4 points to succeed a photo book

Succeed a photo book
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In a few days you have a photo shoot planned with a model, but you don't know how to do it or you just want to have new ideas? No worries, here are my tips to have beautiful pictures at the end of your shooting :)

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Summary :

- The preparation: from making contact on the day before the shoot
- The locations
- The stuff : with strobes or natural light
- The composition and the direction of the model

The preparation :

In order to prepare your shoot, I invite you to make sure what kind of photos you will do for your model, is it for a model agency or a personal book?

Finding models: You have several choices to find models, there are dating sites between photographers and models, like model mayhem (which I used for a long time), and once you have enough good pictures in your portfolio you can ask model agencies if you can shoot new faces, they will ask you at least to have a studio (or a room to shoot), as well as a make-up artist.

Several themes can be approached for a photo book, for example I like taking pictures in the street to play with architecture and natural light; nature to give a breathe to your photos with the sky, in the studio to make raw photos where we can see the model’s body.

What clothes should I take? Just ask your model to take basic clothes, we must be able to highlight it as easily as possible. By talking about clothes with the model, you will create a first proximity and the model will feel more comfortable during the shoot.

Now you know what kind of photos you are going to make, so you can determinate if it will be in the studio or outdoors.
In studio you will have more control over your light and the environment, you can integrate a background, or use the different rooms available. Outside you will have a great freedom of scenery but a variable light.

The duration of a shooting is about from 2 to 3 hours, after that you will have many pictures to edit.
If you decide to shoot outside around 2-4pm, the light will be too strong (if there is clouds it's okay), the morning or the end of the day will offer you beautiful lights :) If you need to change clothes, find a bar, they used to accept ;)

You will usually have between 12 and 15 edited photos, the goal is to have different composition and poses. I will explain all this along the article.

Finally what kind of make-up? For a book, nude makeup that reinforces from the half of the shoot will be very well suited, hairs attached / detached is interesting. If you do not have the opportunity to have a makeup artist, ask your model if she can take care of it, you can have surprises!

Once all those informations is collected, you can start :)

The locations :

Indoors you have a lot of possibilities, it may be at home, in a café or studio rental. You must choose the place according to your theme.

For an agency test, it will be better to make photos with a background in studio, or in the street with simple places and poses.

Someone who wants to have a personal book you have an infinity of choices.

Some ideas

At home, if you have a room with a white wall to use as a background, push the things around and place a nice stool. If you have more space, make sure you have maximum backs.
You can see if in the room there are elements that suits to your theme, and that can be used as decorations. For example a sofa, curtains, a lamp or a plant. Be careful not to integrate too much into your scene, it must be just an accessory.

Rental a studio is a good option, and you will have access to material that you do not necessarily have at home, such as backgrounds, lighting equipment and the model will feel in a professional environment.

If it's difficult to take photos at home or rent a studio, ask a café or a hotel if you can use their rooms during off-peak hours, usually they accept ! you can take a look on their website to see the pictures of the different rooms available, this option saved my life several times!

Equipment :

About the photography stuff there are many things to say, but I will tell you simple set-up not expensive, who will consist of one or two lights.
It's interesting to work with a single light because it must represent the sun, and by looking at the shadows, the photos will be more natural, adding a second light will help to shape your model.

I invite you to look at my articles : Master the light  to have more precisions on using the photography stuff. 

For an indoor shoot it’s better to have a strobe (or cobra flash) with a shade dish or a beauty dish, which will give a hard light. You will get a good contrast to the skin and bring out the texture of the clothes.

If you have a lot of space, a big umbrella or a soft box without diffuser will offer you almost the same effect, the area covered will be different, but still beautiful.
If you can put a grid on your dish or soft box, it will focus the light and potentially transform a white background in black. Depending on the type of photo you are looking for it can be very useful and add contrast.

About the paper background, depending on your place, you can either hang with a pole and two tripods, or bounce directly to your wall, the latter option saves you a lot of space.

A trick to have a darker background: You can take a dark blue background, if you're doing it well, it can be used as a blue and black background. A black background is very convenient to highlight the shapes and curves of your model.

Outside, if you use a strobe, it will be a good ally in a shadow, it must be well gauged between the power of the strobe and the brightness of the background.
Sometimes even the strobe at low power can be too strong, just think back down it, rather than wasting time on settings.

How to place my strobe? Indoors I recommend you put your light at 45° and as high as possible and far enough from the model, it will create pretty shadows and avoid having a big shadow on the bottom.

Composition and poses :

I will explain directly how I proceed in the next examples with my photos, there are models more or less experienced. In any case you have to put at ease your model and laugh with, play music. The goal is to have a good time :)

If your model comes from an agency, the goal is to shows how she can pose and how she could looks like on editorial, the photos must be sober and we can see photos of her from near, as from afar.

Your model needs to communicate with you and her space, observe the environment. Explain to her that she must use what surrounds her to pose.
The best way of communication of your model are the hands and the eyes, tell her that she must play with, you will quickly have strong emotional photos.

Example 1
For these two models it was their first shoot and I only used the sun as light. The goal was to have photos from near and far, to see how she moves and interacts with her environment.
I did not hesitate to tell them to move between each view and look in several directions. Beginner models often tend to look at the camera too often, so with your hand you can direct your face.



Example 2
This model is in the same light situation, but she is more experienced, normally you don't need to direct them so much, you can go further by giving them a theme and let them express themselves. That way you can focus more on the background and the light.


Example 3
For the model that follows, I used a shade dish, it is convenient because very light and compact.
This model is also more experienced but this time in the studio. With a simple shade dish in a very small space.


Example 4
The last one, a man, here he is an artist who needed photos for his book mode. With a guy it's not so different, it may be easier to laugh with and make him take improbable poses.


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