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The Photo Shoot

The first rule is to make the photographer's life easy. The reason you are being hired as a professional model is that you are going to do things that will allow the shoot to go quickly, easily, and more successfully. A model who knows what she or he is doing will allow the photographer to get the job done in less time and with a lot less hassle. That's why you are being paid the big bucks.

You must keep in mind if a photographer has hired you for a shoot and things go wrong, it is the photographer who is held responsible, not you. The photographer has to make sure everything goes right.

Before the Shoot

Get a good night's sleep and stay healthy. If you are tired it will show both on your face and in your attitude. Please do not party the night before a shoot. The photographer, ad agency, and client will have invested a lot of time and money in a shoot and will depend on you to arrive ready to do the job. It is part of being a professional. In Milan or New York they may put up with partied out super models but in a secondary market, if you arrive for a shoot only half-there, you will not be there again.

Get your items ready and packed up. Unlike the big fashion scene you may need to provide items of wardrobe and props for a shoot. This should all be discussed and worked out before the shoot. If you have talked about bringing certain items please be sure they are packed and ready to go the night before. This avoids last minute running around and forgetting. Reliability again is part of being a professional.

You may need to put on a base make-up before leaving for a shoot. In a secondary market you may need to do your own make-up as there usually isn't a budget for a make-up artist or there isn't one available. By taking care of your contouring and base items before the shoot it helps speed matters along. This is not meant to cheat you out of billing time at the studio. They are usually willing pay more per hour for someone who can do their own make-up and who comes prepared.

You may need to have ‘no make-up on' at all before you arrive for a shoot.

Confusing isn't it? There may be times when the make-up has to be done at the shoot and not having any make-up on speeds the process. This is why a photographer appreciates a model he can communicate with so that all these things can be worked out ahead of time.

At the Shoot

Arrive on time. Studio time is often based on an hourly fee. If time is being wasted waiting for a model to arrive it either costs the photographer in time that can't be billed or it costs the client in time they are paying for nothing. In either case you just made the photographer's life less easy and you may not be asked back.

After your arrival and pleasantries are done, you will review with the photographer how to proceed with the shoot. (The game plan, or the 'plan your work then work your plan' bit.) Next it is off to finish your make-up and change clothes. This part may vary a lot depending on budget and purpose of the shoot. You may be left to your own make-up case and wardrobe and to get prepared in some corner of the studio or you could be whisked away by a make-up artist and hair stylist while the caterer brings you delicacies. In the meantime the photographer will be making last minute lighting and set adjustments, schmoozing the art director, making sure the client is happy, trying to find out why something that was promised hasn't arrived yet, rechecking the cameras, directing the photo assistant, checking on how things are going with the model, and, oh yeah, trying to have fun. Now you see why rule number one is 'make life easy for the photographer'.

Show time

Ok, now it's show time! You are ready to get in front of the camera. Communication is very important at this point. You need to follow the verbal instructions of the photographer and give feed back. As a model and a photographer work together more, this give and take becomes easier, but the first time out it can take a while to develop a rapport. Also, it is important to establish a touch-or-don't-touch understanding up front. When working with large format cameras the posing can be very slow and precise. It may be quicker and easier to physically move you and your arms, head and legs where they are wanted. If you are uncomfortable with that or other posing issues, please state it up front. This is one time it is better not to make the photographer's life easier if it is going to make your life miserable. All of this should get worked out and become part of the professional working relationship.

Another challenging part of the photo shoot process is trying to stay relaxed and comfortable. You will be told where your main light is, where your posing spot is, the expression wanted, and whether your to have your arms and legs going in different directions while you're trying to hold the product so you don't cover the label. All of this while a crowd of folks look on, and through this all you have to stay relaxed so the tension doesn't show on your face. If only it was all rock music playing and dancing around in front of the camera like they show on TV. In secondary markets it is a lot of product, illustrative, and catalog. But in spite of it all this you can still get a lot of excitement and electricity going.

