Working with models is a great way to experiment with photos that you couldn’t take on your own, and it often leads to even better photos as you have someone to bounce ideas off. This post covers everything you need to know about working with a model and how to act professionally around them to get the best results.
Before the Shoot
The first step you’ll need to take is to find a model, and this really isn’t that hard, you basically have 2 options – paid or unpaid. Professional models can provide better results, are easier to work with and less complacent, but from my experience, I can get just as good results with amateurs and friends. If your shoot has a budget for one, i’d always hire a pro, and they can be found in a variety of directories through google – just be sure to include the area you’re working in, in the search term. On some occasions you may find a model who will work for you, just so that they can get some more recent photos for their portfolio, but this is rare for amateurs, unless the models themselves are amateurs as well. This is often referred to as TF (Time For) modelling.
Once you’ve found the model you want to use, talk to them about what you want to get out of the shoot and what they’re comfortable doing. This step is especially important if they’re a friend of yours – if it’s a swimsuit shoot you’re doing, that’s the sort of thing they’re going to want to know beforehand. If you’ve hired a professional, all this information will be laid out for them when you’re hiring them, but I always like to go through it one more time to make sure they’re comfortable.
Here’s a few topic you will want to talk about:
Confirm pay rates, travel expenses and any accommodation
Date and time of shoot
The sort of photo’s you’re going to be taking
Who’s supplying the clothing and make up
If you’ve never worked with a model before, I strongly suggest that you find your best looking friend and talk them into doing some photos with you while you’re still learning. Some techniques you may want to try can be time consuming and it’s best to use a forgiving friend that’s not charging you by the hour to be there.
The final thing you’ll want to do before you start is to find a location. I personally don’t like using studios for photography as I don’t particularly like the results; I find them to be a bit sterile and boring and I reckon there’s much better locations to be had where you can work in compositional techniques to the photos. That’s my 2 cents anyway, but whatever you do, make sure you find a good location and if it’s outdoors, a dry alternative. It’s best to do this all in advance so that you’re not wasting time on the day and you know roughly what sort of photos you can take there.
Ok, now that you’ve got yourself a model and found a location, it’s time to start shooting.
During the Shoot
Rule number 1, don’t be a perve. This should really go without saying, but i’ll say it anyway, respect the model’s privacy – your reputation depends on it. Make sure that your model is comfortable in their environment and has everything they need. Whatever you do, don’t touch them without permission and if you want to adjust something, make sure you ask first. If you want them to adjust their clothing or take something off, then don’t be afraid to ask, just so long as you’re being professional about it. When it comes to them getting changed, give them space to do it privately and stop taking photos of anything while they’re doing it.
The best results come from a happy and relaxed subject so when i’m working, I try to help them relax by talking to them and making them laugh. Ask them how they are and try to be as funny as possible – the more comfortable they are around you, the better the results will be. This is a great technique at the beginning of the session, just don’t carry it on too much or you’ll end up with a lot of photos of them mid sentence, which doesn’t really work too well.
Model’s aren’t stupid and are usually quite experienced, so if they’ve got an idea about how to pose or where to take a photo, it’s usually worth listening to. I find that my best photos usually come out from combining ideas with my model in an effort to improve on the last photo taken. If you’ve got an idea of how you want them to pose, but don’t really know how to describe it, then adopt the pose yourself, no matter how stupid you may feel. Looking stupid yourself will only help to relax the model and break the ice, and taking the pose yourself will help you to get the shot you want sooner.
If you’re going to be doing some underwear/bikini/topless/nude photography, then make sure that you don’t just dive straight in – take some photos with clothes on first so that they’ve warmed up to the idea and are more comfortable around you. The photo below came at the end of the session and it was the model who suggested that it might work better if she didn’t have a top on.After the Shoot
Ask the model to sign a model release form for you stating what you can use the photos for. If you’re small time to start with, you may not think this is much of a big deal, but you never know how your relationship with the model may change if one of you becomes more successful. It’s always best to cover your ass now so you don’t have to worry about it in the future.
If you’re happy with your model, make sure you recommend them on tell the organisation they work for as this small gesture will go a long way to models being more comfortable around you in the future. If you agreed to share the photos with the model, make sure she gets them and thank her for her time.
A small note to end on: I personally love working with models as I find the human side to be good fun and more creative when you’ve got someone that knows what they’re talking about to bounce ideas off. I typically don’t use models more then twice though as otherwise your photos will start to look a bit too similar. If you’ve never shot with a model before, grab a friend and spend the afternoon with them with the incentive that they’ll get ‘an awesome new Facebook profile picture’ from it.