Working with Models: Lifestyle and Fashion Photography Tips

Photography and Modeling: The Yin and the Yang

Modern marketing strategies and advertising aim to be as humanized as possible. The era of social media increases the demand for high quality visual content, that is beautiful, alluring and at the same time represents an animated, engaging experience.

A commercial photographer will, sooner or later, begin working with models for creating such images. However, it isn’t easy to adjust the camera settings, seek the best lighting, generate creative ideas, direct the photoshoot and manage human interaction effectively, all at the same time. Working with people, opposed to shooting objects that don’t move or have feelings, can be quite challenging, at least at the beginning.

In this article, we will list some recommendations on working with models, which can hopefully help marketing teams and photographers, who are new to this area, to make their work flow more efficiently.

Impeccably Gorgeous Collection by Yaly Couture

Choosing the Look

Before starting the model search, it is highly important to clarify for yourself the suitable look, which best represents the brand you’re shooting for. This will directly depend on the brand’s marketing goals and target audience. Who are the people that you’re reaching out to with these photographs? How old are they? Where are they from? What are their interests? How do they look or wish to look like? Based on this information, you’ll form the desired portrait. Once you’ve got this figured out decide, whether to go for a professional model or an amateur of your chosen type.

A Healthy Breakfast @ Novotel Danang

Professional Vs Amateur

At the end of the day, it will depend on the budget you have for the shoot. Working with a professional model will almost certainly save you a lot of time. The photoshoot is easy to direct with a guarantee of a better result when the model feels relaxed in front of the camera and knows how to pose. However, professional models’ time is usually high priced. If your budget allows inviting a pro – go for it. There are also cases when a model will be happy to participate in your shoot in exchange for either promotion opportunities or her/his portfolio enlargement.

In case your budget is limited, there’s no harm in working with a photogenic friend or someone keen to try themselves in modeling. One of the most important qualities you’d be looking for then (after being attractive in photographs of course) - will be the model’s high motivation to collaborate.

Grace and Style of the Black Pearl by  Namaka Jewelry

Grace and Style of the Black Pearl by Namaka Jewelry

Clarity and Ethics

Be as clear as possible with the model about the purpose of your shoot and the working conditions. Make sure he or she is comfortable with everything. Remember, you’ll never get a person to do the job well if they don’t want to do it.

Discuss such aspects as:

  • Dates and hours of the shoot

  • Location

  • Preferred look/style

  • Details in your photography concept that the model needs to be aware of:  ex. bikini shoot, swimming, doing extreme sports, climbing trees…

  • Make sure in advance that the model a) can do it b) feels comfortable doing it

  • Think of who will be responsible for clothing and makeup supply and make the appropriate arrangements

  • Lastly, confirm payment rates, accommodation, expenses for transportation and food

Once you’ve agreed on all the above and shook hands, you can be confident that the process will go smoothly and without surprises for either side.

On the Shoot

Keep in mind that respectful and attentive attitude towards the talent you are working with is the key to building a strong professional relationship and eventually getting the best result on the photoshoot. Make the models’ comfort one of your top priorities. Ensure that the schedule is built appropriately, giving the models enough time to prepare and fix makeup. Make sure there is a space where the models can conveniently change in privacy. Have water and food organized at suitable times.

Getting ready @  Grand Mercure Danang

Getting ready @ Grand Mercure Danang

Breaking the Ice

Remember that talents you’re working with are first of all people. Sometimes they might be under more pressure than even the photographer by being conscious of their poses and presentation. Therefore, build a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere of teamwork and support, by chatting to your talents and giving them positive reinforcement. Only respectful and good-natured attitude will result in the best images.


After finishing the shoot in one location and before moving to another, ask the models to chill for a bit and go ahead yourself to check the set-up and the best light. Invite the models only after you’ve figured out what you’re about to do and that everything is ready. Do not keep the models waiting around while you’re trying to come up with ideas or fixing the curtains.

If you have a photo session with a celebrity or a highly paid model, when every minute costs you or your client a ton of money, it would be prudent to go on location a day before with some friends or staff and do a pre-shoot. Just stage every shot in advance, so that you won’t miss a second of precious time during the actual shoot. Only then will you be completely confident in what directions to give and work as efficiently as possible.

Aspire for More @  Namaka Jewelry

Aspire for More @ Namaka Jewelry


Be precise in your directing and, even better, introduce some simple signs that will suggest the model look up or down, turn the head, bring up shoulders or relax. The photographer in a way becomes the model’s mirror, because when posing he or she can only estimate how well they are doing by looking at your reaction, and improving according to your advice.  Communicate your vision to the models, make sure you’re on the same page from the start of the shoot. You may take the time to show images that turned out good to the model to encourage more great work. So those were all the “do’s”. Here is a very important “don’t”: Don’t touch the model without asking permission, it may be considered inappropriate and affect your professional relationship.

Model Release Form

Oh, almost forgot! Ask the model to sign a model release form  It will secure your right to use the photos in the future and will prevent any disputes that may arise over your photography work with the models.

Lastly, maintain a positive, easygoing, fun vibe throughout the whole duration of the shoot. We assure you, it’s the key to success!

Counting stars @ Ecopark Grand

Counting stars @ Ecopark Grand

Photography and modeling are like the yin and the yang – they are interconnected and interdependent. Together they form a masterpiece that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Play as a team, respect each other, create beauty together, and most importantly – have fun!