How To Relax A Model And Get The Most From Them
How do you relax a model, new or experienced on set and be the example of a great photographer? I went on a little hike and I thought the hilltop was a perfect place to reflect where we want to take photography. There are stereotypes, all kinds of them actually about photographers and you can subscribe to them or set your own path.
I choose to be the one they talk about not just because of the work but because there was no ego on set, everyone was equal and everyone was appreciated. I hope you'll join in the same style and if you are, then I have some great tips that will help you accomplish those goals.
WHAT IT'S LIKE FOR A MODEL ON SET?
Models step on set knowing they're hired because of the way they look. That's simple and their body/face are the money makers. Now imagine having a breakout of some sort, a rash, getting sun burned, getting a bad haircut or even having a fight with your significant other earlier that day. We don't know what a person goes through - and helping them feel better, feel empowered can only be a welcomed goal.
When a model steps on set, each person is assessing the person in front of them. The photographer looks to see if they really look anything like their portfolio or have they used really old images? Makeup artist says hello but their eyes are on the skin, same with hair dept. Stylist is scanning them up/down because those clothes better fit!
There is stress and empathy is a welcomed feeling!
HOW CAN A PHOTOGRAPHER HELP THE MODEL FEEL BETTER?
- Start from the moment they get there. I try to meet the model outside, and not send a producer or assistant. That "I've got an assistant and I'm a big hot shot photographer" BS is not cool anymore. Go down there and meet them, welcome them, and remind them how excited you are they were available.
- As you're having conversation with them, introducing them to the team, and just having conversation look at them. Find what works for them. Is it the smile or the way to look at you? Find what works and start making a list in your head. Try to find what works for them more than what does not work for them. Pay attention to both, but most of your focus should be on what works for them. Then make sure that's front and center during your shoot.
- Drop down and be human. When I work with a new model, I drop to their level. If she's sitting on a chair, I'll squat on the ground next to her. If she's on a director's chair, I'll just lean on something to lower my stance. I learned this from a waitress who said that she gets bigger tips when she comes down to their level. It's just called putting yourself on the same plane as them, try it. It's empowering for them! It drops the ego and it is a kinder way to manage a set.
- Make fun of yourself. Nothing says you're in control and confident more than being able to laugh at yourself. I'll talk about my day, and find something funny that is self deprecating but also relatable for everyone. When everyone laughs, I know it's successful. I'm still in control, I'm still the photographer and the one in charge. But now I have a model who realizes we're all down to earth people, we laugh and we don't take ourselves too seriously.
- Talk behind their backs! What? Yes, talk behind the model's back for the sake of empowering them. When you meet them at the door, you'll have a chance to speak with them and relate. If you listen, you'll pick up some insecurities that models usually have. We all have them, but listen to them and you'll find what's on their mind. For example, if my model says she's sorry about her skin because there's a giant pimple that's new...just say it's OK. Then once she's in the makeup chair, text your makeup artist and ask them to compliment the skin. Say something that will give them confidence again. Working with the same team means they should be used to your tactics and it'll seem natural.
BONUS TIP: Show them the photographs already taken! If you do this, there's almost no chance of you having a bad shoot. Show them the photographs and do this through out the shoot. Tell them what's great about their images, and ask for more of that. Then mention what they can omit and it works.
Watch the video and you'll get a few more bonus tips in there. Photographing a model isn't easy but it can be a fun and empowering moment. Don't look at your job as just pushing a button but more about giving someone the confidence boost they never had. THAT is rare and that is what makes you stand out...of course in addition to the beautiful images.