How to Direct Inexperienced Models

Experience promotes skill.

Working with professional models is a real blessing. They know what is expected of them when they pose in front of the camera, and they know what to expect from you as their photographer. More importantly, they have had to time experiment and find out how to use their bodies and faces to give the photographs character, and they are comfortable with where they are and what they do.

However, working with young and inexperienced models is a very different story. Most of them feel slightly shy, vulnerable, and wary, which is completely understandable. It is your job as a photographer to guide both of you through this experience in a way that both parties will feel comfortable, professional, and leave the photoshoot happy because they got what they came for.

See, the line between the “friendly photographer” and the “creepy photographer” can seem a little confusing for some – it can be so easy to step over that line and freak your model out to the point that it earns you a bad name in the industry. So to help you understand how to direct inexperienced models and learn the very important boundaries, we will give you some advice. With these points in mind you will soon become the photographer that all of the models want to work with.

First impressions matter.

Your professionalism must begin from the very first sentence you say or write to your model. It does not matter if you begin your conversation online or in real life, you should be friendly yet professional, and most of all – respectful.

The first impression you make will be the image the model will have of you up until the photoshoot, and possibly all the way throughout it as well. If you ask too many personal questions or give too many compliments, you may seem interested in the model for all the wrong reasons. Stay professional and discuss only the things of importance. You can show a more relaxed side of your personality when you meet in person.

Get to know each other before the photoshoot.

Once you meet on the day of the photoshoot, spend some time with your model. The efforts you put in before the photoshoot will determine the outcome of the project. This is the part where you should build a good relationship and learn the boundaries – once those are in place it will be smooth sailing from there!

The best start to any friendship or relationship is to break the ice, and what better way to do it than to ask some questions and get to know each other? Before the photoshoot begins, spend some time with your model and ask her/him some questions about their career and future plans. Be friendly and relaxed, but not too invasive. Show some interest in your model, tell them a little about yourself, but always keep a respectful tone. Too many personal questions can make you seem creepy, and that’s definitely what you want to avoid.

Set the boundaries.

Now that you have created some sort of a relationship between you and your model it is time to set clear boundaries. Ask your model what they are and aren’t comfortable with, and make sure to memorize it well. Different models will have different boundaries and it is your job to make sure that you don’t overstep them, because doing so will only make you seem unprofessional and inconsiderate. And no model wants to work with a photographer like that.

Have fun during the photoshoot.

After an hour or so of getting to know each other and setting the boundaries it time to begin the photoshoot. By now your model should feel much more relaxed and comfortable, which is a necessity for a productive and smooth shoot. Make sure to keep the environment comfortable and relaxed for your model throughout the whole day, whilst staying respectful and professional. Keeping these points in mind will not only help you make some friends in the industry, but will also earn you a good name.

Direct your model.

Your model being inexperienced means that they don’t yet know how to hold their body to portray the needed characteristics. Subtle changes, like avoiding spread legs or straight unbusy arms, can make a huge difference on the overall look. Give directions, tell them to lift and bend their arms above their head. Ensure they seem safe and confident to experiment with their poses and you will end up with some surprisingly creative shots!

Same goes for the model’s face – encourage them to experiment with different emotions and gazes. Always have their eyes visible in the pictures. After all, they are windows to the soul, and that’s what gives life to the photographs.

Be approachable.

As the photoshoot continues, don’t get lost in your camera. You are photographing a person, not an object. Make sure to give feedback and compliments regularly, and every once in awhile go through the photos with your model. This will show them your appreciation and willingness to collaborate. Most importantly, it can help you build a potential friendship. And there’s never too many of those when trying to establish yourself in photography business.

Now that you have a clear idea of how to work with inexperienced models, it is time to put this knowledge to good use. Go find yourself a model and begin building your career! Also, share this article around with your photographer friends – it is crucial that more people understand the difference between friendly and creepy.

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