The First Shoot with a New Model

I love photographing new models, seeing their potential, and then helping them to realize that potential. Over the years, I slowly developed a blueprint for the first shoot with a model I have not yet worked with.

Ana - first shoot.

Ana - first shoot.

These days, I prefer to shoot simple studio shots (as shown above with Ana) with a seamless background, although I have used different parts of my house and yard in the past, as in these images of Tiffany and Tina:

Tiffany - first shoot.

Tiffany - first shoot.

Shooting studio style or around the home allows me more control over the shoot, which gives me a greater chance of success. If the model does not show, there are still plenty of things to do at home. If the model asks if she can bring a friend, I always respond with a "Yes."

Tina - first shoot.

Tina - first shoot.

Once shooting is completed, the model changes back into her regular street clothes while I copy the files off the camera card. I quickly check them in Adobe Bridge and delete the hopeless images. Since I shoot Raw images only, the files go into a folder called "Raw." I create a blank folder called "Working" and put both of these folders inside another folder with the model's name and the date of the shoot. An example might be "Tiffany_Felisha_2011_VII_27." This folder is copied to my hard drive and imported into Lightroom. Once imported, all the files are selected and renamed with a sequential number, such as "Tiffany_Felisha_2014_VII_27-1."

Lyshia - first shoot.

Lyshia - first shoot.

Now comes the key part: I have the model sit down at the computer and pick her favorites in Lightroom by pressing the "P" key. This begins to give me an idea of what she does and does not like. I do not always agree with what she picks, but that is OK.

Priscilla - first shoot.

Priscilla - first shoot.

Next, I choose anywhere from one to five images to retouch. I do this while the model watches. Her comments while I work give me an even greater understanding of what she does not like about herself. This information is priceless later on when I retouch more images.

Finally, I print the retouched images on Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster and give the model something tangible to take home with her. Photographers rarely do this, so this is always very much appreciated, and goes far to distinguish me from other photographers.

After the initial shoot, location work can be scheduled. The model now knows you and trusts you, and you know if she is reliable.