It may seem like this question has an obvious answer, but it’s something I do find quite difficult - I am very out spoken and confident but sometimes struggle with the following.

Should I just tell them what to do and they respond? Or should I change how I am with each subject?

I guess what I am asking is, what is the best way to communicate with photo subjects?

Is there a correct way to achieve the best shots / poses or is that down to style?


1 Answer 1


Everyone's style is different but this is what I do (and other pros in my area do similarly):

  • Always be respectful of the model.
  • Never touch the model, but if you need to rearrange something that you can't get them to do then ask for permission to touch them first.
  • Be careful of your wording. If a shot isn't working make sure that you don't make it sound like it's their fault.
  • Be direct with your directions. Using hand gestures that show them the tilt and direction to be at is very effective.
  • Never go into silent mode. That is very awkward for a model.
  • Be professional in your language. Never tell a model they're hot or attractive or something else.
  • If the model is doing something good, be sure to mention it. It tells them what's working and gives them a little boost.
  • Never blame your equipment or skills for missing a shot. If something isn't working, just change what you're doing but don't make them lose confidence in you by what you are saying.

These are just a few rules of thumb I've learned from pros like Andy Armstrong and incorporated into my people pictures. If I was to boil it all down to what I consider to be the best way of communicating it would be this:

Be respectful at all times and provide good feedback throughout the shoot.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ To what extent do you have a model shoot planned out before hand? Do you have every shot planned? Do you have general ideas, and expect yourself to fill in on-the-fly? Do you have general ideas, and expect the model to improvise from the generalizations? Do you just wing it? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 18, 2012 at 17:16
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Myself personally I don't have every shot planned. What I do is have a pose progression in mind. So when I am shooting a female model, for example, I'll have poses in mind that are easy to transition to and from. So I'll start her with standing poses, then kneeling poses, then stomach poses, then side poses, then back poses. Each pose leads to the next pose. So I have a scaffolding of sorts to build the rest of the shot around (background, expression, wardrobe, etc.). I like having the best of both worlds: spontaneity and order. I know my pose progression well which really helps keep order. \$\endgroup\$
    – nwcs
    Apr 18, 2012 at 17:41
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisWuestefeld photo.stackexchange.com/questions/22599/use-a-shot-list-or-not \$\endgroup\$
    – rfusca
    Apr 18, 2012 at 17:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.