Okay, first of all, I am in no way an expert on the do’s and don’ts of modeling and I certainly can’t give any pointers in posing as every BODY is different, moves differently, and has different limitations – but I do have some suggestions which I’ll pass on in a bit. I have spent time both in front and behind the camera. I have been a model, photographer, and assistant, so I hope this comes in handy.
First, the most important thing is communication with the photographer as this is a collaboration and if one person can’t see the creative idea, the photos won’t turn out as well as they could. There’s a few things you should ask or discuss:
Location; this will set the tone for everything. The location will dictate the mood, the outfit and style. What you would wear at the beach isn’t the same as you’d wear in the city or park. I’ve sent snapshots of outfits I’m considering to the photographer ahead of time so (s)he can see the style and color pallet.
Time of day; depending on where you’re planning on shooting, this may be important. If you’re in a park, be aware of popular times or whether there’s an event happening. If you’re doing an urban/city shoot, try to go when it’s not super busy unless you want a big audience. Early Sunday mornings work well for city shoots.
Preparation; this is key. Definitely the most important part so you can relax on the day of the shoot – and, trust me. Photographers appreciate well organized models. If you’re in a studio and have the space, that’s nice, but if you’re on site somewhere, organization is very important, as is packing minimally. I try to keep it to one bag, though sometimes I’ll have two, but that’s it. I try to choose outfits that can be interchanged with different accessories or kimono cover-ups. I have jewelry and accessories in zip lock bags and I bring (minimal) makeup in order to do mild touch ups and a couple colors of lipstick. Also make sure you have cotton pads and Kleenex to clean up anything that may have run. Or flaked.
Start with your more complex outfits. For instance, if I have a swimsuit shoot and one of my bikinis is very strappy. Easy to get off… not so easy to get on. I’ll be starting with that one and wearing it to the shoot so I’m not struggling with it while there. Also keep in mind, pressure marks. I’m a peach, so any type of waistband or bra strap causes red marks. Remember this when you’re getting ready to go. Wear something loose to help prevent post shoot editing.
Also, if you’re shooting in public, figure out what type of facilities are around for changing outfits. What I have is a knee length flowy skirt I can pull on. I pull it on, then remove the bottoms and change into the next outfit. Top I’m less concerned with – I wear a bra and it covers more than a swim suit, so it shouldn’t be a problem – I just whip off one top and pull on the other. Yes, even in public!
Hygiene; I find this is the best way to be confident the day of the event, but there’s a few things to keep in mind:
- Pay attention to small details – make sure your hands and feet look nice. Doesn’t mean you have to go out for a mani/pedi (unless you want to!) but clean off old nail polish, trim your nails, even out your fingernails so they’re relatively close to the same length. You may or may not even see hands or feet, but you never know what may happen on a shoot so you want to make sure you have pretty digits!
- Don’t try any new products the day of or even the day before the event. If you’ve never used it, you don’t know how you’ll react – you may have an allergic reaction or have a breakout.
- Don’t shave the day of the event. Unless you’re a gorilla and have an insane 5 o’clock shadow on your legs, avoid doing anything that may create razor burn or cuts. Do it the evening before so your skin can settle.
- Don’t wash your hair the day of as slightly “dirty” hair is easier to work with – but know your hair. If you’re doing it yourself, you know when it looks its best.
- Don’t do a harsh exfoliation the day of the event, do it the night before to allow your skin to settle.
- Moisturize – especially if you have tattoos. Dry skin will make your tattoos dull. Moisturized skin makes them pop! I like to use as basic as possible – almond oil is my favorite and it seems to absorb well. No additives, no fillers, no chemicals, all natural.
- Makeup; It’s fun to play, but try different looks in the week leading up to the shoot and remember what you’re doing. If you’re doing a more romantic look, keep things soft and more natural. Going for edgy, punk it up! Keep in mind your chosen outfits and location.
It’s the day of the event – hopefully you’re all ready to go! Here’s a couple things you may want to pack:
- Towel or cloth in case you need to wipe anything off. Especially if you’re doing a water shoot and may get wet.
