Tips for Working With Models


1)  Be respectful at all times
2)  Find out something about who your model is as a person (interests, job, family, etc.
3)  Treat the model as a person first, subject or model second, never as a prop or object
4)  Provide a safe, comfortable and private place for them to change wardrobe, do makeup, etc.
5)  Going over wardrobe or props can be a good way of building rapport and getting to know each other better
6)  Sometimes it helps to explain why you wanted to work with them (but don’t be creepy!)
7)  Talk about the ‘feel’ or look of the session that you are trying to achieve, share previous photos that may be similar
8)  Help them feel comfortable with you, your location, studio or (especially) your home
9)  If doing nudes, make sure the room or studio is warm enough
10) Create an ‘emotionally safe’ place for them to relax and be themselves
11) Work on breaking the distance barrier, having them comfortable with you inside their personal space
12) Sometimes it’s good to act like you are more in control (visually) than you actually are
13) Sometimes it’s good to show your vulnerability, your inexperience, your insecurity…
14) Get their input on what they like or what they want, while keeping your visual needs in mind as well
15) Discuss the mood of the shots you’re looking for (if you know)

1)  Establish exposure and camera settings before starting to shoot
2)  Take a meter reading up close on their face or skin (this can also help break the distance boundary)
3)  After proper exposure is established, use the RONCO™ method of “Set it and forget it”
4)  Move around your subject to see how the light changes from different angles (front, back, sides…)
5)  Work on establishing and maintaining a connection to their ‘energy’
6)  Try to keep the communication flowing while shooting
7)  Keep comments and photo-direction phrased in the positive rather than being critical or negative
8)  Suggest rather than tell your subject how to move or be, do not order them around
9)  Don’t over-pose or micro-manage their body language or it will get too stiff or posed looking
10) If gestures get too posed have them shake it out and start fresh
11) Ask them how they are doing as the shoot progresses; let them know it is OK to take a break
12) Be in control but don’t be pushy or domineering, try and keep it collaborative
13) Maintain respectful boundaries; when you know where their boundaries are, honor them
14) No touching without the model’s permission, even if just to move hair from their face
15) If done respectfully, you have the right to ask (nicely) about any poses or scenarios you want to try
16) They have the right to say no to anything they are not comfortable with

1)  It can be helpful to share the image editing process with your model
2)  Make sure models get copies of the photos you made with them, in either digital or print form
3)  Do not exhibit or publish photos displaying nudity or vulnerability without your model’s permission


© Douglas Beasley 2013