How Shooting One Person Several Times Can Advance Your Photography

How Shooting One Person Several Times Can Advance Your Photography

I've noticed a trend in people photography, namely, many of us tend to move from one model to the next one far too quickly, and far too often. At times, it appears that it doesn't really matter who the next subject is or what their personality is like, as long as there is a model shoot booked in. While for some it may provide a reason to boast about their newest portfolio addition, to others it's simply a routine that can be difficult to break out of. So, why should we focus on shooting the same person more than once?

Rapport

There is no doubt that getting to know your model will enhance the rapport you both share while on a shoot. You don't necessarily need to get involved in their personal life, but getting to know someone on a more personal basis will help to put you both at ease. Learning about your model's body language, posing style, and expressions will help you achieve images that often are impossible to achieve with a complete stranger.

Blonde girl on a balcony

Photo by Anete Lusina, model Danielle Warwick.

We only have limited time while shooting a model, therefore the more you get to know them, the quicker you both will get on the same wavelength when shooting your next session. It works both ways — the model will also become familiar with your way of shooting, directing, and post-processing. 

The beauty of creating a good and lasting rapport is that you both will know exactly what to expect of each other and thus place trust in each other to deliver your best. Even if things aren't going as you previously planned, you'll be able to discuss the shortcomings and improve on it the next time you work together because you'll know that there is a "next time". 

Common Goals

Usually, you begin to create a long-lasting working relationship because both of you have a common goal to share. It could be shooting for an exhibition you are putting together, a concept that may result in a digital or a print book, experimenting with certain styles, themes or techniques, or perhaps for both of you to create something that elevates your portfolios.

Young blonde girl in a denim jacket.

Photo by Anete Lusina, model Danielle Warwick.

Being able to share a common goal in photography will keep you both "in check". You both are responsible for working towards your goal and as such you both are required to focus, share your vision, look for new ideas, and different ways of doing them. 

It's very easy to lose motivation when you're working on a personal project all by yourself and do not have a deadline looming around the corner. Having that second person involved will help you hold each other accountable and get you progressing with your project.

Experimenting

I strongly believe that once you begin to work with someone on a long-term basis, you will feel the need to experiment with your work. If you were to shoot a new person every week, it's very likely that repetition will occur in some shape or form. Humans are creatures of habit, and it's unsurprising that we unintentionally repeat processes that are easy, comfortable, and familiar to us. 

When you are faced with shooting the same person over a longer period of time, it is very unlikely you will end up shooting the same thing more than once. It's easy to shoot different faces, because they're all unique, even if you put them all on the same chair and in front of the same background. However, what about shooting the same face for months?

You will be forced to start thinking outside of the box. And, with the rapport that you have built over the time, you will feel comfortable enough to experiment with different ways of shooting, creating, and post processing. 

Have you ever worked with someone long-term? How did it work out?

Log in or register to post comments

12 Comments

Abayomi Olasehinde's picture

Constant efforts are necessary.

Vincent Alongi's picture

This is a no-brainer, and definitely a plus if you can find someone to work with on a regular basis or at least repeatedly. Aside from honing your own skills in direction, technique and creativity, the model will benefit likewise. I have a couple of people that I know I can reach out to in this regard. And that can only help build a network through their peers.

Anete Lusina's picture

Couldn't agree more!

Dave McDermott's picture

Obviously you will be more comfortable with someone if you've collaborated with them numerous times, but the third point about experimenting is an interesting one and something I hadn't really thought of until now. There is a model I work with regularly and I always try something different with her every time. It keeps things interesting and I'm always happy with the results.

Anete Lusina's picture

That's good to hear! Sometimes we don't realise how lucky we are to find people like that until it's all gone so enjoy it and hopefully you both get to shoot lots of different things together!

Mike Mendoza's picture

As a newbie photographer I have been lucky enough to work with some young ladies on multiple occasions and I would agree that it helps us all become much more comfortable, and each photoshoot after the last just gets better!

stir photos's picture

the last picture (third from the top) is a gorgeous picture!

i've worked with numerous people long-term and it's always worked out great! i don't mind shooting new people or the same person. i experiment as freely on new faces as the one's i've shot numerous times before.... haha. i'm an amateur though, so i get that bonus i guess.

a couple of times I hadn't shot someone for a couple of years, then i had the chance to shoot them again after that hiatus.

the biggest pro for me working with the same person is just not needing to get to know them. the second thing i like most is just knowing their angles, how light falls on them, and their general sense of style.

i can't think of any cons of working with the same person long-term or semi continually. that's just me though, but if this is a thing you're wrestling with i would most definitely try working with the same person long-term, and if you don't like it, then don't do it.

Anete Lusina's picture

I agree! Sometimes it's hard to just find someone who's punctual and dedicated, I've had models cancel on me last minute but I find that once you get to know someone you grow to respect each other more, too!

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Love this, in every city I live in I always find someone I love to photograph often, I didn't know it was so productive though! Now I don't feel so bad lol

LaMont Johnson's picture

Anete thanks for the post. It is true that getting to know a model creates a good working relationship in the studio. I now had 5 models that I shoot in rotation and each brings a different look and personality to my projects.

Don Risi's picture

Absolutely. I love working with the same models over and over. Everything is relaxed, we know each other, and at times, can almost read each other's minds.

And we both get lots of great images . . .

Kirk Darling's picture

Back in the day (even before my day), this was called an artist's "muse," and some have become famous over the centuries as the repeated subjects of famous painters and, later, of photographers, such as Kiki de Montparnasse and Georgia O’Keeffe,