Creating a Relationship with the Camera
"Make love to the camera!" is a commonly referenced statement whenever it comes to photoshoots and modeling. While a bit exaggerated, the meaning behind the statement rings true. While no one expects you to literally "make love" to the camera, it is important that models know how to develop a relationship with this seemingly "artificial" piece of equipment.
Real photoshoots are more than just pointing and shooting a model. Amazing images are those that capture special moments that can't be achieved without the talents of the model and the photographer's timing. Many new models have a tendency to get nervous or apprehensive about appearing in front of a camera. The key is to develop a level of comfort and establish a "relationship" of sorts that allows you to be uninhibited and unfazed by anything going on around you.
Whenever I shoot, I cancel out everything around me...all that matters is what's going on between me and the camera. Sure, there's a human being behind the lens but, for me, it isn't even about the photographer. I focus on the camera by giving it humanistic traits. For example, I'll envision the camera itself as a person. Depending on the shoot/theme/concept, my "character" and who the camera becomes are related to one another.
One example of this is a lifestyle shoot I did a while back in San Francisco. It was a simple, natural light shoot that took place in the photographer's apartment/studio. We wanted the images to appear as "intimate" as possible by creating poses, expressions, gestures, etc. that appeared as if I was having a private moment with my boyfriend and someone just happened to capture the exchange.
To build my relationship with the camera for this shoot, I envisioned the camera as my boyfriend, my lover, my confidant. I knew that my eye contact would be the selling point of the images, even if I wasn't looking at the camera. Ladies and fellas, think about how you gaze at your significant other when you've in love. Your entire face is relaxed, soft and endearing. This type of look being given to the camera differs greatly from a high fashion or editorial shoot where that type of eye contact is edgier, direct, wild-eyed and intensely focused.
Even when I wasn't looking directly at the camera, I kept that relationship between the camera and myself going. If I was looking away, I pretended I was reacting to my imaginary companion...I stayed "in the moment." As I've stated before, modeling is similar to acting when you have to embody a persona that may or may not reflect how you are in real life.
I like to romanticize the nature of the relationship between model and camera because, if you think about it, this connection is the strongest during the entire process of the shoot. Unless you're truly able to develop that comfort level with the camera, no amount of posing, expressions or gestures will produce accurately genuine results. Don't think of the camera as a thing or an "it"...think of the camera as a "who." By doing this, with time and experience, I guarantee you'll strengthen your skills as a model that constantly puts out amazing photos.