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Photo Contest Insider Blog

Tips for Working with First-Time Models

August 1, 2017

As a photographer, it won’t be too unusual for you to find yourself working with a first-time model on a photo shoot, particularly if it’s for a test shoot or session for their modeling portfolio.

While working with those new to the modeling industry can be fun and rewarding, it also brings its own set of challenges. Thankfully, we’ll be sharing our top tips for working with first-time models!

Tips for Working with First-Time Models

Get to Know Them

The best way to put a first-time (or any) model at ease is to engage in conversation with them and get to know them before you begin taking photos. Find out things beyond the basics (such as name and age) and ask them where they grew up, how their weekend was, or why they took an interest to modeling in the first place.

When you delve a little deeper and ask about favorite bands, preferred fashion styles, or where they most want to travel to, you begin to work out their interests and establish some common ground, helping to break the ice and encourage a comfortable photo session to follow.

After all, an uncomfortably shy and awkward model isn’t going to help you produce the best photos, plus these emotions will come through in the imagery you capture. That’s certainly not what you want!

Tips for Working with First-Time Models

Show Them Examples

Because they’re very new to the modeling and photo shoot game, you’ll want to help them understand your vision for the session by showing them examples of what you’re after.

Find images on platforms such as Pinterest featuring the poses, mood, theme, or facial expressions that you’re looking to capture. Let them study these images before you begin photographing, and they’re sure to have a better idea of how to behave in front of your camera.

Sometimes it can be hard to verbally communicate a pose, expression, or mood, so having these visual examples at the ready will help both you and the model immensely!

Tips for Working with First-Time Models

Give Them Direction

Understandably, your first-time model has never worked with a professional photographer before, so she or he is going to stand awkwardly in front of your camera awaiting direction and commands from you.

As frustrating as some experienced photographers may find this, it’s a time when you need to smile and be as understanding and patient as possible. Calmly tell them how you want them to pose, and if possible, why not just show them with your own body or facial expressions? People learn way quicker when they get to see a visual example, so don’t be afraid to move around!

Talking your model through the shoot will also help to eradicate any uneasiness, as awkward silences can make first-time models feel shy or uncomfortable (not to mention the photographer!). Just be sure to constantly direct them in a friendly manner and your results will be more likely to resemble what you had in mind.

Tips for Working with First-Time Models

Offer Praise

This is an important tip for working with new models, as offering praise and compliments throughout the shoot will enhance their confidence and tell them what poses or expressions you like the best.

When they’re following your directions well, offer kind words and tell them they’re doing a great job. It’s also a great way to ensure that the model finds the whole experience to be a fun one, and she’ll have praise for you as a photographer. Remember, word-of-mouth can be one of the best forms of marketing!

Tips for Working with First-Time Models

Ask for Their Opinion

Even though you’re the professional photographer in this situation, it can’t hurt to sometimes show the model your images and ask for their opinion. Which photos so far are their favorites and which ones did they feel most comfortable posing in? What version do they like best?

This makes the first-time model feel included in the shoot, again reinforcing that you’re a friendly, fun, and easy-to-work-with photographer.

Tips for Working with First-Time Models

Show Them the Results

Lastly, it’s a great idea to show the model the results of the shoot at the end, and to allow them to look through all of the images captured. Not only does it help them to learn what areas they need to improve in or what aspects they excelled at, but it also helps to ease their anxiety because they see what images might potentially be published or shared.

Don’t be afraid to point-out your favorite images to them too, plus why not share the reasons you think those particular photos work best? All of this additional advice will help the first-time model to improve within this industry and provides a brilliant learning opportunity for them.

Plus, the fact that you were able to give them a little boost at the beginning of their modeling career is something they’re sure to remember for years to come. What’s not to love?

Will you be working with a first-time model any time soon? If so, we hope these tips have pointed you in the right direction!

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