Ask Briana: October Q&A from our readers

(This page will be continuously updated throughout the month of October, with newest posts to the top. We hope you enjoy this new column by our resident model/author. — Don)

Got a question for me about modeling, working with models, or anything related to being on the other side of the lens. Well, ask it in the comments below or post it on my Flickr Group. You can see my web site at BrianaModel.com. I look forward to answering any questions you may have. I don’t have to tell you to keep them appropriate, do I? Nawww… didn’t think so.

Before we get started, you may also want to check out the latest post by Don on lighting with totally natural light. We had some great fun in a little town called Miami and we used mostly the natural light for the images. I will be writing about that shoot soon, but you can see the article here:

Now, on to the first QandA with Bri… Enjoy.

Learn to Light with inexpensive tools at Lighting Essentials

Briana,
as you probably know best, there are several kinds of fotografer: some say next to nothing, some do peptalk all the time, some give you a story to work with, some are bossy…

What kind of treatment do you like best from a fotog?

Love,
Sam

Hi, Sam!

What do I look for in a photographer? What do I like best? Hmmm… well, as a professional, I learn to adapt to each style. You have to. Each photog does what he or she feels works best. And a model has a job to do. So I do it.

But… if I get to choose, I like photographers with vision. Vision means that the photog “sees” something that he or she wants to accomplish as an end result of the shoot. But the photog can’t do it alone. He or she needs the model to perform in a certain way in order to get reality to match the vision. To do so a photographer has to express that vision to the model in a style that works. But like people learn differently, models respond best to different styles, sometimes it’s dependent on mood. So essentially, the photog has to adapt as much as the model does; finding the right way to get the most out of the experience.

So I think that the best photog is the one that knows his or her vision and will do anything to get that vision out. If the model does not respond to one style, then pick another. Essentially, the best treatment is all styles (except “bossy” – I don’t like mean people.)

Briana,

I am definitely what you would call an amateur photographer and am hoping to start doing some paying stuff in the next few months. My question to you is how can I put the people I shoot at ease? I generally have no problem making people laugh or feel comfortable, until I pull the camera up to my eye. Once the lens is pointed at them, it seems most people turn rigid as a board and only want to look directly into the camera and smile. If I ask them to look elsewhere and maybe relax their face, it always looks forced in the photos.

You always look so at ease in front of the lens so I am hoping you can give some insight.

Thanks, Cody, for the question and the compliment :-)

As for shooting a model, it depends. A professional (or even beginning) model needs certain motivators, as it’s always awkward at first… since you don’t know each other. After awhile you both become comfortable and it shows. For instance, Don, in our initial shots, would encourage me and guide me. It’s extremely important that you both talk to your model and that you are confident. It’s like you’re the director of a movie. Give the model the motivation, the story, the guidelines… the direction. And she’ll follow. A way to take control and show that you’re a pro early on is when a model asks you which outfit she should wear. Never say, “Whatever.” Instead, pick one. Tell her what you’re looking for. Let her become the character the shoot requires. Like photography is directing, modeling is acting. So direct her how to act and you’ll get some good shots. Remember too that with digital cameras, you can a ton of shots to get one or two great ones.

Now with amateurs (you know, families, friends, weddings, company picnics, whatever), it’s a lot different. But again… take lots of pics, one or two good ones will sneak in. The problem lies in that the people feel silly around the camera; it’s not their job, they’re not trained or practiced enough to distant. So the best thing here is to just take the shots. For instance, if they take a break… don’t move the camera from your eye. Say you’re just taking some test shots and that they don’t need to pay attention or pose, you’re just setting the composition. Lastly, some of the best shots out there are called “Lifestyle” shots. Get pictures of them doing normal things: walking the dog, putting on makeup, or even talking on the phone. Or, if at a wedding, add shots of shoes. Yes, shoes. Women spend a lot of money on their shoes and pedicures, so they’ll love to see the pics afterward… and you? You’ll have some creative art.

