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  1. #1
    ColdEye's Avatar
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    How to Effectively Communicate with models?

    First of I am not sure is the correct place to post this, So Mods, move it as you see fit.

    So how do you communicate with models? I have yet to try a photo shoot with Pro Models. I have done a few shoots with my former classmates and it was using digital so I can see the results instantly. How do you tell the model what and how to pose? I am a very shy person and I have communication problems with people I don't know. Do you just show them a picture of your intended outcome, or do you do the pose yourself for them to emulate? Here are some shots of how I usually take portraits (forgive the bad post processing and bad composition), and sorry if it is in digital.







  2. #2
    tomalophicon's Avatar
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    You could try moving their bodies and limbs into position with your hands. Then you wouldn't need to try to explain it to them or look ridiculous doing the poses yourself.

  3. #3

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    I've been shooting with models recently, so here is what has worked for me, and what I have read:

    1. Don't touch models to move them into position without permission, and even then many will prefer not to be touched; you may need to demonstrate the pose.

    2. Half the battle is making the model feel comfortable; explain the shoot beforehand (which means you need to have a clear concept of what you want), and don't try to go beyond that in the shoot (e.g. no surprise requests for nude shots if it hasn't been discussed in advance).

    I'm shy too, and working with models was one of my things to do this year; it gets easier as it goes along. One thing I have found is that if you describe what will be unique to a project using film (vs. the digital most models are used to) you will find many models will be very engaged and fascinated to be involved in film photography projects.

    Good luck!
    Nikon 35mm, Mamiya 645 & RB67, Leica IIIb, other bits and pieces

  4. #4

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    Here's my standard.

    If the model is opposite sex, DO NOT TOUCH. With children, DO NOT TOUCH unless parents are near by. I usually show what I want them to do myself. Yes, I do female posing myself. Yes, it looks funny but then again, if I can't do it myself, I can't really show someone else how/what to do.

    I get them into approximate shape, then start asking to move one body parts at a time. Right hand little higher... Turn your head to left a bit... a bit more... more.... bring it back some... PERFECT! Chin down a bit... good.... I need a little more smile, ok... good...

    I practice A LOT with someone I know. It's amazing how hard it is to interpret verbal command into body moving. Look up is often mis-interpreted. People just move their eyeballs. Chin up is more appropriate.

    I'm still learning. Your work look excellent though. Looks like you are doing some fine job already.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  5. #5

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    Oh, by the way... I just had a conversation with a director of a modeling agency. I was delivering a print to one of their talents.

    Just about all the aspiring models I had an opportunity to shoot (photographs) went into a non-smiling, non-emotion, default model face instantly and automatically. According to the director, models expect being told what WE want. If we wanted smiling face, we need to tell them specifically. Then, they will be glad to smile.

    I thought it was kind of unique. Most non-models go into a big smile automatically. That's not what they do...
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  6. #6
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Practice, practice, practice is about all that I think matters. Things are so variable shoot to shoot that I don't think general rules will help you at all. If you are bad with people, it just means you have to practice even more.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  7. #7

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    I suggest talking slowly and loudly and sometimes using crayons to distract them :-)

    But seriously most are well trained... Visual aids help to get a look you want and just as we know how to use a camera, they know how to use their bodies... Do just be forthright with what you want

  8. #8
    ColdEye's Avatar
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    Thank you all for the replies.

    @JohnMeadows: I also believe in a no touch policy. These days it's very easy to get into trouble. I have tried the funny approach with friends (maybe they laugh out of courtesy) but I have yet to try it with others. That's a nice insight about telling them film will be used, they will think it's retro or something. This is also a good exercise for me to remove my inherent shyness.

    @tkamiya: Yes, with children I am very cautious in picturing them in general if I don't know their parents personally. I am also prepared to do the poses, even if it looks funny. I tried it out in one shoot and it was not that bad. Maybe I'll try and show the looks that I want by searching in the net (if it is indoors). They emulate mannequins that is why they don't smile.

    @2f/2f: Yeah, since I started in film, I did a revamp on how I did my shooting. I practiced everything again from the basics of exposure and composition.

    @heespharm: How will I use the crayons? I guess polishing of my communication skills are a must.

  9. #9

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    What I would also recommend, if you are shooting for the first time with a model, make it as safe as possible; for my first project involving models, I purposely chose busy outdoor urban environments, as opposed to a shoot in a deserted building miles from anywhere :-) It does seem unfair sometimes, but if you are a male photographer often the onus is on you to prove that you are not a "Guy With Camera" (Modelspeak for a man whose only use for a camera is to get close to beautiful women and get them naked).
    Nikon 35mm, Mamiya 645 & RB67, Leica IIIb, other bits and pieces

  10. #10
    Rick A's Avatar
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    Talk to them, tell them what you want. Explain what look you are trying to achieve. If you are working with women, have a female assistant to help with make-up and posing. Be in control, never let them suspect you don't know what you are doing. Allow them to feel comfortable around you. You should be assertive, but not a tyrant.
    Rick A
    Argentum aevum
    BTW: the big kid in my avatar is my hero, my son, who proudly serves us in the Navy. "SALUTE"

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