Friday, November 19, 2010

Starter Guide for Shooting Amateur Models

You can apply this information whether you're a husband & wife or boyfriend & girlfriend who are taking some sexy photos for fun, or if you're just starting out working with different photographers. It's intended to be some helpful advice to those new to amateur modeling; it is by no means a professional modeling instruction guide.

Agreeing on the shoot
You and the photographer should agree on the basic direction of the shoot upfront. You should both agree on at least: when the shoot will occur; where it will take place; what type of look you are trying to achieve; any special requirements for costumes or make-up; and any boundaries you will or won't cross e.g. nudity, explicit shots.

Of course photo shoots can be spontaneous or can change direction mid-stream. But they should have a basic plan that you and the photographer can agree to.

Preparing for the shoot
It's important to prepare yourself for the shoot properly. Make sure you feel good about  yourself so you are happy to pose - it's easy to spot a model who doesn't want to be there and this makes it unpleasant for everybody. In the week leading up to the shoot do not do anything that might leave a mark or blemish on your skin, like an uneven blotchy tan, sunburn, or a beauty treatment where your skin might react badly. Don't experiment with dying your hair the night before in case anything goes wrong and you can't fix it in time. Dark tan lines and too much fake tan should usually be avoided as well.

The day before the shoot or on the day itself take time to prepare your body and face. It's a good excuse to pamper yourself! You should pay careful attention to grooming your face (e.g. plucking eyebrows etc), grooming your body (e.g. wax/shave your legs, Brazilian wax/shave, etc), giving your skin a healthy looking glow (e.g. light scrub), getting your nails polished or painted, and your hair in place (e.g. cut, curled, washed, straightened, etc). If you're shooting nude, then take special care with your pubic area not to get razor burn or reactions to any skin creams etc.

Don't have a big night out on the town the night before your photo shoot! You will look tired in the photos.

Just before the shoot you should check with the photographer as to what you'll require. You should always check the look of the shoot before applying any make-up.

Indentation marks
Prior to the shoot you should not wear any tight or constricting clothes - including tight underwear- as these will leave indentations marks on your skin. If you are shooting nude, lingerie or bikini, you should arrive at the shoot wearing loose, comfortable clothing only and no underwear (no bra or panties / knickers) - you can put these on during the shoot of course, but by this stage they will the right ones for shooting in and will not have left any indentation marks on your skin. Otherwise change out of them and into something looser (e.g. a robe) as soon as you arrive so that your skin has time to "breathe" out the indentation marks - allow at least an hour for this.

Outfits and make-up
Before you choose an outfit, you will need to know a little about what the photographer intends to shoot. Will the setting be indoors or outdoors? What is the mood or theme? Are you required to play a special character or role? Make sure you take several outfits to choose from, in case one doesn't look perfect and you have to swap to something else.

If you're shooting nude then obviously clothes are not a consideration. However, you should still think about an outfit of accessories like shoes, belt, jewellery, scarves, wraps and so on. If well chosen, these accessories can really lift your look considerably than just plain nude. The right accessories can lift all types of shots, not just nudes.

Make-up for glamour photos tends to be heavier than normal day to day make-up. You should wear a proper foundation. Whilst applying your make-up, pay careful attention to the type of look you're trying to achieve. Often the photographer will have some ideas of how they want you to look, e.g. a vamp, a showgirl, someone innocent, etc. Two ideas can really help when choosing make-up: how the role or character you're playing in the shoot would want to look, and pretending that you are getting dressed up to go out somewhere fancy and glamorous. (Well, it is a "glamour" shoot after all!)

Take spare outfits and make-up with you so you have it on hand in case you need it.

Breaking the ice
Before you start the actual shoot, you should sit down for a few minutes and discuss the concept or basic direction of the shoot, what you will and won't shoot, where your boundaries are, and ideas that you have. Once you've finished the chat you should both have a good feeling for what each other is attempting to convey in the photos. And you should be on friendly and cooperative terms for the rest of the shoot.

