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A Note to Aspiring Models

People often think that modeling is just about looks. This misconception turns a beautiful person into just a body with no skills. Modeling is not about having the perfect "looks." The key to successfully modeling is the mindset. With just one thought, a photographer can take his or her models to the next level.

Oftentimes, people think of models as the unique looking people or pretty faces. But ask any professional photographer in the fashion industry and they will tell you that modeling is so much more than physical appearances. Professional models are the ones who know how to work with the camera; they are the individuals who need little direction and throw solid poses, one after another. It is a skill that can be mastered.

So, what is the one thing that divides the professional models from the amateur ones? Confidence.

The key factor in a model is their ability to convey confidence through their poses and facial expressions. A model that is poised and assertive rarely has to ask “Ok, where do I put my hand now?” “How do I look?” “Is my hair ok?”

(All images in this article taken with a D800 & 85mm 1.4g using natural light. More images can be found on Dani Diamond Photogaphy)

Confidence leads to lack of inhibitions and that translates into solid pictures. Even if someone is inexperienced hang-ups and reservation rarely result in quality poses. It’s important to let go of the mindset of a beginner. A model might argue that they aren’t sure what their angles are, or how they look most flattering. But these exact thoughts are what keep models from truly experimenting and finding these angles. Further, confidence will override any sort of lack of experience.

It’s important to remember that while on a shoot, the photographer will be taking 400 pictures or more. Of those 400 pictures, only 5 of them have to be perfect. If the majority of the poses a model is throwing at the camera look ridiculous, that is ok! Chances are that the unique and different poses are what make an image a spectacular one. It’s crucial to be confident when trying the “wacky” or “weird” poses. With time, you will learn which poses work. But first, you have to discover those poses.

As with photography and many other jobs that require a certain skillset, experience is key and is inextricably linked with the confidence a model brings to the table. Practice day in and day out to master the craft. Watching YouTube videos, practicing in front of the bedroom mirror and find pro models willing to help out are great places to start. Sometimes the best way to gain confidence is by making the atmosphere a comfortable one. Whether it’s wardrobe, getting hair or makeup done or even the music playing during a shoot—it's great to find something that helps the models feel like themselves.

Another thing to remember is that when photographers have a few models to choose from, the majority of the time they will pick the models easiest to work with. What determines that is the models that are cool, calm and collected in front of the camera and they can communicate with the photographer. A pretty face will only get you a foot in the door. Talk to your photographer first and get a feel of their personality and what they need. Then while the photographer is behind the camera, let the world fall away from you and show them your confidence, poses and the way you move.

For photographers, try to make the environment a relaxing and fun one. Even though I am not a model, when I work with newer models I like to be prepared. Personally, I skim through photo sharing sites like 500PX and take screenshots of all the poses that catch my eye. Once I’m on the shoot, I’ll take out my phone and show my subjects these images to give them ideas. When they see other models pulling off creative poses and expressions, it builds their confidence. They think, “Hey, I can try that.”

Here is a video by Peter Hurley that we've all seen which is very helpful. Jen Brook has a great article worth checking out as well. I’m sure there is a plethora of information out on the interwebs, feel free to link them in the comments section. 

The purpose of this article is to make modeling and photographing models an easy, less stressful experience. Photographers, feel free to share this with your models and friends! Every one works differently but I have found that this is what works for me. What tips do you have? As a model, what have you wanted from your photographer, or found helpful? Post your thoughts below!

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41 Comments

Bob Bell's picture

Great tips Dani. Even though we know a fair few shots will be binned, there's no doubt a lot of models unaware of that and stressing that they're not doing the right thing. Letting them know that should make them more relaxed, and hopefully open to experiment. Something I'll remember to let them know now, cheers :)
Solid pics btw, as ever.

shotie blackmore's picture

wow dani so informative cool article as always mate !!!

Jay Kan's picture

Awesome article again! Thank you for all the great tips. Glad to know that you go on other people's photo to check out poses too (makes me feel better about doing that to your photographs LOL)

Chaim Perl's picture

:)

Not Impressed's picture

So, I created this profile just to comment this article. You begin the article with the following, "People often think that modeling is just about looks. This misconception turns a beautiful person into just a body with no skills.". And yet, in spite of those two introductory sentences, nowhere in the article do you even mention the names of the models whose images you decorated your article with. One would think that crediting them would be a minimum level of professional courtesy? A link to their personal website or agency would have been good too - assuming they are indeed more than pretty faces but also have bills to pay. But hey, at least I know that they were photographed with a D800 sporting a 85mm, f1.4 - way more important than crediting the models!

