Working with models for your photoshoots adds another factor to worry about. As every photographer is different, so is each model. Each one requires a personal approach. You have to keep in mind (first and foremost) that your task is to make the models comfortable on set. You need to learn to communicate effectively and learn to direct your models so you can achieve the results you have in mind.

How do you do all this? Sounds like it’s a lot of work for 1 person, but all you really need is a little guide. You might know much of what we will discuss below, and have some of your own personal tips but this article will be ideal for those that don’t feel as confident working with first time models.

A note on professionalism

working with first time models tips

As with many occupations, you have to remain professional at all times. It’s also useful to try to place yourself in their shoes. To be standing in front of a camera is to make oneself a little vulnerable. Models do this for a living but it doesn’t become any easier. Each photoshoot is different, as is each model and their approach. Take your time to pay attention to their body language and listen to what they have to say.

When we speak of professionalism, what this means is a) having common sense and an understanding of personal space b) being respectful of your models. More can be said on this topic but as long as you understand what it means to remain professional at all times, we won’t go into the details.

Get to know them

tips on working with models stock photography

Your job is to make the model comfortable in front of the camera. Use this opportunity to chat about how she feels about the photoshoot, what she thinks are her best angles and other kinds of small talk to get to know each other. Trust between photographer and model is crucial. You need to create a safe environment, and be confident in your vision, be kind, respectful and have a little bit of fun.

You can play music that you both like to help them ease into the photoshoot. Chat about their day, their interests and how their weekend went just to establish some common ground. There’s nothing worse than a model that doesn’t feel comfortable on set or is shy. Shyness and discomfort is very clearly seen in images. Establishing a connection with your model is crucial so do take the time to get to know them a little.

Be confident in your vision

guide on how to work with models photo shoots

First things first, when a model walks in for a photoshoot, you have to be prepared. This means you need to have some solid idea about how your day is going to go. You don’t want to be wasting anyone’s time. It could be helpful to have a script, or some organizational element to your shoot to help the model understand what you’re looking for.

Every photoshoot starts with idea. It’s not enough to improvise because likely, your model will feel a little lost and this is clearly translated in the images. Prepare before your model shows up. Take some time to explain to her from beginning to end what it is you’re looking for and hoping to achieve.

Now, remember that no photo shoot will go perfectly. A little improvisation is okay! Sometimes models inspire different ideas and your photo shoots take off. This happens all the time and it’s entirely up to you and your model. However, having something solid to start working will go a long way to determining how successful your photoshoot will be. Plan ahead, but don’t be afraid to see your photo shoots evolve to other concepts.

Giving directions

working with models tips guide advice

Getting into the rhythm of the photoshoot takes time. It’s a little stressful on both you as a photographer and the model. Keep the model informed throughout the photo shoot about what you’re thinking and planning. Back and forth communication is really helpful.

You shouldn’t be afraid to tell the model how you’d like him or her to pose. Most of the models actually appreciate this kind of clear direction because their job is to bring your vision to life. An effective way to communicate your ideas could be to show her how you’d like her to pose. Don’t be shy or afraid to go out of your way to get the shots you want.

You can also save images from websites like Pinterest to show examples of poses, themes and facial expressions that you’d like to capture. Showing some visuals before you start photographing can help your models get a better idea of how to behave in front of hte camera. Sometimes it’s really hard to put your ideas into words! So do use tools at your disposal to help your models out with direction.

Put thought into feedback

how to work with first time models stock photographers

To help move the photo shoot along, you need to give your model constant feedback. If you don’t like something, don’t be afraid to voice your opinion but do offer suggestions so your models understand what you want from the shoot

This is one of the more important tips for working with models, offering them feedback in the form of suggestions or compliments so they know what they’re doing right. If they’re doing a good job, offer some kind words of encouragement. This experience should be fun for both you and your model and it’s your job to direct the photo shoot.

You can also ask the model for her opinion. In fact, showing the model your shots occasionally throughout the photoshoot can be a good way to interact some more and share thoughts and feelings about how the photoshoot is going. Not many photographers do this, but it could be a way to improve communication and workflow between you and the model.

Makeup, hair and looks for the day

stock photography tips on working with models

Makeup and hair is something to worry about. It’s so crucial to a good photo shoot that it’s advisable to hire freelance makeup artists for projects. Your focus should be on the images themselves and having a makeup artist on the team leaves you with one less thing to worry about.

It is acceptable and even welcomed to leave the outfit choice up to your model as well as asking him or her to do their own makeup (if you’re going for the natural look). If you have something specific in mind, and have the budget for it, you can hire someone to take care of makeup and wardrobe for you.

Makeup artists will save you a lot of time. Their job is to watch your model throughout the shoot and fix her makeup as needed. It’s also advisable to start with the natural look and as you’re progressing with the photo shoot, to layer the makeup and leave the more dramatic looks for the end.

Finding your models

where to find models for photo shoots

In many of our interviews with Depositphotos contributors, we hear that photographers often find their models through social media. This is one way to go about it, but you can also do a basic search in your area, contact modeling and talent agencies or even invite people you personally know.

Friends and family are a good starting place for photographers. As you get more ambitious with your shoots, you can invite professional models and use resources available in your area to scout for them.

The legal side of things

where to find models tips for working with models

There’s  no need for a lawyer to settle the legal side of things. If you’re planning to sell your images, you need to have a model release form. Here is Depositphotos’ model release form that you can use during your photoshoots.

Be sure to let the models know where the images you took will be used. Make sure there is no confusion or disagreements on this topic. You do have to take care of this, or you’ll end up with images you can’t use for commercial purposes.

Final note

Keep it friendly. Models are very responsive to photographers that make them feel comfortable on set. Exchange your thoughts, opinions and impressions and you’ll create a 2 way conversation that can potentially improve your photo shoot.

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