What is Model Photography?

    The concept of model photography generally is accepted to refer to the practice of phogoraphing a model either for the model's portfolio or on behalf of a brand or organisation to use in their content marketing efforts. In general model photography happens at a shoot, or an organised event that seeks to create the conditions necessary to get the type and volume of photographs required either by the client or the model.

    In my experience, I have been involved in managing and executing multiple model shoots with a wide range of models, helping create content for model portfolios and brands that I have worked with including for Vice Magazine.

    A model shoot can serve a number of different purposes, each one will influence the preparation and even equipment that you need to use in order to get great photos for the client.

    For model shoots without an art director or creative director, most people will look towards you, the photographer, for direction and to manage the logistics of the shoot.

    Ensuring that you come prepared to any model shoot will make sure that any digital photos that you produce meet the client's criteria at the end of the day and help the modelling career of whoever happens to be in the photo shoot.

    In this post I will go through the types of digital photos that are most in demand for model portfolios, having worked with modelling agencies all over the world, primarily as a sports/fitness photographer I have been known to moonlight as a fashion photographer also.

    What This Article Will Go Through

    I will go through the ideas that I picked up from other photographers over the years, including how to position models for the shoot, what type of model pose are the best and the different types of poses that clients might want to see.

    Advice Before a Shoot For Any Photographer

    Before any shoot, make sure that you go through online image sharing platforms like pinterest to look at a professional model portfolio or two, these model portfolios can give you some great ideas for images for everything from the type of camera and lens to use, to the types of poses that you might want to use in your shooting (fun, relaxed, serious, candid etc).

    Technical Knowledge is Essential

    Ensure that your technical knowledge of photography is on point, understanding the relationship between light, shutter speed, focal length and depth of field.

    Colour & Indoor Shoots

    For most indoor shoots, I tend to bring a colour board with me, whether self-printed or ordered from amazon, these help with color balancing in post production, because with indoor lighting you can never tell, it can be either too warm or too cold, but it is never perfect (take it as a piece of advice from me!).

    Fashion Photography

    The fashion world is notoriously fickle. When thinking about the type of images you need to produce at a fashion photography shoot, there are a few factors that you need to think about including:

    • Camera or cameras you will be using
    • Lenses and focal length
    • Lighting available
    • Reflectors
    • Background
    • Model movements (standing, sitting, moving, position)
    • Skills of the model, whether they are professional and their experience especially with posing
    • The client brief for images to be produced
    • Fast turnaround time
    • Photo shoot location (studio vs outdoor/on-site)

    Best Advice To takeaway for Fashion

    Contrasting textures are your friend. When dealing with modeling and models in the fashion world, the best takeaway is to make sure that you come away from the shoot with multiple money shots. The shoot should be aimed at generating images that will actually be used by the client that provided you with the brief. Fashion modeling can be difficult, but you can get some inspiration and look for ideas by conducting an online search and asking friends for advice.

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    An Outdoor Model Shoot we did for sports fashion

    Here you can see some of the images that we created when we went on a model shoot for the merch activation of Orangetheory Fitness in the UAE. Working with models can be a challenege, but photography is about framing great pictures and making sure you get that all important money shot!

    Action Shots with remote flash

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    A remote flash with a trigger that connects to your digital camera is a great way to get an awesome shot. The shutter speed will be limited to the speed with which your remote can trigger the flash, with most remote triggers this is between 100ms to 250ms, you will know when the shutter speed is too fast when you notice the pictures coming out dark.

    By using an external remote flash you can really bring the ambient light levels down in your shot. Check out this photo that we used, in addition you can use this technique to capture some dynamic movements that fall within what looks cool within the shutter speed limitations.



    To get this shot you will definitely need a remote flash, in the frame you see on the right the flash is actually just out of frame on a tripod and is up about 2 feet above the model aimed down.

    A fill light (LED) is also aimed at the model to help provide some softer light to fill in the image but still let us darken the background, since I wanted the model to be the center of the photo. This is not posing by the way, this is actually a battle rope exercise but because the shutter speed was at around 200th of a second (the upper limit of the remote trigger speed).

    Ensuring the camera itself is on a triped will really help the framing of the photo, espcially if you have some control over the models behaviour and are able to make them repeat the same poses multiple times. The result you are going for will undoubtedly be dependent on the industry you are working in.

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    Personally, I like to use cheaper brands for the items that I tend to lose, break or forget on shoots, like the tripods you attach lights to and flashes and things like that. The two brands that I look towards are Neewer and Youngno (sic), here are some of the links to the equipment I use from Amazon:

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