Briana,

I have been contacted by a photographer several times and he wants to do a shoot but he doesn’t have any ideas on what we will be doing. He says to just come over and we will figure something out. Is that normal or should I be creeped out?
Anne Model

Hi, Anne,

Well, it’s a first shoot together so there will be a growth period as you both discover how your two unique styles best fit. But… yes, BUT…

  • Check his sites and what he’s done, it’ll show his style. If they’re all naked pics… be creeped out. Unless, you’re fine with shooting naked… but if you’re asking me this question, you’re probably not.
  • If I like his portfolio, then I’d use his contacts and pictures (if he’s on MM or Flickr or Myspace), and contact a couple of the models and ask what their experience with him was like.
  • Next, I’d ask him for a little bit of an idea of what he was thinking, since I’d need to organize a wardrobe for the shoot (I can’t bring everything! If you’d seen my shoe closet, you’d understand.) This way he’ll be forced to commit to something. Anything.
  • Escorts. Not the Vegas kinds, of course. But bring one. For every first shoot with someone I bring an escort. And I keep bringing one until I feel comfortable. If the photog says no to escorts… it’s simple. Creepy.
  • Last, but not least, if it feels too strange… it probably is. Trust your gut. Instincts are there for a reason.

Briana,

I shot with this photographer over a month ago and he won’t give me any of the images we did together. I was there 5 hours and he shot a ton of pics. Every time I call him he tells me he is too busy. What would you do?
Monica M.

Monica,

This is a serious problem. It’s one of the biggest problems with some photogs. It may be that the person is just lazy. He likes the process of shooting the pics, but isn’t one for postproduction. That’s the part that separates the pros from the amateur weekend shooters. Or maybe the photog is having personal issues and just lacks the tact to send an email. Or… and I hate to say this… but maybe the work didn’t come out as well as hoped. No photog wants his or her work out there if it doesn’t show off their talent. Lastly, off the top of my head, maybe he just hasn’t got to the pics yet for processing. So all you can do is wait.

Still, your question is, “What next?” Well, there’s not much you can do at this point. If you’re an established model with representation, let your reps handle it. If you’re still struggling then you rep yourself and you’re on your own to get the pictures. So, if it was me, on my own, and I was comfortable with the photog, I’d go and see him. It’s harder to put someone off when they’re standing in front of you. Eventually though you just have to drop it and chalk it up to experience. Then get famous and watch those pics surface in the wake of your popularity.

Briana,

How do you feel about taking ‘escorts’ to a photoshoot? My boyfriend doesn’t want to go every time and I am a little bit afraid of going somewhere without someone to escort. Most of the photographers I have met have been really nice, but how do I know which might be creepy?
Gabrielle S.

Hi, Gabrielle,

Your boyfriend? Doesn’t want to go or can’t? Does he know you’re a model? Does he know how lucky he’s got it? Well, he better!

Kidding. Modeling is tedious. Most just think it’s a simple process of smiling and posing. Click and done. Nope, its hours of hard work. And to escort someone means taking 4 – 8 hours out of a day to sit and watch or, in many cases, get put to work by the photog holding reflectors, strobes, etc. So I guess I can understand, but he better come to the creepy shoots (or better yet, don’t you go to the creepy shoots!)

Now which ones are creepy? Well, that’s usually pretty easy. They’re the ones that make you want to bring an escort. So for me, as a rule, regardless of if I get the creepy vibe or not, I always bring one to my first shoot. Better safe than sorry. If a photog says, no, or is uncomfortable with the idea… he’s creepy. Well, maybe he’s a nice guy, but it’s better safe than sorry. So label him creepy and move on. There are as many photogs out there as there are models. So move on to the next one and follow my answer to Anne Model on what to do with new photogs.

Remember, the escort doesn’t have to be your boyfriend. It can be your mom, best friend, or sibling. It’s always safer in numbers. And photogs are used to escorts. In fact, they often expect them to come… which is why they give them odd jobs to do. They planned for it. Why would a photog bring a giant reflector on a windy day if she didn’t plan on someone holding it? You can’t hold it. You’re posing. And the photog can’t. She’s shooting. So… escorts can come in handy.

