Dear (new-ish) Photographer,
My name is Model. I would love it if when you shoot me you take these things into consideration to achieve the greatest effect for us both.
– Male or female, give some playful banter. It makes me so happy when I am in the company of someone who knows how to laugh. If you can laugh at yourself then it’ll make me laugh too and we’ll both feel more relaxed.
– Don’t laugh at me. Don’t give me negative vibes by pulling funny faces, giggling at an awkward angle or allowing me to think I am anything other than the sensational creature my confidence needs to believe I am.
– If you have never shot a model before, perhaps consider paying an experienced one so you can relax and enjoy the day without the pressure of getting those shots for the team working TF. Get the shots for you, nobody else needs to see them. Let the model do the work.
– If you have a makeup artist present, she will be worth her weight in gold. Not only will she transform the ugly caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly (not only physically, but most of all mentally), but she will also provide friendly advice on things you might miss – a sneaky bra strap and stray hairs that you’ll have to edit out later. Plus she’ll give you more than the one look I was born with, because lets face it, I can’t do my makeup to a perfect standard, if I could, I’d be a makeup artist. I mean, dayum… it could be the difference between this:
– Tell me what you like to shoot. Tell me what you like in styling and show me examples. I’ll try my very best to accommodate your needs this way. I’ll feel like a disappointment if I arrive and you ask me to put on a plain black dress when in fact, it’s still lying on my bedroom floor after a night on the cosmos at The Velvet Room the week before… doh.
– Talk to me during the shoot, it is nice to hear feedback and building a rapport is essential in getting the best from me. Learn a rhythm of buzz words (whether you mean them or not); “Fab” “Good” “Amazing” …after all, I am woman, I thrive off this.
– If I model for my job then do direct me, but let me do my own thing too. I know my body and I have spent hours in front of a mirror perfecting how to make it look its very best. But saying this, you can see what I can’t, so we have to work as a team to make it look right. Try directing after every third buzz word: “fab, great, brilliant, lift your chin a little, excellent, amazing…” It really works.
– Don’t break my flow. This is the main one for an experienced model. I am just as nervous about shooting with you as you are. I want you to get the shots too. Let me start with my basic ‘hand on hip’ whilst we test the lighting/make up and then when it is right, let me know so I can start modelling for you. If you break after every shot to check the back of your camera then I will go back to ‘pose one’ …you won’t get that movement and each shot will be rigid. Take 5-10 shots and then pause to review them. Some will work, others won’t. But you’re more likely to get some variety.
– Put some music on to suit the mood e.g. up beat fast paced fashion or soft floaty boudoir. It fills the silence so you don’t need to ‘buzz word me’ as much.
– If I model frequently consider asking me which way I naturally gravitate to the light before setting one up if it’s going to be important to your shot, especially if I have a side fringe to prevent it casting a shadow across my face. This may not be the case every time, I appreciate that, it depends on the look you wish to achieve.
– Don’t be a perv. Some girls thrive off it, but you have to be absolutely sure I am one of those if you’re going to do it. If you give the slightest hint of creepiness, then I will be uncomfortable for the rest of the day. Finding that balance in buzz words is difficult, perfect it in advance. High five to those who have mastered it!
– If I am a client and I don’t know how to pose, then show me. I won’t feel half as silly if you do the pose first and I can mirror you with ease.
– If I am a client, only show me a picture on the back of your camera if you are 100% sure I will love it. If I see something I might not like (e.g. a double chin, a chubby knee, a nipple awkwardly peeping) then it might not make me feel that hot. In fact in might just knock my confidence for the rest of the shoot — that confidence that you have spent so long building up.
– For headshots, can we leave the 35mm lens in the bag? I don’t mean that in a patronising tone, it’s just my cheeks are chubby enough without distorting them into a ‘chubby bunnies’ tribute. A fat face makes for a sad face.
– For full length shots, shoot me low. Get down (like you’re sat on a chair) and aim the camera at my front. I will look so much taller and thinner and I will love you forever. I won’t even look out of proportion and no-one will ever know you were down there.
– Tell me when you are going for a 3/4 length shot, I can angle my feet to give me support and twist my body into an unusual shape leading into the frame.
– I like different lighting techniques. I really really do. In fact I do so much that I am very sad when I am lit with a giant octobox at the same level as my knees with the power turned up so high that I see purple octagons every time I blink. I want to look up and have carved cheekbones and stretch my neck out like a beautiful… giraffe(?!) If we raise it up a little and point it back down at a nice 45-degree angle, I’ll feel much more natural looking up like I would to the sun in a shower of light. I’m no expert, but it feels more ‘right’ to me.
– If I am receiving images as payment, please tell me when I will be given the pictures. If I have to wait longer than 8 weeks without warning then I might start to think you have forgotten all about me and our exciting day together and it all gets a little bit awkward.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to me Mr and Ms Photographer, I really appreciate you making that extra effort and thank you mostly, for not taking this in the patronising tone it may come across as, especially as some of the points will not always apply.
I just want what you want, the best possible shot. It costs you nothing to know this but could save you a lot in the future.
About the author: Jen Brook is a creative fine art, conceptual and fashion model from UK. You can find her on Facebook and on Twitter. She also blogs over on Tumblr. This article originally appeared here.
Image credit: Fotógrafo y modelo / Photographer and Model by Zyan, Children Laughing by Tela Chhe, Photographers by schani, Miss Pomodoro & Flask by liquene, Greenwich in Autumn – Nov 2010 – Lying Down on the Job by gareth1953