Fashion Photographer Alexi Lubomirski recently sat down with Kyle Hagler, president of NEXT models, for an intimate and candid chat about the modeling industry and what photographers can do to succeed. Hagler offered an array of fantastic advice that almost any photographer can draw on. Solely focusing on abstract aspects of what makes a great photographer, he is able to provide advice that resonates in a unique way.
I would highly suggest watching the entire video as it is incredibly interesting, even though it is a hint on the longer side at just shy of half an hour. However, if your time is tight and are just looking for the most important bullet points, I have compiled a list below of some of the key pieces of advice Hagler offers to budding photographers. Note that I am paraphrasing, Hagler does a great job of going into additional detail in the interview.
- Experienced models don't like to be hyper-controlled. Avoid obsessively controlling every aspect of the shoot. Give your model an idea and let them run with it.
- Models react strongly to the level of encouragement from the photographer. Many adore photographers who yell and scream giving them consistent high energy feedback.
- Photographers need to always remember that the model is the vehicle from which you communicate your ideas. You need to empower the model to that.
- Photographers need to understand that the model they are working with is human. Models have feelings, they have good days and bad days. Photographers need to know how to play to that. Understand a model's vulnerabilities, insecurities, and confidence level. The minute a photographer doesn't understand this is the minute that the model shuts down and gives the photographer nothing.
- Successful photographers all develop a voice; they have confidence in the validity of their experience. Photographers need to define what they see as beautiful and promote an aesthetic that interests them.
- New photographers enter the industry assuming that no one will listen to them. The quiet people never resonate. You have to inspire and also be open to being inspired.
Throughout the interview, it becomes obvious that many aspects of photography that we as photographers obsess over, such as specific lighting, gear, style, etc., don't appear to matter at all to Hagler. While it can be expected that he would lean towards photographers with a certain degree of polish to their work, ultimately what he values in photographers that his models work with is related to artistic direction, confidence, and empathy. Take this advice into every shoot you plan. Don't let the corporeal noise distract you from what is truly important when shooting as it is an easy road that leads to boring images.