When a photographer works with a model for the first time, what should they do? What expectations does the model have from the photographer? What can the photographer do to ensure a successful shoot? Rather than speculate and come up with answers that I thought might be appropriate, I put these questions to three models with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working: Julana, Stevie and Zan (see their info at the end of the article).
What are the 2 or 3 most important things a photographer can do ahead of time to ensure a successful shoot?
[Julana] Scout the location to find exact places to shoot and figure out lighting setup.
[Stevie] In my opinion, the three most important things a photographer can do ahead of time to ensure a successful shoot is hire a make up artist and hair stylist, have the set ready to go before the model arrives (or as she's getting her hair/make up done), and have a direction for the shoot, such as examples of shots and looks you'd like to capture.
[Zan] Personally I think a shoot runs more smoothly when everyone on the team is in contact with one another prior to "showtime", and the mood/goal/ theme is thoroughly communicated. The photographer can take a hand in organizing this by emailing the team with a mood board/inspiration pictures, and tentative call sheet to give an idea of the work flow. From here all of the talent can exchange contact and raise questions or comments among each other. This is a great way to clear up any confusion, for example about the location (directions, weather backup plan, parking, etc.) and also get to know your team mates! By coordinating with the talent beforehand, the photographer ensures the chances of a fluid photo shoot.
What are the most common “mistakes” made by photographers when working with you?
[Julana] Shooting at unflattering angles, not paying attention to obvious wardrobe issues (straps falling down, buttons/zippers undone, etc).
[Stevie] The most common mistake a photographer can make with me is "funky face" lighting, creating raccoon eyes and nose shadows!
[Zan] Before I work with a photographer I make sure we are in full communication of the expectations of the shoot, that way there are no true "mistakes". As long as compensation and shoot goal are clearly discussed, there isn't much we can't overcome to get the shot. If the shoot is trade however and no client is involved, I expect the photographer to allow me to have a say in which photos are edited for my portfolio. That is probably the most common mistake I run into. The solution is providing the model with a gallery or setting up a meeting if other talent is involved (makeup and hair stylists, designers, etc) to pick the images.
During the shoot, what can the photographer do to make things go well?
[Julana] Be nice and personable! Direct the model if she asks or doesn't mind but don't be too bossy!
[Stevie] Feed the model;) ....oh, and show the model the images you have so far from the shoot. Better yet, let her see the images as you go. This builds confidence and allows her to correct things she may not like.
[Zan] The best thing a photographer can do is stay in communication with me by providing feedback (comments, suggestions, etc) throughout the shoot. We must make a connection so shooting is nothing but a breeze! Music is also a must on set.
What makes you the happiest on a photo shoot?
[Julana] Seeing photos right away so that I have time to adjust poses/facial expressions
[Stevie] It makes me happiest when I connect with the photographer, either through interests, music, jokes, etc...it really makes the difference in the photos when a model is comfortable and having fun on the set.
[Zan] I am the happiest on a photo shoot when I look at that viewfinder and I know we got the shot, or many shots for that matter! I love to see the team's vision translate into a photograph and know that I helped create it.
If part of the arrangement is for you to receive some photos, what would you typically hope to receive (quantity, size etc)?
[Julana] I would request to see all of the photos taken and be able to pick 10-15 that I think are good and would like to have edited, not just photos that the photographer thinks are good of me.
[Stevie] I'd hope to receive both a hi-res and web version of each photo. Depending on how many wardrobe/location changes there were, I expect to receive roughly 2 photos from each set.
[Zan] It really depends on how many looks are shot, but high resolution images are always a must. My book is 9x12 so I expect that size to print. I need them for my portfolio just as much as the photographer does! If we shoot three looks for example, I would expect at least two images per look.
Thanks to Julana, Stevie and Zan for their interesting and useful advice! Photographers, now you know to be prepared, communicate, show your models images throughout the shoot and make it fun.