Taking Photos That Mean Something – Models

I’m going to share a few of my own ideas that might help you out.  Please feel free to steal these ideas and make them work for you, but please share with me your thoughts and opinions about these.  This is going to be a two part series.  Part two will talk more about candid photos.

I’ve worked with a lot of different models.  Some had little or no experience while others have been modeling for more than a decade.  I’ve worked with friends, co-workers, and total strangers.  Realistically though, I still have no clue what I’m doing.  Some is just pure luck, while others is just this crazy vision I have in my head that I play out.  And it’s never about the camera.  There are people who can take amazing photos with a cell phone. It’s all about the person behind and in front of the camera.

As a photographer or model, if you are nervous, unprepared, and unimaginative it’s going to be tough to create something that people like.  So how do you prevent this from happening?

Nervous – You have to be able to talk to strangers.  You can’t expect to work with a model and never talk to them.  Someone a long time ago gave me a great exercise to try.  Go to a busy mall, store, or shopping center.  Sit down and watch people.  Find someone you would be interested in working with.  Approach said person and just flat out ask them if they would be interested in working with you.  Now this next part everyone should write down because it’s an excellent trick.  And single guys should know this too because it works 100% of the time if you want to get a girl’s phone number.  Have with you two business cards with your name, number, website, and email address on them.  Give her one card and you take the other card and flip it over with pen ready.  Ask her, “What is the best way to get a hold of you, e-mail or phone?”  It works!  Do it.  Say good bye to your fear of strangers.

Preparation – When I was in 3rd grade, I did a project on dreams.  My teacher had me take a notebook and leave it by my bed.  This way when I woke up I would stand the best chance at remembering my dream and writing down every detail immediately rather than waiting until later when I most likely would have forgot it.  I still do this today, only I no longer write down my dreams, but ideas I have for photos.  It’s also expanded from just a single notebook at my bed to my desk at home, my desk at work, my car, and sometimes a small one in my jacket pockets.  Most pages are filled with random scribbling and drawings that I most likely will never use.  But sometimes I get an idea that I throw down in one of my notebooks that really works.  Write down locations you notice that you would like to use, ideas from a TV show, movie, song, or commercial.  You never know where inspiration will come from.

Unimaginative – A simple motto I live by with photography is the weirder the better.  It’s simple and makes sense.  Is it something that you like and want to see?  Then I’m sure somebody else would to.  And never be afraid to try new things.  Why would somebody want to dig through someone’s portfolio of 500 images of the same model but just a slightly different pose?  Or 300 pictures of pink flowers?  Yes I’m sure the model is pretty and the flower is gorgeous, but do you really expect someone to take the time to look through them all?  Be honest.  Don’t forget about that regular model or your favorite pink flowers, but step back and look at the rest of the world.

A few other tricks I’ve learned that can help capture a beautiful picture:

  • Talk to your model about anything and everything, those moments captured are very special.
  • Do not go overboard on props, especially when you have to hike a mile to get there.
  • Laugh with the model. Real laughs captured are phenomenal.
  • Whenever recruiting or submitting ad’s for models, make “playful” be a requirement.
  • Always try and capture emotions in a still picture.

I hope you all can take at least one thing away from this to help you create a photo that you like, your model likes, and others will want to purchase.

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One thought on “Taking Photos That Mean Something – Models

  1. Matt – this is excellent. I learned a lot from it myself. The fear of strangers part is perfect. You’re right… I need to do this with my photography more. I bring my camera everywhere, but I’m afraid of taking pics of strangers – don’t want to make anyone upset. I should just ask them if it’s ok and do it. I’m going to try this next time. The notebook part – I LIVE BY IT. I have fragments of poems, thoughts, ideas, stories, in about 10 notebooks. They’re my life. The model part is also great. I don’t work so much with models but it’s info that I can definitely still use.

    Can’t wait for part 2!

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