“So I know you all are wondering how I got this job.” Arny Freytag knew it was the one question everyone in the standing room-only crowd really wanted to know. To be a Playboy photographer is a dream most men have had at one time or another in their lives, mostly starting at adolescence and never really leaving. To be like Arny, the most prolific and successful shooter of all the Playboy Playmate Centerfolds -- 146 girls and counting -- is beyond imagination for even the most bold Walter Mitty types in the audience seated before him. Lucky for them, this was the first of many seminars aimed at the amateur, semi-pro, or career professional who has always wanted to experience how centerfolds are shot and created. The premiere of the Shoot the Centerfold Photography Seminar took place at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida this past January 30.
Three seasoned Playboy centerfold photographers are your personal instructors at Shoot the Centerfold: Arny Freytag, David Mecey and Jarmo Pohjaniemi. These gifted glamour photographers are offering for the first time an opportunity to attend instructional tutorials on how their world renowned images are created. Arguably even better, they then allow you to step in and use their lighting set-ups to shoot lingerie clad models! We at Bullz-Eye knew this was an opportunity that should not be missed. Each instructor had a beautiful model waiting for your camera and instruction. Arny brought his “favorite Centerfold” of 2010, the painfully fresh Kyra Milan, to be his model on set. Through his highly informative and well-paced instructional session, it allowed the photographers in attendance to create near centerfold perfect images of a current playmate for their own portfolios, or for their own personal bragging rights for the rest of their lives!
The seminar started at 9 am with an amazing slide show of some of the most unforgettable images ever put on film of the classic girl next door nude. Imagine three top Playboy centerfold photographers, all putting their personal favorites together for a one of a kind photo presentation. It was so enjoyable to watch one impossibly stunning image after another. Classic Playboy images were accompanied by revealing behind-the-scenes comments from the photographers themselves, revealing what it was like to shoot the likes of Anna Nicole Smith, Cindy Crawford or Carmen Electra. The morning session was visually remarkable, but that was just the beginning.
Each photographer had a special studio set built, allowing small groups of 14-19 to watch the masters shoot as they explained lighting, pose, set design and composition. After instruction, each attendee was allowed to “sync” into the lighting to have a brief one-on-one shoot with the model on the set. David Mecey explained a lighting setup philosophy of “less is more.” David, well known for his decades-plus effort creating the ubiquitous “Playboy Girl of…” college girls series, gave remarkable instruction for those who wish to create glamour on camera with only 1, 2 or 3 strobe lights. His enthusiasm and banter on set gave an inspiration to both the model and attendees on how communication allows the creative flow to bloom and explode on camera.
Groups then followed to Jarmo’s studio set, located close by in another ballroom. His set had the classic glamour studio feel seen within the pages of Playboy, with a petite perky blond waiting to be photographed. Jarmo walked the crowd through the sequential application of pin point directed strobe lighting, creating an unfolding tutorial on a projection screen so all could see how the lingerie clad model is gradually lit and polished. Afterwards, the shooters lined up, where Jarmo patiently offered assistance as they stepped up to try their hand shooting in the photo studio constructed before them. Top professional hair stylists and make-up artists were all on set to keep the picture perfect look for which these models are known.
Leaving Jarmo’s set, the attendees eagerly rushed to the final set up, with Centerfold photo legend Arny Freytag. Following his well known “more is better” philosophy of studio lighting, a stunning variety of studio strobes, panels, reflectors and soft boxes -- 16 in all -- were assembled in a romantic bedroom set. The equally stunning March 2010 Playboy Playmate Kyra Milan was waiting to be shot in a lacy bra set and 6 inch stiletto heels. Arny emphasized the need to have the conceptual knowledge of the great painters like Rembrandt to really grasp the fundamentals of how light, shadow and form create an image on canvas or film. Kyra, hand-picked by Arny as his favorite centerfold of the past year, was patient, stunning, and projected that centerfold innocence time and time again for each and every photographer in line. Their one- to two-minute photo session with the Playmate left the attendees in a near daze afterwards, wondering if that really was an actual centerfold in a Playboy-inspired and professionally lit studio set, gazing at them through their camera lens. Reviewing the images on their camera back reminded them they weren’t dreaming! It was almost like you were at the Playboy mansion for the centerfold shoot itself to click the shutter and magically become THE photographer for that very issue.
Afterward, the three photographers explained to me their goals: to offer to a global audience the tips and vision they have in creating those iconic Playboy images we had all come to know and love, to further assist both the enthusiast and professional alike through instructional DVDs and a digital magazine, and to inspire the artist in all of us to recreate the beauty in all we see and do.
This year will see the Shoot the Centerfold Seminar series in numerous U.S. cities, including Las Vegas this spring, and more. UK and German markets are also in the works. Any and all Bullz-Eye readers wanting to live the centerfold photography fantasy can go to ShootTheCenterfold.com for more info and event registration information.