Focused Insight BlogMaximizing Your Creative Potential with Models
Maximizing Your Creative Potential With Models
Part 1 – Environment, Posing & Style
March, 25th 2023
We all know that photography is a creative art form that requires a keen eye, technical skill, and an ability to work with subjects to achieve a common vision. So, one of the most important subjects a photographer can work with is a model. A talented and experienced model can help elevate a photoshoot to all new heights. But, it’s up to the photographer to provide the direction and vision to make it a true success.
In this three-part blog series, we’ll explore the ways in which you as a photographer can maximize the creative potential when working with models. In this first post, we’ll focus on how the environment in which a photoshoot takes place can impact the final result, posing your subject and the style. I’ll be walking you through a Morocco photoshoot I recently had as reference. To the right is the amazing Maurisa Coleman that I had the pleasure of working with in Morocco. Here’s a link to her Instagram to check her out! We were able to take numerous great shots together as the environment, style and posing all fit with what we were aiming for. We were on the same page, developed a good relationship for collaborating and were able to hit the ground running quickly. Plus how comfortable we were not only with each other, but in the spots we were shooting. More on that later.
Quick Note: Something I’ve learned during all the shoots with people and models… Most people think modeling is an easy job. But it’s actually hard work to be concentrated and stay in a pose without moving or breathing for over a minute or so at a time. My first priority is always to be in a good mood and make it fun for them while shooting together. To connect well so we can work and create pictures together as a team. You’d be surprised at how much of an effect you have on models during a shoot…
Key Point: As a photographer, be considerate of your model and aim to make it a fun atmosphere for them to work in.
The Right Environment, Composition And Conditions
Choosing the right environment for a photoshoot is critical in setting the tone and style of the images you create. The location you choose will add depth, context, and visual interest to the images you create. It’s important to consider the type of photoshoot you’re working on and the theme you’re trying to convey when selecting a location. Remember, this is storytelling. So, aim to choose a place that conveys either the subject’s story or the story you’re aiming to convey.
If you’re shooting a portrait, for example, you might want to consider a location that has a clean, uncluttered background that won’t distract the attention from the subject. A park or natural setting might be ideal for creating a sense of calm and tranquility, while an urban environment might be better suited for edgier, more dynamic images. You can see we have a desert atmosphere for these shots. It’s very relaxed and cultural. We’re drawing attention to Africa and Moroccan culture.
On the other hand, if you’re shooting a fashion editorial, you might want to choose a location that complements the style and theme of the shoot. An abandoned warehouse might provide a gritty, industrial backdrop for a punk-inspired shoot, while a high-end hotel suite might be the perfect setting for a glamorous, sophisticated shoot.
In addition to the overall style and theme of the shoot, it’s important to consider the practical aspects of the location you choose. Is it easily accessible? Will there be a lot of foot traffic or other distractions? Is there enough space to move around and set up equipment?
Depending on the location and conditions you have to be prepared for different situations. For example… Outdoor it can be cold, and your model might be wearing a light dress so she will become cold and uncomfortable quickly. Another situation might be in a hot place, which can be dehydrating. You can tell in the photo above that there is water laying on the ground. I almost edited it out (not knowing someone was photoing all of us) but it gets the point of being prepared across. You can see water was always available and close by for this desert shoot.
If you shoot indoors or in a studio, also take care of these circumstances, it can also be cold or too warm. So unless you’re aiming for a sweaty look, or wanting chills down the arm of your model, be on top of this ahead of time. Think about those different situations and prepare everything in advance so they can be comfortable. Also, play music that your model likes, it helps to relax and get in a good mood. Then keep the mood going by enjoying yourself as well.
By carefully considering the environment in which you’re shooting and being conscious of the conditions, you can set the stage for a very successful and visually stunning photoshoot. Just make sure that you’re never going into a photoshoot unprepared for the conditions and variables. If the model isn’t comfortable and confident in you or the situation you placed them in, getting more work will become difficult. In the next section, we’ll discuss how to use posing to further enhance your images.
Key Point: Make sure the environment allows your model to be as comfortable and supported as possible.
Effective posing is an essential aspect of creating compelling and story based images with models. A skilled photographer knows how to direct their subjects to achieve the desired pose and expression, while still allowing the model’s personality to shine through. This is where connecting with them before you start becomes vital. You want to get a real good sense of who they are and how they present themselves authentically.
To get the shots you are looking for, it’s important to communicate clearly and give specific directions. This can include cues on body position, hand and arm placement, and facial expression. It’s also important to give feedback and adjust the pose as needed to create the desired look. But, be careful here… Too much assertive direction could begin to wear down the mood. And that’s never good. Approach this as a collaborative effort while still maintaining creative control.
Different poses can convey different emotions and messages, so choose poses that fit the theme and style of the shoot. For example, a relaxed, natural pose might be ideal for a lifestyle shoot, while a more dramatic, exaggerated pose might be better suited for a high-fashion editorial.
When posing models, it’s important to pay attention to the details. Small adjustments to the position of the head, hands, or feet can make a big difference in the overall look and feel of the image. So, keep the story/narrative of the shot you’re looking for in mind and guide the model into that character.
Developing your style
Developing a unique style as a photographer is important for standing out in a crowded field. Collaborating with models can be a great way to develop and refine your style.
There are many different styles that photographers can explore, from dramatic and moody to light and airy. It’s important to experiment with different styles and find what works best for your own creative vision. This gives you a ‘niche’ or unique style. Which is super valuable as that’s your own art now. It becomes your brand and as you grow, models will look for photographers that align with their unique style. Perhaps choosing to work with you as they know you’ll bring out that style the best.
But as I’ve mentioned before, it’s important to find a balance between the model’s personal style and your own creative vision. Not just imposing your style on them (unless you’re a renowned A-list photographer working with big time models). This can involve discussing wardrobe choices, hair and makeup, the story you’re looking to convey and the overall mood and tone of the shoot. Further crafting your style in the process.
Additionally, an effective way to develop your style is to look at the work of other photographers and artists for inspiration. Analyze the elements that make their work successful and try to incorporate those elements into your own images. Then continue to refine what it is you really like.
Crafting A Style For The Shot
Going back to directly working with a model… Talk with your model in advance what you’re planning to do, where you want to shoot so she can prepare herself as best as possible. They also want to do a good job to achieve the best outcome, so don’t expect complicated and uncomfortable poses from them. If your model is experienced, they like to share their ideas. I took some amazing pictures because of those ideas and it helps me get new inspiration and refine my personal style even more.
Key Point: Treat the model as a partner in your creative endeavor and talk to them. Find out what they think about the idea, if they have any input and if there are any physical limitations.
In conclusion, working with models can be a great way to maximize your creative potential as a photographer. By carefully considering the environment, posing, and style of your shoot, you can create images that truly stand out. In the next two posts in this series, we’ll explore additional tips and techniques for working with models, including how to communicate effectively and how to use lighting to enhance your images.
Shots taken with Camera Nikon D850, Nikkor AF Lens, and natural light.
I hope you enjoyed the shots, this blog is to inspire you to go see this place for yourself!
Below is a link to more pictures and information about this amazing location and models!
Now let’s get out there, and shoot!