Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's your first shoot! Pretend it's your 100th!

The big moment has arrived!!  You have your model bag ready, you've stretched, you've practiced, you've researched - you're ready! But what to do once the camera is turned on? We are going to delve into some basic photo shooting tips, for both nude and non nude shoots, to help better prepare you to be able to show up and kick butt!

First rule in being professional and taken seriously - show up, every time. This business is full of flaky models and the moment you are pegged as one, you might as well give up! Professional photographers want to work with professional models, so treat this as you would any other job and you will succeed.

Model: Andree de Villers. Photographer: Steve Richard. Circa: 2009.

When you are shooting nude, most of the time the image is centered around the model.  The biggest differences come with the type of shoot you are doing and the image you are trying to create.

A few things as a model you need to think about when shooting nude:
  • Ensure that you wear loose fitting clothing with no bra and underwear to your shoot.  Otherwise you will be covered in lines that take forever to go away and are a real pain to Photoshop.
  • When you are doing glamour shooting it's all about chest out, bum out, stomach in, back arched, toes pointed - at all times.
  • When shooting artistic nudes it's all about extension.  Try to be as graceful as possible while holding every single muscle in to make your body as defined as possible.  Artistic nude can go either way, sometimes you are graceful and sometimes you go out of your way to look too skinny, deformed or misshapen.
  • When sitting down it is important to remember to never actually sit, more so hover.  Alternatively if you are sitting with your legs crossed, you can just roll onto the opposite hip so that your bottom and leg are not squished on the chair.
  • When you suck in, don't just suck in but suck in and raise yourself up. Straighten your back, hold your head and neck up, throw your shoulders back to elongate your body.
  • Never lock your knees or elbows.  It looks very abnormal and disfigured in photographs! Always keep them at a slight bend.
  • A general rule of thumb is things should be perfectly symmetrical or not at all.  It's best to have each hand doing something different to get an interesting image. 
  • Be careful when you are twisting any part of your body, looking backward as an example.  It will create rolls on your skin that are very unflattering and hard to Photoshop.  Instead, ensure that you are elongating the part of the body you are twisting, until you can run your hand along the twisted area and it feels smooth!  This may also mean you need to twist a little less!
A few things as a photographer you need to think about when shooting nude:
  • Provide a clean towel or a robe for your model to wear in between sets. We recommend white as you can bleach them afterward for sanitary purposes.
  • Ensure you are armed with posing suggestions for your model, they may not realize the poses they are attempting are not flattering.
  • Work with the environment around the model to create foreground and depth to your image.
  • If you are shooting digital, ensure that you pause to show your model some of the images.  It both boosts your model's confidence and allows you an opportunity to point out ways to improve the image.
  • If you see that your model is running out of ideas for poses, always have a bag of materials that you can give to your model as an accessory.
  • Mix up your angles, play with the lights, attempt to highlight the model's natural curves using shadows for definition. Don't be afraid to experiment - rules are meant to be broken!
  • Always be aware of how the model is feeling, as an example if you are outside and your model is cold or if they've been holding a pose too long and are in pain. Many models are troopers, they will do what they need to do to get the shot, so you need to be monitoring the situation and make a call to give your model a break when you know that it's needed.
  • Practice ways of articulating direction, as you should not touch a model. Never touch a model. Certainly not without the model's permission. We recommend building a relationship before breaking personal barriers as everyone's barriers are different!

Model: Andree de Villers. Photographer: Steve Richard. Circa: 2008.
This image is from a series called 'Cloudbusting', turned into a stunning coffee table book.


Model: Andree de Villers. Photographer: Sarah DeVenne. Circa: 2008.

When you are shooting with clothes, you are doing one of two things.  Either the clothes are just a piece in the puzzle of a greater overall image, or the entire point of the image is to showcase that clothing.

A few things as a model you need to think about when shooting with clothing:
  • Add to your model bag essentials such as 3 thongs (nude, white, black), jeans, black heels, tank top, a dress, clear nail polish, small clamps, lint brush, empty bottles, safety pins, small sewing kit, push up and strapless bras, bikini and two types of nylons (nude and black).
  • Ensure that if you are doing your own makeup, you choose colours that compliment, not match, the outfit that you are wearing.
  • Don't decide how to do your hair until you know what you are wearing, certain looks are greatly accentuated by different looks such as hair being up swept or out long.  If you are doing your own hair, discuss it with the photographer/stylist ahead of time, it's always better to have the team's input!
  • If you need to give your cleavage a boost, you can do so by stuffing your bra with socks or paper towel.  If you are wearing a bra-less outfit, tape some duck tape (we like duct tape because it doesn't come off when you sweat under the hot lights) to one side of your breast, pull it underneath your breasts and pull the second breast in, placing the tape on the side. Instant cleavage! 
  • Clothing is not always going to fit. But you can make it fit for a shoot!!  
    • Shirt/Dress/Skirt too tight? Don't zip it up all the way and shoot from the front only!
    • Shirt/Dress too baggy? Roll up your shirt in the back and clamp it with clothes pins/small clamps.
    • Pants/Skirt too baggy? Take a pop bottle and slip it in between your back and the waist line on the garment - it will pull it tight and make it appear to fit!
    • Shoes too big? Ball up some tissue and put it in the front of the shoe!
  • If your nylons run, just take some clear nail polish and apply it to the run on your leg.  It will stop the run so you can continue!
  • Make sure that when you are posing you are thinking about how each move is affecting the garment.  Before you leave your changing room, trying raising your arms and legs in the mirror, see how it makes the garment look.  Try placing your hands on your hips - does it make the garment look good, or make it bunch up?  Be aware of all of these things and take them into consideration when you are posing.
A few things as a photographer you need to think about when shooting clothing:
  • Discuss in advance with the team what the concept is.  Ensure that everyone knows what they are responsible for and maintain control of the concept if it is your own.
  • If you are shooting using the model's wardrobe, always ask them to bring accessories and more clothing then they intend to shoot in. It's usually better to have too many choices then not enough! 
  • We recommend having an assistant on hand, especially when working with material or long dresses, to drop fabric from above off camera, creating the look of the material flowing from behind the model.
  • Do an inspection of the garment if there is no stylist present.  If you notice a thread, tag or something else out of place, ask the model to adjust. 
  • If the clothing is the focus of the shoot, ensure that is the case.  Don't get caught up in props and accessories that overshadow the garment.
  • If you are shooting in a studio, it is a great idea to utilize a fan to make the material/hair flow.
  • When shooting different body types, ensure you are adjusting your angle.  An example would be when shooting a plus size model you would never shoot from a low angle, as this widens the subject.
Model: Andree de Villers. Photographer: Sarah DeVenne. Circa: 2010.

We will definitely go into further details on specific techniques for each style of photography in future blogs!!!  We hope that this information is helpful and as always, we welcome your questions, comments and suggestions!

Andree & Sarah


  1. As a rookie photographer, this blog helps a lot. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and experience!

  2. Thank you so much! We are glad that you are finding it helpful! If you ever have any questions feel free to ask away!!

    Andree & Sarah

  3. This will become required reading!
    Thanks for the great reference material.
    Keep up the good work.

  4. That couch shot is excellent! Nice work!