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 first shoot advice for new models.
Before the shoot
Discuss everything with the photographer in advance, including your limits (if any), and, if it's a trade shoot, how many shots you’ll be getting back, how you’ll receive them, and when you can expect them. If you're getting paid, ask about compensation, how you'll be paid (cash or check), and when you can expect to receive full payment. If you are hiring the photographer, find out exactly what the money you're paying covers: number of looks, number of edited images, styling team, etc. Also, be sure to figure out wardrobe, location, shoot length, and start time in advance. 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.
Some models like to see copies of releases they are going to be signing prior to shooting. It is perfectly acceptable to ask the photographer to email or fax you a copy to look over. This is helpful if you have any questions or want to ask if any changes can be made (not always something that gets agreed to, but you can still ask).
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.
Get stuff together for shoots the night before. It means less frantic running around in the morning (and lessens the chance of forgetting something). Make a list of what you want to bring well in advance, and pack your suitcase the night before. Also make sure to print out directions in advance, get the photographer’s number into your phone, and print out any shot/pose ideas you have to bring along.
A good nights’ sleep means not looking tired on the shoot, but also having the energy to shoot all day.
Another thing you need to make sure you have is a copy of your photo ID. Many of us who drive don't leave home without our driver's license, but if you are bringing a different form of ID with you, make sure it is in your modeling bag so that, if asked, you can present it to the photographer. Some photographers make photocopies of IDs or take photos of models with their IDs, to have on record. This is perfectly acceptable (and for some kinds of work, required), so be prepared for this.
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. It's better to be early than to be late!
How to act
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.
Keep your energy up
Bring a small snack and drink with, 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.
After the shoot
Chances are, after you shoot the photographer will ask you to sign a release. Be sure to carefully read the release before signing it. If a photographer needs to make a copy of your ID, they may do so now as well. If money is exchanging hands, it is common for it to happen after the shoot.
Before you leave
Before you leave the shoot, make sure you have everything you came with, and that anything you may have borrowed from the photographer or studio is back where you got it from. Make sure any garbage you've left behind (from makeup application or any snacks you brought) has been thrown away or properly recycled. And most definitely make sure that you've left the changing area as neat as (or neater than) you found it. You want to be invited back, or at the very least you want the photographer to know you didn't accidentally take something or leave a big mess for him to clean up.
Once you're ready to leave, be sure to thank the photographer for his time. A smile and a thank you goes a long way, and will help you build a reputation as a professional who appreciates others.
Article tweaked and made more S.A friendly. And Lee Folkard Photography friendly.