It’s been almost 3 years since I ventured into doing model shoots. It all started when I joined the strobist group in flickr to know more about off-cam lighting. Although it can be done with still life, I felt it’s more sensible to practice it with a human model. After all, I bought the camera to capture moments of life. At first I tried taking self-portraits, and then moved on to asking my friends to pose as my subject. Eventually I got hooked and decided to join a group that organizes model shoots. In the process, I enjoyed experimenting with natural light as well and even shooting without flash whenever possible.
To date, I never had a any regrets getting into this type of photography. And on that note, I would like to share some tips in shooting a model based on my experience.
For me, there are 3 important aspects in a model shoot: concept, model and location. I strategize based on what is readily available. If a make-up artist, wardrobe designer or stylist is available on my shoot, that would be a huge bonus. Let me elaborate more the the 3 aspects I mentioned earlier.
In the commercial world, everything begins with a concept. This is the most crucial aspect of any photo shoot as everything revolves around it. I usually get my inspirations/references from magazines, websites etc., practically anything that has pictures on it, not to mention movies. Though we are taught to aim high and think big, I’m still realistic with my concepts in terms of what can be done. An ambitious shoot might not necessary equate to a big production though that tends to be the case, requiring bigger budgets and increased manpower. I believe that being able to work with what you have at that moment is a challenge in itself.
For beginners, I would suggest asking your friends to volunteer as your models. Engaging with someone you do not know for the first time can be nerve wrecking. Working with friends eliminates this issue, and can make the shoot more fun too. I’m lucky to have friends who are not camera shy and are willing to pose for me.
You can get your models from sites like modelmayhem. Payment is subjective. Another way would be to visit your local online photography forums that organize photo shoots.
Upon getting a model, it is important to communicate the concept you want to accomplish. You can offer a compensation for your model if you have the means, or negotiate a TFCD instead. This applies to your make-up artist, wardrobe designer and stylist as well. At this stage, it is better to consider drafting a model release form to avoid any legal issues.
Location goes hand in hand with your concept. I do a lot of outdoor shoots and use Google to search for possible locations, and directions for ocular. It is important to familiarize yourself with the location to visualize your angles and poses you want to achieve.
Time of the shoot is important as well. Direct sunlight at noon is not advisable as it creates harsh shadows and highlights. Everything can be planned except for the weather on your shoot day, so do consider the time of the year and check the weather forecast when planning for your shoot or at least be prepared with a back up plan.
A studio is also a good choice where the weather will not be a problem and lights are always available.
In addition, simple props make a big difference in conveying the message in your photo. Make sure that it’s not too distracting that it ends up drawing the attention away from your model.
Feel free to invite other photographer friends if you have any, they might be able to offer new insights during the shoot. But do keep the number of people on set to a minimal, as having excessive and unnecessary numbers on set could be disruptive and may even be a form of distraction to the model.
Here are some of the photos from my recent model shoot.
Model/MUA: Nina Lopez
Stylist: Antonette Uy