So You’ve Booked A Photoshoot, keep reading about preparing for a photoshoot, tips for models and general advice!
For photoshoot tips, this is aimed at those doing model portfolios, and actors head-shots/agency photos. But much can apply for commercial portraits too, just exchange the clothes for a suit!
Well first of all lets look to the wardrobe, as I operate on location 99.9% of the time the ability to swap clothing and mix matching a few outfits is essential, so being smart if you are modelling is a must! So a list of a few things that can easily be mixed and matched and create several different looks:
- Jeans; a catch all solution to the bottom part of the body, but avoid jeans with rips, tears, stains or that make you look like you have 2 rear ends, any kind of printing on as its about mixing and matching.
- Smart Shirts; ideally ones that are fitting your shape, anything baggy adds weight to your image, can make you luck like you dont care (however long you spent mixing and matching).
- Casual Shirt; aka a tee shirt or similar, again aiming for something better fitted than baggy and something of a different colour to the other shirt. The tighter fitting gym shirts work well on a variety of body shapes. Oh and avoid anything that is so long, it becomes a skirt. You want a clear division between your torso and legs.
- Avoid Patterns; lots of clothes out there come with prints on them, swirls, glaring statements, although these can be fun I advise avoiding them as they distract from the main subject which is you! Check patterned shirts are generally fine, and in some cases stripes are too but depending on your body type it can either hide or enhance certain features for better or worse. And absolutely avoid pin stripe! you may think it looks nice but to the grid design of a camera sensor? its fudge. Think to a time when you were watching TV and a man in a pin stripe suit that looked like it was moving, that is what happens.
- Colours; Avoid bright colours like day glow, generally they distract, in some cases depending on the light they reflect really bad and can give your skin unnatural tones. Instead aim for pastels, or their dark counterparts like navy blue or maroon. Black or white are generally OK so long as you have a splash of a soft colour to break them up.
- Shoes; I mainly shoot on location so as is obvious, a decent set of shoes or boots are advisory. Bringing more formal ones to change into when we are on location. Though I will not be straying into the wilds for general shoots as I do for my personal projects of client work.
- Dresses; in some cases there are dresses that can easily pass as a top, if you have such, bring it along! come summer we then have an extra option to have dress shots without a substantial clothing change.
- Underwear; something most would not think of being important, but if you are wearing something like chiffon that’s translucent don’t wear a black polka dot bra! it will show. And avoid anything too frilly ladies as it can stick out under other fabric. Just something plain works with everything. And lads, this applies to you too! if we’re wearing white trousers for example, bright red underwear will reflect through. You might not have expected it to, but it does. And unless we’re going for the topless top hem of the boxers look, it just looks stupid!
- Coats/Jackets; again don’t wear anything baggy, avoid anything that goes to the ankles, at best knee length is the longest a coat can acceptably be. And consider all that has been aforementioned in its design.
- Accessories; these are generally a distraction unless you are shooting something that is about that accessory, necklaces, the odd bangle, are fine but again like all else, avoid elaborate, bright or garish design. If in doubt, bring a few things on the day and we will discuss. Men, watches are OK, big dollar sign fake gold chains are a throwback.
Not so scary preparing for the clothing is it? its actually really simple, and its the simple things that get the best results! Seen as you have read this far, you might as well continue reading on how to prepare yourself, and your body for your photoshoot.
- Tidy Hair; does not need specifically to be overly styled but a clean look is a must, if you do style your hair, bring a mirror and some product to make fine adjustments when you get there! (and dont worry about split ends, they happen, I edit them out as standard now).
- Makeup; avoid heavy makeup, this is normally the biggest mistake made by new models and it can affect skin tone terribly in camera often looking cakey. Go for light makeup and neutral shades where possible. Typically I advise against strong colours as it’s easy to go from light shading to the eyes to a panda. We’ll save such makeup for stylised and fashion shoots.
- Preparation; you need a good night’s sleep before any shoot, tired eyes, bags that accompany them, even stamina on the day are heavily affected by this, and it’s about making a good impression, but physically you’ll find modelling is a very draining job, so you need that strength!
- Diet; drink plenty of water up to the shoot, dehydration does show up in the skin and photographs, and it’s a simple one. Generally avoid fatty foods (takeaways are the worst) and avoid alcohol completely for a few days prior (makes skin look sallow) and fruit is recommended.
- Planning; Plan how you are getting to your shoot and allow plenty of time. Old saying in transport is “it’s easier to be early and kill time than be late and make it”.
- Practice; Take a look in magazines, find some of your favourite images and try to copy them in front of a mirror. Even I do this to try and work out how I should direct models into those poses so it’s a great aid (however silly we may feel).
- Eat In The Morning! Might sound silly but you would be surprised how many skip eating anything in the day for fear of looking “bloated”. In the weight training circles protein (meats mainly) can give some bloating but it’s temporary and will subside before you get to the shoot. Remember, you will need the energy from it when posing.
So all in all that is another lot that is pretty easy to understand and work with, however its time to buckle up! as we are going to talk about posing! Heres some important tips:
- Grab A Mirror; this is all about being prepared, you might know nothing about posing (if you’ve never modeled I would be surprised if you do) but with a mirror you can act silly and try to understand how that reflects in the images. Bring all of that to the shoot and we’ll work with it.
- Practice Your Balance; whether you’re dancing, meandering on a stage, climbing a wall, balance is integral to not falling on your face, and is a cornerstone of modelling. You will find posing you hold a position for an extended period of time essentially acting out being in the middle of say, jumping. Or in the middle of a dance pose, or standing in such a way it accentuates a part of your body like your curves, hips, shoulders, or jawline.
A way to do this is dance, there are various exercises, or pull the full length mirror and contort your body till you are barely able to keep upright, and keep it there.
Try and keep your arms out of the act too, but at the read to steady you.
- Practice Your Smile; OK, hands up, I personally am just as uncomfortable doing this being they shying flower in the corner. Its quite possably a part of us most of us take issue with, but its important! Your smile IS BEAUTIFUL, whether you chortle or glance or shy away, beam or bob it is something we all, as humans use to connect with each other.
We have many different smiles to each of us, theres the teeth on full show, there’s the breaking of the lips, the lifting of the cheeks of your face, we have many different styles for different occasions and each portrays a variation of what we feel and as such is percieved differently. And this is a skill actors use all the time, and its just as relevant to modelling.
So grab the mirror, imagine some situations in your head, pull some memories that jerk at your emotions and see the effect and how to replicate it.
- Dont Worry If You Dont Know How; its my job to teach you! and like anything in life, modelling does involve a skill set, and developing any skill set takes time and practice.
I didnt get to learn all I know about modelling, post, posture and lighting in one night, one week, a month or a year. I have been a photographer in one way or another since my teens, and I am still learning, still refining what I know, trialling new ways of working throwing away what doesn’t work, and incorporating what does into my daily workflow.
You will get there with patience!
So all in all, pretty easy! Not particularly scary and I personally hope this has gone on to help you a lot in you experience into modelling for a photographer. If you obey these basics, you will be fine on the day and certainly happy with what you get back in photos!
So on that, I thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope you have a great experience!
Keep coming back for more in the future, we try to help our clients be as prepared as possible with the focus on the final quality, this is just one of those examples.