How to photograph a model

I’ve no doubt you’ve read many articles on the ins and outs of portrait photography. Many words have been written giving advice on the use of flashes, studio lighting or using natural light on location. Posing techniques and making the best use of the subject’s features, while addressing each model’s physical attributes, are covered in a myriad of magazine and online articles.

The purpose of this article is to share my experiences with you, and by doing so I hope to help you avoid the mistakes I made and give you the benefit of advice passed down to me by experienced mentors

You have made contact with a willing model (for this article’s purposes, a female) and wish to know how to proceed. If at all possible I advise you to meet with the person first. This will give you a good idea of her personality, her confidence level, her physical appearance and put you on a friendly footing. Photographers planning involved shoots with props and stylists will often use a test shoot to assess potential models.

At the very least, move beyond the impersonal communications of texts and internet messages and call her on the phone to discuss her expectations and your requirements. Part of the enjoyment of doing portrait shoots on a regular basis is meeting new people and developing your people skills. I was quite shy and not a really good conversationalist. I had to learn to initiate conversations and really listen to my model. If you are being comfortable with yourself, you will project an air of confidence to the model, which in turn will help make her at ease. This will come with practice.

My advice on meeting a model, at the start of a shoot, is to leave your camera in its bag and to engage her in conversation. If you can find some area of common interest it will break down barriers quicker. Ask her questions about her previous modeling experiences, her clothes or makeup and be genuinely interested in her answers.

Remember, she may have a degree of nerves and trepidation about being in front of a camera with a photographer she does not know.

I approach a shoot with the realization that unless the model is very experienced, the first 30 minutes of the shoot will rarely produce the best images. This is the period of building a rapport with the model and getting her comfortable with you and the camera. If you are on location I suggest the best areas of the locale be saved for the latter half of the shoot. And this shot can be about any kind of pictures, from artistic pictures to even artistic nudes as the ones you can see online, you could click here for more.

If you are in a studio setting I am a believer in the power of music to create a comfortable ambience. I provide a player and ask the model to bring music she enjoys. This is played as background music allowing conversation and interaction.

While shooting there are a few rules I have made for myself. I find the model appreciates being shown the progress by reviewing the camera screen at intervals. Often they will pick up on awkward shapes, slipped bra straps and have suggestions of how they can improve what they are doing. This also involves the model in the process. Some models have told me that they don’t like working with photographers who decline to do this. Always be respectful and professional in your interactions. This does not mean that you cannot have fun and one of the best comments you can get at the end of a shoot is “I really enjoyed that!”

If you are working to a concept, either keep the concept photos in your head or on your phone. Don’t show your model photos of other models. Your model is the most important person in the world while you are shooting.