It is strange, how this electricity and excitement can build between a photographer and a model. And it is even stranger when it suddenly stops during a shoot. Its like a switch is turned off or you run out of gas. One minute everything is really happening and you are doing great work and the next minute, for no reason, the energy drops. If it happens in the middle of a shoot, it means, "It's break time". It is now time to recharge, brake for lunch, socialize, change sets, change wardrobe, or something. If it happens close to the end of a shoot you may as well just call it a day. You hope you have all of the primary shooting done and you are just working on the extras so it is a good time to wrap up.

Working the Camera

There are several points that a model should be aware of and cultivate when in front of the camera.

Stay in your Light

Of foremost importance is to know where the main light is coming from. More and more of the lighting used in fashion magazines is an over-under-soft box set up. This creates a soft butterfly light, a term from classic portrait photography. It is also an idiot-proof lighting. For a model, all you have to do is stand and look at the camera. It is also a very flat, uninteresting light. If you have seen the photos of the Hollywood stars from the 30's and 40's you might remember how dramatic and glamorous they looked. A lot of that is from the dramatic lighting. For dramatic lighting to work, the person in front of the camera must position themselves just right. With all of these light setups there is a single main light coming from one direction and you must learn how to use it. If the light is coming from the right you need to work to that direction. You may also find that a certain type or direction of light may make you look better. This is a difficult idea to grasp until you have done a few shoots - but it is best to be aware of it right from the start.

Hitting your Mark

Many product and dramatic lighting setups are designed for the model to be at a particular spot in the set up. It is important to be aware of how much you can move from that spot; how far forward, back, side to side and up and down from that mark you can move. If it is a very tight set up and requires you to stay very close to your mark, then be-bopping and twirling around destroys the whole set up. When you move from your mark you throw off camera focus, move out of the light, destroy the alignment of the shot, and distort perspective. If you have a tight mark you must learn to do all of your action and poses within that tight space.

Camera Format

The tightness of your mark, how the lighting is set up and how you might be able to move is often affected by the type of camera and film format that is being shot. A popular view of fashion modeling is being in front of the camera and dancing around seeing how many expressions you can come up with. You hear the camera click, the motor drive whir, and light flash. But what happens when you're expected to hold a box of corn flakes in one hand, a spoon with milk and cereal in the other, while sitting at a table, trying to look like this is the greatest stuff you ever ate? Add on top of that a camera that not only has no motor drive but one that takes a single large piece of film that costs a small fortune and takes several minutes to reload after each shot. This is the type of modeling that they don't show on TV but can make up a lot of the secondary market. What makes a big difference between these two shoots is the type of camera that is used.

The 35mm camera is often used for a fashion shoot. It is easy to hold and to move with. It can shoot lots of frames per second, and each frame of film is fairly cheap. This allows the model and the photographer to move freely and shoot a lot of frames of film. You don't worry if many of the frames are no good as you can edit them later. But 35mm film is just too small for certain printing projects. The camera also lacks perspective and plane-of-focus controls. This means that if you're modeling sitting on a new automobile and the photo is going to be used for a billboard you won't get to twirl in front of a 35 mm camera. There are three formats of cameras: small - 35 mm, medium - 120 (70mm), and large - 4X5 to 8X10. As you move from small to large the cameras get larger, harder to hand-hold, harder to move with, slower to operate and more costly per frame to shoot with. This means that how you work in front of the camera has to change. With a 35mm camera you may move around and do different expressions as the photographer snaps away, with a 4x5 you may have to hold still and work to achieve the expression that is needed for several minutes before the shutter clicks. All of this becomes very clear when you get in front of these cameras for various types of shoots. Some of the wonderful work that was done by Penn for Vogue was done with the large format camera.


Another point that is important to understand is how much of you will show in the picture. Working full length is quite different from doing a tight head shot. With full length body posture, arm placement and leg position are very important. With a head shot, who cares what your body is doing, it's the face and expression that is everything. Knowing how much of you is going to show allows you to concentrate on just the part that is showing.

