Photography is just like any other art, which means it should be expressed freely. However, with any form of work comes rules. A lot of photographers are coming up and sometimes it’s easier to think that knowing how to shoot and produce a good picture is enough. But when it comes to photographing people, there are a few rules that are simple common courtesy that in my opinion photographers should adhere to.
This will also ensure that proper boundaries are established and everyone involved feels comfortable and respected.
Photographing somebody is like a dance. The photographer is the lead, the model follows. If you are stepping on their toes, you won’t get the stride you want. Bottom line is, Modelling demands skills, and so does good directing.
Model in this context represent the subject of your shoot and not necessarily a professional model.
Give Positive Feedback
Create a positive environment for your subject. Note that any form of negativity shown in the presence of your subject whether directed to the them or not may have a negative impact and dampen the mood.
Your overall mood passes over to the models regardless of your intention. Most people are very self-conscious in front of the camera, so they are more than likely to take blame for something that you negatively express on the set. So if you are looking for great shots, keep it positive.
Show the Good Photos
I saw this tip recommended and maybe some photographers prefer to show the images after the shoot is done. As a subject I would say when I see good pictures in between, I get inspired and more confident for the subsequent shoot. This is often suggested, but differs among photographers.
Adapt Your Behavior to The Personality of Your Model.
Two psychotherapists pass each other in the hallway. The first says to the second, “Hello!”
The second smiles back nervously and half nods his head. When he is comfortably out of earshot, he mumbles, “God, I wonder what *that* was all about?”
Point is, as there are different kinds of people. Some of us roll the toilet paper over, some of us roll it under. Each model is unique, take some time to engage with your models and asses their sense of humour compared to yours and adjust accordingly.
Play Some Music or Converse
With this one, just know your subject’s preference. It also depends with the type of shoot. Some prefer music played on the background, while others feel more at ease with conversation. So, whatever puts your subject at ease, figure out and do it.
If they are super shy, ask the rest of the crew to leave your set for the first shot until they get comfortable.
Save Posing/Concept Ideas to Your Phone
Have images that you’ve shot or that inspires the theme of the shoot on your phone. Explaining concept, feeling or emotion you’re trying to capture helps, but having some images on your phone will have both of you on the same page and also help when you run out of ideas.
This does not imply copying the image, but instead used to show the model the kind of feeling you want to create.
Don’t Touch the Model Without Permission
This tip that I learned from a photographer the other day actually inspired this post. I mean it’s a no-brainer but if it’s your first time learning too, welcome aboard.
Unless you have to, where you are requested to adjust something, or help in some way, keep your hands off the model. Even when directing poses, verbal communication should do it. Do not touch the model unless you have asked and obtained permission.
Don’t Assume the Model Can Read Your Mind
Always remember that the model can’t read your mind. No matter how experienced your subject is, just directing poses without clear concept is not enough. Communicate your vision. This helps even with the interpretation of the look, style, feel and emotion of the shoot.
You might have the best location, styling, and lighting setup, but if you don’t have the right kind of emotion in your model’s face, it will all have been for nothing.
Remember; if they don’t know what you’re going for, they’re not going to be able to give it to you.
Don’t Put the Model in Harm’s Way
Obvious one right? We know you want cool images and videos, but don’t direct your model to do something crazy risky. Think about the potential consequences and if you feel like the risk is doable, ask if they’re cool with it first.
Photographers have a duty of care toward their subjects. Even if your subject understands the risks and agree, you’re still responsible for their safety while they’re under your direction and liable in the event of something happening.
Don’t Be Too Serious
Photography is supposed to be fun. create a good, fun vibe. A serious shoot session/ photographer can be really uncomfortable. You might want to look professional by maintaining a straight face, but in most cases, you look like your bills dragged you there. Enjoy the process of creating the images. Again, your energy elevates the whole mood of the shoot.
Your mood as the leader is contagious; and Please don’t say “make love to the camera” do people still say that?
Don’t Use Inappropriate Terminology
To determine what’s acceptable and what’s not, know your relationship with the subject. When you’re working with somebody you don’t know, always be polite and choose your words carefully when giving directions.
If you need them to stick their chest forward a little more, or lean their butt a certain way, think of how to do it in a manner that is not too personal. For instance, ask her to pull her shoulders back or lean her hip to the side.
Bonus pointer: experience it firsthand; become a model yourself for an hour or two . When you are on the other side of the camera, you see things in a different light. You might realize that it is not as easy as you thought.