Tokyo in Pics


A photography blog about Tokyo, run by Australian photographer Rohan Gillett

My First Model Photo Shoot

Recently I photographed my first professional model.  It was one heck of an experience.  The shoot was both exhilarating and nerve wracking.  I had been wanting to do it for a very long time.  It didn’t go exactly as planned, but as learning experience it was perfect.  Hopefully it is something I will be able to do again in the future and I am planning to do so.

I will tell you straight off though, the hardest thing was finding a model.  That was it.  For several months, I just had no idea how to get someone.  My wife didn’t want to do it.  No one I knew really wanted to volunteer for it.  Even my dog didn’t want to do it.  Neither the wife nor the dog would help out … things were pretty bad.  Seriously, I couldn’t find one person to help me out.  Maybe, just maybe they were trying to give me a sign that my photography wasn’t that … good?  I don’t know, but it is a distinct possibility.

What did I do?  Finally, I realized that as I was on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin I should be using those platforms.  You can call me slow, it’s ok.  I put out a notice on Instagram and I got an answer from someone who I wasn’t even connected with.  She reached out and said that she’d do it.  Her name was Taylor and she was living in Tokyo, so we set up a day and a time to shoot.  In the end, it was very simple to find someone.

Then I settled into a period of intense prep.  As it was my first shoot I was mainly concentrating on trying to make everything smooth, so I thought I’d do it with no flash, just go natural light.  Watch as many videos as I could about how to pose models and anything to do with composition (thanks Mango Street!).  I thought I was ready.

Well, things turned out a little differently on the day.  I was nervous as well as very excited, of course.  I’d seen Taylor’s Instagram account but had no idea who she really was, other than someone who had had some experience with modelling.  After a couple of minor delays I we met and thought I had lucked out for my first shoot.  She was quite tall, with long blonde hair, a killer smile and she knew the business, as she explained that she had been a professional model for many years.  She had even brought two jackets so she could give three different looks (the last look being no jacket, just her top).  Completely professional and that took quite a bit off my mind.

But not completely.  Even though I had watched hours and hours of YouTube videos about model shoots they hadn’t prepared me mentally, for an actual shoot.  How much should I pose my model or direct her?  Especially with a person I had never met before.  It was a little intimidating.  Yes, we moved through the park according to the plan I had worked out but everything else … flew out of my head.  Stage fright?  I guess so, but at the same time it was exhilarating.  I was doing something that I really wanted to do.  The stage fright part, well, that is something we all have to deal with at some point in our lives and if we do that thing enough, we’ll learn how to deal with it.  And that usually means, just keep doing it till it becomes second nature.

In the end, I got a lot of shots, over 1300.  Some of them I think were okay and from what I displayed here I hope you agree.  The one thing I learned from the day, was that the photographer needs to give some strong direction.  Without some direction, the model really won’t know what to do.  It is kind of like being in a football team, but with no captain, everyone is left to do their own devices and hope it works out well.  Next time I’ll be telling my model what I want.  Nothing halfway.

In the end, if I had have kept my cool I might have accomplished all what I set out to do, but for first shoots, we can’t expect perfection, but as an experience it was.  I did something I really wanted and I was quite happy with the photos I got.  Now it’s just a matter of getting the experience which will help myself and any model I work with.  No problems, I’ll get there.  It’s just a matter of time.