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10 Top Tips And Hints On Photographing Models

Holly Knowles shares 10 of her tips on finding, posing and shooting models.

|  Portraits and People
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Article by Holly Knowles -

So you’ve got your top of the range gear, you’ve got all your ideas down, your projects all set to go just one thing is missing…your MODEL and then once you find one, what do you do with them?

Well here are my top ten tips and hints on finding your model, getting the best out of your subject matter and what to do once the shots are in the bag!





1. Build a rapport

When starting out almost any person will do. You need to develop the ability of gaining a good rapport with your subject even though the likelihood will be you’ve only just met. Try people you know first, ask a family member or friend to sit for you. Work on that bedside manner, laugh joke and have fun get comfortable with your camera too, any technical problems need to be worked on now.


2. Find your model

Once you have got comfortable with dealing with your subject, your camera has an extension of yourself it’s time to hunt down some models. Posting adverts in the newspaper, around universities worked for me ten years ago now the world is overrun with social networking possibilities! Twitter and Facebook are the obvious go-tos but have you checked out Purestorm or Model Mayhem? I still shoot models from these sites today!


3. Approaching the model

As a female I have always found approaching another women to come and model for me easy. I am very aware a lot of men who are just breaking out into glamour photography and don’t have the prestigious portfolio to impress struggle painfully. My advice man or lady would be always to approach a potential model with a brief and polite message. Explain you are starting out and you would be interested in photographing her. Offer that she is welcome to bring an escort and that you will happily come to her if needs be. Never ask a young lady to come to your house even if it does have a flashy studio set up in the spare room, you may be the kindest gentlest person in the universe but this comes across as unprofessional and odd.

Close up portrait

4. Shoot TF

When starting out it’s always best to offer TF shoots. TFP = Time for print, TFCD = Time for CD meaning the model will give her time for free images for her portfolio. Sometimes the model will ask for a contribution to travel expenses again this is to your discretion. I still shoot TF’s from time to time. It’s also a great opportunity to network with girls and test them for important publication shoots.

5. Stay public

For your first meeting and shoot, it is always best to meet in a public place for your safety too; people aren’t always what they seem on the internet. Take the model to a public location, a beach, park, take some fun snaps and experiment.

6. NEVER make the first shot a nude one

The model needs to be comfortable around you and you also need to figure out her best angles and how she works. If you are lucky enough to work the model to semi or even full nude on your first shoot with her take full advantage and snap away but never pressure the model to do anything she doesn’t feel like doing especially on your first ever meeting.


7. Posing

I have witnessed so many photographers struggle to explain how they want their subjects to pose and look like in the images. Go the extra mile - Strike the pose yourself to give the model an example to work from it’s also a good ice breaker! If you are not as confident come with a readymade example of images torn from magazines and point to the poses you would like the model to create. As the model warms up to you I can guarantee she will start creating her own poses too.

8. Show the model

So you are starting to get shots and you are feeling confident, undoubtly due to our digital age and the ease of seeing the image straight away the model will want to take a peek at what you have been shooting. This can be a time consuming task as it can put a holt to the shoots flow by sitting there skimming through every image shot. Confidently show the model a select few of shots but continue on down to business. When nudity is more involved the reverse it advised – photographing a nude women can be an intimate process indeed always show the model any image she requests on shoot – the greater the shot the more confident she will be at posing for you and revealing more!

9. Model Release

So the shots are in the bag time to get legal. ALWAYS supply and make a model sign a model release. This not only legally covers you but her also. It is an agreement between model and photographer granting permission to publish the photograph in one form or another. If you aren’t at the publishing stage yet STILL sign one because it will give you opportunity to licence the photograph later.

10. A speedy follow up

The greatest fault of many a photographer is taking a long time to get the images to the model. Not only does this frustrate the model having to constantly chase up the images but this could damage your photographer/ model relationship in the future, she may not want to work with you again due to the stress of having to obtain the images in the first place. You may be busy with a full time job when you are not taking photographs or you may be as free as a bird but always give a realistic time frame as to when the model can expect to receive the images at the end of the shoot. If it is going to take a whole month then fair enough, if it’s going to take a week great but stick to it. I am proud to say that when a shoots over I have not finished the job until the shots are edited and emailed over the same day but when starting out you need to take your time and hone your editing skills. To give the model the timescale of a fortnight would be a good starting point for you.

Article by Holly Knowles -

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JackAllTog Plus
13 6.4k 58 United Kingdom
30 Jan 2012 9:48AM
If I can suggest another as a newbie to this area, it's that for some of the newer models more likely to do TFCD they are probably inexperienced and a little nervous of the unknown - so explain how a typical shoot would typically progress with you, how long the shoot might take, how many styles/outfits are required etc. Repeat this when they arrive for five mins before the shoot In this way you both have a mutual plan and should both feel more confident.
30 Jan 2012 10:42AM
Thanks for adding your tips Stuart!

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