This post contains artistic nudity that some may consider, NSFW
Model photography is an art, traveling and model photography is a whole different kettle of fish. Not being on your home ground may make you feel uneasy but with some careful planning you can overcome any obstacles real or perceived.
The Five Wâ€™s
Who, what, when, where, why and how? Answer these questions and you are well on the way to having a successful shoot. Planning is the most important part of any shoot. The old adage applies if you fail to plan you plan to fail, it really is true! Iâ€™ve seen many a shoot be bungled because simple obstacles have fouled up a shoot.
Model:Â Irene shot in a room at the Luxor in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Who are you going to shoot? Choosing the appropriate models is key. You have a couple of choices, of course if you are working with an agency they will source and supply models for you to shoot. However,Â if you are working on your own you have to source your own models with the resources on the Internet you can utilize a site such as Model Mayhem to source models. You have a couple of choices here also, you can either shoot Time For CD (TFCD) a common arrangement between photographers and models where you supply the model with copies of the images for their use as compensation for their services. Alternatively, you can pay the models for their services. In my experience if you are going to do a TFCD arrangement you should opt to source more than one model for a shoot as at times some models are not punctual or donâ€™t show up.
Model releases are an important protection for photographers and should be executed prior to any shoot. A special model release should be executed for anyone under the age of majority. Model releases should generally, allow photographers to use the photos at their discretion, allow photographers to edit photographs and be non-rescindable. Model releases should also clearly state the compensation for the models services and have the signature of the model affixed along with their printed name and address.
Models:Â Dennys and Paris â€“ Holiday Inn, Saddlebrook, NJ USA
You should have a concept of your shoot beforehand; this helps you to formulate the shoot in your mind so that you make sure to have all the necessary supplies to have a successful shoot. It is important to know what you are shooting so you have a suitable location. When you have your concept in mind you then shoot with a purpose instead of just randomly. Take your props along, ask models to bring shoot appropriate clothing.Â Shooting a model just because they are attractive is a common fault as may gain you a reputation of being a Guy with a Camera (GWC).
Models:Â Carla, Alexis, Mark and Paul â€“ Blue Trees Resort, Orlando, FL USA
Shooting times are more important for outdoor shots than indoor shots, if you are using artificial lighting you are free to shoot at any time. If you are using natural lighting you must conform to Mother Nature. Use popular weather sites to find out what climate is like what time sunrise and sunset are so that you donâ€™tÂ travel to a location to find unsuitable conditions. Choose suitable times that are conductive to models being able to make the shoot in addition to yourself if you have to travel to a location. If you are flying in to shoot be aware of possible travel delays you can check the reliability of any flight at FlightZoo.Â Travel arrangements are important and you should have contingencies when flying, if you are driving you have more control of your own destiny, carefully check Google maps for commuting times between all locations. I highly recommend a GPS also, I program all my locations into mine before I leave home!
Member of The Movement dance group in Federal C
When you have a concept of the outcome of your shoot you can then select an appropriate location. Indoor shoots can be done in a studio or an adapted studio, outdoor shoots are best done outside instead of trying to simulate the effect. If you are shooting with an agency they will source a studio for indoorÂ shots or the location for outdoor shots. If you are shooting with your own personal concept this responsibility now becomes yours. In my own experience Iâ€™ve found that a hotel room makes an amazing studio and there are no travel problems in getting there as it is already your hotel room. Residence Inns or similar properties are great because you have your own bedroom and also a separate living room which makes a perfect studio, including a kitchen if you want to simulate shots in a home. If you donâ€™t have this facility in your location, make sure you source a hotel room with 2 queen beds because when it comes to time to shoot you can literally flip one bed onto the other so that you have more space in your room to shoot. The curtain at the back of the room makes a perfect backdrop but more importantly it makes perfect place to hang your own background on with the application of a few clips or even hairpins. Contacting the hotel directly can also be very fruitful, Iâ€™ve done this for various hotels and properties such as the Hotel Diva in San Francisco gave me carte blanche for the entire property, they excel at rolling out the red carpet to accommodate virtually any guest request. ForÂ lighting you should carry a couple flash heads, I carry 3 Nikon Speedlights and a SU-800 Remote Commander and they are sufficient to overcome any lighting situation (although I use Nikon primarily, I believe the best choice of equipment is the one that works for you, I also own Canons and Olympus and use them all). You can utilize these on backdrops or even using the armoire with a couple of translucent reflectors wedged between the ceiling and the top of the armoire at 90 degree angles with a remote activated flash placed on the inside to form your very own softbox. However, if you are shooting outdoors in a location that you are unfamiliar with be sure to do your research online, Iâ€™ve personally used Opacity, choose unusual sites, nothing ruins a shot like having a tourist like image as your background. Do you legwork on the internet before you even leave home for the shoot.
Models: Wilber, Donna and Jorge â€“ The Diva Studio, West Palm Beach, FL USA
Why are you shooting? Answer this question and it will help to make sure you have asked the model toÂ bring the correct clothing for the shoot (if this is not the responsibility of the Agency/Stylist) in addition to seeing if a Make Up Artist (MUA) is required. MUAs can also be source using online resources such as Model Mayhem.Â Possible scenes you may shoot are: fashion, haute couture, swimwear, lifestyle to name a few. Swimwear models need to have a suitable body for other models you may be able to use a model that does not have an overused gym membership. For all models the face is important, source a model that is conductive to your purpose.
Shooting persons is has it idiosyncrasies.Â If you are shooting on location not only do you have to be a master of shooting the type of location but you must also be a master humorist and psychologist.Â To getÂ the most captivating images you MUST engage the model, they must have not only the concept of your image but they must also get feedback from you as you are the only one that can see the viewfinder unless you are shooting tethered and displaying the images live on a PC.Â You should look all around your viewfinder for spoilers in addition to making sure that the model has the ideal post and expression.Â Iâ€™ve found that instead of telling models â€œsmileâ€ you should have a repertoire of humorous jokes to tell (avoid politics, religion and off color jokes).Â You must do all this while having control of your camera so it is important to know your camera well.Â Model photography is like a fine dance, you must have a symbiotic relationship with the model to evoke the best results.Â It is like a fine dance and you will often have to mimic the pose you want to achieve while operating the camera.Â Making that connection and giving feedback will improve your images tremendously.Â Practice with a friend or a family member.
Models:Â Alice and Chris â€“ Foul Bay Beach, Barbados West Indies
With all the above elements addressed the next most important thing is production of final photographs.Â Models are always excited to see the final product and you should give them a date that you canÂ Â reasonable process the images in. Under no circumstances should you provide the RAW images to the
model and only provide them to the agency if expressly requested. Providing RAW images to models shows that you have no pride in your work. You should edit the photographs and provide only those images that you truly feel show the quality of your work. Donâ€™t feel overwhelmed, youâ€™ll realize that the process of model photography provides a few more issues than any other type of photography, inanimate objects do not have egos/feeling so you need to be a capable photographer in addition to a psychologist. Iâ€™ll leave you with the 3 most important words in model photography: plan, plan, plan!
Photos listed from top down.