In this blog I provide 7 photography shoot tips that apply to both aspiring fashion models and photographers. These are meant to be both informative and fun to benefit you in the world of photography, regardless of whether you're in front of or behind the lens. If you're an experienced agency model or established photographer, these tips also work as a great reminder of the fundamentals of the business.
1. Look in the Mirror
For models: I know this is a common tip that model agencies, family, and friends tell models, but it’s true, practice your poses in the mirror. This is a great way for models to perfect their angles, become more comfortable with movement, and see how distortion might operate from a photographer's point of view. If you know your poses, that always makes my job easier.
For photographers: A good mirror is an incredible tool to add interest to your work. It can add depth, layers, and all sorts of funky optical effects to your work. This is one tip that I haven’t taken advantage of enough!
2. Learn about Light
For models: I can't emphasize enough that this is really the photographer's job, but if you're a model and you learn how light works or affects you during a photo shoot, you'll have a heightened sense of how you look on camera. As an example, if you know that hard direct light always makes your eyes squint or your skin flare up, you could communicate with your photographer about your concern.
For photographers: This should really go as number one on this list, or any list, for aspiring photographers. Learn how light works and practice, practice, practice. I'm by no means an expert, so I'll still go out and shoot, read books, talk to other photographers and develop a greater understanding (and appreciation) for natural or artificial lighting.
3. Use What Clothes Are Available
For models: Sometimes as models, your clothing options are limited. You carry your lives in suitcases and travel from city to city for shoots and amazing adventures. Unfortunately, that lack of a permanent home often leads to a limited wardrobe. It's important as a model to use what clothes you have (or you can acquire) to produce a successful shoot. Often models will borrow clothes from other models, get brand partnerships, or make friends with a wardrobe stylist who can provide clothes or input for shoots.
For photographers: Your model has been gracious enough to provide clothes for the shoot now it’s your turn to make them look amazing. Given the circumstances, it’s important to sometimes make ordinary clothes extraordinary. You should learn what types of clothes you like to shoot, which look good in certain light, and start to make basic recommendations for what you'd like models to bring to shoots.
4. Communicate Your Location
This tip goes both ways for both photographers and models, you should communicate to coordinate on the details of your shoot. From personal experience, I can't tell you the amount of times starting out when I'd forget forgot to give accurate meeting location instructions. That's why call sheets (sheets of paper with all of the shoot information) are important to have. They can save both models and photographers hassle when looking for one another pre-shoot, or during a change of location.
5. Mood Boards
Another tip for both photographers and models, share your inspiration! This is great way to get creativity flowing and help both models and photographers share their ideas and thoughts for a shoot. This also helps any third parties who may involve themselves in a shoot to see how the shoot is forming, and what kinds of inspiration they might work with on a particular project or test. I like to use Pinterest for mood boards, but I've also seen Word, Dropbox, and print mood boards to help keep the direction of the shoot more cohesive. If you're a beginner model or photographer, mood boards are also a great way to start you on the track early of acquiring material for reference.
6. Social Media
For models: Tag your photographer in social media. They always appreciate a shout out on the gram, or a referral for potential team members in the area. You don't need to go overboard, but a quick follow and a picture or two goes a long way.
For photographers: Same rules apply, tag your models, and show them support on social media. It's always an appreciative gesture after the shoot to send models any behind the scenes, funny shoot pictures, or a preview of the shoot for promotional purposes.
7. Don't Stress Out
For models: If you're a new model and this is your first or second shoot, don't worry too much. You’ll gain experience as you shoot, and your shoots will only get better with practice. If you're set on a career as a model, the photographer you shoot with will appreciate your enthusiasm and professionalism toward your craft.
For photographers: If you're a new photographer and this is your first or second shoot, I also would try not to stress out too much. If you're not used to working with people or models, it's a fun experience to shoot and meet new people, so enjoy your time and remember to have fun.
Want to Learn More?
If you’re interested in learning more about a specific photography subject or idea, shoot me a message on Instagram or contact me via email firstname.lastname@example.org I’m always happy to answer additional questions or comments.
Morey Spellman is a Los Angeles based photographer.
His work combines a love for beautiful light, authentic beauty, and natural scenery.