Too many times I hear from models that their experience during a shoot was nerve-wracking, confusing, or uncomfortable. The number one reason? “The photographer never told me what to do.”
If you are a private portraiture photographer, you more than likely are photographing the average person and the occasional independent model. Not all the time will you be lucky enough to photograph someone with extensive modeling experience, and should be aware of the extra guidance your subject may need during the shoot. The fact of the matter is; every photographer’s taste is different, and models realize that. When a subject doesn’t have the confidence from extensive experience, the worst thing he/she can hear from a photographer is…silence… We think to ourselves; “Does this angle look flattering?” “Should I open or close my mouth?” or, “Do they even like this pose??”
I remember feeling this way in the before I had put in the time in front of many cameras. I was absolutely shocked in the worst way when I showed up to my first shoot where the photographer looked at me and simply said; “Go.” I learned quickly that as a model I would need to learn to pose myself. But what if you are shooting a subject that just doesn’t have this confidence and the experience it takes to do this? That’s what brings us to today’s topic; the importance of direction.
We Want to Know What You Want
No, you are not bossing us around. You are not barking orders (at least, not unless you decide to yell at your model). We actually want to know what images you have in your head that you desire us to bring to life. We want you to direct us into a better pose if a certain angle isn’t flattering. The first step to being a good director is getting past this mental block. For myself and many other models it is most important that you are pleased and satisfied with the photos. Never be afraid to give direction if we begin to stray from what you want.
You Will Not Offend Us
This is a common misconception for male photographers photographing women. As long as your direction is respectful, you avoid crude language, and treat the model the way you would want your daughter to be treated on a shoot, we will not be offended if you mention our body in your direction. Note – there is a BIG difference on mentioning our body to direct us (i.e. ”Arch your back a little more to create a stronger curve.”) versus commenting on our body in a disrespectful or sexual manner (need I even bother putting an example here?). The key is to be diplomatic with your word choices.
Visuals May Help
If you are describing a pose to your subject and they don’t seem to understand – or you would just like to make work easier from the start for them – show them an inspiration picture of a similar expression or pose that they can imitate and adjust to make their own. If you cannot find an accurate picture of what you want, you may have to bring out your own posing skills and show them yourself what you are looking to capture. The latter is utmost dedication, especially if you’re a male photographer demonstrating a very feminine pose. We appreciate the effort…and love sharing a quick laugh over it.
Model: Ashley BeLoat – IG: @ashleybeloat
Photographer: Eric Kinney – www.erickinneyphotography.com – IG: @ekinneymedia
Designer: Yong Lin – www.yonglinbridal.com – IG: @yonglinbridal
Hair & Makeup Artistry: Eileen Infante – IG: @einfantemakeup
Imagine the Tables are Turned
Think about how it feels to be in front of a camera. For someone who isn’t used to – or is still growing accustomed to – having their picture taken, it can be a nerve-wracking experience. Every insecurity is exposed and potentially immortalized in every click of the camera. A person can easily fall victim to stage fright and forget how to move naturally. As stated before, the worst thing you can do is remain silent while shooting an inexperienced subject/model. Compare silent clicking of the camera to performing on the stage…but the audience has no reaction after your act. You would wonder; “Did they even like it?” You may even think to yourself; “Oh my goodness, they hated me!” or “I knew I should have practiced more!” All things that models can and do think when their photographer stays silent.
That being said, what direction cues have you ever tried used during your shoots? Have you ever had a moment where you just couldn’t describe to your subject what you wanted them to do? Models, what instructions have you been given that you found helpful? Let me know in the comments below!