Info for New Models & First-timers

Getting in front of a camera for the first time (or first few times) can be intimidating. In fact, even pros still get cases of nervousness. So don’t worry, it’s natural.

A good photographer will have worked with a number of first time models before and have good understanding of what to expect and how to get the most out of shooting with someone new. The best advice I can give is don’t worry about it. Relax. An experienced photographer will do whatever they can to create the type of environment where you can do just that — RELAX.


Many first-time models worry about posing. A good experienced photographer will be able to provide you with as much direction as you need to get just the right shots without pressuring you to “perform”.

One possibility at your shoot is using reference material. This includes magazines, posing books, photos, and anything else that might help you get ideas about looks or poses that you’d like to try.

A good photographer will have these types of resources available, but it’s best to ask. And if it isn’t available, you can always bring your own to draw ideas from during your shoot.

How to prepare for your photo shoot

This article covers aesthetic & cosmetic preparation. For model poses and expressions, see: How to learn model poses & facial expressions.

Aesthetic & Cosmetic Preparation

Be sure to take care of all hair removal prior to a shoot, but leave at least 2-3 days between when you wax/shave any sensitive areas (such as your bikini line) and your shoot date. This time is necessary to allow for any irritation to disappear before your shoot.

Take care of your nails. Be sure that your nails are neat and well maintained. Short nails are preferred. A natural, non-colored, or French manicure look is preferable. If you plan on posing barefoot, be sure your feet and toes are in good condition.

If you plan on showing your smile, be sure that your teeth are ready for prime-time. If your teeth are discolored, you may want to consider having them cleaned/whitened.

72 Hours Before Your Photo Shoot

Be sure you have worked out all the necessary details about your shoot. You should know where you’re supposed to go, the easiest & fastest way to get there, and what you need to do to prepare for your shoot.

Be sure that you know how to get to the studio or location where you are shooting. If you are working with a make-up artist, please be sure that they are aware of these directions as well.

You should also have a good idea of what items you are going to bring to your shoot.

If bringing a make-up artist, you will want to talk with your photographer about having your make-up ready prior to your appointment start time.

24 Hours Before Your Photo Shoot

Eat healthy. Drink plenty of water. Avoid fatty, greasy, and salty foods prior to shooting. Please avoid alcohol or anything that will make you puffy or bloated. Also avoid anything that may stain your teeth.

Pack up what you’ll need at least the night prior to your appointment so you are not rushing around in the time before leaving for your shoot.

Check your nails. You may not be the type who likes to keep their nails long and well manicured, which is fine, so long as they are ready for their close-up. However, damaged nails, beat up nail polish, and nails that have been bitten down to the tips of your fingers will not add to the look of your photos.

If your nails are not ready for pictures, you are encouraged to purchase temporary press-on nails. They may not feel “real” to you, but they can help save a photo or two.

It is also important that you get a good night’s sleep. You will not only feel better, but you will look better if you are well rested and energetic on the day of your shoot. Dark circles and bags under one’s eyes is not attractive.

The Day of Your Photo Shoot

It is generally considered a courtesy to call your photographer and confirm your departure — and plan to arrive prior to your appointment (but not too earlier — discuss the best arrival time with your photographer).

Please note that appointments are made to fit within allotted time slots. In order to maximize your time to shoot, arriving and being ready on time is important. Unless otherwise arranged, clients are encouraged to arrive up to, but no more than, 20 minutes early.

Please note that showing up late does does not mean your appointment will get pushed beyond its allotted time slot.

In some cases shooting beyond your allotted time slot may be possible, if the time beyond your appointment is not booked.

In the event that something unexpected happens and you are going to be late, call your photographer.

Consider eating a light meal before you leave. Food is fuel and if you skip your meals before shooting, chances are you’ll run out of energy, lose focus, or become irritable. None of which will improve your photos.

Consider bringing bottled water, snacks, and anything else necessary to keep you going, but avoid bringing anything that will stain your teeth. Additional items you may want to consider bringing to the shoot are listed on the next page.

