Common Mistakes a Photographer Should Avoid When Working with a Model

A week ago I was invited to take part in a workshop titled, Lights and Shadows. Demo models were available and various photographers were shooting in a temporary photographic studio. I could not help but notice impractical mistakes made repeatedly by some of the photographers present. This led me to write this article, in order to pin point three basic mistakes that you should avoid when shooting a model (in particular, a female model).

working with a model in photography

“Christina” captured by Rino (Click Image to See More From Rino)

Discretion at All Times

Before you start shooting a model, it is a very sensible to check that your model looks excellent. You should check that makeup is to your liking, hair is set well, clothes are not creased, clothing labels are not visible. In short, make sure that your model is nothing less than perfect. It’s not a matter of whether or not this particular task is carried out, but it is more about how it is done.

Referring to the above mentioned workshop, I was appalled by the way some photographers were probing their models before and during the photo test. In making sure that the model is perfectly set, there is no need to feast your eyes all over her body from head to toe and vice versa. This type of attitude makes the model feel uneasy and uncomfortable. You simply make the model feel like she is another item on a shelf in a super market. So what is the proper way to make sure your subject looks her best?

The answer is simple. Always look at the model through your lens behind the camera. Your first couple of dummy shots should do the trick. A full length shot, frontal and posterior, and a close up portrait should suffice. Analyze intently these few photos on your camera display and take note of anything that could ruin your photo shoot. Politely ask the model to follow your directions. And this brings me to my next point.


I have learned that fortitude is a needed virtue for photo shoots. There is a particular way you approach a model and direct her. You simply cannot look nervous and stressed out—it will not allow you to get your message through to your model. Don’t grumble or use slang words because you have lost control of the situation! Believe me, I have seen these kind of pitiful situations.

It takes discipline and training to learn to go along with models, particularly novice models or models with a certain attitude. You have to master your emotions and be calm and polite at all times. If you cannot get a pose right, just move on to something else. There is so much that each and every model can give you back.

Appropriate Clothing

How does a model feel if a photographer is wearing a tight shorts and a flimsy shirt with half his chest bare? I think the average sensible person would say, uncomfortable. I could not agree more. In making your model feel at easy you should watch your language, have a nice attitude, and above all dress appropriately.

So next time you are preparing for a photo shoot, review your clothing items before discussing the model’s outfits! They should be fresh, fitting, and inspire a sense of business and respect for your profession.

When guiding a model to pose during a photo shoot, be confident in how to go along and direct the model properly.

About the Author:
A member of the Malta Photographic Society (MPS), a public speaker and an article writer for various entities. If you have found the above helpful, I invite you to visit my site at where you can learn more about different aspects in photography, in particular, how to pose a model and turn your photos into money online.

For Further Training on Model Posing, PictureCorrect Suggests

Check out this popular eBook on how to produce professional portraits by mastering the secrets of camera-friendly poses. It can be found here: Photography Posing Secrets

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One response to “Common Mistakes a Photographer Should Avoid When Working with a Model”

  1. Derick Jones says:

    I would have thought these would be common sense, but live and learn.

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