How To Direct Your Models Like A Pro
For starting photographers it can be hard to give useful directions to their models. I remember my first shoots (10 years ago) when I was a little nervous before my shoots because I just started in photography – I was young and shy – but I had to give directions to my team. I figured out myself what worked the best and it helped me to watch documentaries about (fashion) photographers and TV program’s like America/Holland Next Top Model to see how they direct their models.
I would like to help other photographers who are starting with fashion photography by telling you the things that worked best for me!
Show your moodboard and tell the model what you expect from her
From the moment the model enters the set, involve the model to your concept as much as possible. I know some models can be shy and prefer to not talk so much during the day, but please show tell her what you expect from her by showing her your moodboard and inspiration. Let the makeup artist talk to her while she is getting her hair and makeup done.
Start a conversation by checking her portfolio and instagram again
Before the shoot, I check their portfolio and Instagram again so I know what jobs they did and what their hobbies are. This makes it so easy to start a conversation because I can ask her better questions about her previous jobs, her life as a model or her other hobbies. Most of the girls love to talk about these subjects because they are personal related! Really listen to their answers.
Make her feel comfortable, confident and relaxed
During the shoot, give the model directions by showing or telling her the poses and expressions you would like to see. This will make her feel comfortable in front of your camera. If she is doing a good job, let her know! Give compliments about her poses, her expressions, how her eyes sparkle with this makeup look, how beautiful she looks in this outfit etc. This helps so much! You will see that is feels more confident after every compliment! It creates a relaxed mood during the shoot if the models sees that you and your team are happy with the results. Also, take enough breaks and ask her if she would like to eat or drink something between shots.
Tell about your light set up
Tell your model about the kind of light you are using. In the studio, show her the most important flash light show she know where she has to turn her face to for the best results. When shooting in the harsh sunlight, ask her to put her chin up because the sun is coming from above. Show her the difference on your camera with a photo where her face is posed correctly to the light source and show her a photo where she has to much shadow in the face.
Show her the photos
By showing her the photos on your camera or on the computer screen, she knows what she is doing. Because she can’t she how she looks like while doing her poses. You will see that she noticed something that she could do better after seeing the photos!
Do the poses yourself
If you are not able to explain her the pose or expressions, just do it yourself! It can be pretty funny, and smiling on the set is important to! If you model is more experienced, she probably prefer to do her movements, based on your moodboard. Ask her to do her own poses and when you see the poses that work best, tell her, so she know what you are looking for. Pay attention to the hands, a small detail that may ruin your shot. Soft hands tend to be more photogenic. Show them how to pose their hands or ask if you may touch their hands to show it.
Turn on the radio or a Spotify playlist to make it easy for her to do her poses and to get in the right mood for your concept! Music creates magic for everyone on set.
It’s a wrap!
Say thank you to the model (and the rest of your team!) for the great day and tell her when you expect to finish the photos. Maybe you already know what you would like to do with the editing, so she know what and when to expect. You will send the photos to her agency and not directly to her. Sometimes model agencies prefer to have contact after the shoot (if you worked with a new or young model) and they would like to tell you about how it was to work with their new model. They also like to know when they can expect to receive the results.