Most photographers have a need to work with models from time to time. If you’re a portrait photographer or any sub-genre therein, you’ll work with them a lot! If you do landscape, not so much.
Regardless, it’s very important to know the basics of working with them. Personally, when I work with models, I have two goals in mind:
Create the image I hired them for.
Cultivate a professional relationship.
Obviously if you’re working with a model, you didn’t say, “Hey! Come on and let’s just shoot around and see if we get anything worth posting.” There’s usually a goal in mind, even a loose one. So go for that shot.
Second, cultivating a professional relationship with your model will help you immensely in the future. There’s a level of comfort models have with photographers they’ve worked with before and enjoyed working with that’s rarely seen by a first-time model/photographer duo. It leads to better images, more natural expressions, all that good stuff. A good photographer and professional model should still be able to create professional images on their first shoot together, but it’ll come faster and easier in the future.
But there ARE several things to remember that some photographers forget:
Your model is human, not just a prop. As a photographer, you HAVE to behave in a professional, courteous manner. Of course you were each hired to do a job, so do it. Just remember to not fall into the trap of thinking you’re the only person in the room who matters.
You are a team. Remember that you’re working together to achieve an end. That end is a beautiful image. If you hired the model, it’s your vision. If the model hired you, it’s their vision. Regardless, work together, communicate properly, and let the image flow.
You won’t be compatable with every model. You’re human, models are also humans (unless you’re working with animals), and sometimes people just aren’t compatible. I’ve met I think two models in my time as a photographer that just didn’t click. We produced the images we wanted and went on our way, but regardless, we were both professional and pleasent during the shoot, but we just never called eachother back. It happens and you need to remember that before going to a shoot with a new model.
Pay attention to the models needs. During long shoots, they may need breaks, water, etc. Again, models are not props.
Plan. Thoroughly discuss what the shoot is about before hand and make sure the model is comfortable with everything. Absolutely never surprise a model with a request that is too far away from the planned shoot. It IS acceptable to ask, for example, that you do a full body portrait during a headshot shoot. It is NOT acceptable to ask a model to pose for budoire photos during a headshot shoot.
Respect. Remember to respect the model completely. Never ask them to do anything they feel uncomfortable with and never ask them to do anything undignified if that was not already thoroughly discussed and all parties are in agreement. You also never want to make a change in front of a group of people as this pressures the model to agree regardless of their level of comfort.
These are very much common sense things, yet inexperienced and sometimes experienced photographers forget them.
As long as you do these, you should have happy and professional photo shoots with most of your models in the future.