I was cruising Twitter this morning and noticed that someone I follow tweeted, "Your confidence with a model will translate to their confidence in themselves which will translate into better photos."
(PGS hat tip to WeArePhotographers)
Good simple advice!
Ever notice how, when you're around a dog, and if you're acting nervous or lacking confidence being around that dog, it might effect the dog's behavior? It might get you snarled at or, worse, get you bit! Same with models, although maybe not bit. (Not that I'm comparing models to dogs. Dogs are often easier to train. Just sayin.)
But here's what sometimes happens: A model shows up for a pretty girl shoot. You're nervous and displaying a distinct lack of confidence with A) Being around a beautiful, perhaps naked and beautiful, model; B) Appearing as if you know what you're doing in front of said model; C) Anxious about the results of your shoot with the beautiful, perhaps naked, model; D) All of the above.
There's an old adage: Never let them see you sweat! Now, if truth be known, I often sweat when I shoot. It's not because I'm nervous or lack confidence. It's because I'm Italian. Make that I'm somewhat overweight and Italian. And Italians, overweight Italians, sweat. We don't perspire. We don't get moist on the forehead. We sweat.
But that's not what I'm talking about today.
Never letting them see you sweat is about appearing confident, whether you are or you're not.
Generally, models, make that women in general, have built-in pervdar. (That's like radar for pervs.) I'm not saying you're a perv but, if you're acting nervous around models, resulting from some lack of confidence, there's a chance those models are going to misread that behavior as an indicator of some pervy shit going on in your brain. If that's what they're thinking, i.e., how they're perceiving you, it's going to be tough-as-nails getting your models relaxed and comfortable in front of your camera. Unless, of course, you're shooting models who have a "thing" for pervs. (Which, unfortunately for some, ain't usually the case.)
A nervous, uncomfortable, model is a huge obstacle to capturing great photos!
Let's say, instead, the model is new and inexperienced. As such, she might not yet have a fully developed pervdar. Leastwise, when it comes to photographers. She's just, well, nervous and uncomfortable with this new thing in her life; this modeling thing. How do you suppose the shoot will progress if you're appearing nervous and uncomfortable as well? I'll tell you where it's not heading: It's, more than likely, not heading towards great pics.
It's like this: Whether you're nervous or you lack confidence matters less than if you appear that way. If you are nervous, or you're projecting a less-than-confident demeanor, you need to somehow conceal that from the model. The obvious way to do that, of course, is to gain experience and, as a result, gain confidence. (Wow! Stating the obvious is so profound!)
The reality is, in order to gain experience and confidence, you need to shoot. But if you don't have opportunities to shoot, and shoot regularly, confidence born of experience might be a problem.
If that's the problem, you'll need to develop your acting skills. Yep. You'll need to "act" like you're confident even if you're not. You'll need to put on an Academy-award-winning performance, playing the confident and experienced photographer of beautiful women. In other words, if you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit and act like you know what you're doing in matters related to shooting pretty girls. That's not to say you should act cocky or arrogant. I'm talking about merely acting confident.
I know that might sound dishonest. Sometimes, like little white lies, a bit of dishonesty, for the right reasons, trumps honesty. Often enough, your dishonesty, exceptionally well played, will put the model at ease and, in spite of your lack of experience, you've just greatly increased the odds of snapping some pretty damn good pretty girl pics.
The pretty girl at the top is Kayla from a couple of years ago. Man! Time freakin' flies! I recall shooting that set like I did so just recently, instead of a few years ago.