Being Comfortable with Your Model

Yesterday I had another photo shoot in Potsdam for a local entrepreneur – this time, a weaver. Cait Throop weaves the most brilliantly bright scarves. The color is so rich you want to eat it- it would probably taste like a mouthful of fruity, sweet awesome. Anyway, I brought along one of my good friends from school as a model. She’s done some modeling for me before, but yesterday she was a knockout. I think the most important factor in getting great shots with a model (or any portraits for that matter) is comfort. Comfort and trust. While Lisa wasn’t doing anything crazy in these shots, in a past shoot I had her hanging upside down from a tree branch.

Anyway, if your model is uncomfortable he/she won’t look natural and the shots will appear forced. Let’s take a look at Lisa:

I basically just ask her to look off into the distance and she gives these incredibly innocent and pure expressions. Talking with her afterward, she said she doesn’t even think she’s doing anything- must be a natural! I think that comes back to the comfort thing. She isn’t trying too hard, and therefore looks great in every shot.

Here are some more:

I really wish it was colder outside so the scarves looked a bit more authentic in the weather. In fact, the weather was ironic that day for a scarf photo shoot –  for anyone who has been to Potsdam, it reaches -30°F in the winter. The 60° days we’ve been having must been some gift or repayment for enduring February.

Great smile huh?

Thanks to the Pioneer Woman for her excellent actions and tutorial on making eyes pop. I’ve boosted the color on several of these shots, and made Lisa’s eyes pop in the shot above.

So, here are some of my tips to make your model more comfortable:

  1. Be friends with him/her! That’s pretty obvious, but Lisa and I have been good friends for a while, and she will usually do any goofy thing I ask her, like wrapping a scarf around her entire face or tying one to her head. Friendship also inherently means you are comfortable with the other person. I know, obvious again, but if you aren’t friends with the model in your shots, make as much of an effort as you can to BECOME friends or at least be friendly. You get more flies with honey than vinegar.
  2. Minimize the number of unnecessary people at the shoot. The more people that are there that don’t need to be, the more backseat drivers. Too many cooks spoil the broth! Also, it makes it harder to concentrate and your model could be distracted/uncomfortable.
  3. Show appreciation and encouragement. After every pose or image give encouragement to bolster your model’s confidence- especially if he/she is less experienced.
  4. Have fun! If you are having fun, more often than not, your model will too. Don’t take yourself too seriously. This is fairly common advice for lots of things in life, and in my experience, is extremely applicable in photography.

I took some other shots of these scarves in my new lightbox. I set three lights up, one on each side and one farther away shining in on the back of the top. I love this lightbox- it does wonders for all kinds of things. I used it on my other shoots too. (Check out Julia’s Art Glass photos here) Here are some more of Cait’s scarves taken in the lightbox:

Alright- That’s all for now!

Remember…have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously.

~More later.

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2 thoughts on “Being Comfortable with Your Model

  1. admin

    Lisa’s a great model…

  2. Gregory Smith

    I love your blog

    I have read this article and enjoyed it

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