What is the Photo Saying

All of the previous is dictated by one thing, what is the purpose of the shoot? Selection of lighting, focus, camera format, framing and you are determined by the purpose of the shoot. It is important for you to have some idea what the final photo is to convey. This will help you to understand your motivation and purpose in the photo. This helps you to know what sort of expressions, gestures, and poses you should do. If the photo is to sell grave-side services for a funeral home, then your winning smile that sells tooth paste just won't do. I think a lot of photographers would rather view you as a collaborator in a photo rather than another prop to move around.

Expression and Posing

What does a professional model bring to a shoot that some one off the street does not, professional attitude and the "model's tool kit." The "model's tool kit" is the ability to express and pose and knowledge of make-up, hairstyling and wardrobe. This package of skill is what makes a model worth their fees

When photographs began replacing drawings in fashion magazines the photo fashion industry came up with their own set of expressions and poses. These expressions and poses usually communicated beauty and grace. A model would learn a standard set of poses that would indicate where the feet, hands, torso, and head would be positioned. One would work on one's cheery smile or surprise facial expression.

Today there are no set rules for models except all of the old rules still can apply except that they are being constantly broken all the time. The modeling schools say they will teach you the standard modeling poses but the agencies and fashion industry say that there are no standard poses; everything is creative and you either have it or you don't and we decide who has it.

The model should be prepared to look sad or happy and have practiced these expressions in the mirror so that she can express them at will. The model should have at her disposal a group of poses and she has a set routine that the photographer can shoot through. When there is a need something very different for a shot and the model is asked to stretch, twist, and reach and she is aware of her/his body and can do it. You should know the rules so you can break them. You should know your body so you are aware of how it moves, what lines it forms, and how it can be coached into different positions. You should know yourself and your emotions so you can show these to the camera and feel confident in what you are showing.

So how do you work on expressions and posing? One good way to start is doing activities that teach you how to move you body gracefully. For this try dance and rhythmic gymnastics. Dancers and gymnasts move great in front of the camera. They know how to create a long sweeping line with their bodies. Of course for expression theater is a great teacher. That is part of what an actor must do at times - communicate without words. If you have an opportunity take a class or participate in these activities do so.

You can work on facial expressions by practicing them in a mirror. Most emotions that you can think of can show on your face. Hate, love, sadness, longing, happy, and more can be expressed on your face. What you should do is make a list of all key emotional words you can think of (run through the dictionary) and practice those expressions in front of a mirror. After you have practiced for a while, try them on a friend and see if they can tell what emotion you are conveying. The idea is that when you are in front of the camera and the photographer wants you to look longingly into the distance you know how to do that.

More on Posing

When you are in front of my camera lens your body and how it is positioned become a critical element in making my photograph successful. Learning how to move in front of the camera begins with some basic principles.

Basic Principles

Lines of Force - There are certain principles of design that apply to any visual art. With a model in a photograph your body works as a compositional element. All the basic rules of design apply to how you position your body. Learning basic design rules can help you understand why arm should go one way and a leg the other way. And why when the rules are broken a whole different message is given.

Non-verbal communication - As may be no surprise curtain body positions communicate different messages. By learning these body positions and recreating them in front of the camera you can communicate a powerful message.

Symbolism - This is a refinement of understanding of non-verbal communication. This is the old nature verses nurture debate. There are curtain body positions that have specific meaning with in a culture context. There can be body position that will mean something in one culture or for one group of people and mean nothing to another. With the global economy and the whole planet reach of the Internet it becomes more important to understand what is mankind universal mind or world view and what is a cultural aberration

Acting vs. Reacting

In working with a model can get the pose I need in one of two ways by acting or reacting.

Acting or directional modeling - With this type of modeling a scene is set, direction on what is needed from the model for expression, look and pose given, the model must pull from themselves what is needed. On a set a model that can accomplish this is very valuable.

Reactive modeling - With this type of approach an environment is created, or external forces are applied and the model reacts to the situation. This is where the models personality comes through, improvisational, spontaneity. With some models and some situations this can work very well (more the exception then the rule). In others it is a salvable technique (it is like using the squeaky toy with a baby). A shoot will general take longer and communication objective can be harder to reach. Because of the greater time it takes get acceptable results a model of this type would be of less value.

