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Developing that Model Photographer Spark

Relationships are built on trust, so it’s no surprise that even work situations depend on mutual trust to build a solid foundation.  As a model, I’ve worked with several photographers, most of whom I had never met until the day of the shoot. As a naturally shy person, meeting new people and feeling at ease enough for them to take my picture is out of my comfort zone.  And while this is the case, it’s also part of the reason modeling has become an important aspect of my life. It has helped me push past limits I thought I had to maintain. I’ve developed lasting relationships and friendships as I continue to build a network of individuals who not only want me to succeed, but who I also want to succeed.  That being said, these relationships take nurturing, and I can’t say that I’ve been able to develop a solid rapport with every photographer that I’ve met. I have found that certain characteristics make me feel more comfortable in front of the camera and thus result in better images in the end. So, if you are a model or a photographer looking to collaborate in making epic pictures, here are some basic principles that will help make that goal a reality.


Communication is key.  Okay, everyone knows that communication is the way to succeed in any relationship, but communication between model and photographer can be even trickier.  Let’s face it, most bookings occur online so interactions are predominantly through written communication. There’s no body language to read, and emojis can only depict a few of our emotions and can often be misinterpreted.  That means it’s even more important that the messages we send are clear and convey our message appropriately. To be honest, I’ve ended conversations about booking a shoot strictly because a text came across in a way I was unsure about.  Many photographers will ask for pictures of you in the clothes you intend to wear, but it can be a little creepy to receive a message asking for selfies of you in your clothes. So when a photographer leads with messages about seeing me in a particular outfit, I often back away.  Personally, I would prefer to learn more about the shoot location and the vision before I share anything besides my professional portfolio. I need their communication to be professional and clear before I decide whether or not to proceed. And for me, I would like to make sure communication is timely.  Most photographers are amazing, but those few that are in for their own selfish agendas can make it a challenge for everyone else.


Learn about each other.  Whether you are the photographer or the model, make take a vested interest in one another’s professional endeavors.  Visit his or her website and social media platforms. Ask yourself some important questions. What types of pictures does he or she take?  Does the offer seem to be too good to be true? Also, ask other models or photographers to serve as references. Not only has this been my best method for ensuring that I am meeting with reputable people, it also helps me learn what the photographer is looking for to see if it connects with my image and brand.  It also gives me talking points if I decide to work with them in the future.


Be respectful and show kindness.  First impressions are especially important, but make sure all your interactions show your compassion.  The photographers who I continue to work with are ones who care about me a person...as Michelle...and not just as another model.  They are the ones who remember my name. They ask me about my life, and how I’m feeling. I’ll be honest, if we get to this level of friendship, our pictures together are going to be amazing, because we have developed a mutual respect that has evolved into friendship.  This doesn’t happen in many model photographer relationships, but when it does, the chemistry is hard to rival. And the results? Well, the edited pictures speak for themselves. When the environment allows you to interact in a way where you can express your needs and wants, you have hit the jackpot.  I’m usually reserved and do what a photographer asks only. But, when I feel at ease enough to propose innovative pose ideas, without the fear of rejection, we have arrived at greatness. And let me say, a few of my crazy pose ideas have ended in failure...like the time I wanted to hang upside down from the pull-up bar during a fitness shoot.  Let’s just say fitness shoots, cooking spray, pull-up bars, and upside down models can be tricky to maneuver. But my photographer was literally there for me. Not only did he save me from slipping off the bar, he also applauded my effort even though the pictures were a disaster. Others ideas, however, have turned out exactly as I had envisioned.  Regardless, creativity has the potential to lead to unforgettable pictures...or at least humorous memories as was the case with the pull-up bar.


Be teammates.  When you finally develop the photographer model connection, you serve as partners who can help each other.  I’ve experienced times when a photographer is more like a dictator than a colleague. He tells me how to move, where to go, and how to make my face look.  And while this can be helpful at times, especially starting out, I also like to have some creative freedom. What would be more beneficial to both parties to share stock pose options from magazines or online images and work on a common goal in that manner.  And be teachers to each other. Good models and photographers share the secrets of their trades with each other. Many photographers told me to keep my face turned toward the light, but I needed to understand the why. And once a photographer explained it to me, I made more of a conscious effort to do it.   Knowledge is strength and helping each other improve will benefit both model and photographer.


Use each other’s strengths.  Sports is my jam, so I enjoy working as a member of a team.  Growing up I was a pitcher on the softball team. I learned quickly that my teammates could make me look better.  My catcher was one of my best friends. She knew how to frame my pitches, she knew when to come out to the mound to help me relax, and she even called the game for me.  She was amazingly skilled at her position, and I must say that I was decent at mine, but we knew our positions were able to complement each other. This same concept is true in the world of modeling.  I love being in front of the camera, but I also have other skills that help me. I enjoy writing and am passionate about health and fitness, which can be an asset to certain photographers. On the other hand, I am generally pretty reserved.  I don’t always sell myself well, so when I have a photographer who is more of an extrovert and can help me market myself to others, they can offer assistance where I am lacking.


Share words of affirmation.  Don’t be afraid to compliment each other’s accomplishments.  For every negative comment we make, we should have at least three positive ones.  It’s crazy but true. Turn criticisms into suggestions and always begin with things you like before offering any negative feedback.  Choose to look at all criticism as a challenge to improve upon for the next shoot, and together, brainstorm ways to build upon what you have and ramp it up for the future.  When we focus on continuous improvement, we are driven toward success.


Promote each other.  Selfies don’t make magazine covers.  Just like the phrase it takes a village to raise a child, I’ve learned that it takes a village to create a picture.  If a photograph is worth sharing, that means people deserve credit. Always make sure to tag everyone you can when you share pictures.  Building a network is essential to propel you in the modeling and photography world. Plus, people are looking at what you post. Essentially your photographs serve as resume, so make sure that you represent everyone well as you show potential clients what you will do for them to help them gain recognition as well.


Like any relationship, sometimes that natural chemistry is just there, while other times it needs a little more nurturing to blossom.  Regardless, modeling is a team sport. We are all stronger when we work together. And I can confidently say that I have found a team of supporters, through REVO, that is so motivated and driven, that I have an intense desire to raise the bar for myself and improve for each shoot. The photographer and owner has an attitude of servitude.  He is so willing to go above-and-beyond, that I want to do the same, which has resulted in some pretty dope outcomes.

To follow my team or maybe even join, follow @fitmodelmom, @jasonarntz, @revoimage, @cynthia_hoang, @mrdecaire



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