When first starting out in fashion photography, the likelihood is that you won't be working with top agency models. In fact, even when you start shooting with agency models, you'll start with their "new faces." That means girls/boys who may have been signed, but have never really modelled in their lives!
So how do you cope in a situation like that?
You'll most likely be feeling:
- unsure of what to do or say
- desperate to seem professional and like you know what you're doing.
How do I know you'll be feeling like that? Because that's how I felt for years! (And sometimes still do).
So here are a few quick tips on posing inexperienced models.
1. Talk to them during hair and make up:
To often photographers will set up their make up artist and hair dresser, and disappear to fiddle with lights or cameras. Don't be that person! Of course, do what you need to do, but definitely make sure that you take the time to go and chat with your model. Ask them questions about themselves (ie. how long have they been modelling? How did they get scouted? Do they enjoy modelling?).
By asking questions, you break the ice, and make your model feel comfortable around you. You want them to feel like they can trust you, and be vulnerable around you.
2. Ask them how they're feeling - often
It's easy to start shooting, and then never ever ask your model how they're feeling. I now make a point of frequently checking in. It's little things like saying: "How are you doing? Do you need a break? Can I get you a glass of water or anything?" Often models are young, and might feel pressure to not say something if it's bothering them.
Your model is arguably the most important person on your shoot, so you want them to look and feel their best, right?!
3. Do they want a closed set?
If they're inexperienced, they'll probably feel shy. Not always, mind you, but from my experience if they're just starting out, the last thing that they'll want is 10 people staring at them while they pose. So be gentle and kind - ask them if they'd prefer a closed set! Would they feel more confident if it was just you and her/him? If so, kindly ask the rest of your team to pop into another room.
You'll find that as the shoot goes on, and as she/he gains in confidence, they'll be happier for the rest of the team to come back in.
4. Play music
A really quick way to make a model feel comfortable, and make posing easier, is to play music that they like. I always make a point of letting the model pick her music. If you put on what you like, she/he may hate it! And what will that do? Probably not help them move. So ask them what music they like, and play that.
5. Give lots of direction
I know that this can be the hardest thing when you're just starting out, or you feel pressure with an inexperienced model, but trust me, talking to your model and telling her/him what you want them to do is going to make the WORLD of difference. If you simply say "GO!" and then hide behind your camera throughout the whole shoot, what you'll find is your model will stay in one pose throughout most of the shoot. You'll get the same shot over and over, and end up feeling frustrated that you didn't get the shot you wanted.
Don't expect your model to know what to do, or to move easily. It takes a lot of experience for a model to know what she's doing, so help her out and give her direction.
6. Have a posing guide nearby
Obviously, to give direction you need to know what to say! This is what stumps a lot of photographers, me included. Our minds go blank! We can't think of a pose we want them to do.
There is an easy solution to this! Have a posing guide nearby at all times.
I NEVER go onto a shoot without some kind of pose inspiration. Some photographers might feel like it's "cheating" to look at other poses and ask your model to do that, but I promise you that it's not.
For one, being able to show your model a photograph of what pose you'd like them to do make its SO much easier for them to understand what you want. There is nothing worse than trying to explain what you want someone to do with their body. It's hard work! So help you and your model out by just showing them a photo.
Another big tip is to ask your team! Don't be shy about asking them what ideas they have. I do this all the time, and sometimes my team come up with the best poses.
7. Ask them to move a lot
One of big problem a lot of photographers encounter is that their model will find one pose, and hold it for 10 frames. You then go back over your images and realise that you've taken the same image 100000x. There's a simple solution to this - ask them to move a lot!
I explain this simply and say: "Every time you hear the click of my camera, just move ever so slightly. Even if it's just the tilt of a head, or the shift of your weight to the other side of your model, every movement, no matter how small, makes for a different image."
8. Slow down. Think.
The biggest tip is this: slow dooooown. When we're stressed, or feeling intimidated, the tendency is to rush. We want to rush through that stress and get it over and done with. I promise that if you slow down, and take your time with your shots, to get the pose exactly right and how you want it, you'll get amazing images, no matter how experienced your model is, or isn't!