Working with Models

I started working with models around 2 years ago and I continue to collaborate with new and seasoned models weekly. I remember great shoots and some not so great shoots. It happens to all photographers. There really is no big secret to working with models but you need to keep in mind a few tips that will keep them coming back to work with you repeatedly.

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Before diving into this list, keep in mind there are many different styles and experience levels of models in the industry. Personality types will also play a big factor in working with models. The best thing to do is keep a list of models you work well with and keep shooting.

1. Scheduling ahead of time

Models and photographers normally schedule 2-3 weeks out when it comes to shoots. This helps both collaborators hash out all the details and collect extra items for the shoot if needed. Rarely do models shoot on the fly unless they have same day cancellations and they are ready to shoot with no photographer in hand.

2. Decide on a theme and stick to your concept

This tip may seem basic, but I hear stories all the time of photographers setting a theme for a shoot, only to change it onsite, and asking the model to do a concept she is not uncomfortable with. This is a perfect way to end a shoot early and forget about your chances of rescheduling for another time. It is very important that both parties agree on a theme or concept prior to a shoot, and that the photographer sticks to this theme onsite.

3. Build a team, not just a shoot

When you reach out, be ready for a model will ask if you have a make-up artist (MUA) or stylist for your shoot. A model wants to look her best, and when you have a team behind you ready to support the shoot, it makes her feel more confident in your concept. Not all concepts need a team, but it’s good to have one on hand for more intricate concepts.

4. Recommending a chaperone

This is a key tip for working with new models. I always recommend they bring a friend or chaperone to the shoot. Many will decide for themselves if they need one, but I always make the option clear up front. This is good practice and helps models feel comfortable and safer when working with new photographers.

5. Onsite communication

Before you start your shoot, make sure to set expectations for better results. If there are specific poses or looks you would like to try, make sure to communicate this up front with the model. During the shoot, things will come up. I like to show the model some of the photos from behind the camera so she can make adjustments if necessary. Shooting tethered is a great idea for indoor shoots so the team can have instant feedback and review images.

6. Follow up and updates

Once the collaboration is finished, make sure to follow-up with the model with final images and any requests you have. I always request the model tag/credit me on social media for more exposure.

7. Contracts/Model Releases

I know many photographers who will not shoot without a contract in place. This usually is a release form that is signed from the model so the photographer can share the photos online. Many contracts have different stipulations, so make sure to send them over to the model asap before the shoot. This was it gives both parties the opportunity to review and answer any questions that come up.

Working with Models

Having the opportunity to meet and work with models has been a great experience. I’ve built 90% of my portrait portfolio with models from the Dallas metroplex. I learned as I went, and built long-term partnerships with models, MUAs, and stylists. If you are interested in working with models, I recommend joining your local photography group and networking with the local talents. Keep in mind each shoot is a collaboration and you will be just fine.

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