Steven Brokaw Photography

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Modeling Tips From A Photographer's Viewpoint

I had an amazing opportunity today to work with 3 local photographers that work in the same genre I do, and 5 really fun models that I’ve not worked with before in a large test shoot that I quasi-arranged.   We did model photography, and I focused on a fashion-vibe.  What was nice about today’s shoot is that everyone had skills.  It gave me pause to think about the models I work with that can just KILL IT, and those that don’t have all the skills yet. 

Made me think I should write a blog post on what I think a model should have and bring to a shoot.  Note, I want to STRESS I don’t consider myself “all that” when it comes to model photography, but I have been doing it for several years almost exclusively.  So consider these attributes and comments with a grain of salt, but hey, it’s what I think is important, so there’s that.

OK, here goes.  If you are a model, or want to be a model here are some tips and advice from yours truly.

  • Be confident in your body & don't be tentative,
  • Each photographer differs on this subject, but I have no problem if you bring an escort, BFF or family member.  If you are under 18 you really need bring someone.  But remember, they stay silent and in the background,
  • Learn to be expressive and emote.  Learn to smile, learn to show erotic passion, learn to look serious, and learn to part your lips.  Look at fashion magazines on how top models express emotions,
  • Fashion photography often shows skin - not boudoir, lingerie or implied type skin but bare bellies, lots of cleavage, no bra, open shirt (nothing showing), boy type shorts, etc.  If you're uncomfortable with this you need to try a different photographic genre.  Of course this is an age appropriate comment.  It doesn’t apply if you’re just starting out or are under-aged,
  • Learn how to pose & how to create angles.  I can easily direct you, but you need to know how to do this yourself.  If I tell you to give me hard angles for a set, you need to know how to pull this off,
  • If you're stiff, no photographer can correct it in post processing. You need to know how to relax,
  • Come prepared to jump right into it and always be on time,
  • Don’t flake.  I understand that people’s schedules change…I’m a business guy and I deal with it ever day, but be considerate and professional.  Remember, if you call off at the last minute I have a MUA, hair stylist & often fashion I have to wave off,
  • Have a dedicated modeling portfolio on FB or, a website and keep it up to date. Your looks & style are your brand. Agencies, photographers, MU artist & hair stylist need to know what you look like.  I never hire anyone who doesn’t have an up to date portfolio that shows just his or her modeling.  I know he’s cute, but I really don’t care to see your dog in the same gallery as your fashion work…call me picky.  Also, a photo with your BFF at the club is NOT a fashion worthy photograph,
  • Remember, photographers are as varied as models. Check them out; look at their portfolio and recent images. Do they shoot the looks you want? Is the quality what you're looking for?  OK, that’s not really a tip about what I look for in a model, so call it a freebee. 
  • Be VERY clear about your compensation intent. Let me also say, if you expect to be compensated you MUST have the full package. It's more than just a pretty face & good fitness.  I can’t tell you the number of times I try to finalize a shoot and I have no idea what I need to pay a model or if it’s TFP, even when I ask multiple times.  However, understand the local market.  Unless you are extremely skilled or are agency represented with lots of work you are not going to make top $$$, 
  • If a photographer wants to test a model then that equals NO compensation,
  • If I’m reaching out to you to work with me (unless I specifically say I’m doing a test or TFP) then I plan to pay you.  If you reach out to me then I am expecting you to pay me unless you say something like, “Steve, I would love to work with you sometime as a TFP shoot.  If you plan to do a test shoot or want a lighting check then please consider me”.  There you go!
  • A good photo requires a complete package. No one person on the creative team can do it themselves. Photoshop can't fix an inability to nail an expression, a good camera can't fix a bad photographer, beautiful clothes can't correct a fashion model that's out of shape, and the best makeup artist can only do so much with someone who doesn't take care of their skin.  You get the idea.
  • Learn to play with your hair and move.

OK, I could go on, but I’ll stop there.  Any agency will tell you this stuff.  Most skilled / experienced photographers, MUA or stylist will tell you this.  Most experienced models will tell you this, so I’m just adding my voice.

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