- Slip on shoes – don’t wear heels to the shoot. Wear something you can slip on and off and walk comfortably in.
- Sunglasses – can act as another prop and it hides the eyes so you don’t have to think about looking anywhere.
- Baby wipes – if you’re shooting outside, you may get dirty… thankfully I’ve never been shit on by a bird, but always be prepared!
- Plastic Bags – for wet or dirty clothing.
So, you’re concerned for your safety?
First, never ever work with someone you’re not comfortable with. If you can’t verify credibility, don’t do it. If you can’t talk to other models they’ve worked with, don’t do it. If they have minimal social media presence, don’t do it. If they’re asking you to do something you’re not comfortable with, don’t do it. Always, always, ALWAYS keep your safety in mind. Thankfully, my intuition has been good and have never had any problems. If you can’t meet the photographer ahead of the shoot, try to arrive early so you can chat and get to know each other better in order to relax. If a photographer is offended by any of these, run.
Now, the biggest controversy I have come across is whether or not the photographer allows escorts. If the photographer out right refuses an escort, that immediately raises red flags. I always ask if I can use an escort, but I’ve never used one. I understand where the photographer is coming from, but there’s definitely more pro’s (in my opinion) than con’s. The two major concerns I’ve heard is distractions and equipment security.
Okay, let’s look at distraction. First of all, if the shoot is in a public place, there’s already plenty of distractions so that should be a non-issue. If the shoot is at a studio, sure, the escort may be a distraction – hell, we had a shoot with a young gal in her early teens and I believe it was her aunt who came with her and she, honestly, was a nightmare. If there’s an escort present, the photographer needs to set boundaries – as in, if they are interfering with the shoot, they will need to leave.
Secondly, equipment security. If the escort possibly might steal something, then the model needs better friends. As far as I’m concerned, the escort should ADD security as it’s someone who is actively watching the equipment if the shoot is in public – or could add security if it’s asked of them. If the shoot is in public, unless the equipment is literally strapped to the photographer, there will always be a possibility of theft.
And what about theft from the model? When I did the shoot downtown, I had a bag with my shoes, car keys, accessories, clothing – and it had to be left out of frame. That would have been super easy for someone to walk by and grab it! Having an escort means everyone’s stuff (SHOULD) be safe!
Another benefit of having an escort is having assistance during the shoot – taking or retrieving stuff from the model, shifting hair or clothing, assisting in changing. On my second shoot, he almost encourages having an escort specifically for that reason – he refuses to touch the model – sadly, now a days, you can’t be too careful! As it was, I needed him to tie up my one dress as I simply couldn’t but we seemed to click and it wasn’t an issue.
Now, the other thing models seem to struggle with is posing and, unfortunately, I can’t really help you with that. A lot of it is knowing your body. Practice in the mirror to learn your different angles and what you prefer. There’s different YouTube channels you can watch and just looking on IG or Pinterest. One way that could help is dance lessons – to learn how to feel your body and how it moves. Yes, the photographer should give minor direction in how or where to move, but he’s the photographer, not the director – that needs to come from you and a lot of that is comfort with your body and confidence. The most he should tell you are things like:
- Tilt chin *in whatever direction*
- Eyes *in whatever direction*
- Left/right *body part* move *in whatever direction*
- Shift *direction*
- Hold that position
Directions should be minimal and usually it to get lighting in an accentuating position – working outside, especially. If the photographer can’t change the lighting, they have to change the model. It might be to get the model in a light patch, or to get out of a light patch if it’s distracting. Or maybe it’s to get a tree or light post away from growing out of the model’s head.
Also, when the photographer issues directions, be conservative in them. If he tells you to “shift left”, don’t take a giant step. Chances are, he only needs a movement of a couple inches. It’s better for him to tell you to “keep going” instead of “way too far”.
Most of all – the most important part about a photoshoot?
HAVE FUN!!! This should be a fun experience to capture a moment in your life! It shouldn’t cause undue stress – so relax and don’t be too serious!