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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Male Models, Choose Your Lady Wisely!

Couple shoots are among my favorite types of gigs to do because there is so much you can do with another model in the picture. Recently a male model messaged me on Facebook to ask for a critique of his latest photoshoot with female models. Luckily, he was very receptive to my constructive criticism and that experience inspired me to do this post. Fellas, the following tips should definitely be put into practice any time you're casting for a female model to do a shoot with (this doesn't count for situations where you're hired by a client that is already providing a model for you to shoot with so it's mainly for freelancing and portfolio updating purposes).

Don't Limit Yourself:

In couple shoots the male and female models don't always have to be of the same ethnicity. While you should have images in your portfolio that showcase you with a model that is (or appears to be) of the same or similar ethnic background, it is also a good idea to pose with female models of an entirely different race. I've been noticing a lot of mixed model couples in ads lately, which is awesome, so don't be afraid to step outside of the box every once in a while.

Plus, it's a great way to diversify your portfolio. I was talking to a male model friend of mine who actually made the comment, "I just like shooting with Black female models...that's all I want to shoot with." I was really surprised to see that as his viewpoint because when you're marketing yourself in the industry, it's not about your personal preference, it's about what sells and maintaining a narrow-minded view like that, in my opinion, isn't a good thing. But, hey, that's just my take on it. Expand your horizons, folks!

Take Height Into Account:

Yes, I'm pointing out height but trust me, there's always method to my madness. There is nothing wrong with a tall male model working with a shorter female model. If she can slap some heels on and there isn't a significant gap in height when they are shooting together, then that's awesome. Guys, when selecting a female model, take her height into account. Find someone that won't limit the number of poses you can do.

For example, if you're a 6'2" male model and you want to shoot with a female model that's 5'2", even the highest heels won't make you match up when standing next to each other. The alternative would be poses where you're sitting, kneeling, have her in your lap or something similar. While this remedies the problem, it also severely limits your range in poses.

At the same time, avoid choosing a model that's too tall. If she's already 5'11" without heels, you're going to be looking up at her once she puts on her 4-inch stilettos. If it's a beach shoot where she won't be wearing shoes, then that's okay. But I'm sure you get the point I'm trying to make here. Don't discriminate based on height but make sure that the height of the female model you're considering will make for a good composition that will photograph well.

She Should Complement You:

No, I don't mean "compliment" I mean "complement." The definition of this word is as follows: "Add to (something) in a way that enhances or improves it; make perfect." Okay, there's no such thing as perfect but the way I'm using this word is to describe the fact that the female model you shoot with should work well with you, appearance-wise. What does this mean? It means picking a female with a body type that is proportional to yours.

Don't pick someone that is physically bigger than you are. I once critiqued a photo where the male model was posing next to a female model who was literally "bigger" than him...he looked tiny compared to her--she was taller, thicker and wider than he was. It just made for a very comical picture. Of course, this also goes both ways--don't choose a model that's so small compared to you that it doesn't even look real.

Avoid Being Raunchy:

There are ways to pose with a female model that ooze sex appeal and sensuality without being pornographic. Respect the model you're posing with...this should reflect in your photos. For example, don't grab her butt or breast--yes, I've critiqued photos where the male model had a handful of the female model's backside firmly in his grasp and it just made the whole shot so raunchy to me. It is possible to be tasteful when posing together so keep that in mind. Below are examples of sensual couple shoots:

She's Not a Prop, She's a Person:

This is perhaps one of the more difficult aspects when it comes to couple shoots, especially for newbie male models. Couple shoots are all about chemistry and creating great energy in your poses. You're supposed to work with your female model. The pictures you produce should not look like she's just an item or prop on your arm. It's very easy to tell when this happens and unless it's part of the concept, it doesn't make for a good image at all.

If the female model is kind of blocking your face of body, don't lean off to the side in order to get more of yourself in front of the camera. Instead, make it work: look at her instead, allow your body to be covered for the shot (if the pose works out that way and photographs well), or reposition your bodies so that you aren't blocked. It's a lot easier to demonstrate instead of explain but I hope you're somewhat understanding what I'm saying.

There's so much more I can talk about on this particular subject but just keeping the tips above in mind will definitely put you on the right path. Of course it takes time and a lot of shooting in order to really master the art of the couple shoot so don't get frustrated if you don't nail it right away. If you choose your female modeling partner wisely and you both work well together, you'll definitely get some usable shots for both your portfolios.


DramaProne Princess said...

I'm the female model pictured in the last picture with model Tim Perry, couldn't agree with your post more!

Lisa said...

If you're a male model, please don't throw yourself at the female model you're working with. She may not like you and/or she could be married, engaged, or taken by another guy who could come running after you. In addition, the photographer will also end the shoot and kick you out if you do that because you're not being professional. Instead you're just a rather eager, desperate guy versus a professional male model. Throwing yourself at female models is unacceptable and photographers may not like it too.