Models often ask for tips before their first shoot… things like, “what do I do beforehand?” and “how do I behave?”. So here’s some pre-first-shoot advice for new models.
Before the shoot:
Discuss everything with the photographer in advance, including your limits (if any), and how many shots you’ll be getting back, how you’ll receive them, and when you can expect them. Figure out wardrobe, location, and time in advance as well. Work out if there will be a MUA on set, who is in charge of setting up the MUA, and the MUA’s payment.
Make sure you get a phone number you can reach the photographer at the day of the shoot in case, for example, you get lost on the way there. An email address is helpful as well, in case the site you’re using to communicate with goes down. There is no reason you should be afraid to give someone your phone number or email address, or, for that matter, talk to them on the phone in advance.
The day before:
Confirm with the photographer. Send a quick note that says something to the effect of, “Hi Photographer, I’m just confirming our [style] shoot on [date] at [time]. I’ll be bringing [wardrobe items] and will come [ready for shooting/ready for makeup]. Again, my cell number is [123.456.7890]. Looking forward to working with you!” It might also be helpful to confirm the location address and directions if you’re not sure of where you’re going.
I typically get stuff together for my shoots the night before. It means less frantic running around in the morning (and lessens the chance of me forgetting something). I usually make a list of what I want to bring well in advance, and pack my suitcase the night before. I also make sure to print out directions in advance (though I do now have a GPS, I still make sure to write the address down), get the photographer’s number into my phone, and print out any shot/pose ideas I have to bring along.
I also like to relax the night before a shoot, in addition to doing some preparation for the shoot itself. For me, this usually involves a short shower in which I exfoliate, shave, and wash my face, followed by a long, hot soak in the tub, often with a face mask on, a small glass of wine, and a good book. Once I’m done there, I usually head to bed to make sure I get a good night’s sleep… which is important. A good nights’ sleep means not looking tired on the shoot, but also having the energy to shoot all day.
Show up when the photographer asks you to, or slightly early (10-15 min max). Generally, it’s best to leave about 30 min extra when driving to a location in case you get lost, have to find parking, or have a delay (such as getting tied up with a car accident) on the road.
I find it helpful to drop the photographer a quick phone call when I leave to let him know I’m on my way and approximately how long it should take, and I recommend others do it as well. That way, they know you’re on your way and to expect you (also when to expect you). It also gives you a chance to make sure you’re going the right way and to ask about parking.
How to act:
Don’t act like a diva, a whiny brat, or a cold-hearted bitch. You don’t need to speak when spoken to… speak when you like (but know when to shut up LOL). Have a conversation with the photographer. It’s perfectly fine to joke, laugh, or otherwise have fun, but remember to stay professional. Steer away from discussing or joking about hot-button topics like sex, religion and politics. Be polite and courteous, and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you have any. My general rule is, if I wouldn’t act a certain way at work, I wouldn’t act that way on a photographer’s set (though this often changes as I develop friendships with certain photographers, haha!).
Keep your energy up:
I find it helpful to bring a small snack and drink with me, double if it’s going to be a long shoot. Not all photographers provide food and drinks, and it’s helpful to have something on hand should you find yourself parched. Passing out from hunger or dehydration is a bad thing.
If, for whatever reason, you feel like you need to take a break, ask to do so. Being tired, faint, hungry, bored, uncomfortable, or anything but into the shoot will show on the resulting shots, and they likely won’t be usable. So if you need to sit down, stretch, get out of the lights, take a drink, warm up, whatever, ask the photographer.