Working with your photographer
Usually your photographer will give you some direction - the same as a director does on a film set. They will indicate what type of photos they are trying to take and what they would like you to do. If a photographer (perhaps your boyfriend or husband) has no idea what they want you to do, then you're a little bit stuck I'm afraid! Of course you can step in and lead the shoot (and please do). However, in practice it tends to be a bit like ballroom or latin dancing - the man (in this case photographer) has to lead or the dance falls apart - even though all eyes are on the girl!

Most photographers welcome ideas from the model and they often turn out great. But convey your ideas to the photographer and have him or her run with them, instead of just taking over yourself. The photographer can see the whole scene from where they are standing - and you can't because you are in it - so you are relying on them to make sure the whole scene works.

Relaxing in front of the camera
If you feel tense you will look tense on camera - no matter how much you try to hide it, it will still show through. The only solution which really works is to relax. There are a number of things you can do:

  • Role play. You went to great care to create a look for the shoot, including costume, hair, make-up, accessories, etc. So you should definitely slip into that role and pretend to be that character. For example, if your look is showgirl then pretend you are a sleek and graceful Vegas showgirl.
  • Chat to the photographer in between shots. Talking will often calm you down and you will feel more comfortable.
  • Move around in between shots, shake your hair out, have a stretch, exercise your face. When you stay in one pose for a while your muscles become tense, including your face. Stretch them out from time to time.
  • Have a drink. One or two alcoholic drinks can really help to relax you. But don't have too many - if you feel drunk then you will look drunk on camera, and that is not a good look!
Taking time-outs and resting
It's important to stay rested during the shoot, especially if it's a long one. Take regular breaks in between poses or in between outfits. Take a break every time the photographer plays with their camera.

Don't starve yourself either before or during the photo shoot. You will not be able to concentrate, you will not enjoy it, and the photos will suffer as a result.

Inputting your ideas
Most photographers love to hear your ideas. Don't be shy to mention them. But as I described above, you can't really direct the scene because you're in it, so you should clearly describe or show your vision to the photographer and then let them direct it for you.

Chaperones, and switch off your phone
This section will only be relevant if you are being shot by someone who is not your boyfriend / girlfriend / husband / wife. You should definitely check a photographer's references before the shoot and make sure that what they claim actually checks out.

Chaperon's (people attending the shoot with you) are a touchy topic. Some photographers don't mind at all yet others dislike it a lot. As a general rule, when you're modeling for someone other than your partner, if you bring a chaperon with you they should not be a husband, boyfriend, mother, etc. The problem is that just them being in the room will make you more stiff; it might sound ironic but you are more likely to relax, flirt with the camera and bring out your sexy side if they are not there. With boyfriends in particular, models have a tendency to look to them for approval of each outfit or each shot, and this breaks the connection with the camera. And boyfriends' jealous nature often comes out when they see their girlfriend disrobing for someone else. If you do bring a chaperon make it someone at arm's length like a friend of the same sex.

Some photographers will not mind if your chaperon stays for the shoot, but in these cases make it very clear to the chaperon that they are there only to observe, and they must remain silent and stay at the back of the room away from the shooting area.

Other times, e.g. if you're shooting nudes, having a chaperon can make you nervous. Some photographers believe that models who insist on chaperon's are a little paranoid and tend to be inhibited or unwilling to bare their soul for the camera, but others don't mind it. If you want to make sure that you are ok, do some background checking first. Perhaps get your chaperon to meet the photographer and have a look around to see that everything is legitimate, then ask them to leave and come back at the end of the shoot. Alternatively tell someone when you're going to a photo shoot and leave the photographer's details with them as a safety measure.

And it goes without saying - turn off your phone for the duration of the shoot.

Legal stuff
If you're posing for someone other than your partner or not just shooting for fun, then make sure you sign a model release for the shoot. Ensure that you agree with everything stated in the release and bring along your ID or a copy of it for their records.

And the most important advice is - have fun!