In this first article in a series for The Guide on underwater photographers and their day jobs, DPG’s Photo Editor Lia Barrett talks to Holly Randall about her work shooting “beautiful women in glamorous, erotic photos and videos”… (Note: The links in this article take you to external sites containing adult content.)
Khloe Terae, Playboy Cyber Girl of the Year, shot in La Paz, Mexico
DPG: Tell us about your job and how you got into it.
Holly Randall: Simply put, my job is to shoot beautiful women in glamorous, erotic photos and videos. I shoot for my own website (Note - this link takes you to a website containing adult content), and for various clients such as Playboy Plus, Twistys, Hustler, and Penthouse.
I got into this job through my parents—it was very much a family business affair. My mother, Suze Randall, was a highly regarded erotic photographer in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and when she launched her website in the early days of the Internet boom, she asked me to come help her run her business. I stayed with her for 10 years, and she taught me everything I know.
DPG: What do you find rewarding and what do you find frustrating?
HR: What I find rewarding is helping girls achieve a sexy look that makes them feel beautiful and sexually empowered. It’s great to work with a new girl and help her realize her full potential—that, yes, you are sexy, you just needed the right team and coaxing to help you see that.
What I find frustrating is the girls who are clearly there for a quick paycheck and have no interest in following my direction or advice. Girls who don’t really want to be there, doing what they are doing. I work so hard, and there are so many other girls who want to work with me that would work hard, so when I get a lazy, half-assed model who doesn’t care about what we are trying to shoot… that is a girl I will definitely not hire again.
Iris, a local Mexican swimsuit model, shot in La Paz, Mexico
DPG: I would imagine that some are shocked, many intrigued, and probably all have mountains of questions for you when they find out what you do.
HR: Yes, I definitely get varied reactions—some disapprove and simply don’t want to engage in conversation about it, but most are really interested and want to hear about my job. I think that I get the latter reaction more because I am a woman and I don’t look like I’d work in porn! I’m a pretty normal girl with interests and friends outside of the industry, so it definitely comes as a shock to some.
When I’m shooting, I see pieces of a puzzle that need to fit together to make the end product. I see lighting that needs to be adjusted, I see wardrobe that needs to flatter the model’s figure, but also make sense for the concept. I see poses that have to be tweaked, backgrounds that have to frame the image properly, I see expressions that I need to coax out of the models. My focus on set is very narrow, darting all over set between different variables while I’m actually shooting. I don’t actually sit back and enjoy the end product until after I’ve finished the shoot.
Holly diving in La Paz
DPG: You began scuba diving with Luke Inman, a course director and filmmaker living in La Paz. It was with Luke that you first used a camera underwater. What is different and/or similar about shooting underwater versus shooting for work?
HR: It’s an entirely different experience shooting underwater! First of all, there are so many other variables that I don’t have to deal with on land. You're scuba diving, so you have to maintain everything that goes with that experience alone. You’ve got to have control of your buoyancy to settle yourself into the right position to take your shot. Then the ambient light changes dramatically as you descend, as does the color balance. And the models! They just don’t stand still for me! Darting all over the place, never sitting in the right pose that I need them too. So disobedient, those sea lions!
A curious sea lion pup in Los Islotes, Sea of Cortez
DPG: Explain to us the logistical side of doing one of your shoots, and were you to take it underwater, what that would involve.
HR: Well, cropping and framing is very important, but whereas I can direct a model to sit/stand in one area and then decide on my framing based on background and foreground elements, and so on—maybe I move a vase to fill an empty space on a counter, or I move an indoor plant so it’s not growing out of the model’s head—underwater I have much less control over setting up an environment. The environment itself is a living, breathing collection of organisms… not a marble living room in a Hollywood Hills home. So I found that I have to shoot wider than I normally would, to try and fit in all of the elements that I might want in my shot, and then crop in later, whereas normally, above land, I always crop in frame.
DPG: What are your future goals and aspirations concerning diving and shooting?
HR: I would love to do some really artistic nude/fashion shoots underwater. That would be a dream.
DPG: Upcoming projects?
HR: Playboy is planning on turning one of my shoots into a special film, “The Making of the Cyber Girl of the Year,” so there should be some footage of myself and Luke planning out each set, joking around with the girls, and allowing everyone to see how much hard work we put into this shoot—and, of course, how fun it all was! Also, my Playboy TV show “Adult Film School” is airing now on the Playboy Channel—that’s a lot of fun to check out. I am also finishing up my first big major adult movie feature, but I don’t want to release too many details until we have everything approved and ready to ship out.
Playboy model Stefanie Knight poses while Luke Inman shoots BTS footage
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