Mind the Light
Any photographer will tell you, it doesn’t matter if you have the best camera and the latest model to grace the cover of Vogue, bad lighting will kill any photo. Here are a couple of tidbits to keep in mind regarding light:
- Don’t be afraid to use your camera’s flash. It’s there for a reason, it can help you soften shadows.
- Try to avoid taking pictures of a model against the light. It takes a skilled photographer for the subject not to become a silhouette, which can look nice in certain occasions, but I think the goal here is to feature your clothes and an obscured mass just won’t cut it.
- Avoid midday light. It might sound counterintuitive, but the light of midday is way to bright. It will only create harsh shadows and made your model squint. The best natural light comes at dawn, dusk and during cloudy days.
Mind the model
Regardless of if you’re working with a professional or someone who’s never seen a camera in their lives, you’ll need to take care of your talent. It doesn’t take a scientist to realize that the best pictures only come forth when the subject is happy and relaxed and to make that happen you’ll have to work.
- Explain very well what you want. Before the camera starts shooting and flashing, talk with the model(s) and explain them very well what you expect. This will prevent misunderstandings during the shoot.
- Give them something to do. Add an extra element like a ball, a balloon or maybe even a dog. This will not only relax the model, but will also make for more dynamic shots. Just don’t let the new element overshadow the garments.
- Play some music. Maybe you could even use the model’s iPod or Spotify account. Listening to familiar music is a good way to ease into a task.
- Make them move. Dance, jump, run – whatever works best for the “feeling” of your shoot. When moving, the model will be less self-conscious and you’ll get pictures that are more fun to look at than the standard “posey” ones.
- Give frequent feedback and directions. The photographer is the director in a photo shoot and when the director goes silent, things can get awkward. “Am I doing it well? Or is this wrong?” Let the models know when they’re doing a good job, and if they’re not, be gentle.
The photographer is the director of a photoshoot. So it is your job to make sure everyone is alright and things are headed where they’re supposed to.
- Keep track of your energy. Taking good looking pictures is not an easy job. Make sure you schedule the shoot for a day when you’ll be able to have a full sound sleep the night before or during a moment when there’s not much going on.
- Take frequent breaks. And also try to make the photo shoot as short as possible. Nobody likes a picture of tired models… unless that’s what you’re going for.
- Check the weather. Nothing will cancel a photo shoot faster than bad weather. Imagine weeks of planning ruined because of rain.
- Shoot candids. Sometimes the best pictures come out when people don’t know you’re shooting them.
- Get acquainted with your camera. It’s not necessary to become a professional photographer overnight. Just read the manual! And if you use the “automatic” setting, we won’t judge you.