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wilfredovalle asked:
Not really photography/photographer related but :: Any good resources to director prospect models to? I'm prepping for a shoot - the model is new at modeling..I want to steer her in the right direction in terms of resources, but I haven't a clue on where she can look. I'm really trying to steer away from Model Mayhem. Is there anything you can recommend for her? Thanks Z.

Oh… It’s ALL photography/photographer related.

You ask… “Any good resources to director prospect models to” and you’re prepping for a shoot.

Resources for directing as in posing? Or resources in directing as in directing her modeling career? The question is a bit vague and there’s a typo so I’m a bit lost but I’ll run with it all the same. :)

I’m taking this question as “directing models” for a shoot that’s coming up with a model that doesn’t have much experience. You know me Will. I don’t live in the fashion world so I don’t know much in terms of where to steer her modeling career if that’s the question.

I have similar questions of “resources for posing” and “resources for directing” that are in my inbox right now so that’s where I’m going with this since I don’t quite fully understand the question and I’m sort of guessing. Here we go.


Resources for directing models. A rant by Zack Arias.

YOU are supposed to be that resource. You’re the photographer. You’re the one who has to create the final image. It’s on YOUR shoulders to be the resource. Not the model’s. Not someone else. YOU.

A pro model brings a lot to the table. A pro photographer brings a lot to the table. Together along with hair, make-up, and wardrobe the image sings. The story is told. The work is great.

From where you are right now based on this question I can, and will, only recommend that she looks to YOU. 

The weight is on your shoulders. What photo or series of photos are you trying to create with this model? Why send her to learn something dramatic when you want something youthful and free? Why show her youthful and free when you need dramatic? The model isn’t dictating the shoot. You are. It’s your vision. It’s your photograph. 

What photograph are you wanting to make?

"I don’t know." 

If you ask for directions but you don’t know what your destination is how can anyone give you directions? Right? 

So. You want youthful and free and happy and bouncy. Now you have a destination. You want dark and dramatic and pensive. That’s a destination. 

What are the arms doing when someone is free? Are they spread out and flying or are they wound up tight around the body? When someone is dark and pensive are they standing on their tippy toes or are they wound into themselves and sitting? 

Is it about the pose…. OR….. is it about the body language? Don’t think “pose”. Think “body language”. (Some light bulbs should be going off over your head right now.)

Not only do these questions start to form the posing of your model but it starts giving lighting clues. Location clues. Wardrobe clues. Make-up clues. Hair clues. 

It’s call pre-visualization. It’s your job to figure this out before the model is even booked in most cases. You book the model based on these clues.

Sure there are times to leave things loose and up in the air. You do that when you are comfortable with changing elements in a shoot. You do that when you are confident that you can throw a shoot into the darkness or bring it into the sunshine. You do this when you are a good director but even then that’s not how you handle every shoot.

You think it through. You close your eyes and you picture the picture. You try to see the final image hanging on the wall or printed in a magazine next to a body of text. You try to see the thumbnails of the shoot in the Lightroom of your mind. What does your first edit look like when you close your eyes?

It sounds like I’m taking you for a ride on a rainbow but I’m not. You have to begin to see the images you want before the day of the shoot. You give yourself room to change and adapt on the fly but you have a loose idea (or a solid idea) of what you want. You have a destination.

The model walks in the door green as grass and has not seen the images you see in your head. You’ve worked out the lighting. You’ve worked out the location. Wardrobe is finalized. You know which lens you are going to use.

Now you get that model in the light and location. You get the lens on them. They have no idea what to do from there. Now you direct them. Now you tell them a story they need to live out. You direct their body language. 

"You’re 15. You’re lost. Monsters are chasing you. You have no exit from the deep dark woods you’re in."

Model stares at you like you’re speaking Latin.

You step in. You stand in their place. You put your arms where you want their arms to be. You make the face you want them to make. You act out the scene and they have to mirror you. She’s still a blank stare.

You pull a notebook out of your bag that has tear sheets in it that you’ve pulled from magazines specifically for this shoot. Point to that girl’s face. See how she looks lost? Point to how this one girl is standing. Point to that girl’s arms. See how she’s searching? You act it all out again. You get back behind your camera and …. “Action!”

Where does she look for direction? To you and you alone.

"But I’m not good at this stuff yet."

Well you better figure it out.

"But how?"

See the photo you want before you take it. Pull the scales off your eyes and see. We all talk about vision. This is what we’re talking about to some degree. Vision. Seeing. Creating. Directing. Posing. Lighting. Lens choice. Post production. You see it. You close your eyes and imagine it. 

Why am I not fearful of people who buy a nice camera and suddenly fancy themselves photographers? Because this shit I’m talking about doesn’t come in the box. The camera will never see. The camera has no vision. It’s a f*cking hammer that can’t build a house. It’s a stove but it can’t cook. It’s a stupid, stupid, stupid piece of plastic with some metal bits. It’s useless as it sits there in a box. It knows nothing. It does nothing. It sees nothing. The camera is a piece of shit.

"But cameras are getting better and smarter and take better pictures these days."

No they effing don’t. They will never take a picture. Buy all the cameras in the world. They will never see.

Study. Research. What do YOU want to create? What picture do YOU want to shoot and look at because no one else has shot it yet? You’ll hear movie directors talk about making movies they themselves want to watch. You need to take a page from that.

Hope this helps. I really do. Not trying to beat you about the ears for the sake of doing so. Trying to help you see the madness inside the brain that has to be there in order to grow as a photographer. 

Stupid photography. Once you catch sight of the carrot in front of you the chase is on and none of us will ever catch the stupid thing. Oh well. Gotta do something with our lives. Might as well take pictures. :)


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  1. zarias posted this