Model Photography: 5 tips to smash it!

A couple of months ago, we were doing a shoot for an up-and-coming fashion model and dared to do it on Oxford Street.

There is nothing more to say than it was an awesome photoshoot! We got along with the model very well and had a symbiotic relationship in the sharing of ideas. And this reminded us of why we love working with fashion models and portrait photography.

From the outside world, it seems easy as finding a model, going to an aesthetic location, clicking a button, and awesome things will happen.

I can tell you; it isn’t!  It takes time and effort to cultivate a photoshoot that looks natural and displays your creative effort without it looking derivative.

Without further ado!

5 tips to smash model portrait photography:

1. Be selective with your model

Not every model will be right for you, be selective with who you work with, think of it like making a film, the director has a certain vision of he/she wants the character to be, and that obviously requires an audition. Do the same with the models you select.


Of course, it is difficult to fully understand your model’s personality, but having a look through their active social media accounts, looking at their stories, comments and posts help you gauge an idea of what they are like. And then you can even go on to have a conversation with the model, to discuss and share ideas to see if you really are on the right page.

Style and Looks

As a photographer, especially one starting out, for fashion and portrait photoshoots, you might not have access to a wealth of wardrobe or make-up essentials with you, which means, it makes it easier if you get in touch with a model who resonates with the style you are going for.

2. Check your location upfront

It’s all good to understand the location beforehand so you have exactly a good reference of what mood and scene you want to set. It’s all good and well looking at pictures of places on IG, but if you have the chance to explore the location and have a look at a stripped back picture of where you intend to shoot, this makes it easier for you to design a shoot on your vision.

3. Get to know your model beforehand

We try to remove any awkwardness from the shoot as possible. This means having a conversation with the model over a video chat or inviting them to a café for a coffee. Taking photos of people can be awkward experience, especially when giving direction. So, getting to know people really help quell any anxiety coming into the shoot, and makes it much easier for you to communicate with your model.

4. Know what you want.

This might be a little obvious, but also a mistake some people make. Know what you want and plan your shoot! It helps creating a collage of the ideas and themes you want to explore, and the mood you want to set in your photo. This means experimenting with different lighting, angles, environments, compositions etc. There are plenty of resources online where you can learn these techniques!
You can express these ideas aptly on a mood board, which gives you and your model a rough idea of your creative vision.

5. Be spontaneous

But sometimes it is also great to be a bit spontaneous. Locations look different (seasonality, events, things, and people in the way), but that does not mean you have to stop your shoot! This is the best opportunity for you to learn to improvise, find new angles, find a new composition, lighting etc. that is separate from your plans. Art is about the expression of the unknown, and new challenges are exactly what you need to grow as a photographer.

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