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Working With Models PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jay Allan   
Monday, 01 September 2008 00:40

Monica really is a sweetheart!

In this article we will be talking about what can be the most difficult aspect of fine art photography.  Working with models.  LOL  I love models, and they are easily THE BEST thing about shooting nudes, but they are definitely the variable that you as the photographer, has the least amount of control over.  Models can potentially be the biggest roadblock on the path to great pictures. Models are unpredictable, often unreliable, and they have an agenda of their own.   

By the way, I am talking about female and male models here. As you start out you will most likely be doing TFP or TFCD deals, which means you are not paying your model. This is where you can get into a lot of problems. Setting up a photo shoot can be a very logistical and expensive process.  Many of the costs associated with a photo shoot are already spent by the time your model decides instead to go to the beach or snort some drain-o.    Until you start working with professional models who have a lot of experience, you will be dealing with people who do not understand the effort that goes into a photo shoot.   The best thing you can do is be preemptive with the models.  Explain before the shoot day what your plan is, who is involved, and how much things like hair/makeup locations, and assistants cost.


While we are on the subject of being preemptive, it is important to discuss model preparation.  It is important to be very clear with your model 

what you plan to get out of the shoot.  How much nudity will there be, how long will the shoot take, how many people in the crew, etc.   If it is a TFP/CD shoot then find out what her needs are too, and make sure your goals align so there is no head butting on set.   You want to have all this figured out well in advance, because when you make your shot list the night before the shoot, you want to be sure everything is on it.  Things can go sideways in a hurry if your model is not happy.  Use terms like “Playboy style”, or “Penthouse style”, or even “Maxim style but fully nude”. Make sure she understands and is comfortable with it. Eliminating any Grey area before the shoot is in yours and the model's best interest.

 Many photographers also try to “bait and switch” the models. This is where you tell the model before the shoot that it is going to be like “X” and in reality it is going to be like “XXX”. You never want to do do this. Trying to trick someone into doing something they are not prepared for, and hoping they will go along with it in the moment is bad karma. There are plenty of girls who are looking to do all sorts of shots no problem. Be upfront and they will be happy to perform.


When the model arrives at the shoot location it is important to set the tone for the day. Make the model feel comfortable by having a secure place for her to put her belongings, ask her what type of music she likes (if you have music for the shoot – which you should). Offer her some water. Always have bottled water. Have a big robe for her to put on so that when she is naked, she will be able to cover up between shots. Many models don't care, but some do and it makes a big difference. If you are doing makeup on set, then ask the model to get in the robe right away so that she can lose the marks on her body from her street clothes, bra etc.


Have an assistant standing by to take her robe when you are ready. She may want to get into a position before she disrobes if she is at all shy. Start with some tamer poses first and ease into the sexier stuff. Be sure to direct the model. Models know you are an amateur if you let her do whatever while you just shoot. Have your shot list designed to enable her to move from one pose to the next easily. Try to use words like breasts instead of tits! Be respectful and polite. Say “lift your bottom a little more” instead of “raise your ass up so I can see in there!” This will make the model more comfortable and likely enable you to get the shoots you want.



Now you need to get a model release. This is important because you cannot use the image anywhere without it. You will also need a copy of her ID if you are in the US. If you are paying her, then hand her the payment after she has signed the release and given you her ID. If it is TFP/CD then you may need to meet up later to get the ID and release and give her her images. If it is a TFP shoot you should have a time frame pre-arraigned with the model. Stick to this.

OK, you survived your first model!


Look for more detailed articles discussing posing models and Hair and Makeup. Coming soon!

 (c) 2008 Jay Allan Productions. 

May not be reused for any purpose.


Last Updated ( Thursday, 09 October 2008 22:31 )