fashion photography

Model Photography From The Model's Side of the Camera

Photography Greg Powers
The stuff I post here about model, fashion and beauty photography is mostly tech talk: lighting, cameras, lenses and so on. To change things up a bit, I asked my friend Laurence Yang, editor-in-chief of Runway Weekly, to write a post about what it's like to be on the other side of the camera - the model's side.

Take it away Laurence!

Yes, models do need to be beautiful. For photographers, however, a model's beauty is not only skin deep. It's more than that. A good model needs a good photographer where he and the model work as a team. By doing that, they must have certain qualities that will help create stunning images.

I must say when modeling at seminars and workshops - I get a lot of comments and questions from amateur photographers who always asks me, "How can I make you comfortable during a photo shoot?" I also get asked, "What can I do or say to encourage the model?" 

Well, it's very rare that I feel uncomfortable during a shoot anymore but I have to say - I was once a beginner as well and didn't know what to expect at times. So I do know how unpleasant and awkward it can be to shoot in front of a camera with some random photographer who's probably feeling the same because he is possibly just learning himself. So I've come up with a list of suggestions for photographers who are trying to help the models feel  comfortable shooting.

I. Get to know the model.

When you have a committed team, the whole experience is very rewarding for everyone. Whether you're trying to have a consultation with the model before the shoot or spending sometime on the actual shoot day. Try arriving early to set up lights and backdrops so you can test everything before a shoot that way while the model is getting hair and make up done you can discuss the mood and goal you are trying to achieve. It's just an advantage of getting to know everyone.

Tip: Want to break the ice? I love it when photographers offer to do a coffee run while hair and make up is being done.  

II. You can look, but you can't touch! Don't be creepy - PERIOD.

It doesn't take a scientist to figure this out. Just don't get all touchy with the model. It's not ok to put your hand on her arm, knee, or even to give a hug - unless initiated by the model. Yes, all of this has happened to me. Instead, give her a high-five. Acknowledge her after a fabulous shot. Sometimes photographers hound models to drop their tops, and they end up getting a bad reputation.

There are many awkward situations between photographers and models; like changing outfits on a beach. If this happens ask a female assistant to cover the model with a towel or suggest her to change in your car. Also, if there is a piece of hair or clothing in the way of your perfect shot, point to it and let the model know so she or an assistant/stylist can fix it, that's what they're there for.

III. Put a TEAM together. Hire a makeup, hair and wardrobe stylist and if needed a photo assistant.

I always get asked to do my own make up for shoots and sometimes even clothes. I don't mind but having someone else who knows what they are doing is great. Models are meant to pose and look good in front of the camera, not to put on make-up or to go buy outfits and then return them the next day. That's what the rest of the team is for. Here's the thing, some photographers don't get it - they think they can just snap a picture and make the model look good. Guess what, at times it does work and that's fabulous. These days especially in this industry - DETAILS matter!

Depending on what your shooting bad hair and make-up may ruin your shoot. Some photographers don't have a clue as to when it comes to picking out the perfect eye shadow shade or the perfect belt to go that top he/she is wearing. The key is, it's in the photographer's best interest to keep their model's hair and make up as fresh as possible - which means this shoot isn't going to work if you hand the model a huge pelican case and make her truck all your gear half way across the desert.

IV. Give direction and don't over exhaust your model!

For some photographers, this isn't the easiest thing to do. Most of it is learned over time. It all depends on the model. Some need guidance on what expression to give and how to pose and some are experienced and don't need to be told what to do. I've been on shoots where I was told how to pose, when to smile and when not to smile. It was bad!!! I've also been on shoots where I've had no direction to the point where I feel lost and had no motive to shoot.

Giving SOME direction is ideal. Another thing don't keep pushing your model to shoot if the outcome you've hoped for had already been achieved. Modeling is exhausting. When the shoot is taking longer then expected, things start to get uncomfortable. From my experiences when I'm tired, the pictures simply don't look as nice - especially if your team is worn out after a draaaaging day. If there isn't any more juice to squeeze out of the lemon then there is no need to keep shooting.

More helpful Do's & Don'ts TIPS:


** Show them works you have already done.
** Put on some music. Ask the model if she has anything she would like to listen to while shooting.
** Bring a large t-shirt, towel/sheet or robe ready for the model.
** Offer refreshments. Fainting models aren't fun!
** Give your model plenty of breaks. 10-15 minutes is a long time to be posing.
** Show images during break, it gives the model a feel of how she's doing and what she needs to work on for the next set.
** Be upbeat, professional, encouraging and confident.
** Compliments! Compliments! Compliments!


** Push your model beyond her boundaries.
** Watch your model change.
** Act like a giant douche bag, then you won't move up the ranks and won't be able to work with more experienced models.
** Ask the model out after a shoot!


Laurence Yang
Runway Weekly

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If you want to get better at model photography, Hal "Bull" Schmitt and I are running a model workshop later this year. Click here for info.

