How to work with and direct a model for emotional impact in a glamour photo shoot.

An actor, like Clark Gable kissing Vivian Leigh while filming a movie such as “Gone with the Wind,” is acting. 

What kinds of things may one imagine a motion picture film director like Paul Verhoeven saying as he directs actress Sharon Stone in “Basic Instinct,” a film dripping with sexual over and undertones, in order to get needed shots in the can? 

Something along the lines of, “Sharon, so sexy.  Perfect,” may not be too far off the mark.   Or maybe, “Sharon, more sexy,  more, … more, …  A tiny bit more now.  Yes …  That’s it.  Fabulous!”   Perhaps even,”Just a touch less sexy.  Small adjustments only…. Good.  Good.  Keep giving me that!” 

For the word “sexy” one may substitute any emotion, e.g. angry, bored, etc., as appropriate to the context and scene being shot.   In glamour photography, often Sexy, or one of her close sisters Sultry, Sensual and Seductive, is exactly the context and look we are focused on capturing. 

In making movies, it is the director’s job to provide his actors with the feedback and direction necessary to get the shot done right and well.   Actors cannot see what the directors see.  Actors are focused on their bit of the production, which is performance.

In movies, directors work with actors. 

In photography, we photographers work with models.

The best models, in addition to posing, are actors in their own right.  Photographers, in addition to clicking photos, are typically the directors of the photo shoot.

We photographers, in our role as photo directors, have many of the same jobs, challenges and responsibilities as film directors.

We must professionally direct our models by supplying contexts, feedback and directions required to elicit the emotions and angles necessary to get the shot.

Another field we photographers share common ground with is psychotherapists.

Also necessary for successful outcomes in both glamour photography and psychotherapy sessions are trust and professionalism.

The psychotherapist maintains a clear and safe client therapist distance, even while approaching their subjects emotionally more closely than many, if not most of their closest friends, relatives and confidants.

We too as photographers must achieve a professional closeness emotionally and visually with our models, while maintaining a safe personal distance.

We often see and the model often discovers things about herself in our sessions which no one, including she, have ever seen before, nor sometimes will ever be seen again, except through the visual medium of the lovely photographs we create together.

We have in effect a kind of professional and sacred trust to create a safe environment for our models to be, well beautiful. 

Safely beautiful.  Often, in glamour photography in particular, safely sexy.

We through our skills must create a place where our models can safely be the beautiful sexy women they are.   To do this, they must trust that we are there only to photograph them in their beauty, in an outrageously fun and safe environment.

To achieve these ends, if we flirt with our models, we must do so sincerely, playfully and above all safely.   

Our playfulness must be clearly done in ways which build up the model’s confidence and coax their performance for the camera, for the shot.

It helps if we can assure the client we are in stable committed relationships.  That we keep our work clearly separate from our personal lives.  That our appreciation of their beauty is for their benefit strictly in the form of gorgeously glamourous photographs.

We must keep the shoot about the shot.  Sometimes, this actually means we end up saying the model is sexy.  This is acting and directing with the purpose and goal of getting the shot.

I am saying the shot, the shot, the shot, the shot.

This is because the shot is a mutually understood goal.  If we are going for sexy, we need to have our models portray sexy in order for their portraits to turn out sexy.  If we are successful in coaxing sexy from our models, this translates into the photographs, and viewers also see and feel the model as sexy.

We as photographers must in professional manors act with and direct our models.   Often this involves complementing them on their femininity and or flirting for the sake of the shot.

If during this banter, fun and interplay the model begins to suspect or feel perhaps our interest went from strictly flirtatious and photo therapeutic interest to self-interest of the photographer in the model as potential dating material, this actually creates an awkward space between the model and photographer. 

This is the opposite of what we as photographic professionals which to achieve and shows up negatively in our results and review.  If this happens, the model may well think of you as a creepy gwc (guy with camera).

Glamour being a kind of sexy area of photography,  we must handle the issue of sexy professionally, with courage and a certain calmness which makes our studios safe venues and havens where our models can portray sexy for their sexy glamour portraits.

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