When you have a young and inexperienced model to work with, the photo shoot might pose a challenge for both you and them. Photographer Clinton Lubbe shares some helpful advice how to overcome the awkwardness, get your model relaxed and take some amazing shots, and not to be “that guy”.
His model for the photo shoot and the video was a young girl, only 15 years old. Of course, your model might be of a different age, but if she didn’t have much posing experience yet, it’s up to you to make the shooting comfortable for her. After all, it’s in the best interest of both of you – she will feel good and be relaxed, and you’ll end up with beautiful photos.
On the set, you have to create a relationship with your subject fast. You don’t have nearly as much time like in real life, so you need to use the time you have wisely. Your goal is to get to know the model and let her get to know you and to make her feel relaxed in front of your camera.
Getting to know each other
When you arrive on set, leave time for a conversation before the preparation and shooting begin. Start a day with a long conversation, and get to know each other. Show your model the photos you took so far, and look at her photos, discuss them together and work out what you want to achieve on set.
But other than model-photographer talk, feel free to talk about some more personal things. Talk about future plans and dreams, as well as the experiences you and her had so far.
Of course, make conversation a two-way street. Ask questions, but also be open about yourself. Jokes always work fine, so if you like to make jokes, this will make the communication easier for sure.
Set the boundaries
-After you’ve had a talk, it’s time to set the boundaries. But remember, this is something to do after you’ve got to know each other. Now is the time to ask the model what she is comfortable with, and what she isn’t.
Another important thing to remember is that you should do this no matter of your gender. If both you and your model are female, you may have a slight natural advantage. But still, don’t assume that your model will feel comfortable with everything just because you’re both women. Be respectful and kind, no matter of your gender.
Once the shooting starts, try to make a comfortable environment for everyone. Be relaxed and pleasant, but professional. Stick to the boundaries you’d set and don’t cross the line. If there are more experienced models with the newbie, they can and should be her support.
Male vs. female gaze
There is a difference between the “male gaze” and the “female gaze.” They refer to the way we observe the subjects that interest us, in this case – the model. The male gaze depicts art and literature from a masculine point of view, which usually means presenting women as objects for male pleasure. Female gaze, on the other hand, is a bit more complex. Clinton explains it as the woman critiquing herself from a male perspective before deciding if the objects presented are desirable to her.
You have to be aware of both types of gaze, and try to incorporate both of them into your work to make it more interesting. If you’re a male, it’s probably the easiest to rely on the male gaze, but you risk creating a superficial work that won’t stand out. You can explore male and female gaze more here and here.
To sum up – you need to be nice, respectful and leave time to get to know your model. Don’t just show her from the (stereo)typical male point of view, but aim for the more complex and feminine interpretation. And of course – just don’t be “that guy.”