Alena photographed by Jeremy Pavia

5 Things to know BEFORE Shooting with a Model

While lighting is key in composing a great image, there are so many factors to having a successful shoot! Our friend and photographer, Jeremy Pavia, shares his 5 things that you need to know before shooting with a model.

Although I come from an action sports/BMX background, I’ve been shooting with models for years now and the one take away that I have would be that there is no instant access to that world. It takes time, effort and persistence to make any moves and eventually have the chance to book paid shoots, to work with signed models that have years of experience, and to get published. It’s an uphill battle that is worth fighting if you are striving to accomplish any of those goals as a photographer. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just getting your start, knowledge is power. I put together some info that I’ve learned along the way with the goal of shedding some light on this topic so feel free to keep reading and check it out.

Alena Savostikova photographed by Jeremy Pavia
ISO: 100 | SS: 1/160 sec. | Aperture: f/9 | Focal Length: 34mm


Research is actually one of the most important things that you can do before shooting with a model for the first time. It is something that should be pretty obvious but can actually make a world of difference when it comes to having a successful shoot. Not only will you be going in more prepared as a photographer, but also as a person. Finding any connection you may have with the model or any common ground that you can stand on will only help with the overall flow of things and help bring out the best in your subject. Showing that you know a thing or two about the person you are working with actually proves that you are doing more than just shooting photos and that you appreciate the opportunity to work with that person. Not only that, but with a little research you can also reference previous looks of theirs that you like as well when it comes to certain things like hair styles, actual outfits, etc. that way you can talk concepts well beforehand.


When shooting with a model, depending on whether it is on location or in a studio setting, it is important to always try to continually change things up. If you feel like you have a few shots that you like in a certain pose, location or outfit then the next step is to change one or more of those elements. There are many times when shooting with models that I almost stop in an instant and recommend we completely switch the set-up whether it is to adjust the lighting, change up a lens, or switch up the location. What this does is not only get the model to reset mentally, but it also gives you time as a photographer to pause and think for a minute. It is also a great way to keep the model comfortable and focused on the shoot. The last thing you want is for someone to be “over it” or, not into it while you are trying to get the best out of them. Having a quick change, even if it is something as simple as going from direct sun to shade can yield completely different results. That also helps to get the model thinking differently when it comes to poses and at the end of the day, the more options that you have, the better.

Alena Savostikova photographed by Jeremy Pavia
ISO: 100 | SS: 1/160 sec. | Aperture: f/13 | Focal Length: 34mm


Seems pretty obvious right?  We all know that no two people are the same and it is essential that you recognize that every model has their own look, style, vibe and energy. As a photographer, your goal is to capture all of those elements in a way that best represents them as individuals. It is important to remember that what works for one model, might not work for the next. This is also where experience comes into play and being able to adapt to different personalities and energies very quickly is something that all photographers should work on whether it comes naturally to them or not.


If you want to have a successful shoot, you need to start by opening that door and making sure that everyone involved is well informed, especially if you are bringing other people on the shoot including a MUA/Hairstylist/Videographer. When it comes to setting up a shoot, one of the most difficult things to do is successfully line everyone up and get everyone in the same place at the same time. Things move very quickly in the creative world, especially in 2019. You have to take control and make sure that you keep everyone involved along the way not only up to the shoot, but after as well all the way to the delivery process. Even something as simple as discussing when images will be edited and ready to go can make a big difference in someone’s overall experience. Having everyone on the same level not only helps the people involved feel more comfortable and a part of it, but it also helps put everyone at ease.


I would say that this is without question the most important aspect of photographing a model. Without mutual respect, you can’t create a connection. When you can’t create a connection, you can’t create as an artist. Do you see where this is going? Respect is something that helps put the model at ease, and in turn helps bring out the best in that person. When a model feels comfortable to be themselves and put any worry aside, they can then be free in front of the lens, which naturally will give you better results. At the end of the day the final image is what matters most and as a photographer, you should always be willing to do what it takes to make the most of every shoot you’re on.

Alena Savostikova photographed by Jeremy Pavia
ISO: 100 | SS: 1/160 sec. | Aperture: f/8 | Focal Length: 59mm

MODEL: Alena Savostikova | MUA: Elena

Einstein™ 640 Flash Unit
24” x 36″ Foldable Softbox

About Jeremy Pavia

Los Angeles based photographer, Jeremy Pavia

After putting in well over a decade of work as a professional photographer I still continue to push forward and expand my boundaries within my own photography. As I move into the future my goals are to align my photographic passions with my clients needs, to always work at being better than my last photograph and to maintain a certain level of integrity along the way.

Photography drives me. It is what keeps me up at night and I would be absolutely lost without it.

FOLLOW JEREMY PAVIA: Instagram | Website |  Twitter

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s