Craig Allen's picture

Conjecture based criticism is equally unimpressive.

Not Impressed's picture

You're right. I assumed that an article about working with models would actually credit the models in the article. I also assumed that a great image is a collaboration between photographer and subject. I may have been wrong.

Not Impressed's picture

Overlooked credits notwithstanding, it is a good article. I have nothing bad to say about the content at all.

Jay Kan's picture

Gotta give a lot of respect to someone that's hiding behind the computer.

You provided a really good point about crediting the models, it's just out of respect and it doesn't hurt to add a few words, but I'm having difficulty understanding the point of your comment?

First, there are no indication that these are professional models, Dani Diamond is also running a project based on shooting other photographers, are you assuming they're models?

2nd, if they are pro models, they've probably signed a model release. Unless under the term that Dani have to credit the model every time, Dani really doesn't HAVE to do that. I don't remember ever seeing a model's name appear on billboards or most advertisements. Why? because the models weren't hired to be there to self promote, they're there for a job/shoot.

Not sure if that makes sense, but I don't mean any harm. You should get a real identity tho, no need to hire, I respect your comment, but can't respect someone that can't even stand up to what they said.

Not Impressed's picture

Thanks for the comment Jay.
To be honest I didn't really consider any contractual issues at all. You raised interesting points that I hadn't considered, thanks for giving me a considered reply.

As far as the whole profile thing goes;
1. The profile was meant to be one off comment. My friend is a model who's had one too many bad experiences and honestly I just needed to vent my frustration. I felt like people with influence should set a standard for how photographers treat models.
2. I'm a hobby photographer who's photographs are, more often than not, just snap shots. I have nothing to contribute to this community.

Jay Kan's picture

Thanks for the reply! I can totally understand where your frustrations is coming from, I often get upset when I feel someone are judging me by my age and ask if I'm an assistant. It's nice for you to stick up for your friend and hopefully he/she get better luck in the future.

I'm sure you're more than just snapshots haha, and this community is not just about contributing, it's also about learning, so stick around!

albert radford's picture

If you need agency recommendations or a models to shoot there are nicer ways to ask. Just ask Dani instead of criticizing his article.
People these days... haha

Not Impressed's picture

I'll admit that my tone was... a tad irritated, my bad. It's just that the article mentions his camera, other photographers and even the lens used by name (mostly). But no model in the article was mentioned. It's the impression that the models were an amorphous mass rather than a group of ambitious individuals that precipitated my reaction. Perhaps I overreacted. The avalanche of criticism seems to suggest that, haha.

Michael Fron's picture

Way to appreciate free useful content Mr Not Impressed!

Not Impressed's picture

I totally appreciated the free content provided by Jen Brook, that was excellent.

Michael Woloszynowicz's picture

Yes because models get so much work from Fstoppers articles. I personally source all my models from here as opposed to going to a modelling agency.

taytus's picture

You know that has nothing to do with how much work they might get from here. I do not agree with the tone of the comment, but credits should be there, specially in a modeling related article.

Not Impressed's picture

Ah... ok. I honestly still think that mentioning the models names, given the context of the article, would have been nice. But, I open to being wrong. Everyone else thinks I am! EDIT: The tone of my comment could have been better.

bada boom's picture

He don't even mention the agencies he works with. It's time to wake up Dani, 90% of your images won't make it into professional model's portfolios.

Chaim Perl's picture

I just logged in just to comment on your comment "I created this profile just to comment this article".
First of all 'not impressed' with your name you chose. With such brilliant commentary at least credit the author by name.
Secondly "I assumed that an article about working with models would actually" have comments with tips good for the models to read as requested by Dani. "I also assumed that a great" article "is a collaboration between photographer and" trolls "I may have been wrong.

Chris Adval's picture

Great info Dani! I actually got most of my blog posts on my blog site - www.ChrisAdval.com with blog posts giving tips to models and photographers working with models.

bada boom's picture

Do you work with Agency models? What agencies?
How many of your images has been used in professional model's portfolios?
This is all blah blah blah no content at all, you're not credited to give any advice to models when you are not clearly working with models, just with random people,

Nina Napoletano's picture

I spy me

Doc Pixel's picture

To tell you the honest to goodness truth, I'm far more impressed with a number of the photographers like Pauly Pholwises or Simchy Zuckerman (to name just a couple on this site), with images of non-models that make normal people appear and feel like a model for a day. Me personally, if I'm hiring a model, I do have expectations of having more than 5 images out of 400 to be usable after the day.

