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20-Photo Tips, Working with Women
For Male Photographers
“A woman is a mystery most men don”t understand,” and in the glamour photography of women, a photographer must gain an insight into their female subject before they even think about picking up the camera—and it”s not always easy, because everyone is different, especially men.
However, here are some tips for male photographers that might help, most learned over my 30-years of photography. These are 20 quick, photography tips when working with women professionally as a photographer, not how to pick them up!
Photographing women requires the photographer to establish a photographer/model relationship, not a male/female relationship.
1. Many of my friends and subjects know I like to talk a lot, can”t help it, it”s my passion, but as a photographer, I build rapport with my subject by just being silent, and listening. I become the bartender, beautician, clergy, psychologist, etc., and just listen. Remember, pressing the shutter-release button is only five-percent of the equation for a great image.
2. Smile, open her door, be polite and always a gentleman as photographers should never say, “Here, put this on!” Instead, they should say, “What do you think about this outfit?” Let your subject make the decision, don”t make it for her—the exception is in a paid client shoot that requires a female model, usually there is no choice for either party.
3. Never say, “Make love to the camera baby.” If she doesn”t slap you, I would. This is a very unprofessional statement often seen in movies, but poor taste in real life. Instead, as a photographer shoots, he should say, “You look beautiful, gorgeous, fabulous, or something in that manner and in a nice, gentle tone. Don”t over do it, keep it infrequent, but say it throughout the shoot more than a few times and be sincere.
4. It”s about her, not you. Your goal is to make her smile with your images, rapport, and for a lack of better words, in a great “bedside” manner as an analogy if you were a doctor. Remember though, you are not her doctor. You are not there to solve her problems, only to listen and capture her beauty.
5. Never say, “tuck your tummy or suck your gut or belly.” Always say, “Can you please straighten your back?” If you”re married, you know this already as at some point in your marriage your wife will say, “Honey, do I look fat?” If you even hesitate to answer while gasping for air, you are wrong, the answer is always, “No sweetie, you look as beautiful as the day I first met you.”
6. If she mentions that other photographers or photographs of the past make her look fat, say, “It was probably the photographer”s fault because they didn”t turn one hip away from the camera in the pose and a camera lens perspective will naturally add weight, especially if the hips are photographed straight on.”
7. Never say, we can fix your wrinkles or “crow”s feet” in Adobe Photoshop. Instead, say (if she asks about wrinkles around her eyes), “That”s just the good-life and I”ll take care of it for you naturally, don”t worry about a thing.” Taking care of it in postproduction is nothing a model really wants to hear, because in essence, you”re acknowledging she”s got faults. And for the record, photo editors and art directors don”t want to hear that either.
8. Never refer to augmented breasts as “fake” even if she calls them that. Breasts are all real, augmented breasts are just enhanced. The skin and breast tissue, augmented or not, are real.
9. Explain to your subject you”re there to capture her inner beauty too, not just the outer beauty that anyone can capture with a disposable camera. You”re there because you”re a professional at capturing that inner beauty.
10. Compliment, compliment. Compliment her eyes, her hair, her legs, her physique, her voice, her femininity, and her talent. Compliment anything you can along the way. Give your subject confidence, do not destroy it and she”ll send you more customers by word of mouth.
11. Never offer to be a model manager and manage her career, real professionals in the modeling and photography industry despise model managers and respect licensed model agents or bookers. You are a photographer, stick with what you know best not what you think you know—you”ll only annoy us professionals as I avoid “model managed” subjects like the plague as do most agencies and credentialed photographers.
A perfect smile comes from a relaxed model, when the corners of the eyes are in harmony with the corners of the lips.
12. Use a make-up artist when all possible and let your make-up artist pre-grease the skids for your first shoot with your subject. A good make-up artist knows how to comfort and build confidence in your subject before you ever start. A good make-up artist supports you and collects a check, a great make-up artist is loyal, understands your work, and knows she”ll be well-compensated for her talents, but not just with money, but with future work and references. Loyalty comes with loyalty, just like respect.
13. If you”re not sure you might offend your subject, ask another female first. Walk up to a mirror, then ask yourself what you plan on asking of your subject. If it sounds weird or strange to you, it will be tens times worse to your subject. Be considerate in all you ask your subject and never force her to do anything she doesn”t want to do. Remember, it”s all about the face, not what she”s wearing or not wearing. Without the face, the rest doesn”t matter and you might as well cut your shoot short.
14. If your subject is a model, her portfolio should only contain one or two of your images and one or two of other photographers, no different than your hand-carried portfolio should be a book diverse of talent from various models. This can differ on specialized on-line portfolios.
Don”t Spray And Pray
With high-speed motor drives and 64GB cards, too many photographers hold the shutter release down on their camera and pray they”ll capture something good. Well it sounds like a machine gun to your subject, so don”t do it, it”ll just make her uncomfortable!
15. If all seems not to be working right, reschedule the shoot and go back to item #1 on this list and start over from scratch—the past is the past.
16. Build rapport with your subject. Rapport starts with the first email, phone call, etc., and never stops, even after the shoot. Like credit it takes time to build and just one incident to destroy it. Rapport never starts when you pick up the camera, it just continues from the beginning and never ends.
17. It”s about quality, not quantity, do not “spray and pray,” make each shot count and only show your subject the best images in the end. Never burn a CD and give her everything you shot. The real difference between a professional photographer and an amateur isn”t money, it”s the fact that a professional photographer understands what makes an image good or great and never shows their bad images—we all take them. It”s called “burning film” to get to where we need with our subject.
18. Never tell your subject your problems. Your subject is there because she wants to feel like the queen for the day, not your psychologist, bartender, beautician, etc., she is your subject, it”s her day, not yours.
19. Make sure your equipment is ready to go the day before, camera batteries charged, lights ready to go. Don”t look like a clumsy fool during your photography session, otherwise your subject will not have confidence in you or your results.
20. Joke with your subject casually, not obnoxiously. Joking, especially mild humor relaxes the facial muscles. If you can”t do that, provide some chocolate, better yet, dark chocolate, it”s best, but have both. Forget white chocolate. The idea is a relaxed face and make sure the clothing you select or ask her about is something she”s comfortable with, otherwise you”ll wind up with “tight face” images that are wasted time for the both of you.