– Practice – Practice!
Even top models spend time in front of the mirror – practicing expressions and poses.
It is important to know how your face feels when you smile, or laugh, or frown, or pout.
It is important to know how your body feels when it is posed in an attractive manner.
Practice facial expressions in front of the mirror – learn how your face feels with a perfect smile – no gums, eyes open – not squinting.
Practice your poses in front of a mirror – while naked. Yes – it says “naked”. With clothes on you have pockets, collars, etc. to “hang on” to. Without clothes – you have to learn how to place your hands and make them look attractive.
If you are shooting with me, I will guide you in poses – however you will be much more confident if you are able to do some basic poses on your own. Look through current magazines for ideas.
Sign up to receive free catalogs from either of these two companies. Chadwicks / Newport News. Their catalogs are the ultimate models posing guide! Study them and pay particular attention to how the models pose in different style clothing. Look closely at how they hold their hands.
Select your outfits and write a detailed list of the styles and colors that you are bringing. Add specific shoes and accessories to your list. Do NOT bring jewelry unless requested by the photographer or client. Portfolio images are about YOU – you are the product – don’t water down the image with jewelry.
Props! – Think of props that you can bring to match your outfits. Props make a photo more believable and also give you something else to do with your hands.
If you are shooting with me, send me your detailed list of outfits, including colors, styles, shoes, accessories, props, etc.
Remember – great commercial photographs aren’t accidents – they require planning.
Wax or shave your legs and armpits 3 days prior to a shoot. If you are modeling swimwear or lingerie, be sure you hit the bikini line. This is also the time to be sure your facial hair is under control. Don’t have your facial hair waxed in the three days prior to your shoot in order to allow for irritation to disappear.
Check your hair! If it has been a while since you had a trim, now is the time. Just be sure your hairdresser knows that he/she can’t go too wild this time. If you hair is dry, opt for a deep conditioning treatment. If you color your hair, get a refresher or have your roots done.
Note: Now is NOT the time to try new hair color/style or beauty treatment! If your color doesn’t come out as planned or your skin breaks out because you reacted to a new cleanser, you won’t look your best!
Call your photographer. It is VERY important that you call 48 hours prior to the shoot.
To confirm the date and time.
To confirm the list of outfits – styles and colors and props.
To ask any last minute questions that you may have.
Get your nails done. Generally, short and neutral (nude polish or a French manicure) is the desired look. I can’t even begin to tell you how many great photographs have been ruined by horrible nails! Don’t forget your toes!
Drink plenty of water, avoid salty foods and alcohol prior to a shoot so that you are not puffy on the day of the shoot.
PLEASE – Get plenty of sleep before a shoot.
Bags, dark circles, and bloodshot eyes WILL ruin a shoot. Sleep at least eight hours a night for the three days prior to your shoot and avoid alcohol
Hint: Shop at Wal-Mart or Target!
Better yet: Don’t shop at all!
I recently received an email from a prospective commercial model. The young lady sent me a very well written inquiry requesting some information and guidance. She was smart enough to provide me with all of her stats and attach a few photos that she had recently shot with a local photographer.
As I opened the photos, to my disappointment I found a selection of images featuring floral print dresses, hoop ear rings and outfits that didn’t fit properly.
In other words – this young lady had a set of images that she spent a lot of money for and put a lot of effort into and they are ultimately worthless.
For a commercial model – the clothing is a costume. The clothing is meant to make the character convincing.
Let’s face it – if someone looks at your photos and comments on the outfit – you have failed. Your portfolio is designed to sell you – not the clothing, definitely not jewelry, and definitely not the makeup or photographers creativity.
When selecting outfits for a commercial portfolio shoot – be sure to follow these simple guidelines and you won’t go wrong.
Solid colors. Absolutely no floral prints or patterns.
Make sure the clothing fits properly. Be realistic. Just because you like to wear your clothing tight doesn’t mean that it looks good in a photograph that way.
No trendy or fashion oriented outfits. A commercial portfolio is about personality – your ability to look and act like an “attractive real person.”
Be sure to have a good mix of colors and styles. An agency should not be able to tell what your favorite color of clothing is when they look at your book.
For headshots, also be sure to remember the following guidelines
Avoid white and light pastel colors.
Warm earthy tones are best.
Avoid v-necks unless your photographer is proficient at photographing them properly.
If you are shooting more than one top – be sure to mix up the necklines.
Be sure that the top has shoulders – no spaghetti straps, tank tops or sleeveless shirts.
Shirts with texture are great for headshots. (Sweaters, knit or ribbed material, etc).
If you have planned your shoot properly – you started with ideas and then selected outfits to match the ideas.
Remember – your modeling portfolio is selling you and your ability to portray different characters. The outfits that you select are a costume and should not become the focus of the picture.
