Tag Archives: photography

Modeling #101: Tips to Think About When Going to a PhotoShoot

23 Aug

The past month I’ve certainly spent my fair share coaching models in front of the camera.  I’m constantly reminded that modeling is challenging work.  The goal of creating images is to make them look effortless and natural, but the process getting there sometimes doesn’t feel like it.  It’s interesting; when I’m watching models I can often see what’s not working and correct it.  However, when I’m in front of the camera myself modeling it’s much more difficult.  There usually isn’t a mirror in front of you so you have to learn the skills and the best way to do that is practice.

Having seen hundreds of people on-set at this point, and coached a number of them, I thought I’d offer five tips to think about when going to a photo shoot.

What resonates on film and looks natural does not always feel natural when you are doing it.  Many new models show up and as they are posing say “this feels really awkward” or “I would never do this.”  Yes, we realize that.  Some of the best shots taken are sometimes uncomfortable.  Let me give you an example.  When shooting for Pepsi recently I spent 2 hours holding a granola bar in different positions.  Time after time they adjusted my hand, my leg, my angle, to the point where I kept thinking I would never sit like this nor hold a snack like this.  I knew, however, that it was working for them.  It was actually uncomfortable sometimes and by the end of the shoot I was exhausted from holding the position.  Obviously had it felt natural I would not have been so tired sitting.  Keep this in mind as you shoot.

You must look natural. I talked above about feeling unnatural in a pose but I’ll couple that with the fact that you need to appear relaxed.  I spent a lot of time saying this to models:

Relax your arm

Relax your face

Smile naturally

Open your eyes

It’s hard to relax, especially when you are a new model.  You’re focused on doing it correctly.  What you need to do is focus on simply being in the zone.  That means try to forget about the camera and show some personality.  Think about a scenario that mimics what you are shooting.  Mentally imagine yourself in this setting.  If you are shooting a running image, imagine yourself preparing for a long run.  What does your face look like, what you are thinking about, how do you really stretch or prepare for a run?

Watch your core.  This tip is more specific to those shooting fitness or bathing suit images.  Your core matters.  You have got to remind yourself on set to tighten your core by lifting up.  Imagine there is a string attached to your head gently pulling you up and elongating you.  Unless the shot calls for you to be bending over in some format do not hunch.  Keep in mind that no matter how fit or small you are, everyone has an angle that doesn’t work.  Paying attention to your core will help control this.

Listen to your photographer and any coaches you have on-set.  You hired these people because you trust them.  Let them do their job.  If they tell you to look down, look down.  Remember that they can see the image and know what’s working on camera, so trust their judgment.

Bring a lot of wardrobe items: You can never show up with too many clothing options.  I’ve been at countless shots where we have run out of options or something the model brought didn’t work.  Even when I’m styling clients I always bring extra options.  It’s much easier to have choices.  I’ve been on larger scale shots where I’ve been hired to model and there have been times when I’m asked if I happen to have an item with me (an extra pair of tennis shoes, a strapless bra, a camisole to layer under an outfit, accessories or props).  Bring options!

If you are shooting for your own personal use or for portfolio development and the photographer you are shooting with doesn’t bring someone to help, I’d consider two things. Either hire someone or consider bringing a friend to play this role.  I cannot express how much stress is alleviated by having someone on-set who knows what they are doing and can help with all the details.  They should be someone who can assist with wardrobe and help you dress, make sure everything is fitting properly and in-place, help be your advocate on set, make you feel more comfortable and major added bonus if they have experience in front of the camera as well and can help you with that.

Good luck with your shoots.  Remember practice makes perfect.  Relax and have fun during the experience and as always, please feel free to post questions on my Facebook page at Kim Miller Style.  I’m always happy to share any resources and knowledge I have!

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The Road to Becomming a Talent: Diaries of a Model-in-Training

6 Feb

A week in the talent industry and a busy one at that.  I think I’ve finally turned a corner and am gaining confidence in my abilities to actually say I can do some of this stuff.  It helps when you start landing paid jobs.  I’ve decided that being able to say “I’m capable and this” is a critical piece of actually achieving success.  It’s ohhh so difficult though, particularly in this industry.  However, f you don’t think you can do it, why should anyone else?

