When I first began shooting models, I found that the hardest part of the shoot was directing the models. Especially if the model had no prior experience of modelling. Over time, I have built some tips and tricks which help me get the result I want quicker and I want to share these with you.
1. Make the model comfortable
Having a big camera put in your face is enough to make anyone feel nervous. So before you start shooting, get to know the model. Ask them personal questions, share some stories, be prepared to tell them about yourself and make them LAUGH! It's a quick and fun ice breaker.
Next up run through with them how the shoot will work. Tell them what kinds of images you will shoot, what kinds of poses, how many pieces you are shooting and the mood - should they look happy, moody, cheeky? Sometimes it's helpful to give the model a role to play, it helps them get into character and put on an alter-ego (find your inner beyonce!).
Have a mood-board on hand. I make my mood-boards for each shoot on Pinterest and they help everyone on the team know what vibe they are going for. Here's an example of one of my beach shoot moodboards:
Posture, posture, posture. Ask the model to imagine a piece of string pulled them from the crown of their head. This will help them to elongate the spine and stand tall. Their shoulders will drop which helps to relax the subject.
3. Avoid Chimping
CHIMPING: the habit of checking every photo on the camera display immediately after capture.
This is annoying and unnerving for the model. Tell the model you are taking some test shots to get the settings right. Once the camera is set up for that scene, keep shooting without checking the camera after every shot. The photoshoot will flow a lot easier this way. (Note. If you are changing area or direction towards the sun, definitely check the camera then!)
Whilst you are shooting, give the model compliments and lots of them! When they move in a certain way, reinforce how good this looks and feel free to get them to freeze in that position whilst you move around them for some different shots.
Show the model a couple of the amazing shots of them so they have an idea of how they look on camera - this will help them build more confidence in themselves by knowing what they look like through the lens and you as a photographer! This being said you don't need to constantly show them the images as this will slow down the shoot process.
If you find that they repetitively move into an unflattering pose or facial expression, show them the photo on the camera as well so they are aware what you are not looking for. Make sure to follow it up with some praise about how great they do look in the other shots.
4. Show the model(s) how you want them to pose
Sometimes it's a lot easier and quicker to show the model how you want them to position themselves rather than describe it and get confused with which of their arms is the right one etc. VISUALISING is eye! Get into their position, show them whilst pointing out which direction their body and face should be etc.
5. Turn the body on a 45 degree angle
This is a useful tip whether you are shooting head shots, group photos or with a fashion model. When the body is straight on, it appears a lot wider. By turning 45 degrees, the body looks a lot slimmer and shapely.
6. Lift a shoulder
Popping a shoulder up and forward can make all the difference, especially in beauty work. This encourages the collar bone to be more defined. Again it's all about creating more shape. It also helps one hip to push out and create a more powerful stance.
7. Lift the arm away from the torso
Squeezing the upper arm against the rib cage makes the arm appear a lot wider than it is. Ask the model to bring the arm out an inch or two wider - it's much more flattering.
8. Angle the limbs for a natural look
Create visual space between the waist and arms. Avoid leaving both arms straight down by the waist as this makes the body look wider and unshapely. By placing the hands on the hips, touching a wall or furniture or raised in the air, resting on a knee will create more angles with the body. Same goes for the legs. Use different levels like stairs to stagger the model or lean against the wall with one leg bent.
The age old question - Where shall I to put them?
Number one. Avoid both hands down by the waist. You can place one on the waist, tuck a thumb into a pocket, touching a wall, playing with hair, leaning on furniture, on the face, touching each other, elongate them above the head, behind the head, whatever you decide get the model to do it with confidence.
Number two. The fists should never been clenched. Make them relaxed and follow the lines of the body.
Number three. It's important to keep the fingers together. This makes the hands look a million times more elegant.
10. Relaxed jaw & part the lips
With the mouth closed, the jawline clenches and adds extra weight to the sides of their face. It can also give negative energy to an image, a bored neutral look. With the mouth slightly open, the jawline is elongated and gives a flattering, more sensual look for the model.
11. Ears Forward
By asking the model to bring their ears forward, naturally their chin will come forward and down which will result in a beautiful defined jawline and no glimpse of a double chin!
12. Follow the nose
The eye gaze should be as natural as possible. You don't want to see much of the whites of the eye in the shot as this will make the model look unnerved or shocked. Ask the model to follow the direction of their nose for a natural look.
13. Place one leg in front of the other when standing
This one is closely linked to having the body on a 45 degree angle. By placing on foot in front will give the body an hour glass figure and create more curves. And who doesn't want more curves? Great for any body shape!
There you go! I hope you've found this useful whether you are a photographer, model, designer or director.
Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions :)
Lots of love,
Under A Palm Tree