Many times, when models step in front of a camera, there is some nervousness & trepidation. If your subject seems a bit tense at the start of your session, try the following tips to loosen them up and create natural looking images.
Posture & angles
Ask your model to elongate their neck while tilting their chin a bit. Also, make sure they keep their shoulders back and that they don’t slouch. Another pose they can try – if they are standing – is to turn slightly and rest their weight on their back leg while keeping their shoulders straight. Many models also give a relaxed appearance if they lean slightly toward the camera and angle their face and/or body. As for your positioning as the photographer, ensure that the lens is above your model. If you are capturing headshots, they can be more visually appealing if only one ear is showing. Also ask your model to move around and dance to loosen up.
You can’t go wrong with a laugh and a smile from your model. When they’re smiling, make sure they keep their tongue behind their teeth as they look slightly above the lens. Also, have your model look away from the camera for a few frames and have them try a few facial expressions. Candid shots are also a great option since they are engaging and more interesting than the forced smile of having someone say “cheese” (which can also create squinty eyes).
Speaking of eyes, they are the crucial to an engaging image. Have your model close their eyes and then open them (especially in the bright sun); his will help avoid squinty eyes. Another option is to have them look away, then look back to the camera. Make sure you model looks toward the light source; catchlights create sparkle and immediately add life to your subject’s eyes. If you are outdoors, have them stand in the shade and face the light. If you are indoors, have them face a window at an angle.
Have your model wear a color or pattern that flatters them (unless you are going for a specific aesthetic or stylized look). Also, make sure their clothes aren’t wrinkled or bunching up; it can add the appearance of weight if clothes are too baggy.
Make sure your model’s hair is neat and brushed; stray hairs can be distracting. If they have a blemish, either have them cover it with makeup or use the ‘spot healing tool’ in Photoshop. If their eyes look red, use eye drops to brighten them up or use the ‘red eye reduction’ tool in post production. If their teeth appear yellow, you can whiten them in Photoshop using a hue/saturation adjustment layer.
Try to avoid taking photos in direct sunlight or with a direct flash since it can cause harsh shadows. If possible, move into the shade or make sure the flash is bouncing off the ceiling or wall.
Remember to take a look at what is behind your subject; you don’t want a tree growing out of your head. Aim for a clean and simple background that contrasts with the model. For example, if you have dark hair, stay away from a dark background; if your model is wearing all white, you may not want to place them directly in front of an all-white background.
The next time you-re capturing your subject, whether it be in studio or in the field, try following these tips to help create engaging, natural looking images. Who knows, you may be able to take your work from your local park to a top fashion magazine.