Creative Portrait Photography

Prepping Yourself for a Photo Shoot

Recently I was talking to a client about prepping models for photography. The client did not have a lot of experience with models or the behind the scenes of a photo shoot with make up artists and hair stylists. It reminded me of some questions I saw posted once by some young, inexperienced models on a forum. I thought it might be helpful for models, folks who hire models, and anyone who is going to have their photo taken to hear what one photographer has to say about getting ready to be photographed.

A lot can be done in post processing to touch up skin, hair, clothes, but if you do some prep work beforehand it saves your photographer a great deal of time and could, therefore, save you some money. It can also improve the quality of your images.

  • Clean your fingernails. Dirty nails aren’t hard to retouch, but it’s one of my pet peeves. Don’t ask me why! I dislike cleaning up dirty nails.
  • Show up to hair and make up with a clean face and clean hair–no products at all. This gives the stylists a clean place to start and makes the process go much faster.
  • If arms/legs are going to be photographed, ask the make up artist to tend to these areas to cut down on retouching time later. Often, make up artists only work on the model’s face, so be sure to ask!
  • Go a little heavy with the make up, especially the eyeliner. It depends, of course, on the image you are trying to get, but camera flash and studio lights can really wash out make up color, so laying it on a little heavy in real life translates to just right in the images. Again, it depends on the image, so talk to the photographer first. And we’re not talking about clown quantities here, just a little heavier than you would normally wear.
  • Shave your pits and use deodorant that won’t leave white residue on your skin or clothes. Cleaning out armpits is a little too personal for me.
  • Iron and de-lint clothing, especially black clothing!
  • Clean and polish shoes.
  • Clean your teeth! If you really love your photographer, have your teeth whitened prior to the shoot, but this isn’t by any means a must. Definitely brush and floss, though.
  • Prior to the shoot, get plenty of rest and drink lots of water. This will help prevent red eyes and puffy eyelids that will need to be retouched later, and will help you enjoy the shoot a lot more.

This is the list I give my models when they ask how to prepare for a shoot. It’s worth it to ask your photographer what they prefer, and some won’t care at all about any of this. It depends on the shoot, as well. For example, for a gritty urban shoot, I won’t want polished and clean shoes and I may want the clothes rumpled. If you’re a model or just having some photos taken, take a moment to check with the photographer to help the photo session go more smoothly for everyone.


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