Posing Styles

In moving away from principles and more into what is out there we will discuss four general style of posing based on industries.

  1. Classic Fashion - these are poses that were developed up to the 60s. These follow good compositional design and function to make one look attractive. These became so standardized they were thought of a mannequins. This is the style most used in catalog modeling.
  2. Anti-Classic or High Fashion - A rebellion against the classic posing started with the 60s rebellion to look unique. This has intern become its own stylized look that is seen mostly in fashion editorial. This style breaks compositional lines and goes for distorted, awkward, deformed and yes ugliness.
  3. Commercial print/Acting - Most often the pose is tied to direct non-verbal communication. An ad has an advertising message that need to be stated and how the model is positions carries the statement.
  4. Glamour - This area has its own unique set of poses. It is built on Classic fashion and good design but emphasize the sensual and sexy

How can you learn to pose

Work on posing by practicing in front of a full-length mirror and doing test shoots. To figure out what to practice look at the fashion magazine to see how to stand but most of the poses are breaking the rule and at this point you need to be learning the rules. You may want to look at fashion catalogs for poses. You would need to pay attention to tilt of the head, position of the hand, and turn of the ankle. These little things can make a big difference. Just as with facial expressions your body posture can relate to an emotional word or phrase. Body posing is easy to show someone but it is hard to put in words.

With both expressions and with posing it is also good to practice with props, products and wardrobe. Props might be a floppy hat, a long shawl, a beach ball. You want to practice reacting to the prop and using the prop. Since the reason for doing these photographs is to sell something, it is good to practice with a product that might be sold. Practice holding the product so it shows well and you don't cover the label. With fashion you are selling the clothes, practice showing important features. Show off pockets, collar, belt, how the garment moves, what ever makes the garment interesting you want to call attention to it

After the shoot

When the shoot is over it is time to clean up, pack up and go. When you're starting out you may want to stay and ask questions about modeling or if there is more work, or where else you can find work. A little of this is fine, but remember time is money and the photographer may need to move on to another project, so don't stay too long and wear out your welcome. Also, don't be too quick to dash off. The photographer may indeed have another project coming up, but does not want to talk about it until the client and art director have left. More confusion! Also, try not to leave things behind again part of being professional is being organized.

Lastly, the inevitable question, when will the pictures be ready? You know you want to see them. Try to work out a time when you might be able to return to look at them. What is excellent, is when you are starting out and the photographer can take time to review the photographs with you and not just leave something at the front counter. A critique of what the photographer saw and how you might do better can be a real ego bruiser, but can also help you learn and improve.

Post Shoot Stress

Some people will end up very excited after a shoot. Some will be burnt out. Whatever your reaction, you need to find a way to regain your normalcy quickly. Staying up or down can lead to more stress and that starts to take its toll on the body. You need to be able to unwind or rewind in a few hours as you will need to get your rest. You have a shoot tomorrow.....!


The following list will introduce you to some of the professional Photographers who are part of this ever growing community of Fashion and Modeling.

The following list provides names and cities of Photographic Studios. Talent Quest has no relationship with any of these Studios nor do we make any recommendations. You must do your own research and make your own decision with regard to assessment prior to making any financial arrangements with your Photographer. Upon searching this list and finding an interest in a particular person or entity continue your search by entering the studio's name into your search engine. View examples of their work in light of your needs. Their site should provide contact information. In the event this fails to produce contact information please contact us and we will attempt to provide you with either an email or mailing address. This service is for Members Only, therefore, please Log in or Register.


Please note: at this moment the listings are only Studios in the United States and Canada .

5200 Venice Studio

Los Angeles , California

61keys Entertainment

Ozone Park , New York

A Rooftop Studio

New York , New York

Aperture Professional Supply

Miami Beach , Florida

ArtWorks Photography

Springfield , Missouri

Barry Gnyp Photography

Vancouver , British Columbia

Berry Studio

Brooklyn , New York

Big Time Productions

Miami , Florida

Black Rabbit Productions

Boulder , Colorado

Boa Studios

Toronto , Ontario

Brenner Lennon

Plainview , New York

Brian Minnich Photography Inc

Orlando , Florida


Boston , Massachusetts

Capsule Studio, Inc.

