I had 2 weeks in Hawaii with a great budget.
In this business, it’s really about who you know. That’s how you get more gigs.
Can you quickly go over your process for a photo shoot?
Talking strictly model shoots, when a model approaches me to improve her portfolio, this is what usually happens. We talk on the phone beforehand. I’ll look at her portfolio to see what her best angles are and see what she has already.
We’ll go over wardrobe, go over make-up ideas. Does she need a stylist? Does she need a makeup artist? All that is done in pre-production. After that we set a time and date and she comes to my studio and to my locations. I don’t really shoot by the hour. I book the whole afternoon for them. I don’t give them a time limit. I also don’t want to be looking at my watch. That’s stupid. We shoot for hours and hours.
Usually we start with some studio stuff first. Dresses, more formal wear. Maybe some sexy club dresses. Then maybe some boudoir stuff. Then some outdoor, “agency” looks (more natural looks). Which are very straightforward. Not much on the accessory and not much on the makeup.
Then if she wants to do some swimsuit then we do that because its later in the day and the lighting is better. We do that on the beach which is just up the street from me. If she wants to get wet then she can do that. She can get all sandy. We don’t need to worry about her makeup too much at this point. Later on we can come back and put her in my pool. Then by that time the light gets really magical and you get that really good angle of light. Then we do some headshots. We do 6-7 looks by the time the day is over.
So models now are coming to you. But in my experience models generally, don’t want to spend money. How are you attracting models to shoot with you for pay?
Because my pricing varies. I understand that a lot of models don’t have a lot of money. It really depends on how many looks they want and how much retouching they need. I do all my retouching unless its something special that I want done by someone that’s more versed in that aspect.
I’ve done things with agencies where I did a couple looks for only a few hundred dollars. If I go to an agency and make a deal with them and they get 3-4 girls for me lined up, I’d do those girls in one day and just do the “agency” look. Each girl only gets charged $250.
How do you advertise yourself?
Mainly through Facebook and ModelMayhem and other social medias. It’s mainly a lot of word of mouth. A lot of the newer models I worked with, a lot of times they are a UF student, and then suddenly their friends see the shoot and then 3 or 4 of her friends want shoots as well. I give them quality, which is something I don’t expect from a lot of photographers these days. Especially shooting for Sports Illustrated I learned that if you don’t produce then you won’t get any work.
What projects have you been working on lately?
I’ve gotten back in contact with my Sports Illustrated people. I shot some swimsuits. One of them even got picked up which was great. They still think of me as a sports photographer and most of them don’t know that I’ve been reinvented in a way. I also connected recently with the people of SI.com and they’ve been using my models.
I started working with a friend from American Photo Magazine 3 years ago to start holding workshops around the US. It was amazing how many people we instructed in one workshop. In New York we had 150 people.
We would just float through the room and help people pose models, how to do lighting, how to change their white balance, etc.
Now this year I joined a friend named Dan Doyle and we started our own workshops in Florida. The next ones are May 18th-19th in Flagler beach. These are small workshops limited to 10 people. You can see my Facebook page to see the models we’re going to be using in our next workshop. We have a friend of the family that has a surfery hotel right on the ocean that we rent from them. Part of the package of the workshop is they get a room at the hotel. So we make it a really cool social event for them too. We have a Facebook page called Neste Doyle where you can check out our workshops.
Have you ever been in a situation where the model wasn’t producing good poses and how did you overcome this situation?
There’s a couple ways you can do it. I like putting on music and telling her she’s at the club. Loosen up. Don’t think about the club. Go through some poses. Move your body. You have to know as a photographer that it’s digital.
Do you give any specific directions?
If I have a concept in mind then I give them specific poses. Especially if there’s a client that has specific things in mind.
For the most part, I like the model to freelance. Some of my best pictures are shot even when the model isn’t expecting me to shoot. So that’s why I say never stop shooting. I’m not one of those posey guys that tell the model to move their fingers a quarter of an inch this way or a half-inch that way. That’s not my style. I just like to shoot.
For a newbie starting out, what tips would you give them?
The easiest way these days is to start getting up on social media. Get a Model Mayhem page, and put up your images on there. Contact some models and just start shooting. Be professional. If you don’t want to look online, find some local pretty girls in your city. Or find girls that you might know. Approach girls everywhere. Have a business card. Introduce yourself and say “I love your look, would you be interested in doing a trade?”
Do a dozen shots and then you’ve got a portfolio. Once you’ve got that portfolio started then you can start charging.
To really create good photos, you MUST have some inspirations. Every photographer must be inspired by someone else. After you find who inspires you, then you can put your own twist to it. But you have to start somewhere. For me my inspiration was people like Herb Ritz, Helmut Newton, Mann Ray, all these guys who were very innovative in their craft.
You need somebody to mentor you. When I got the Baywatch gig, the first person I called was Walter Ioss. He’s one of the icons of sports photography. We knew each other socially a little bit. I told him, “I’ve got a gig shooting swimsuits.” Walter was the one that started shooting the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues. He gave me some great tips and introduced me to a guy that I ended up hiring as my assistant. Walter is really an inspiration to a lot of photographers.
Anthony Neste, takes us through a couple of photos.
This one we shot for IMAGE magazine around 1pm. Obviously, it was under really bad lighting conditions. I used some techniques from my filmmaking days. Because of that I used a scrim (as shown below) and then only available light.
This one (below) was backlit by the sun and we used the Multiblitz equipment. You can see my assistant holding it. It was just the one light to counter the harsh back sunlight.
Basically, the idea is to set the camera settings to fit the sky and then blast a strobe in there because otherwise the model is underexposed.
In this shot below the model is sitting on the counter and again I’m using the Multiblitz beauty dish. To soften it up I always have a sock on it.
Here’s the same model outdoors. I used a beauty dish as well.
The beauty dish is great because it’s a direct, harsher light. It works well for the outdoors because the light matches the sun.
I do like to use a softbox when the ambient light is lower.
Also, check out Anthony Neste’s son AJ Neste at AjNeste.com.