Tips for working with nervous models

It can be difficult working with nervous models, especially if you’re shy yourself or not particularly confident.

When you’re starting out in photography it can be nerve wracking working with models and ironically you end up working with newbie models who are nervous and lack a kick of confidence so when you both are working on your first shoots.

So, I thought I’d create some tips that can help ease that first shoot anxieties for your models. Firstly, as a photographer, it is up to you to take charge of a photoshoot. You are running it. So these are tips for your nervous models rather than the nervous photographer (if you’re interested in how to get past nerves as a photographer, comment below and I’ll do a separate post about it!).


Types of nervous models…

And how to relate with them

Types of nervous models:

  • The giggler. Most photographers have encountered the giggly nervous models. It comes from fear and nerves. Most of the time they are scared of disappointing you with their lack of experience. So. Acknowledge that they are inexperienced and reassure them that you will help direct them. Have a posing sheet with you printed out. You can both look through it together and try the poses. Make sure you laugh with them, don’t get annoyed, it’s essential. My main tip, carry on shooting, if they crack and laugh, carry on photographing them. I’ve found if you carry on shooting they gather themselves together rather sharpish.

  • The shy quiet ones. The more introverted models tend to stay quiet. Ironically try and get them to laugh. Once they do they automatically come out of their shell a little. Again have a posing sheet so they know exactly what is expected from them. The quiet ones generally have a good ‘tragic beauty’ look. Work with it! I find reassurance and little “That looks really good, stay there for a second.” moments help the more introverted models a lot.

  • The talkers. The ones who just don’t know when to stop talking! It happens to even pro models if they are feeling enthusiastic that day. My tip from the giggler applies. Just carry on shooting. Don’t not talk to them of course but I usually say “Right! Let’s get on with the actual shoot!” followed by a laugh and then I carry on shooting. It gives them a moment to gather themselves.

Those are the most common types of nervous models. Just remember that nervous models are just scared more than anything about disappointing you, that they won’t be good enough for your photos, that they would have wasted your time. A little reassurance, good amount of direction and encouragement can go a really long way.

Don’t forget, models get more confident the more you shoot with them. Don’t disregard a model if your first shoot together was a bit wobbly. I’ve had a few models, experienced and in-experienced wobble on first shoots but the second photoshoots they come back with a bang. If they have a good face and potential try them out again.