Learn to Excel at Model Photography

Work with a model depends on more than just posing. You also need to talk right and act right. Act natural, and you’ll get good results without actually having to instruct your model at all. Read on for some tips before you try out model photography for yourself.

The foundation for high-quality model photography is a good choice of model. You don’t have to dive into that choice alone; you can get help from sites like http://www.modelmayhem.com. An experienced model is a solid plus for your photography. If you top that off with good communication with your stylist and make-up artist, then your shoot just might create great pictures.

Note one other important thing when choosing your model: you need someone who loves the camera, but knows better than to notice it—then they’ll look natural.

Another important thing is good posture. So keep an eye out for models involved in sports or dancing. For them, good posture is natural. Then you’ll never have to tell them to straighten up—that knowledge is already inside them, and that’s important.

This model does yoga, and so her poses are ideal—good posture is the very foundation of yoga.

This model does yoga, and so her poses are ideal—good posture is the very foundation of yoga.

Communication: Tell Them About Your Goals

It’s important to pick a good model, but it’s just as important to communicate with them well. Try to create a relaxed atmosphere—for example, put on some pleasant music. But I don’t recommend the radio—a DJ can break your concentration and your conversations at any time.

Start the session by telling your model about the photos you want and your goals for them. That will give them a better idea of what you want, which will make your work easier.

Tell each other the rules right away. Tell your model your goal and then start shooting.

Tell each other the rules right away. Tell your model your goal and then start shooting.

Behave naturally while shooting, and keep talking about everything under the sun. If someone you know is posing for you, then you’ve got it easy. Literally sit with them and talk about anything. Watch them, and from time to time during the conversation pick up your camera and just press the trigger.

Keep up a friendly, lighthearted conversation. Joke a little. Also try photographing the model while they do a simple activity, like drinking or making coffee. There are many possibilities.

For photos like these, the model’s emotions and personality are what’s most important—and are precisely what you’re trying to capture. Everything else is just backdrop.

Coffee time—time to relax. Plenty of time for a couple of photos.

Coffee time—time to relax. Plenty of time for a couple of photos.

Keep the conversation up. The trigger can wait. It’s good to maintain eye contact.

Keep the conversation up. The trigger can wait. It’s good to maintain eye contact.

Change where you stand to shoot… but do it naturally.

Change where you stand to shoot… but do it naturally.

Try to capture emotions.

Try to capture emotions.

Every motion must be natural, unconstrained.

Every motion must be natural, unconstrained.

Tough Poses

You can find lots of difficult, demanding poses in magazines. They’re tempting to try, but don’t force your model to maintain a pose artificially. If your model isn’t keeping up the pose on their own, it will show in your photos—they’ll look forced and unnatural. Let your model present poses they already know. Then just fine-tune those. If you need to, use the posing tricks described in this article.

An experienced model doesn’t need you to tell them anything at all. They’ll usually switch poses after every snap of the shutter. But if you plan to photograph the same model frequently, then you’ll have a hard time picking your final photo, because all of your photos will look very good.

When working with a professional model, focus on your end of the work—e.g. light and composition. Let the model take care of their end.

Even a seemingly simple portrait like this can be hard to produce with an inexperienced model.

Even a seemingly simple portrait like this can be hard to produce with an inexperienced model.

The same case as for the previous photo. It seems simple, but is it really that easy?

The same case as for the previous photo. It seems simple, but is it really that easy?

Even standing by the wall is sometimes demanding. But an experienced model has no trouble with it.

Even standing by the wall is sometimes demanding. But an experienced model has no trouble with it.

This was this model’s first shoot ever. And I think I got some great photos.

We each handled our own part of the job. I concentrated on light, composition, and shot location. The model concentrated on posing. We also had access to a superb make-up artist and stylist.

We didn’t use a flash for the shoot, or even any special lenses. All I needed was an old full-frame DSLR with a basic lens.

I see poses like this in fashion photography often. What’s your opinion—does the model look natural here? There’s a tendency to think at first glance that models are posing at all.

I see poses like this in fashion photography often. What’s your opinion—does the model look natural here? There’s a tendency to think at first glance that models are posing at all.

Keep up a good mood throughout each shoot. Lucy poses well even during breaks. Not just well, in fact, but well enough that this could be an advertising photo.

Keep up a good mood throughout each shoot. Lucy poses well even during breaks. Not just well, in fact, but well enough that this could be an advertising photo.

In closing, here are a couple of photos with another experienced model. And the poses she shows off definitely are not simple. The most important thing is for poses to be presented with lightness and noblesse, without strain or affectedness.

Obviously you can’t produce a photo like this on your first try, but you don’t have to—you can try again and again. Until you get just the right photo.

Obviously you can’t produce a photo like this on your first try, but you don’t have to—you can try again and again. Until you get just the right photo.

Here again this pose may seem simple. It sure looks like it—but try doing it with someone who’s never been photographed.

Here again this pose may seem simple. It sure looks like it—but try doing it with someone who’s never been photographed.

Be Natural

Great model photography demands experience on both sides—both the photographer and the model have to know what they’re doing. Act natural and communicate with your model. Pay attention to them. Then they’ll feel more relaxed, and your photos will be more natural and more attractive.

 

Last updated 25. January 2016

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Author: Majo Elias

I’ve been taking pictures since 2004. When I was starting out, I photographed almost everything. Later my style solidified and I began photographing people almost exclusively. At the moment my main genres are fashion and advertising.

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