Still love your style though Dani!

Fred Messing's picture

Here's another one for ya Dani. Why can't you ever take any criticism? Whenever someone says anything that isn't a compliment, you have a passive aggressive response. Learn to accept criticism and take it into consideration. Get thicker skin man. The above commenter does have a point when he asks you why you didn't credit the models when the article is meant to be shared with aspiring models.

Jay Kan's picture

I'm having trouble understanding how Dani's comment directly relates to taking criticism?

Simchy Zuckerman's picture

Well written! Good job dani!

Simchy Zuckerman's picture

I find it funny how all the good articles get the negative comments...

Jennifer Kelley's picture

In my somewhat limited experience with models, I find if you are new at working with people and posing them (and I am having spent years photographing landscapes, animals, and inanimate objects or taking candids), it's helpful to work with an experienced model. You can learn from them. Once you get some experience, it's easier to work with less experienced models because you better understand poses and how to direct someone who may be less confident in what they are doing. Showing them the difference in frames is helpful for them too, maybe less for the photographer but once they understand you're more likely to get more good frames from them. Often what feels ridiculous comes across on camera great.

To throw in my $.02 about the crediting thing, I don't think it's terrible the models aren't credited. We don't know if these are models or paying clients who wanted cool pictures taken of them. But I do think it's nice to credit and link the models though because they have their business just like we have ours. Businesses are built on reputation and networking. Peter Hurley is getting some traffic his way from the article so it does only seem fair to credit the models when it makes sense to do so.

The Photo Fiend's picture

Great article Dani! So many people in my groups and feeds are finding it useful. Send the trolls my way so I can give them a good cyber bullying session. :P

Not Impressed Either's picture

Lots of guys here seems to quickly jump the ship and call Mr. Not Impressed a "troll" and give another pat on the back of Dani for a great article, where point brought up by Not Impressed is actually quite valid.
Well - I'm not impressed either - not necessarily with the article itself, but with how a valid point was quickly dismissed and poorly handled.
Crediting the team is something we as photographers NEED to do, not can choose or not to do.
Models, Makeup Artists, Hair Stylists, Wardrobe Stylists - they all have a very important job on every shoot. Without them none of our photos would look like they do. To me it is a very obvious matter and I don't think it needs any more explaining.

Surprisingly, if a Model, MUA, or Stylist post a photo with no credits - usually it's the photographer who reminds her/him about it first.

Yes - we Photographers, we have very important role - we take the picture, but whole team MAKES the picture. Aspiring models are often reminded about crediting the photographer and it is only reasonable to return the favor.
It's a good thing to remember - credit everyone, where it's appropriate, and when a credit is due.

Also - Mr. Dani - „A real virtue is not afraid of criticism". It's a good article, with solid info, but the issue brought up could be handled more professionally.

D Warf's picture

All very good points.

There is a whole group of photographers out there who don't credit their team of models, make-up artists, hair stylists, wardrobe stylists... etc. The main reason seems to be that they consider the team "their" team. They feel insecure and fearful that other people will seek out the talents and "steal" them away to do other projects. That is all BS, of course. Credits should be given where credits are due.

Another comment about this article. The included photos are of different people taken by Mr. Dani Diamond only. Why is that? Is this all for self-promotion purpose? Professional models NEED to work with all kinds of different photographers. How about showing the SAME model's photos taken by DIFFERENT photographers? The article is supposed to be talking about modeling, NOT the photography of one person.

John Robie's picture

For those who care ...
Kim Wolverton:
http://ink361.com/app/users/ig-182501042/kimwolv/photos
Nina outed herself:
http://www.modelmayhem.com/1014779

Rest shouldn´t be hard to find either so help yourself and make up your mind :)

D Warf's picture

The point was NOT "shouldn´t be hard to find". The point was the credits should be given RIGHT THERE. This is not a game of "treasure hunt".

Abraham cherian's picture

What kind of processing is this, it is so nice, I don't think its just the lens making the background blurry(bokeh), dani can you please explain