(Repost with added images- first posted in Feb 2010)
Todays topic is about models and modelling and making the photographer aware of what makes a model tick. I don’t know about a lot of other people but while I prefer to be behind the camera, I have spent a lot of time being a model as well. It pays reasonably well, and I have worked on and off for years as a nude model for local art schools and for a local photographer.
These thoughts come specifically from the point of a nude model but here are some things to think about :
Most important thing is to have the room warm, and keep it warm. I used to model for one place that had the heaters on to warm it up and then turned them off once class started, and it was a 2 hr class, so by the end of it I was FREEZING and shivering and miserable.
Breaks are important – depending on the model but I was happy with a break around 45 min – if you are standing a lot then have some really good padding to stand on and make breaks about every 20 min. I can pose for longer if I’m sitting, its a lot less tiring
Don’t insist on really complicated 3D poses ALL THE TIME – I stopped working for a guy who teaches a lot in CHCH cos he was really demanding about difficult poses. If it was discussed with me first what the class was going to be about and had a mutual discussion around posing options and preferences that would have been nice, but to him I was just a piece of meat.
Most places just give you some guidance – sit for this one pls, or stand, move this arm, can you lean a bit here – they let you pick the basic pose and tweak it which is better.
If you have a specific look or pose or ‘thing’ you want to achieve, discuss it with the model (possibly even in advance) and get their input. Some of the most extreme poses can be very difficult to sustain for the time it takes for setup, so be patient about asking for basic shapes to help setup lights etc, and that way they can save some energy for when its really happening
Remember they are a person, not a statue – I once astonished an art teacher one day by answering one of the questions he was asking his students – can’t remember what it was now, but he had basically forgotten I had existed. Being talked about as if you aren’t in the room is a little rude as well – its nice to be included in the discussion, if only a tiny little bit to make you feel welcome
Pay in cash on the night unless its a proper business deal (tax and stuff) I had one guy who paid me in professional prints, but it took him ages to get around to it, so if you do that deal, sort it promptly if you want the model to work for you again
For one on one work, make it clear for a first time or nervous model that a friend is welcomed and encouraged (a chaperone essentially – there are some weirdos out there) – let them bring some music to play – if you have a particular mood or feel for the shoot in mind , let them know and they can bring appropriate music to help them relax and get into it more
Be aware of flash effect and brightness and lights – it can be hard work under all that brightness
Be concious of not getting in the zone too much and forgetting to have a break, especially if you are getting them to do creative posing – I did a fun session using large white wooden cubes of different sizes, but balancing and stretching like that and holding it while you fluff around with lights and stuff and then eventually take the shot can be *very* hard work
If you treat them like a person and involve them and get a synergy going, then I am sure you will get much better images rather than having a bored marionette striking poses.