Lastly, if it’s a well known commercial photographer, with stylists, MUA’s, several assistants and clients on set, a model would look very unprofessional bringing someone, anyone to the set. Generally if the job involves being paid, there’s wardrobe, a stylist, and an MUA, then a model shouldn’t bring anyone with them. It is certainly okay to have someone drop you off, help you with your bags and such, take a look at the studio, meet the photographer and leave, but not to hang around.

Print Friendly

About 

This is a place for photographers.

Hi, I'm wizwow - also known as Don Giannatti. Photography has been the focus of my life for most of my adult years. I have written three books for Amhearst Media (available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble: keyword 'don giannatti'. Lighting Essentials is my flagship blog and e-zine with a slightly different slant than most photography related sites. If you are interested in becoming a better photographer, check out Project 52 Pros.

Thanks for visiting.

5 Comments

  1. Briana,

    I am definitely what you would call an amateur photographer and am hoping to start doing some paying stuff in the next few months. My question to you is how can I put the people I shoot at ease? I generally have no problem making people laugh or feel comfortable, until I pull the camera up to my eye. Once the lens is pointed at them, it seems most people turn ridgid as a board and only want to look directly into the camera and smile. If I ask them to look elsewhere and maybe relax their face, it always looks forced in the photos.

    You always look so at ease in front of the lens so I am hoping you can give some insight.

    -Cody A.

  2. Brianna, as you probably know best, there are several kinds of fotografer: some say next to nothing, some do peptalk all the time, some give you a story to work with, some are bossy…

    What kind of treatment do you like best from a fotog?

    Love,
    Sam

  3. Great post! Thank you. I am not alone in my questions and thoughts :))

  4. Hi – Brianna!

    Your posts are a great source of information – thanks for the effort!

    I am a part time photographer and have done parties on and off for a few years. It’s been a hobby of sorts with some paid gigs as well as TF* for friends of mine that needed headshots and such. I have a small portfolio with examples of what I’ve done, including some photoshop work.

    Recently a friend of mine asked me to help with a promotional calendar for his car restoration business. He’s struglling so I offered to help with the photos. I also offered to go on sites and try and find some of the models – he has a small group of model/friends as well as the all the cars for the calendar. I’ve gone on Craigslist and ModelMayhem and responded to TF* posts but they’ve all gone no where. Some models agree through email to show up at the shoot and then never show or don’t confirm.

    I understand and welcome the need for escorts, I’ve showed them the work that I’ve done and explained what I was looking for – a fun sexy look, with no nudity invovled – but I’ve struck out getting models to shoot.

    Is there a better approach to getting models for a TF* shoot like this? I have agreed to provide a DVD right after the shoot – that day – and follow up with any additional work the model may want as an exchange, but I’ve struck out way too often.

    Right now, I’m relying on friends to continue the work but I’d appreciate any advice on how to improve my chances of working with more models.

    thanks again for the great posts!

    Gus

  5. Hi Briana,

    I think it’s great you’re setting up this blog with such useful info! I’ve been modeling for about 4 years now, and I think it’s important to help out starting/aspiring models. There are so many people that will try and take advantage of a new model, so I can’t stress the importance of EDUCATING yourself about the industry.

    One of my big tips wold be to try and convince the models to start off shooting conservative shots to build their portfolio. Many of the agencies I have worked with aren’t into the sexy bikini/lingerie shots. In fact, they don’t want anything to do with them! The only bikini shot you really need (in my opinion) is one shot showing your full figure standing up; agencies always require this type of shot to get a real, actual idea of your figure. Anyways, I photogs need to get models showing a variety of styles–from a business suit to a wedding dress to basic jeans and a tank, variety is key!!!! (That is, unless you only want to model bikni/lingerie wear :)