Some years ago when I started modelling a photographer once told me “if your model is uncomfortable, so will your images be”. I never quite realised the true extent of their words until confronted with such situations myself… The dynamic I build with the photographer and creative team over the shoot entirely shapes the feel of the images. Only when your model is completely confident and comfortable enough to express themselves will your images truly break barriers. So how do you make sure your model is happy?
1. Not just a ‘clothes hanger’
More often than not, models can be made to feel like a ‘clothes hanger’ rather than a person who’s part of the creative team. It’s important to remember that we all have personality, a story and a creative outreach… try and involve us and make us feel like a team player. The more comfortable your model feels about shoot input, the more expressive they will be on set. Find out who they are, ask questions and maintain a casual conversation!
2. Ask permission
This is possibly the most important tip to take. When a model is poised and ready you’ll sometimes need to alter their clothing, hair or position. It should go without saying but before jumping the guns and reaching to do so, always always always ask permission. By doing so, your model will feel respected and in control of their own boundaries and therefore more comfortable on shoot.
3. Schedule breaks
As with any working day, having a break is important for energy levels and momentum. When pre-planning your shoot always make sure to schedule breaks where the model (and team) can re-energise and step down from intensity for a moment. Importantly, make sure this includes a suggested thirty minute lunch break when shooting a full day. These are also key moments to build your relationship with the model and discuss points mentioned in tip one… use the time to let your team get to know each other and bridge any awkwardness!
4. Advanced check in
It may sound like admin, but on the build up to the shoot it’s vital that you are in contact within a few days of the date. Check in with the model before to confirm that all details are covered and the model is happy with the brief. Find out how they’re travelling to your location and make sure that you have each other’s contact details in case of an emergency, or situations like delay in travel. By doing so, there is a prebuilt professional relationship and the model will feel like they are in the know of any changes or plans.
5. Keep your model warm / cool
It can be hard to avoid but I can’t tell you how may shoots I have suddenly ‘shut down’ due to extreme temperatures. It’s often the case in this industry where summer collections are shot in the winter and winter collections shot in the summer… as someone who’s experienced it myself, I feel awful knowing that I’m carrying a guilt where I can’t be myself nor model professionally due to physical discomfort. How to help? Make sure to monitor how they’re feeling and prepare to support in any way. This could include bringing blankets, flasks, hot water bottles… or if you’re lucky enough to be shooting in warm locations be sure to provide plentiful water and time to rest in the shade. By following this advice your model will not only feel looked after, they’ll be able to shoot for longer.
6. Self- consciousness
On a few occasions I was asked before shooting whether I had anything that I was conscious about. It struck me as I had never thought of it before… being a model you’re expected to be confident at any angle. But the truth is, like anyone else we have our own insecurities. So in respect to those who have asked, I can vouch for this as a great tip when shooting… I certainly felt instantly more confident knowing my photographer was acknowledging my insecurities and respecting them for my own confidence. Find out if there’s anything your model is conscious about and work around it if you can!
7. Influencer mode
In this modern world many models have breached the realms of ‘influencing’… It’s a great way for us to tackle the market and bring personality to our portfolio, but often it means we’re on a constant mission to find content. A great way to help your model out and make them feel welcome is to offer to take behind the scenes and other content for them to post on their social media. This is also an amazing way to gain coverage of your own work through their exposure, so it’s a win win really.
Contradictory to this, if the shoot is to be kept top secret until a release date make sure the model is aware and able to monitor their content accordingly.
8. Just keep asking
There’s no limit to how many times you can check that your model is ok. Be sure to ask every now and again whether there’s anything they need and that they’re comfortable and happy. As a member who follows the lead of the rest of the creative team, it’s nice for us to feel looked after without having to awkwardly ask ourselves.
With these tips in mind, I hope that I have offered some advice from the perspective of the other side of the camera. From my years of experience I can guarantee you that, as a model, my ability to perform excels when looked after in these ways. I guess the most important thing is that the team is having fun (as cliché as it may sound) and a long lasting relationship is built. Let me know how you get on and If you have any more tips be sure to comment below!