To avoid squinting due to bright studio lights or sunlight, wearing sunglasses prior to your shoot is not recommended.

How to learn model poses and facial expressions

How to learn model poses and facial expressions

A good experienced photographer will be able to provide as much instruction & direction as needed to get great shots. However, it is a significant help if the person being photographed has an understanding of what their body looks like in different positions and to also understand how their face feels when they’re making different expressions.

I recommend that all first-time models, and anyone relatively new to modeling, practice posing and making different facial expressions in front of a mirror. It may feel silly to practice such things in front of a mirror, but it is a great way to prepare for what it will be like in front of a camera and should actually make doing your shoot easier and more comfortable.

Although interpretations of different expressions & looks may vary, please practice a variety of different looks so that you are at least somewhat prepared should you be asked for a specific expression, such as: “sexy”, “intense”, “serious”, and “pouty”. Again, a good photographer will provide as much direction as necessary to get the look & expression desired, but the more prepared you are, the easier it will be for both of you.

If you have a tendency to show a lot of your gumline while smiling, you should also practice smiling without showing as much of your gums. Don’t worry, you’ll likely get plenty of photos with your beautiful & natural smile, but the tendency in professional photography is to limit exposure of the gumline.

Learning model poses:

Some of the best reference guides for posing are fashion catalogs and magazines. Study them. Pay close attention to the position of hands, the different angles the body makes (including the tilt of the head, arms, torso, thighs, and legs), and facial expressions.

Depending on your primary interest, I’d suggest requesting catalogs from popular clothing companies.

Here is a list of 37+ clothing catalogs and links to where you can sign up to receive them.

If you can’t wait for a catalog to arrive, then go to your local bookstore and browse the magazine stand for magazines that feature poses you would like to achieve.

If possible, practice these poses in front of a mirror.

What to Bring to a Photo Shoot

Note: Your experience with different photographers will vary and you will want to discuss this beforehand.

But generally speaking, this is what a model should bring to a photo shoot:

Your Wardrobe (Selection)

Unless specific arrangements have been made in advance, the model is responsible for bringing her own attire.

If you plan to shoot photos of a certain style (Maxim style, fashion, glamour photos, etc), then it is to your benefit to coordinate with your photographer before hand to discuss wardrobe options as well as props, backgrounds, and various ideas.

If you are shooting with the intention of doing an “all-purpose” shoot, then bringing a variety of different types of clothes is a good idea. Most photographers prefer to have a variety of options (but please refer to “styles of clothes” below).

Options are always good and you never know when you’ll feel like wearing something. And if you think you might want to bring something, but have second thoughts about it, bring it anyway.

Models I’ve worked with almost always tell me that they wished they’d brought something that they’d thought about bringing but then decided not to. It is better to always bring more than you think you will need, however it may not always be possible to shoot with everything you bring.

Styles of Clothes

I recommend solid color clothing, with no polka dots, no wild prints, and no distracting stripes. Clothing of this type can have a tendency to distract the viewer from the most important subject in your photos, you.

[If you are doing a “themed” shoot, such as a pin-up shoot, then obviously the clothes you bring should match the theme and override the suggestion above.]

Recommended clothing styles include:

  • shorts
  • various forms of full and brief tops
  • mini-dresses
  • mini-skirts
  • form fitting pants
  • sports & fitness gear

Swimwear & lingerie are also possibilities, if desired — depending on what you’ve arranged to shoot with your photographer.

How to Bring All Your Stuff

Many models will either pack a small suitcase or bring a bag of some type to carry all their clothes. If you plan to shoot on location, it is important that bring something that allows you to transport at least three or more outfits easily.

Please pack carefully. Clothes you intend to wear should be free of wrinkles and lint. In the event your need to remove the occasional wrinkle, we have an iron/steamer available.

Please note that if you are shooting in a studio, you should check to see how the photographer can accommodate your clothes — for example:

  • Are there racks available for hanging your clothes?
  • Is there a convenient and private place to change and apply make-up?

Photo Shoot Props

Unless discussed with the photographer beforehand, clients are responsible for supplying their own props for a shoot.