New York , New York

Cheuvront Studios

Gainesville , Florida

Ciel Bleu Studios

Miami , Florida

Clickbox Productions

Mesa , Arizona

Cornelius Photography

Reno , Nevada

Creative PhotoGraphics

Moose Jaw , Saskatchewan

Creative Workshops

Miami , Florida

Crow Studio

Birmingham , Alabama

David Fairchild Studio

Redondo Beach , California

David Jacquot Photography

New York , New York

David Morris Photography

Kansas City , Missouri

Davitt Photo Alliance

Des Moines , Iowa

Daylight Studios

New York , New York

Dennis Meyler / Visuals

Houston , Texas

Don Distel Photography

Indianapolis , Indiana

Duret, Ken

Felton , California

Echelon Photography

New York , New York

Ed Comeaux Photography

Broussard , Louisiana

Ed McDonald Photography

Orlando , Florida

Eric Camden Photography

Orlando , Florida

Erick Gfeller Studios

Oklahoma City , Oklahoma

Evan Pilchik Photography

Emeryville , California

Factory Studios

Whippany , New Jersey

Folger, Claire

Arlington , Massachusetts

Frank Flynn Studio

Ocala , Florida

Gary's Williamsburg Loft

Brooklyn , New York

GEOF, Photo and Video Production

Sacramento , California

Glendale Film House, The

Glendale , California

Goodman, Rod

New York , New York

Great Southern Studios

Miami Beach , Florida

Gruntwork Productions

Dallas , Texas

Imaginistic Professional Photography

Orlando , Florida

Jay Kravetz Photography

West Palm Beach , Florida

Jodi Rothfield Casting Associates, c.s.a.

Seattle , Washington

Joe Edelman PhotoGraphics

Lansdale , Pennsylvania

John Bateman Photography

Winter Park , Florida

John Petrey Studios

Winter Park , Florida

Keith Douglas Photography

Fort Lauderdale , Florida

Kenny Johnson Photography

Kansas City , Missouri

King, River

New York , New York

Kreber Studio

Columbus , Ohio

LA Lofts, The

Hollywood , California

Larry Hanna Photography

Las Vegas , Nevada

Leighton O'Connor Photography

Beverly , Massachusetts

Light Tec - Dallas

Dallas , Texas

Light Tec - Houston

Houston , Texas

Lightwaves Imaging Services

Altamonte Springs , Florida

Littlejohn, Dan

Miami , Florida

Lucassian Photography

Troy , Michigan

LVI Studios

Los Angeles , California

Maier, Andre

New York , New York

MAPS - Miami

Miami Beach , Florida

Mark Fortenberry Photography

Charlotte , North Carolina

Mel Lindstrom Photography

San Francisco , California

Melrose Lightspace

Hollywood , California

Memory Makers

Dallas , Texas

MESS Studios

New York , New York

Michael Wolf Studio

Whippany , New Jersey

Moree, William

Brooklyn , New York

Navarro, Jeff

Denver , Colorado

Neumann, William

New York , New York

On the Edge Media Group

Spokane , Washington

Overflow Productions, Inc.

Orlando , Florida

Paramount Productions

Nashville , Tennessee

Paul Schultz Advertising

Louisville , Kentucky

Photo Adrenaline

Jackson , Mississippi


Clinton , Connecticut

PhotoWorks Interactive

Campbell , California

Pillera Photography

Lakeville , Minnesota

Pinckney Photography

Santa Cruz , California

Point of View

Oklahoma City , Oklahoma

Positives Images Photography

Las Vegas , Nevada

Production 920

New York , New York

Raymond Mertens Photography, Inc.

Winter Springs , Florida

Rector, Jamie

Long Beach , California

Richardson, Ilene

New York , New York

Rinehart, Jeff

Corinth , Mississippi

Riverwood Studios Inc.

Senoia , Georgia

Ryan, John

East Hartford , Connecticut

Ryse Productions Inc.

