Playboy photographers find reality TV hard work

LOS ANGELES Wed Apr 7, 2010 1:11pm EDT

1 of 2. Photographer Eric LaCour photographs model Cassandra in the reality competition series 'Playboy Shootout' shown in this undated publicity photo released to Reuters April 6, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Playboy/Handout

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - They thought it would be all fun and glamour, but when 10 photographers recently gathered for a new reality TV show, they learned there was more to taking pictures of naked women than a good camera lens.

"Playboy Shootout," which premiered this past Saturday on cable television's subscriber-only Playboy Channel puts the photographers together in tandem with 10 models and each group -- shooters and models -- compete to have their work featured in the legendary men's magazine founded by Hugh Hefner.

While perhaps many a young man has dreamed of shooting a nude centerfold for Playboy, only few ever make the grade.

Playboy editorial director Jimmy Jellinek said the magazine annually gets "thousands and thousands" of submissions from photographers, but it is the rare exception who gets picked.

Stephen Wayda, a longtime Playboy photographer and judge on "Shootout," said he tried unsuccessfully for years before finally making it into the magazine's pages and onto a stellar career as a celebrity photographer.

"People think it's all fun, sex and glamour. They don't realize when you're doing nudes there's a lot more to it. You see all the body. You see the wrinkles in the waist when (models) turn. You see how the body is built, and you have to make it look good," Wayda said.

For "Shootout," Playboy gathered the photographers from around the United States and put them together in Los Angeles. The first episode had them assigned to take pictures of the models in a different area of a luxurious mansion, and they were given a time limit to devise a theme, set lighting, pick a costume and put the models through hair and makeup.

A MAN'S WORLD?

A major feature is that the models are competing to be in the magazine, too, and because they are looking for the best pictures possible, they sometimes conflict with the shooters.

"I've gained confidence in myself after doing the show, and I realized that having (many) crew members around me didn't distract me," said photographer Eric LaCour.

Kate Romero, one of two women among the photographers, said she believed being the same gender as the models helped her because she might be able to say things to calm their fears about posing naked in front of a large crew.

"It is a guys' world, definitely," said Romero. "(but) I love that kind of challenge."

Wayda said all the photographers came into the show with strong portfolios of past work, and for many the biggest problem was tailoring their own work to match Playboy's pages.

Under Hefner, the magazine' has always tried to feature models with a homespun, girl-next-door look.

"Some came in and said, 'I want to do something completely different,'" Wayda said. "Well, that's great, so go open up your own magazine."

The series, which ends on June 5, is produced by "America's Next Top Model" director Claudia Frank and hosted by "The Celebrity Apprentice 2" contender and Playboy Playmate Brande Roderick. A new episode airs every week on Saturdays as part of what Playboy is calling its "Date Night" lineup of shows.

(Editing by Dean Goodman)

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