On being in front of the camera

(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.

You can tell from my feet that Im am not completely relaxed and enjoying the moment

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.

A giant soft box hanging just above me, a thin layer of paper between me and the concrete floor, holding the pose for over half an hour (causing major back muscle soreness next day) but IT WAS WORTH IT!


About lensaddiction

Mad keen photographer figuring it out as she goes!
This entry was posted in For Beginners, Waffle and Burbling and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to On being in front of the camera

  1. forkboy says:

    I would very much like to do some photography with a model. I ‘borrowed’ the daughter once and had results which were far better than I had ever anticipated.

    Unfortunately, being 17 she isn’t particularly cooperative about doing it again.

    But if the occasion ever presents itself I will endeavor to remember your post so that I can make the model’s experience as pleasant as possible.

  2. Pingback: 2010 in review « Learning to See Light

  3. Dwayne says:

    I would like to try with a model as well, someone older than a toddler lol.
    Our friends have a 16 yr old daughter who’s been in beauty pageants so she would have some experience but I wouldn’t have the first clue how to position her.

    • lensaddiction says:

      There are posing books you can buy, and possibly even some cheaper ebook options that photographers have created. Or you could look online at Flickr or something to get an idea of what you like and dont like

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