Leaving Las Vegas for an Awesome Model Shoot

Photograph by Rick Sammon
Hal "Bull" Schmitt, director of Light Photographic Workshops, and I are planning an awesome model photography workshop in and around Vegas in some totally cool - and secluded – locations. See below.

Photograph by Rick Sammon

Photograph by Rick Sammon
 You need to be in good physical condition, as a bit of hiking is involved.

Hey, even if you just want to photograph the landscape, you may want to join the photo fun. However, we only have one price for the entire workshop.

Photographs by Hal "Bull" Schmitt
Space will be limited to 20. So, the max in each group, for individual attention, will be 10.

We'll cover both natural light and flash/reflector/diffuser photography.

Photograph by Rick Sammon
Here's the schedule:

Friday, September 2:
Welcome dinner and slide shows by Rick and Hal

Saturday, September 3:
AM: Indoor Model Shoot
PM: Outdoor Model Shoot

Sunday, September 4:
AM: Outdoor Model and Landscape Shoot
PM: Shoot, Download (Hal and I will help you with Lightroom and Photoshop) and Group Slide Show. . . and Good-bye Dinner.

Cost per person: $499.00.

Includes: Workshop fee and models fees. Note: You can only use the model photographs for personal use.

Hotels, meals and transportation are on your own. However, we will car pool for the location shoots.

Each photographer will also receive copies of my books:

Exploring the Light 
Rick Sammon's Exploring the Light: Making the Very Best In-Camera Exposures
Field Guide to Digital Photography
Rick Sammon's Field Guide to Digital Photography: Quick Lessons on Making Great Pictures

Plus, we will have more than $1,000.00 in door prizes.

We will be staying in a hotel outside of Vegas - to cut down on expenses.

Interested? Shoot me an email. Fist come, first serve.

Explore the light,

Bounce Lighting + Basic Skin Softening = Cool Photo

Westcott kicked off its nationwide Top Pro Tour yesterday in NJ with yours truly. As usual, I handed over my tethered Canon 5D Mark II camera and let several of the participants shoot!

Oh yeah! Before it was my turn to present, Dave Piazza illustrated the beautiful lighting effects that can be achieved with constant lights (Spyder Lights). So, it was Dave on constant lights and me on flash. :-)

The lighting for the above image was simple: We bounced my camera-mounted Canon Speedlite 580 EX flash into a Westcott large reflector, which softened and spread the light.

Here is one of my favorite images, shot by one of the participants. It started out as a color file, which I converted to black-and-white using Nik Software's Silver Efex Pro. I added the drop shadow and thin black line in Photoshop.

To soften the model's skin, I used this skin-softening technique in Photoshop:
- Duplicate the layer.
- Change the blending mode of the top layer to Overlay.
- Go to Filters > Others > High Pass.
- Press Command/I.
At this point, the entire top layer should be softly blurred.
- Use the eraser tool over the eyes and mouth to sharpen those areas.

Thanks to all the photographers who participated in this fun event! And thanks to our model, Laurence Yang, for helping to make the photographs look great. Tip: never underestimate the importance of a good subject.

I hope you can join some of my photographer friends in the other stops on the Top Pro Tour! You can save $20 by using this code when you register: TPT7231.

To learn more about lighting, check out my latest app, Light It!

Explore the light,

P.S. You can get a 15% discount on Silver Efex Pro, and all Nik plug-ins, here.

Fashion Week Day 4: Digital Darkroom Effects

I hope you have enjoyed this week's posts. All the photographs were pretty much straight shots.

For some added fashion fun, I thought I'd share a few digital darkroom effects that I created in with Nik Software.

Above: Polaroid Transfer effect is Nik Color Efex Pro.

Above: Antique Plate effect in Nik Software's Silver Efex Pro.

Above: straight shot.

You can get a discount on all Nik Software by clicking here.

Tomorrow is the final post in this fun series. Tune in for the topic :-)

Explore the light,

Fashion Week Day 3: Styling is So Essential

When I used to write about my underwater photography adventures, I always gave my scuba dive guides credit. They played an important role in helping me find cool subjects – and keeping me safe under water.

In my photography books, I often give my guide credit for their assistance, especially when it comes to getting me into remote villages on the other side of the planet.

This week, I am giving credit to the person who helped with the sidewalk shoot photographs that illustrate this week's fashion photography posts.

Vered Koshlano found the model for the shoot, showed me the wall, bought several different outfits for the model, did the model's hair and make-up, helped with the lighting - and suggested several poses. In essence, Vered styled the shoot. I could not have done it without her.

What did I do? Well, in addition to pressing a few buttons and adjusting a few knobs on my camera, I composed the shot. I also determined and adjusted the lighting – which I talked about in yesterday's post. In this photograph, the shadow is even more pronounced that in yesterday's photo. That shadow adds a sense of depth to the image. It also makes the photo look a bit more dramatic than yesterday's image.

Keep styling in mind when you are making a photograph. And speaking of making, as you can see, a lot went into the making of this image.

Tomorrow: Digital Darkroom Effects.

Explore the light,