A Short Guide to Interacting with Your Models

Becoming a professional photographer is a hard enough job as it is if you only focus on the technical aspects of the work, but throwing the human relations part into the equation can sometimes make things more complicated. As we mentioned earlier, keep in mind that most of your models (meaning clients) are not professional models and are not trained to find their own focus point without a bit of help on your behalf. Also, they might not be comfortable in front of the camera, especially if this is the first or second time they see you, nor will they know how to properly pose.

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In addition to all this, a pushy attitude on your behalf might disturb the delicate balance within your working relationship and cause them to retract (first by not cooperating properly and then perhaps completely). So, what can you do to make sure your relationship with your models is as productive as possible for both you and them? First of all, abstain from being pushy or too firm and remember that these are either volunteers or even paying customers, so you can’t treat them like they’re your employees. Second of all, take a deep breath and try to follow these three tips or guidelines on interacting with your models.

Have one or two meetings before the shoot, explain the process and negotiate some rules.

Since these people or this person aren’t accustomed to being models on a regular basis, there are a whole number of things related to this lack of experience that can transform into draw-backs during the shoot. Your best way to prevent it is by meeting up with them once or twice before the actual photo shoot and try to discuss these aspects and inform them on what will take place. You can present the meeting as an opportunity for you to explain the process to them in order to create more comfort, and also ask them what it is they expect and want exactly. In addition to this, you can also use this opportunity to negotiate some ground rules which will activate during the shoot.

For example, let’s say that one of your customers wants a boudoir photo shoot. You can have a meeting in which she will outline her preferences and expectancies, and you will tell her how the basic posing takes place, how long will it take, that you can help her pose better by suggesting adjustments and movements and so on. Also let her know that there are some things that will not come naturally – like how to focalize her look – and that you will need to tell her what to do during the shoot. This way, she will know what to expect and won’t feel taken by surprise in a bad way when these things happen.

Show them the pose you want in a printed photo, and then gently guide them into it.

If you feel like your model misunderstood a pose suggestion after you told them the first time, don’t insist verbally the second time, as it will make them feel awkward for not getting it and perhaps they will even see you as pushy. Instead, if you feel like the subject is having a difficult time grasping exactly the pose you would want them to try, show them a picture of other models in the position you want them. It’s not only more efficient, but it’s more delicate to their ego and to the overall atmosphere.

Contribute to their confidence, but don’t exaggerate with the compliments.

If you’re dealing with a particularly shy subject, you can try punctuating the photo shoot with a few discreet compliments every now and then, especially when you intuitively feel it would be needed most. But make sure you don’t splurge on the compliments, or you risk giving off a creepy or at least unprofessional vibe. The point of working with a customer is precisely to make them feel as confident and amazing as actual models, at least for a day.