So you found the perfect model for your concept, reached out to him or her, agreed on a date, showed up at the location, and are about ready to shoot. You have never met this person in your life. Now what? We have all seen those unfortunate shots taken by our fellow photographers where the client or model looks wildly uncomfortable. We want our models to look at ease in every frame, and this can be accomplished by following these four simple steps.
1. Connect with them on a personal level
Connect with them about anything. This is my number one suggestion. It is hard to be uncomfortable around someone you perceive as a “friend.” Random strangers are scary, friends are someone you can let go and be yourself around. Talk about topics you agree on, even it is as simple as a favorite photographer or model you both love. One way I connect with models is letting them choose the music I play during shoots. This allows them to have some control, and gives us another avenue to achieve that elusive connection.
2. Figure out their strengths and weaknesses
And no, this doesn’t exactly mean by asking them. When people are put on the spot and asked difficult questions about themselves, they tend to clam up because they can’t think clearly and don’t want to disappoint you with their answer. On the other hand, use your intuition as a professional while you are interacting with them and gain a feel for what they are comfortable doing and not doing. If a model jumps into a pose, obviously she feels confident in it. If she seems hesitant or cautious, chances are what you want her to do is out of her comfort zone. This isn’t to say that you can’t discuss comfort ahead of time during the pre-shoot messaging stages. Never ever spring nudity as a concept on a model the day of the shoot, although the model may surprise you by shedding their inhibitions as the shoot progresses.
3. Reassure them that they are doing a fabulous job
This has been said hundreds of times, but it is worth stating again. There is nothing that boosts a model's confidence more than hearing that you think they are doing a great job. That being said, pick and choose your praise wisely. If you praise after every frame, the impact will be lost, and the model may begin to believe you are just saying it to make them feel better. Instead of praising after each shot, praise every few minutes, or every time the model goes out of her comfort zone and gives you a fantastic pose you didn’t even ask for. This will reassure her that you are okay with experimenting and is one heck of a great confidence boost.
4. Don’t be too serious
You’re obviously here because you want to get terrific shots and bring out the best in your model. If you are too intense and dead set on getting that perfect shot, the mood is going to be an overall stressful one. You absolutely do not want a tension-filled atmosphere because it will most likely show in your shots, no matter how experienced the model is.