Coaching Models

The lighting is great and your model just isn’t giving you what you envisioned… or your client doesn’t have a clue what do with hands.

With digital cameras you can take lots of photos and chimpsy, look at the view screen often. Even though you can delete, you are still looking for that prize photo.

Spend some time with what is happening in front of the lens. This may mean coaching to get those poses you need. I’m a natural introvert and I like being behind the lens. But I do have to take the time to do some guiding. Much like hiking or leading a high angle challenge course, you have to use your voice and even your own body to draw out the best.

Figure models already know how to pose and what to do with their hands. It takes time and practice to work poses and angles to deliver. The pro knows to work off the direction of the photographer. Models are hired for that reason. But a client hired you for your photography skills. That may be based on your website or posted photos or her girlfriend showed off her portfolio. Whatever lead her to you, she knows wants to look beautiful and more importantly experience being beautiful. So, as a photo session progresses, you should be taking those but what if she keeps doing the same thing over and over.

Hopefully early in the photo session you start coaching what you need. There are lots of styles like fashion, editorial, pin-up, photojournalism, boudoir, glamour, or something else you are trying to achieve. Your style may be just one or you like to have several to draw from. The person in front of the lens still needs coaching.

Spend some time learning poses. CreativeLive online has had some wonderful workshops that covers just what you need. Local workshops in your area can be beneficial. So learn and continue to study all that you can. And one way to learn is by practice. Even if you have to hire a model or borrow a friend for a day to start will vastly improve your work. Don’t be afraid to work on something new.

You’ll have to work in your own style of coaching. One way may be minimal with just gesturing and a few words of encouragement all the way to a non stop verbal fully posing experience. What ever works for you, go with it. Once you are aware that you can and should be coaching a client, you’ll never want to go back. Even my model friends expect to be guided as to what I want from them. And I’ve been working on it too.

One fashion shoot involved people who had no idea what to do. The best ideas were just simple interactions like have the girls whisper in an ear or run up and down the store aisle. All I had to do was capture the action. The same goes for portraits or whatever the style you are going for. Coach or direct to bring out the best.

Little things like saying use balet hands, suddenly hands become softer and eloquent. Touch lightly, chin out and down, tilt the head, point your toe, push hips out more, etc… There are lots of phrases you will be saying besides “beautiful, sexy, or that’s groovy baby”.

Encourage the person in front of the lens and bring out the best.


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