Photographing Real People as Models

As a traveling adventure photographer I am always on the go. Because of this it is often difficult for me to find professional models when needed for a shoot. The majority of the time I am using friends both old and new to “model” for me. Here are a few tips I have learned over the years when using real people as models:


·      Stay away from using the word “model”. When asking normal people to model for you everyone’s mind instantly goes to runway fashion shows and Victoria Secret supermodels. Instead ask if they would be willing to help you with some photos you are taking. This sounds a lot less intimidating and will make them more comfortable helping you out.

·      Don’t over direct your subject. If you are constantly barking out orders to a person who is not used to being given orders, you will make them uncomfortable. Instead clearly communicate with the person on what exactly it is you are looking for from them and then allow them to act on this information. Communication is key. If you can show them examples on the internet that would help even more.

·      Ask what your subject is and is not comfortable with. This is staying in line with the importance of communication. Make sure the person knows if you are going to be taking close-up photos of their face or photos of their fingers. We all have our own insecurities and you need to make sure your subject is comfortable with what you will be taking photos of.

·      Don’t stop shooting after you say they are finished. This is the most important tip I have and cannot stress its importance enough. Most people are shy in front of a camera and will be stiff and uncomfortable while you are taking photos of them. Once you are done and have the photos you need, let the subject know they are good to go and the shoot is finished. The moments after they hear this they will immediately loosen up and this is actually where I get my favorite photos from shoots. Their genuine smiles shine through and their movements are more natural than when they feel they are under the cameras scrutiny.

·      HAVE FUN! Lastly and maybe most importantly is to have fun. Tell jokes, smile, enjoy the day and just have am all-around good time. Nothing is too serious and if you aren’t having fun, what’s the point? Your subject will be more at ease if they see you enjoying yourself.