I recently met a fellow photographer who has a passion for studio portraiture and who is kind enough to let me shoot with him in his studio and with his pro-graded light equipment and materials.
I am learning quite a lot from him and getting stronger and stronger on the technical aspect of portraiture, but if there is one thing I suck at, is giving direction to my model and, probably, to make him/her comfortable and at ease in front the camera.
And so, I thought, what better way to learn to direct a model than become a model for a day? Thought&Done. We quickly arrange a portrait session and I went there with no specific requests: I let him free to shoot however he liked, knowing that when it comes to portraiture, I and Patrick have quite a different style, both for shooting and editing.
In the end, Patrick was kind enough to give me the RAW files of all photos so to be able to make my selection of images and edit them as I pleased. Here is my gallery.
And this is the selection made by Patrick, according to his personal taste in poses and editing.
As you can see we have quite a different taste, but that is great! No right or wrong here. Acknowledge diversity and engage in positive discussions and comparisons with fellows photographers can make us become better at taking the photos we love.
As per modeling, my take-home lesson was that it is much harder than it seems. Patrick knows quite well his way around portraiture and he was great in directing me to get the shot he was after. I am even more convinced now that the best way to direct non-professional models is a simple rule: less talk and more action, so to give them the opportunity to mimic your poses rather than have them guess what you are trying to describe for them. It is a faster way to get the shot you are after and it sort of breaks the ice between the photographer and the model.
I have also discovered that sometimes you have to ask your model to assume an unnatural pose, say shoulder back and head pushed forward with respect the body so that in the photo the model will be in a straight and natural position, even if in reality it is not.
And I have learned there is plenty of small details to care about and correct so that the resulting photo will have a professional look. And this not only for the pose and expression of the model but also for the dress and accessories.
All in All, a great experience I would recommend to any photographer that is into portraiture: this, be a model for a day, and engage in a personal project in self-portraiture.