Dartmouth , Nova Scotia

S2 Management

Columbus , Ohio

Sampsel & Preston Photography

Las Vegas , Nevada

Schatz, Bob

Nashville , Tennessee

Sheri O'neal Photography

Orlando , Florida

Shugart Studios

Bedford , Texas


New York , New York

Southern Lights Studio

New Orleans , Louisiana

Southlight Photography

Casselberry , Florida

Spataro, Carl

Red Bank, New Jersey

St. Niell Studio, LLC.

Garfield , New Jersey

StarrShots Studio

Altamonte Springs , Florida

Studio One - Photographic Rental Studios

Toronto , Ontario


Woodbridge , Ontario

Sun King Studios

Islamorada , Florida

Taka Kawachi

New York , New York

Thoen & Associates Advertising Photography, Inc.

Minneapolis , Minnesota

Thompson Photography

Orange , California

Todd Taulman Photography

Indianapolis , Indiana

Tom Hawkins Photography

Vancouver , British Columbia

Turner, Feme

Grand Rapids , Michigan

Valle, Adrian

Van Nuys , California

Walter Silver Photography

Boston , Massachusetts

Wilcox, Scot

Dallas , Texas

WilderHancock Photography

Portland , Oregon

Wood, Paul

Washington , District of Columbia

The following is a list of the studios providing web site's showing their work. Talent Quest has no relationship with any of these Studios nor do we make any recommendations. You must do your own research and make your own decision with regard to assessment prior to making any financial arrangements with your Photographer. Upon searching this list and finding an interest in a particular person or entity continue your search by entering the studio's name into your search engine. View examples of their work in light of your needs. Their site should provide contact information. In the event this fails to produce contact information please contact us and we will attempt to provide you with either an email or mailing address. This service is for Members Only, therefore, please Log in or Register.

Please note: at this moment the below listings are only Studios in the United States and Canada .

Aperture Professional Supply Miami Beach , Florida

Barry Gnyp Photography Vancouver, Canada

Big Time Productions Miami, Florida

Black Rabbitt Productions Boulder, Colorado

Brilliant Pictures Boston, Massachusetts

Capsule Studio, Inc New York, New York

Cheuvront Studios Gainesville, Florida

Ciel Bleu Studios Miami Beach, Florida

Clickbox Productions Mesa, Arizona

Cornelius Productions Reno, Nevada

Creative Workshops Miami, Florida

Crow Studio Birmingham, Alabama

David Jacquat Photography New York, New York

Daylight Studios New York, New York

Don Distel Photography Indianapolis, Indiana

Ed McDonald Photography Orlando, Florida

Eric Camden Photography Orlando, Florida

Folger, Clair Arlington, Massachusetts

Froehlich, Nicolai New York , New York

Glendale Film House, The Glendale, California

Great Southern Studios Miami Beach, Florida

Gruntwork Productions Dallas, Texas

Imagineistic Prof Photography Orlando, Florida

Jay Kravetz Photography West Palm Beach, Florida

John Bateman Photography Winter Park, Florida

John Petrey Studios Winter Park, Florida

Kreber Studio Columbus, Ohio

LA Lofts, The Hollywood, California

Larry Hanna Photography Las Vegas, Nevada

Lucassian Photography Troy, Michigan

MAPS – Miami Miami Beach, Florida

Mel Lindstrom Photography San Francisco, California

Memory Makers Dallas , Texas

Navarro, Jeff Denver , Colorado

Photografix Clinton, Connecticut

Pillera Photography Lakeville , Minn.

Positive Images Las Vegas, Nevada

Production 920 New York , New York

Ryan, John East Hartford, Connecticut

Sampsel & Preston Photography Orlando, Florida

Sheri O'Neal-Photo Orlando, Florida

So Ho Soleil New York, New York

Studio One-Photographic Toronto, Canada

Sun King Studios Islamorada , Florida

Thompson Photography Orange, California

Tom Hawkins Photography Van Couver, British Columbia

Wilcox, Scot Dallas , Texas

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