How to take great photos with a model

Taking professional quality photos isn’t easy. Here are some basic concepts to master the art of fashion photography.

Taking professional quality photos isn’t easy

Interior or exterior?

Shooting inside gives you full control over lighting and weather conditions that could otherwise transform your shoot into a real nightmare.

If you choose to shoot outside, you’ll just have to take whatever Mother Nature gives you. It also means you will need to scout out your location for the right atmosphere and for a good choice of angles. To take advantage of the best lighting conditions, schedule your shoot to coincide with magic hours, i.e. just after sunrise or before sunset.

Set up your studio

For a photo shoot with a model, set up your studio in a corner of your home. Use a white wall or a taut white sheet as a backdrop. Ideally, you should have at least one reflector and one good quality external flash. Use the reflector to reduce shadows that could harden your model’s features, as you’ll be putting them under strong lighting such as halogen lights or spotlights. Don’t forget to adjust your white balance and to take your shots at a distance of roughly two metres from your model. And if the backdrop is grey, point a light at it for better contrast with your model.

Set up your studio

Put your model at ease

The difference between good and bad fashion photos often has a lot to do with the model’s attitude. They should remain as comfortable and authentic as possible. It’s best not to leave anything to chance. Make sure your model understands what you’re looking for, particularly in terms of the kinds of poses you want. A picture is worth a thousand words, so show them examples from the Internet or magazines for inspiration. And remember that the eyes are the window to the soul—or at least the personality—so don’t forget to focus on their eyes.

Experiment with angles

The possibilities are as endless as your creativity. Here are five not-to-be-missed classics:

  • Head to toe: model standing, photographer standing
  • Overhead: model sitting on floor, photographer standing
  • Overhead: model standing, photographer standing on a chair
  • 3/4 shot: model standing with one shoulder against a wall, photographer standing
  • Portrait: framed tightly with very little background
Experiment with angles

Purchase equipment

There’s no doubt about it: the quality of your equipment has a major impact on your photos. If you can afford it, you won’t regret the following purchases:

  • A tripod, which will allow for better framing and reduce the risk of camera movement
  • A wireless shutter release, to eliminate the risk of camera movement
  • A professional flash diffuser, to reduce shadows on your model’s face

Master post-photo tweaking

Shoot your pictures in RAW format to avoid any loss of quality when post-processing your photos using image editing software. All image editing software will allow you to do the following:

  • Remove red eyes
  • Crop
  • Correct blemishes
  • Hide wrinkles
  • Smooth skin

See your software’s Help or various dedicated Web forums for more details. Never work on the original image file, always use a copy.


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How to take great photos with a model

Taking striking fashion and glamour photos is an art in its own right which often requires excellent equipment and a certain amount of know-how. Follow these tips to learn the basics of preparing your shoot, setting up your studio, coaching your models and processing your photos.
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