The Five Dos and Don'ts of Photographing Models

When you're working with models (or anyone really), there are certain things you should keep in mind, both to make the shoot go smoothly and successfully and to ensure that proper boundaries are established and everyone involved feels comfortable and respected. Here are five dos and don't of photographing models.

Coming to you from Manny Ortiz, this helpful video will give you a good foundation for shooting with models (most of the tips readily apply to normal clients as well). For me, one of the most helpful points was essentially creating a good, fun vibe while you're working. I'm almost always talking or conversing with the subject and trying to project good energy during a shoot. If conversation is tough, I always have a few canned topics or lines ready to liven the atmosphere a bit, and I find they make a big difference in getting the expressions I'm looking for, and they always make the experience more enjoyable for my subject. If you really want to perfect your interactions with models on set, be sure to check out "Peter Hurley: Perfecting the Headshot," where the master himself will walk you through the process.

[via DIY Photography]

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Elan Govan's picture

Enjoyed listening to those two.....

Alex Cooke's picture

Right!? They're great together.

I find it sad that an emphasis is placed on men not touching woman. Lighten up ladies, most men are not perverts. Most of us wouldn't think you are if you touched us.

Simon Patterson's picture

Sadly, although thankfully not the majority, many men *are* perverts. It seems to be an unfortunate reality the world over.

Oh, yes, please feel sorry and appologise for all MANkind... :)

Simon Patterson's picture

I'll pass, thanks. 😆

Anonymous's picture

Perversion aside, some people just don't like to be touched. I'm an older man and would never assume anyone was interested in me that way but, anyone touches me without permission... life will take a sudden, dramatic turn for the worse for them. I kid you not! :-/

It's sadder that practically every working model I've ever worked with has had one or more negative experiences with photographers ranging from simply creepy to downright scary.

No guarantees in life. Women can be creepy and downright scary too.

Look at statistics of men who commit violence against women vs. women who commit violence against men and tell me if it's even close. (hint: it's not)

Violence and simply touching a person are two very different things. If a man is committed to carrying out an act of violence (rape, for example) he will do it no matter what. You really think that having an attitude that unnecessarily alienates men is going to make the situation any better?

Not necessarily. If I walk up to you on the street and caress your rear end I'm pretty sure you'd feel assaulted. There's a wide range.

There's two ways to look at it. We can blame the victims of sexual violence for not being more magnanimous or we can blame men for committing so much sexual violence.

The touching that is of relevance to this article doesn't reasonably entail grabbing someone's ass.

I also take issue with the use of the word assault being applied to something like that, never mind the photographer/model scenario. An assault used to mean only a violent physical attack and nothing more. Nowadays looking at someone the wrong way is considered an assault. It's ridiculous.

As a young man I had many women affectionately grab my ass and I never once considered it assault. Unwanted in some cases, yes, but assault? Nope. Most men didn't consider it assault either, and most women today know that most men still wouldn't consider it an assault.

To be clear, I'm not saying that a male photographer should be grabbing a model's ass to gently reposition her, but I think it is wrong for a model to get uptight or think the worst just because a male photographer repositions her otherwise. It's absolutely ridiculous.

On a side and somewhat related note, I was watching the original Friday the 13th movie the other day and there's a scene in the beginning where a man in a diner offers to give one of the female counselors a ride to the camp. Since his truck sat high he helped her in by pushing her up by her butt. I laughed because if such a scene was in a movie today the movie would be slammed and boycotted. That movie came out in 1980. What the hell has happened to the country since?

It happens far too much. You said you've had women grab your ass, but that's not a good comparison unless the women were 400lb weight lifters your mothers age. Then you might feel differently.

Most models are aged 18-22 and size 0-2. Most photographers are middle aged and quite often 50lbs overweight. The models don't want to be touched. If it's absolutely necessary, just ask first. Don't assume it's okay. That's all this is saying.

I saw a movie from the 80's where a guy gives his incoherently drunk girlfriend to another guy to have sex with in his dad's car. It was called Sixteen Candles.

We're learning to be better humans.

The point is most men are not out to sexually harass women and most women are not out to sexually harass men. In that sense it is a sensible comparison.

The vastly more important assumption not to make is the one models are making about the intentions of most men.

Your movie comparison is "not a good comparison."

No, people today are learning to be paranoid and cynical. Nothing "better" about that.

Well that's something you as a person who doesn't wake up every day worrying about sex assault might naturally think. The stats are about 1 in 6 women in the US will be raped at least once in their lifetime. It's a very real anxiety for a lot of money. So out of politeness, the article is advocating we don't touch them without asking in acknowledgement of the realities of their lives. You feel more sorry for yourself than you do women who live with these realities. Think about that.

There's something wrong with any woman that wakes up every day thinking about being sexually assaulted.

"So out of politeness, the article is advocating we don't touch them without asking"

Is it rational to equate touch with sexual assault? What next, we shouldn't look into their eyes?

"You feel more sorry for yourself than you do women who live with these realities. Think about that."

Instead of telling me to think about that how about explaining the logic behind such a statement?

I'm sure women will appreciate you telling them the best way to live as a woman. You should write a book.

My comments regarding sexism, here, elsewhere in this article's comments, and the other article with similar comments, should be judged on their own merits, not because they come from a man, otherwise you are being sexist. How about you, a man, allow women to think for themselves and make that judgement? That would be the non-sexist thing to do. I'm simply offering my unemotional opinion based on reason and life experience.

Are you ask quick to dismiss a father's advice to his daughters as invalid because he is a man?

Fritz John Asuro's picture

The "always praise the model" thing. I guess it depends. I've met more models who prefer to know if they're doing it right. And you don't wanna spoil your model thinking he/she's doing alright even though they're not.

I think "good, now let's try..." approach could be nice middle ground.

In my line of work, when the result is not up to standards (or just plain sh), you're just told so (and left happy you're not fired). Guess models are fragile drama queens...

As it should be on any job. Unfortunately too many people today are "fragile drama queens," not just models.

William Howell's picture

Manny and I have something in common, we both use snuff tobacco!
See the disc in his pocket, that is where I keep my tobacco, only mine is on the left.

Anonymous's picture

Nice video! I especially liked the point on not being so serious. When doing portraits, I get the subject laughing even before I pick up my camera. Fixing lights, moving background elements...everything is an opportunity to joke around. When doing my lighting tests, I purposely get them to goof off and make "faces". Even though it's not the goal, they often like these shots more than the real thing.

" I know I'm cute!". Lol, not going to disagree.

I am just an enthusiastic amateur and will never work with professional or semi professional models but it is interesting to see this back and forth between photographer and model and husband and wife.