One final suggestion. . . If you find yourself with a great idea, but you don’t own the outfit that you need, avoid running out to the mall and spending money on an outfit that you may never wear again.
Beg, Borrow and Steal. Check with friends and relatives – you may be able to borrow the outfit that you need.
Use a credit card. Be sure to check on the stores return policy. Return the item after your shoot. (Don’t tell anyone that I gave you this idea.)
If you absolutely have to purchase something that you will only need for the shoot – go to Wal-Mart or Target!)
Looking like a model is one thing, but models don't get paid to just sit there and look pretty. Their success in the business comes down to how well they can pose and give the photographer interesting and marketable shots. Whether you want to enhance your career as a model or just be more photogenic, the following tips will help add new dimensions to your shots.
Slouch a little.
Slouch a little. There are a few times when you'll need to throw your shoulders back for a shot, but generally, a little slouch makes your pose look natural and relaxed. That doesn't mean you should hunch over (although this will work with some high fashion shots). If you're standing, put uneven weight on your feet, and the leg with less weight will naturally bend a little. You'll look more comfortable and your posture will appear more natural. Don't slouch so much, though, that it makes your stomach look bigger.
Be asymmetrical. For a more interesting shot, make sure that you're doing something different with each side of your body. You can be dramatic and do something totally different with each of your limbs and tilt your head to the side, but you might look like a puppet. Being asymmetrical can be as simple as dipping one shoulder or hip, making sure that your arms are at different heights, and bending one leg a little (or a lot) more than the other.
Point your nose away from the camera.
Point your nose away from the camera. Looking at the camera straight on can work in some dramatic shots, but generally it's better to put your face at an angle, and look at the camera from that angle. Tilt your nose a little up or down, a little left or right, but keep your gaze on that camera.
o Learn which angles flatter your face the most. Do you have a great jaw line? Tilt your head up and to the side a little. Experiment in front of a mirror or with your own camera to see which angles make the most interesting shots on your face.
o Know which direction the light is coming from. Remember that light will cast shadows, and even if they are slight, they will affect the appearance of your face. If light is coming from the top, tilting your nose down may cause your browbone to cast a shadow over your eyes, which is good if you're going for a sinister shot, but not good if you're trying to look friendly.
Practice. Get a digital camera, set up a tripod, and take thousands of shots. Since viewing the shots on your computer screen costs nothing, there's really no excuse not to practice. You should know which poses work for you, and which don't. Learn which poses flatter which parts of your body. Become familiar with which poses work with various types of clothing; some poses emphasize the clean lines of a power suit, some poses emphasize the flow of a gown. Practice with props like a chair, or holding objects (a vase, a rope, a beach ball, whatever - be creative!).
Listen to your photographer. A good photographer will offer feedback and frankly, tell you what to do so they can get the shot they want. Be cooperative and gracious (and graceful!). Don't allow yourself to get nervous, or else you will tense up and look stiff. Relax into each pose and connect with the camera.
- Study. Look at magazines and brochures with a critical eye. Make note of how the model is posing: what are they doing with their hands, limbs, head, eyes, lips? What emotion does the pose convey?
- Breathe. Sometimes when we concentrate, or we're nervous, we slow or speed up our breathing dramatically. You might even find yourself holding your breath for a shot. Remain conscious of your breathing; keep it normal and relaxed.
- Visualization may help you capture the emotion that you need for a shot. If the photographer is looking for a melancholic shot, for example, imagine a melancholic character in a movie and pretend to be him or her. You may find that you're better able to channel your "inner melancholy" that way.
- SMILE! One of the most significant improvements you can make in ANY portrait is so simple yet can make the biggest difference between getting a "good shot" versus getting a "GREAT shot" and that is to simply smile. Of course, this is invalid if you are a model and the photographer wants a different emotion from you. However, for those wanting to generally improve your portraits a smile (especially, the "Perfect Smile") can make a big difference.
- Master The "Perfect Smile" There is an art to posing with a perfect smile and most good models know how to do this naturally. It is a smile that is halfway between the biggest smile you can make and no smile at all. The lips are slightly parted and only the upper teeth are showing. The smile is considered a "gentle smile". The result should look pleasant and relaxed. If you are smiling so large that you can see your upper gums or lower teeth, then it's way too much. Generally, smiling will lift the cheeks and this can narrow the eyes. So, try to relax your eyes so that the eyes are open and the whites are showing. This may take some practice in front of a mirror to isolate the different muscle groups but it will be worth the effort. Of course, there maybe shots when no smiles or larger smiles are required but generally, whether you are a model or someone just looking to improve your portraits, mastering a perfect smile can make major improvements to your shots.
- Make sure that none of your limbs are ever pointing directly at the camera. The perspective will make that limb look distorted. Think of your bones as stick figure lines; none of those lines should ever point straight towards the lens of the camera.