How To Shoot Non-Professional Models

Directing and Posing Tips for Photographers

During the beginning of my career, I only shot with friends and family. Which meant I didn’t have ‘professional’ models in front of my camera. Even the most beautiful model can take a terrible photo if they have never modeled before-its all about confidence and having a straight-A photographer behind the lens. That’s why it’s important to learn how to give direction and know how to pose any kind of model.

Maybe you’re shooting a wedding and the bride isn’t very comfortable taking photos, or maybe you need to expand your portfolio and your brother is shy but totally down to help you out. Or maybe you just got hired to shoot a lifestyle campaign for a boutique-but they hired their super cute e-comm gal as the model, and she is incredibly stiff once the shoot starts rolling…It’s happened to me-it’s happened to a lot of us, but don’t worry, I’m here to help you out :)

1. Make them feel comfortable. Be present, sincere, and vocal about helping them get the best photo of them shot. Throw in some ice breakers, sometimes small-talk helps! Ask them how their week has been, don’t just rush into shooting. Actually take ten minutes to chat about how they are doing. Know that this is a human-being and not a face to just be ordered around for your photoshoot. I like to act super goofy so the model feels like they can be completely themselves-wild and free, however weird, they can’t be any crazier than me because I’ve already cracked all the dad jokes within the first 10 minutes of meeting each other 😬

2. Give plenty of direction. I don’t know if you’ve ever been on the other side of the camera-but its extremely scary!!! I always hate it when a photographer doesn’t give me any feedback! Am I looking the right way? Is my hair looking weird? What do I do with my hands?! 🤷 Don’t be that guy. Let your model know that you got this. You’re here to make them look good. Tell them to move to the left or right-let them know their blouse needs to be adjusted. When you show them exactly what you want-they feel more confident and trust you. I also show my models the photographs that we’ve taken as we shoot-this always boosts their confidence. Don’t be scared to let them review the photos-they might get even more confident if you do!

3. Compliment your model. This leads from the last point, but it’s so important! Giving your model positive feedback will only boost their confidence and make for an even better photograph. When your model doesn’t feel beautiful or happy, it registers on screen. That’s why it’s so important to let them know they are doing an amazing job. However–know the line between being a creepy photographer who is low-key hitting on your model and someone who is giving helpful positive compliments. Say things like: “Thats a great pose-keep doing that!”, “Amazing, I love this!”, or my favorite, “YASS QUEEN!!”

4. Know your camera angles. This part is all on you. You need to learn all the flattering angles and how your gear works. Understand that sometimes a wide angle lens can warp your model’s face but other times make your short model look runway height. It’s all about how you angle the camera and distance yourself from the subject. This may take some practice and time, but it’s vital homework if you want to better yourself as a photographer.

5. Have fun! No your mom isn’t present and wishing you to ‘have fun’ at work-but understand that even adults need to enjoy themselves. The moment you loose your cool on set, is the moment you’ve just built a reputation as a ‘lame’ photographer in the business. And who wants that? Plus-this should be fun for you!! I shouldn’t have to tell you to have fun-but this is life, and sometimes we get super stressed out about a shoot and forget to enjoy the present moment. Put on some music, let yourselves have a food/water break, get to know your model, and dance a little 😜

Was this post helpful? Do you have a shoot coming up that you’re nervous about?? Please hit me up via email or Instagram and let me know!! I want to help! @champagneunicorns 🦄