JORDAN - Becoming a photographic model

As an aspiring young model, your first photography shoot can be quite daunting. We do not have the top modeling agencies in my area which means that the models need to move to either Johannesburg or Cape Town when they get signed.


Most young models attend a modelling school where they are taught mostly about pageantry and little to almost nothing about photographic modeling. The difference is huge.


There are so many different types of photographic modelling such as e-commerce, catalogue and fashion etc. , all requiring a different set of skills which the models needs to master to have a successful career.


Jordan is one of these aspiring models. She is currently with one of the top modelling schools in my area and has come to me for her first real test shoot.


A week before the shoot we had our preliminary meeting to discuss exactly what we would be doing on shoot day, as well as all other details for her to prepare. I find this meeting invaluable as it allows me to get to know the model, to meet the parents and for them to get to know me. There is always a lot of anxiety in the beginning and I don't want that anxiety to be brought to the shoot day


By the time Jordan has left the meeting she knows exactly what we will be doing, the wardrobe, hair, makeup and a few tips to ease the nerves.

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There will always be some nerves on shoot day and it is my job to make sure that Jordan is feeling as comfortable as possible. The fact that we had met a week before and discussed all the details goes a long way to make the nerves more about excitement rather than not knowing what to expect.


I spend another 5 - 10 minute going through what we will be doing and we then start to look at the wardrobe she brought and decide on a couple of items we both like.  She then gets to choose her first set, again, what she feels most comfortable in.


The first 15 minutes or so is always the toughest to get through as the nerves and anxiety take over. My first image of her is one of the most important images of the day.


As you can see on the left, this was Jordan's first image we took. Why is it the most important image of the day? 

Well, it's the image I use to show her at the end of the shoot where she can see how far she has developed in just over an hour.

It is, by far, the biggest confidence booster.

My preference on a test shoot is for the model to wear no makeup and not to have washed her hair the night before the shoot. This is a big challenge as we are all groomed at the modelling schools to always be made up and perfect.


One of the main reasons for this is that I want Jordan to feel strong and powerful in her natural look and I want her to feel comfortable about who she is. I want her to say "THIS IS ME AND I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU THINK" I usually use different words and a much shorter sentence.


In the beginning, Jordan was expecting me to tell her what to do because she was worried that she didn't know what to do. This is what brings anxiety and anxiety will ruin any photoshoot.


If I tell Jordan what to do, then she tries her utmost to please me as the photographer and will constantly question herself and me bout whether she is doing a good job. Recipe for disaster.


My goal is to get her to be herself as much as possible, to feel how the clothes make her feel, to do the things she does naturally every day, to give me that I DON'T CARE LOOK and not to overthink. It's a fine line and takes time to really understand but when you do, you see the images take on a whole different look and feel. Emotion and mood start becoming the norm and you no longer worry about how the images are going to look.


Don't get me wrong, this is a process. Even though I am not telling Jordan what to do, I am constantly encouraging her and reassuring her that she is getting it right. I will show her a few of the images on the camera just to show her how she is doing. Remember she has no idea how she looks, so showing her is a real boost for her.

If I don't like something, I will tell her and show her how to correct it and likewise Jordan is encouraged to also engage and voice her opinion.


After we were done with our 15 minutes of taming the nerves, I can see immediately that Jordan is feeling a lot more comfortable and has stopped doing the "ROBOT DANCE" moves and is ready to move to the next set.


We picked a new outfit and started working on getting better and becoming more relaxed, but believe me, there is still some anxiety hanging on.


These next couple of images I could see we were really getting somewhere and you can see by the stance and the look that Jordan is now starting to feel confident and more in control.


The outfit, the shoes, the hat & the sunglasses all play an important part in getting Jordan to start thinking about how the clothes make her feel and how they can produce an attitude.

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Time to move onto the next set.

Just as Jordan is settling into the attitude of the previous outfit, it's now time to push her a little more. Let's take away the outfit with attitude and change things up a bit.


We go for ripped jeans and a simple top, nothing flash. We tie up that beautiful hair that we think always needs to be down. A little bit of anxiety creeps  back.


These next couple of images that with less props Jordan is still able to stay in the zone.

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In this last set, we moved back into the studio and shot with some strobes.

If you would like me to do a BTS of the lighting setup for these images, drop me a message in the comments below.

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AND JUST SO THAT YOU REMEMBER......


THIS IS WHERE WE STARTED

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