The Intimate Experience Between Model and Camera

Photo by Eddie Aldrete

By: Eddie Aldrete

There is a reason why I am a photographer. Or rather why I feel more comfortable being behind the camera; it is because being in front of the camera is really uncomfortable. The photographer behind the camera is asking you to expose yourself. They are able to see every detail of your face. It’s unnerving to have someone look at your essence and judge you. Feeling uncomfortable while modeling can ruin a photo. It is the photographer’s job to make their model/client feel comfortable. Here are some tips that I use that can help bring out the best out of my model.  

You are the director, SO DIRECT!

“An average director directs. A good director leads and follows at the same time.” 
― Kensington Gore

You are photographing an emotional photo. You have in your head a jovial image with the model looking into the lens with their big smile. Since you have an image in your head then how do you make it come true? Well, don’t tell your model to “look happy”. That is a huge no. You never direct a model by saying “be__blank___” or “look___blank”. Your model will most likely be unable to really grasp and perform what you are asking for because they don’t know in your head how the image looks. They may smile with a fake unauthentic smile. There may be a smile on their face, but their eyes look emotionless. Another issue that can arise is that what if your model hates smiling. They dislike their smile for some reason. So, they are really apprehensive to smile. To improve your shot is simple. Ask your model to think of something happy or tell you a funny story. Compliment your model by saying that they are a natural. Tell them that they are doing great. Tell them to fake an ugly laugh to make them laugh at their own laugh. Essentially, TELL THEM. As a photographer you need to tell your model what to do. Directing helps lead your model into the headspace they should be in. Take control of your image. 

“As a photographer you need to tell your model what to do.”

Be Confident

You wouldn’t get surgery from a surgeon who was really unsure about their skills. That would be very scary to go through with. Photography is not surgery, but it can still be daunting for the model. If your model is uncomfortable then be confident. Assure them that everything is going to be okay. They are in a way exposing themselves to you. By having themselves be in your control. A trust needs to be built in a short amount of time. You are a professional, so act like one and lead your model in the right direction.

Do Not Touch Your Model!! (Without Consent of course)

I personally feel like this is a given. But do not touch your model without consent. Always ask before you touch your model. I get it, your model is not really listening to your direction. Or that they are not really understanding what you are trying to get at. You want to touch their shirt chest area and fix something. However, the last thing you want your model to feel is invaded. You will make your model feel uncomfortable and possibly clam up more if you touch them. ALWAYS ASK BEFORE YOU TOUCH. Just because you are the director does not mean you have the right to touch them without asking. But either way, a great director doesn’t need to touch their model to fix their hands, hair, or shirt. They should and will have the ability to communicate with their model properly and clearly. 

You have to remember that your model is in strange territory. It is intimidating to many to be in front of a professional. Then act like a professional. Make them feel comfortable with knowing that they are in good hands. Not someone who is hoping a good image will come out. The experience of the lens and model shouldn’t be daunting. It should be a safe space.

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