My personal top 5 struggles and how to deal with them
Landscapes, wildlife, architecture or abandoned places are all fun to shoot. But sooner or later most photographers want to take the plunge to photograph people. Whether you are an experienced photographer or just a newbie who loves taking pictures, during your first steps as a model photographer you will certainly face some of the following struggles.
- Mastering the light
Studio shot – Model: Chiara Bianchino (Italy)
I happened to me many many times and I still need to pay lots of attention to it with every shot I take. You take a picture, check its result on the camera display and wow… it’s beautiful! The colours seem to be bright, the lighting is well balanced and your model is illuminated in the right way. But once you’ve uploaded the picture to your laptop and view it on the big screen it’s… awful. There is a terrible shadow under the models’ chin, one side of the face is overexposed, the shadow on the wall is really disturbing…
Good lighting is a critical component of portraiture, so one really needs to master it. One of your best friend in mastering the light in an easy way can be YouTube, where you can find lots of tutorials discussing the topic.
And of course, you can improve your lighting techniques a lot by self-study. Do not only spend time on viewing your successful images, also take a close look to the awful ones. Ask yourself the question what went wrong and how you would be able to do better next time.
- Finding models
An experienced photographer in possession of a nice portfolio won’t have a lot of trouble in finding new faces. A professional photographer can hire models as part of his shoot. But for an amateur of newbie without a decent portfolio, finding a model can be a real torture, especially when you’re looking for a model to perform a nude shoot. It’s something that I struggled with when I was first starting out. I wanted to try shooting nudes, but didn’t know where to find a model.
However don’t give up: potential models are all around. My models come from many different sources:
Workshops are a great option when you are just starting out – they let someone else find the models for you. Attending workshops is also a great way to start building your portfolio so that you have some work to show to prospective models.
Group photo shoots
Organized shoot events are a great alternative to workshops in case you want to find nude models – especially when you don’t have any nude images in your portfolio to show to potential models.
Looking for models online can be an adventure. If you search for modeling web sites, you will discover that there are many to choose from. Sometimes you need to become a member of the site to really see anything, but many sites are free or offer a free level of membership with some limited capabilities. I regularly book models through PurplePort of Model Mayhem.
Facebook and Facebook Groups
The people you’ll find in Facebook groups for models are generally freelance and non-agency models – but that doesn’t mean they can’t do the job, and do it well.
- Finding shooting locations
A photo studio is, of course, a great shooting location – if you have access to one. But most any place can be used as a setting for nude photographs as long as you can get some privacy. Some of my favorite images have been created in unlikely locations.
Your home or the model’s home
A potential shooting location can be your home or the model’s home. If a model is a little apprehensive about posing nude, she may feel more comfortable in familiar surroundings. There is a risk, of course: unless you’ve seen your model’s home, you have no idea what you are walking into. Sometimes it’s a great place to shoot, and other times there isn’t much to work with.
Model: Nika (Czech Republic) – Shot at the model’s place
Old, abandoned buildings
Old, abandoned buildings make a great setting for nudes, though you should be sure that it is truly abandoned; otherwise you may be trespassing. It would also be best if the building is in an out-of-the-way location, to reduce the likelihood of unexpected visitors. If possible, it is always a good idea to have an assistant to act as a lookout, whenever shooting in a location where someone could happen by.
Natural settings, such as woods, mountains, lakes, seashores, and rivers, are wonderful places to shoot nudes. A nude body just fits in as a part of nature. The problem is ensuring an appropriate degree of privacy. You will definitely need to get off of the beaten path to find a good place to photograph nudes. Again, an assistant/lookout is very helpful. The ideal situation is to find private property where you can shoot – with the owner’s permission, of course.
Outdoor shoot – Model: Lena Filanea (Ukraine)
Since you have total control of the light and the surroundings, a studio is a great place to shoot nudes. You will also have all of the privacy you need. Often, conveniences such as a bathroom and a dressing room with a mirror will also be available for your use. In many cases, you can set up a temporary studio in your home. All you really need is enough open space.
Shot at the home studio – Model: Ija Del Mar (Belgium)
Sometimes when I finish an image, I first send it to a friend to get her opinion. Sometimes she says yes, while on other moments she asks me what I was trying to achieve. And occasionally she just gives me a critical negative feedback. It’s all perfectly acceptable, but don’t ask to advise for every image you produce. Being too critical can be detrimental to our own progress and it also hinders our growth especially comparing ourselves to others.
- Things getting in the shot
I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me. The model takes a perfect pose, she has this sensual look in her eyes, light is in balance and the composition is close to perfection… but something really disturbing shows up in the background. It might be a light stand, an object against the wall or an ugly tree branch right next to the model.
Of course editing and post processing the pictures always is an option, but to me this is not the most interesting part of the creative process. To avoid frustration, look in advance and frame in a correct way.
Thanks for stopping by. Until next time!