When asked by POV editor Ben Turner what are my 5 top tips for working with models, I initially said that’s easy until I started to write down the tips and realized I had about 3 dozen. When jotting down my top tips I kept leaning to extreme examples, such as, never cancel on the team with an hour to go before the shoot, don’t change your hair colour the day before a shoot, don’t stay out all night the night before a shoot, don’t bring the family to watch you work but I decided to stick with tips that work for everyone and not just photographers in the fashion business (and yes the above happens more often than you can imagine). So in no particular order my top 5 tips for working with models, beginners and professionals.
Rapport and energy: Nothing starts off a new relationship like positive energy, respect and making everyone involved in the shoot feel their worth in the project. If you go into the shoot cranky, throwing out demands and just being unpleasant you will see this energy back in the images. Be polite, pleasant, think of everyone’s needs and be patient. Have fun and let the models laugh.
Communication: Not just important on photoshoots but in the preparation and planning phases. I always double and triple check with the models that everyone understands what we are shooting, where we are shooting, when we are shooting, why we are shooting this way and who else is involved. Follow up is very important to ensure no one is unprepared or late as time is valuable to everyone. Time management is a sign of professionalism and respect to everyone involved. Never be late!!! And never, ever surprise the photo team.
Posing: Even though many models you will work with over your career are professionals, that does not ensure they know what poses you have in your head or want, therefore show them. Have fun as models always love seeing photographers actually achieve what they ask the models to do. I also suggest to capture the poses from many angles and different heights: Keep moving and keep talking!
Confidence: Let’s be honest, everyone in this business has had thoughts about their ability to do the job, from the models, the make up artists, the hair dressers and especially the models as they are being judged daily on their appearance so make it easy for everyone…be confident!! Even if you have no idea what you want (and yes it happens) just go in there and be confident and make everyone feel like a star. They will feel more confident about themselves and give you their best, and look you now have a magazine worthy series of images.
Releases: I shoot no one without a release, it’s just that simple. Don’t even bother unless a release is signed as it can be a pain and heartbreaking to capture the most incredible model, riding on the back of a lion juggling 5 balls, without the release no one will ever see the image. It simply protects the model, the photographer and everyone else involved in the shoot. Models, always read the release as well and make corrections of where the photographer can use the image and for how long.
I can go on forever about tips, but use common sense, think of everyone involved and go have fun.
Model Credits: Terin Rothernel, Nicole Dufton, Emily Hunt, Stacy Kraemer and MUA ( Mauke up artist for all) Nina Müller
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