What are props exactly?

Props are any items you can help “accessorize” your photos with and potentially give it extra impact. Props can be anything from a cane or an umbrella, a mask, a magnifying glass, a furry rug, or satin sheets for a glamour shoot. If you have any items you think might be cool in a photograph, please consider bringing them. When in doubt as to whether you think you should bring something or not, please feel free to consult with me.

Clients that supply their own props tend to bring things that have significantly more meaning than what the typical photographer might provide. Plus, photographers who repeatedly use the same props over and over again in shoots tend to have photos that all look the same (or at least less distinctive).

If shooting “Maxim Styles” or Glamour Photography

If you intend to shoot glamour style photos, boudoir photos, “Maxim/FHM style” photos, lingerie photos, or any type of photos intended to give off an “intimate” look, please consider bringing items that may help reinforce the look you are going for. These items can be used to help adorn the set. For example, if you wish to try some shots involving a fur-skin rug, then all you need to do is supply the rug.

Additional items to consider include comforters, pillows, sheets, fabric to drape across the set or hang from the ceiling, and anything else you think might help add to the look you are going for. If you have any particular ideas in mind and would like to know if you should bring something, please feel to ask.

Items to Change Your Look & Appearance

Changing the way you look during a shoot will help keep the photos from looking like they were all taken on the same day.

Items I’d suggest bringing include: make-up, hair ties & rubber bands (so you can wear your hair in different ways), hats, jewelry, glasses/sunglasses, and anything you think might make a neat prop or look interesting in a photo.

Additional Items to Consider Bringing to Your Photo Shoot

Don’t forget to bring a small portable mirror of some kind so you can check your make-up, hair, look, etc. during the shoot.

Depending on the style of the shoot, you may want to consider bringing a flesh colored thong & bra. This will allow you to wear such items under your garments without drawing attention to them in the photos.

It’s also a good idea to bring something to drink, such as bottled water or gatorade. Especially if you are shooting outside. You may want to consider bringing a cooler with ice to pack drinks and anything else you wish to keep cool while shooting.

Depending on the length of your shoot, you may want to pack a light meal and/or a few snacks of some kind. Fruits are preferable to “candy” items and will help provide energy to keep shooting. Avoid eating/bringing anything that may stain your teeth. This includes chocolaty items. As with wardrobe, please bring more than you think you will need.

Contents of a Typical Model’s Bag

Here are some items typically found in the bags of models who work regularly and/or professionally. Not all items are necessary if you’re just starting out, but it’s still a good idea to check this list and consider whether these items may be useful at your shoot. Many items depend on the type of shoot you’re doing and the location:

makeup kit nylons (nude & black) panty liners
washcloth toilet tissue mascara (brown and/or black)
false eyelashes (2 different lengths) concealer foundation
lipstick (various shades) blush eyeshadow (various colors)
translucent powder makeup sponges makeup brushes
cotton swabs cotton balls makeup remover
tweezers eye drops mirror
masking tape binder clips hairpins
toothbrush toothpaste baby wipes
hairbrush hair ties/bands sunscreen
sunglasses bottled water towel
tampons dress shields lint brush
dress hood or pillow case spray bottle facial tissue
aspirin (or equivalent) penlight/flashlight scissors
small first-aid kit razors shaving cream
model portfolio model cards body lotion
facial cleansers hairstyling products insect repellent

Ideas for photos & photo shoots

Depending on the photographer, photo shoots can be a very collaborative and creative process where clients are encouraged to share any ideas they may have for photographs they’d like to try and take.

Although this can be done at any time, it is best done at least a few days prior to your shoot date so that any necessary preparations can be made ahead of time.

Oftentimes, a pre-existing photograph may provide the inspiration for a new one.

You may want to consider collecting photographs you come across online or in magazines (and making digital copies) and storing them in a folder on a USB drive or in a dropbox or google drive folder.

You can also bring magazines to your shoot for inspiration.

Many ideas can be found by simply paying attention to what a model may be wearing, any props that are used in the photo, the location where the photo was shot, and any effects used in the shot (if any).