Model and photographer

Used to being behind the camera we often forget what it’s like to be the subject of a photographer.

A lot of people feel very uncomfortable in front of a lens.  If you are just taking some Snapshots it doesn't matter a lot but it is a total different thing to present oneself as the center of attention for the sole purpose of creating a piece of art. That can be more than a little bit of intimidating. 

If you have an experienced model that shouldn't be a problem. Nevertheless there are a few things we can do to help our subjects out:

Give directions

If you find yourself in front of a camera are you exactly sure what you are supposed to do.? May be you  have your go-to pose and certainly your "photographic face".  The question is - does it fit in the image and the overall concept? Most probably the photographer would like to have a variety of poses and different facial expressions.   I found that people are glad to be given instructions when in unfamiliar situations.  They most certainly want to know what you want them to do; where you want them to stand, where they should place their hands, or if they should they smile, look directly at the camera, etc.

You can easily find some ideas on the web especially on sides that offer models like the following link:

model mayhem

Give Feedback

Let your subject know how they’re doing.  Don’t let them just in the dark or better in good light but otherwise in silence while you furiously hitting the shutter. To give encouragement and praise doesn't hurt and will boost the confidence of your subject.  Even simple phrase will do the thing, “That looks great!”,  "What a candid smile!",  "Wow, that's great!" will mostly do the job. It will keep your subject happy and will let them know that's there is nothing to worry about. Words of Encouragement can set us free. It can set the motion for transformation and action. Never under estimate the power of your voice.  Use your words to help another?  It doesn’t take much to change a bad shooting to be a good one – just set your intention and take action.

Don’t make all the decisions

Allow choice. Encourage your model to make decisions about how they would approach the outcome of the image the best. Create opportunities for them to pursue their own vision and practice skills in a variety of ways. 

Don’t play guess what’s in my head

Tell them your overall idea and intent engage with them by making connections, thinking critically and exploring possibilities you might not have thought of.

Don’t over plan.

To know exactly where the session should lead and what you aspire to achieve is good. But don’t  plan in too much detail where it will go from there. There might come up some different ideas and choices which will eventually enhance the session in a way you wouldn't have thought of.


One big point in all this is to understand what your subject must be going through in front of the camera.  If you can feel what your model might undergo under the scrutiny of the lens put right into their faces would be a mayor advantage.  People tend to be overly conscious of their own expressions and poses. Most of the time this leads to  a stressful experience that you can feel seeing the pictures.  Depending on the form of your shooting some of the poses might be physically challenging when held for more than a minute or so. Think about this as well.

Why don’t try it yourself?

If you want to experience what your model feels there’s nothing like being in front of the camera yourself. That’s the only way to get a grip what they are going through.  Just try to be the subject of someone else photo shoot.  You will not exactly know what it might be to be photographed by yourself but you will experience what it’s like to be photographed.  That is a lesson to learn.

Some ideas of photos you should get being taken are as follows:

Standing, half portraits, Standing, full-length shots, Sitting half and full portraits and lying on the ground.

When the shooting is over you should examine the shots and think about what you liked or didn’t like about the experience getting them and the look in the actual shot. Ask you honestly what you felt about your job as “model”.  This will help you understand what  your subjects might be experiencing and will hopefully give you a better idea to help them to stay confident and relaxed, which usually results in better pictures.


Worst case scenario

My photographic logbook - one -