10 Ways to Relax the Model before a Photo Shoot (and a Bonus Tip)
Whether I am photographing a celebrity or a new model, the rules are roughly the same. I’m about to give you 10 tips to help you have a more successful photo shoot with a model. A recent post on my Instagram page prompted a huge response and I wanted to expand on it, so that all photographers can benefit. Models are a touchy subject (no pun intended) and it’s important that we take an extra minute to put ourselves in their shoes. It’s key for their personal safety, and the future of your own career.
Students in my mentorship course and monthly marketing subscription understand the importance of making everyone feel comfortable. They’re told that good word travels slower than a bad reputation but it still travels. You never want to have a bad reputation around you, ever.
Lets go into my top 10 steps for you to have a more successful photo shoot with a model.
10 Tips to Have a more Successful Photo Shoot with Models
CALL SHEET: Make sure the call sheet goes out with at least a 24 hour notice. Everyone on your crew should be on that call sheet. It’s less about networking sometimes and more about the model looking each person up. Give them the chance to feel safe and to know that you’re a straight shooter from the start!
BRING A FRIEND: Personally I do ask them to bring a friend if they’re younger. Did you know some models come into town (big cities) and they’re on 16? It’s unbelievable and they’re left to fend for themselves. Even 18 or 19 is young. Encourage them to bring someone, just to make them feel safer and to show you’re totally fine with others being there. Meaning you’re not a creep!
BE A FRIEND: Talk to them about life, music, cars, food, traffic, etc… show the model you are relatable. Remember you’re the boss on set. Get relatable. Learn to watch for body signals. They’ll relax and you’ll see it in their shoulders and how they move now. Be a friend, this is a very fun project. Enjoy it and let them know they have a friend not a predator.
DON’T TOUCH THEIR CLOTHES: Models are told to bring extra garments, extra bras and panties also. I always ask to see what they brought but I never, ever lift anything from their bag without permission. Even if they give me permission, I don’t lift up their bras or panties unless others are present. Is it a hassle? I wouldn’t call it a hassle, it’s just an extra step to make sure they feel safer. Also I am protect my own behind.
ASSUME THE WORST: I’ve heard stories from models saying photographers have touched them, asked them out, exposed themselves to the model and we have to assume these people have seen some things. With that in mind, move forward with compassion but still get your job done. Just know, they’ve probably seen or heard about some crazy sh*t!
START WITH THE BORING SHOTS: Because those are the safest where you are the furthest from the model. Let them know you’re cool and that you’re a total pro at what you do. As you shoot more, you can see they’re more comfortable. Then you ask them to go a little sexier, or do the swimsuit look. Ease people in. We would want the same and that’s why tip number 3 is key. Be a friend and let them feel comfortable with a friend they’re working with.
TELL THEM HOW YOU SHOOT: I tell models that I’m very direct. I say things like “that looks bad, don’t do that” - but it’s the most honest and direct path. I don’t speak passive or passive aggressive and I feel that’s dishonest. We have a job to do, lets get it done and move on. So I warn them about that. We laugh about it and it’s all good. Remember, you want to be a friend.
DON’T TOUCH: Let me state the obvious. Establish boundaries, and assume touching is NOT OK. Assume they’ve seen some shit and you don’t want to trigger anyone. Of course as a photographer touching is kind of part of your job. See if they can do themselves. Tell them “fluff your shirt a little more, it’s wrinkled near the stomach”. I’ve had models ask me to just do it, that way they know it’s done right. They do this after they find out that I’m a professional and my intentions are for the best photograph.
COOL TO COME IN?: No matter who they are, no matter which gender just ask before you enter a changing area. You’ll notice that the vast majority of models don’t care one bit about nudity. Let me correct that… they don’t care about nudity when they feel safe, and when they know it’s a professional setting. Let THEM come to that point and if they are ultra-private, let them be. Maybe they’re just modest. Maybe they’ve been through some sh*t and are dealing with things we know nothing about.
HELP THEM BE BETTER: Tell them which poses make them look empowered and WHY it does. Tell them which poses make them look like sexual victims and tell them WHY. Do this ONLY if you have a good communication line with them. Tell them which poses help them look relatable, more in control, etc… just tell them things that will make them a better professional too.
BONUS ADVICE: This is someone’s baby. They probably had a tough battle and finally convinced their family it was OK to move to a big city. The keyword was “baby”. Not only is this someone’s baby, but likely they still are babies. Lets be kinder to each other and more understanding.