What to do if your models are not good enough ?

I write this article as a continuation of my previous article. In my previous article I have already mentioned about some tips for taking portrait. But maybe some people think  that it’s too technical ~ but in reality it’s difficult to implement the tips. Some people may think “I have tried the tips but I still can’t get better result”, maybe my model is not good enough. Honestly some of my friends said “Edwin you have good skill but why you just only shoot beautiful models, not try to shoot friends ?” ~ well, I am not a professional photographer (until I write this article) so I can decide who I want to shoot ~ there is no any restriction for me to choose the model. Some of my facebook friends also said that my models are too beautiful, we can’t find such kind of beautiful models. I agree that beautiful models make me easier to have good photographs ~ but how if my models are not good enough ? Can I still get good photos? (that maybe what my friends want to know)  ~ let’s check it out…..

First, I want to give some definitions about “models are not good enough”, it’s not only about “she is beautiful or not” but it’s about overall performance as models. As photographer, I think good model is not only determined by “her face” but also with her pose, expression, feeling, etc. So maybe sometimes you will find a beautiful model but her pose is too stiff, maybe she also too nervous stands in front of camera ~ that beautiful model can’t be categorized as good model (for my personal opinion).

Now let’s get into the important things, I will share some tips “what to do if your models are not good enough”

1. Try to find your model’s “BEST” view angle.

I believe every model (person) has his/her best view angle but not every photographer knows it. When I see the model, I try to shoot her in some different angle. Then review it carefully…. after that try to shoot with that “best angle”, I am pretty sure your photos looked better.

In my opinion she is looked better from side (compare to frontal view) ~ although this is not very good examples because the compositions are too much different. You can see other photos of her from my album Just Simply Me (and you can see more photos, from my point of view she is looked better from side, but doesn’t mean she is not beautiful from frontal view…).

2. Try to shoot from behind.

Well, sometimes you have already tried your best to find his/her best angle but it seems doesn’t work…. then you can try to shoot from behind. But don’t shoot all photos from behind ^^

Some examples:

Example 1: taken from School Day Off album

Example 2: taken from Rhythm of  Nature album

Example 3: taken from Close to The Nature album

From these 3 examples, I can say at least you’ll get one good photo from every photo shoot.

3. Try to shoot from far distance (wide composition).

Other trick that you can try is “shoot from far distance (wide composition)”. When you shoot from far, the model will be looked small (just make sure viewer see the whole photo, not focus only to the model face)~ then you just care about her pose and composition. But careful when doing this one, make sure you have great composition, maybe such as pattern or something interesting background.

Some examples:

Example 1:

Example 2:

4. Try to shoot his/her feeling.

When I shoot model (person), sometimes it’s not all about her. Sometimes I like to capture her feeling (instead of her face). Try to think outside of the box ~ portrait is not only about her but also her feeling…

Some examples:

Example 1: taken from Close to The Nature album

Example 2: (I didn’t upload this album for personal reason)

Example 3: taken from Summer Dream album

From these examples, I can’t say the model is beautiful or not ~ but I can feel “her feeling”.  I admit sometimes it’s difficult to grab the feeling ~ but nothing is impossible, just keep practice and practice…..

5. Know what style fits him/her.

I think every model (person) has different style, but sometimes we forget this important thing. If I know the model is looked gorgeous/elegant then it’s better to shoot her elegantly. Of course as a photographer we can shoot her with cute style but maybe the result is not very good. By knowing what style fits him/her, we will get better photos  for sure….

Some examples:

Example 1:

She looked good with elegant style (taken from Bright & Shiny album)

Example 2:

She looked good with cute style, but she personally loves elegant style (not cute style)

6. Be “relax” during photo shoot.

Relax is one of important key when shooting model (person). Sometimes the photographer forget this key point and keep pushing the model to do what he want. Based on my experience if the model is under pressure, her pose and her expression are totally different (I mean not good ^^). Just be casual and think that we just go to have fun (just think it is not a formal photo session) ~ then for sure it is very easy to capture her natural expression.

Example: I just feel the model is too nervous (because we keep speaking in English during photo session….) so her pose looked too stiff (really strange). After that we try to talk with her, make a joke and tell her that we are not going for formal shooting, just think we come here to have fun ~ after that her pose and expression are better. Other photos of this photo session can be seen in Boundless album.

This article is written based on my experience, so maybe some words are my personal opinion….

If you think it is good, don’t hesitate to share it with your friends….

But if you think it is not good then just forget it….

Anyway thanks for reading this article, I really appreciated your comments….


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16 thoughts on “What to do if your models are not good enough ?

  1. Yes, you have lovely portraits. I enjoyed your article, too. These are things I’m working with right now – not shooting straight on, shooting more wide angle shots… I will try your shooting from behind tip this weekend. Thanks!

    • Thanks Wayne.
      Yap, the important key is “not shooting straight on”. Honestly I like to grab expression, feeling and moment (not only the model) ~ and in my opinion portrait photograph doesn’t mean always shoot the people or model (but sometimes it is also about people’s expression, feeling, and of course the moment.)

  2. Thank you for the tips. I appreciate your effort in putting this together and will hopefully remember these if I do a shoot like this.

  3. trims atas tipsnya mas.. beberapa tipsnya pernah terlintas saat sesi pemotretan. makin lengkap dari artikel ini. excellent tips..

  4. Hey.
    I saw your link on Flickr and came here. I’ve lived in Taiwan for a year and a half and found it really hard to find models, apart from the ones which you go and shoot as a big group, and thats just not my style. All the girls I have shot have been friends but only one of them knew how to pose. Wow, what a relief! It’s really hard to think of everything instead of just focusing on lighting or composition.
    In the end I always manage to get some nice shots from the girls I shoot. But… they arent really portfolio worthy. If I take the exact same pose facial expression of my friends and swap them with a naturally pretty girl the photos of course look 10x better. But where do all these models hide? It would be awesome if you could drop me a mail and give me some suggestions or even contacts of models you have shot and what kind of rates they charge… if they charge at all.


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