My friend Shannon behind the scenes at our fitness modeling shoot in Sedona, AZ

The Recap: Audition 1 – This one is for a mini-commercial.  Super excited about this because I feel like I am in my element.  I’m asked to read from a teleprompter and demonstrate a push-up.  I’m all geared up in fitness wear for this and I arrive 25 minutes early.  One thing I didn’t anticipate about auditioning, you are always afraid you are going to be late, so you show up incredibly early as a result to make sure you can find the location.  As my friend says though, first impressions are everything.  Better to be an hour early than 5 minutes late.  I agree.  I’m waiting for the audition and in walks a gal I know.  She’s very beautiful, highly skilled, and someone I consider to be well-known known in the industry.  My mind thinks, “well, so much for this audition”.  I have to remind myself though that you never really know what they are looking for.  It’s about fitting a part, whatever the casting director has in their head, so I pull it together and head-in.  I do the audition and think it goes well.  Unfortunately I have no idea what they thought and likely wont unless I am selected.  The waiting game begins.

The recap: Audition 2 – Phoenix Fashion Week.  I get a note that they are doing an open casting call for print models.  Okay, this sounds interesting.  I don’t know if I am what they are looking for on this one.  I’m definitely the person they would like to appeal to, but unsure as to whether I’m the type of person they would use to market their organization.  What this translates to – I’m maybe a little too old for this!? ! Here’s the important thing I take from this though, you just never know who you will run into at these things.  I remind myself to be open to it.  It never hurts to show-up. I love style and spend a portion of my career doing this, even if I am not “model” material for them, what better way to meet people in the fashion industry?  I arrive and the line is full off different faces.  I’m feeling a little better about this.  One thing I have going for me, I’m on-time (as I mentioned early), I wearing a cute outfit (It is Phoenix Fashion Week after all) and I am organized (portfolio in hand, updated resume, etc.).  Pretty sure this carries at least a little weight in their eyes.  Although I am clearly not a “traditional” runway model I’m asked to demonstrate it.  This get comical.  I smile, if you know me well then you know that’s what I do.  I watch as they have someone show the group a runway walking.  The organizer explain to me that I should appear like clothes on a hanger walking down the runway.  I’m trying to get a visual in my head.  Okay, I can do this.  Not sure why, I’m clearly not 5’8″ and thus am deemed “unqualified for the job” (an entire new topic I’ll dive into someday). but that’s okay.  I try very hard to be serious on this walk.  So tempted to flash my smile but figure that might rock the boat a bit too
Lunch break during our fitness shoot, chicken in hand!

much and I want to be respectful, so I do my best runway walk.  I do get to observe a number of lovely individuals, learn a few tricks of the traded, and decide this was not as bad as I thought it might be.  I pat myself on the back, way to put yourself out there and risk potentially looking like a complete fool! Ohh, and a young girl, whose nervous sits next to me during this.  She asks my advice.  I look at her thinking that she definitely has the look for this.  I give my best advice, try to encourage her to not be scared, she clearly has potential.  She gets up to the runway and rocks it.  I feel really good about this.  So maybe this amounts to nothing in terms of a job for me, but maybe in a small way I help the person sitting next to me with her confidence.  That makes me happy.

The re-cap: Fitness Modeling Job – This one is the most fun because I’ve already been hired.  I arrive in Sedona with two girlfriends also working this job.  We’ve packed nearly everything we own in the way of fitness despite being told they will have some wardrobe for us.  The stylist on set seems thrilled with this as it provides a lot of options to choose from.  One thing I’ve learned about the modeling industry, ALWAYS come over prepared.  You never really know what’s going to come up on set so now I arrive with make-up, clothing, hair products, extra outfits, etc.  This has actually proved very helpful at times.  Today’s shoot has me smiling a lot, running bleachers, stretching, and playing soccer.  It’s really all me because these are things I actually do.  I think about what would happen  though if he had called me out requesting certain skills and I showed up and didn’t have them.  It’s tempting to want to land a job and embellish your skills, but I commit to never doing that.  I don’t want to find myself on set where I’m asked to do something I clearly cannot.  Running, that I can do!  The day is perfect, the weather amazing, the track pristine.  I remind myself, this is why I’m pursuing this.  It’s awesome is it to be paid for something you thoroughly enjoy doing.  The phrase rings in my ears, when you find something you love so much you could do it everyday with no pay and be happy,   then you’ve found your true passion.  I’m inspired to keep putting myself in sometimes semi-uncomfortable situations to pursue my goals.  What’s the worse that can happen right?  The worst is nothing, maybe you hear we don’t want you.  You’re not smart enough, you’re not pretty enough, you’re not skilled enough.  Okay, I suppose I can deal with that.  What’s the best case scenario.  They say yes, we want you.  And the job turns into the perfect day.

Good luck in your endeavours, whether they be modeling or otherwise.  Just keep telling yourself you can do it.  Consider some of the most successful people and imagine how many times they were told no.  Put yourself in situations where you are out of your element, reach just a bit farther than you think you are capable of, because you never know where that might take you.